Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
0

Animals for as far as the eye can see

Posted 5 years ago by Rich Talcott
On the morning of November 4, our eclipse group took a short flight from Nairobi to the Masai Mara — a vast expanse on Kenya’s southern border famous for its rich variety of wildlife. Located just north of Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, the Masai Mara features the same abundance of wildlife as its better-known southern neighbor. The 30 or so members of our MWT Associates, Inc. tour took three long game rides on Monday and Tuesday and saw sights none of us would soon forget...
0

Sand, Sun, and storms — but no totality

Posted 5 years ago by Rich Talcott
For fans of odd weather or anti-crepuscular rays, it would be hard to beat the sky’s performance November 3. For fans of total solar eclipses, however, the day proved less charming. The day started with promise at the Mt. Kenya Safari Club, where partly cloudy skies ruled and the forecast looked good for our eclipse site. After breakfast, the 30-odd members of our MWT Associates, Inc. tour group traveled to a small airstrip and boarded three chartered planes for a nearly two-hour flight t...
0

Into Africa

Posted 5 years ago by Rich Talcott
Darkness had fallen by the time we touched down in Nairobi on October 30 following a nine-hour plane flight from London. Along with about 30 other eclipse enthusiasts, I had traveled to Kenya with MWT Associates, Inc. to witness the November 3 total eclipse of the Sun at a site that, climatologically speaking, had the best chances for clear skies of any land-based observing site. Although we would be in the Moon’s umbral shadow for just 14 seconds, we all thought it was worth traveling nea...
0

Wicked weather and northern lights in Norway

Posted 5 years ago by Karri Ferron
Between spouts of crazy weather during the night, the passengers aboard the MS Midnatsol traveling along the coast of Norway, some of us with the group hosted by Astronomy magazine's travel partner, MWT Associates, had the chance to seem some beautiful displays of northern lights. Friday night saw a combination of music and lights. After some sporadic activity above us, the ship made her way into Tromsø, the "capital" of Arctic Norway. A large group of us headed to the Arctic Cathedral f...
0

Searching for fossils in Morocco

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
My travel companions and I spent yesterday and today exploring the fossil-rich region of Morocco. The now-arid land was covered by a sea millions of years ago, and the preserved remains of the animals that lived within it are embedded in rock formations near the Saharan desert. The 30 of us on the MWT Associates Gabon & Morocco tour traveled from Ouarzazate to Erfoud yesterday, and on the way we stopped at an ancient rock formation. After we exited the bus to walk around the rocks, our guide...
0

Urban Starfest in Central Park draws hundreds of stargazers

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Despite the unseasonable chill, the clouds, and the thousands of other worthy events going on in New York City, hundreds of people filed into Sheep's Meadow in Central Park last night for the Urban Starfest. They were greeted by Susan Andreoli, a member of the Manhattan-based Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) board, who handed each start party-goer a bag of astro-swag and sent them down the hill toward a line of impressive telescopes and telescope operators. The Urban Starfest takes place o...
0

The desert and oasis of Morocco

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
During the past couple days, I’ve explored some of the desert oasis area in Morocco. I’m traveling with a group from Astronomy’s travel partner, MWT Associates. Yesterday we drove to the Todra Gorge, a canyon carved by the Todra and Dades rivers. The walls on either side of the gorge are some 500 feet (150 meters) tall, but the opening itself is closer to one-tenth that. We saw beautiful vegetation in the region, due to the generous amount of water (which is hard to come by el...
0

A peek at aurorae from northern Norway

Posted 5 years ago by Karri Ferron
The aurora-hunting group I'm traveling with thanks to Astronomy magazine's tour partner, MWT Associates, had a bit of success on our first night looking for the northern lights aboard the MS Midnatsol off the shores of far northern Norway. We've been battling lots of clouds but received a break a few hours before dinner after our stop in ‪Vardø‬. I unfortunately missed the first spectacle, as I had foolishly gone inside to warm up, but my travel companions graciously shared pictures and d...
0

Exploring the Moroccan west and southwest

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
Since the eclipse, our group has traveled out of Gabon and back to Morocco — a welcome change of pace from the adventure in Gabon. We spent about 36 hours in Marrakech and drove across the High Atlas Mountains into the northern Sahara desert. While in Marrakech we toured La Bahia Palace, the Saadien tombs, the main market (called a “souk”), an apothecary, and other sites. Although touristy, the city’s sites gave the 30 of us on the Gabon & Morocco tour insight into th...
0

A quest for aurorae in Norway

Posted 5 years ago by Karri Ferron
After four flights in 24 hours, I'm finally in Oslo, Norway, along with 17 other astronomy enthusiasts, to start a northern lights adventure with Astronomy's tour partner, MWT Associates. Of course, my travel isn't over — we still have one more flight early tomorrow morning to Kirkenes — but it's finally hit me that I'm on a trip I've been waiting for basically since I started at the magazine. You see, the last (and only) time I've ever seen an aurora was when I was in grade school ...
0

A tribute to comet hunters

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
Recently, Amar A. Sharma, who works at the Nikaya Observatory in Bangalore, India, sent in some material we thought would be perfect for a guest blog — especially with the perihelion of Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) right around the corner. The author describes himself as someone who has long possessed an unquenched aspiration to discover comets, and he envisions someday narrating his own discovery stories. He prepared this blog using excerpts from his upcoming large compilation — a biogra...
1

Clear skies in Gabon to view the total solar eclipse

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
I’m thrilled to report that luck was on our sides today. Even though the day began with dense gray clouds, about one-third through the partial eclipse blue skies started to peek through. And it remained clear for us to see the total eclipse! Screams of excitement and amazement echoed through our observing location. As for my father and I — this was our first eclipse, and all we could say was how amazing the site was. After totality, I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. Just before...
0

Preparing for the Gabon total solar eclipse

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
While my half of the Gabon & Morocco group has remained in Libreville since we arrived yesterday, the other half had arrived a few days earlier and went on a safari in Lope National Park. They rejoined us at the hotel today, just before my lecture in preparation for the total eclipse. Out of the 30 people I’m traveling with, only four of us have never seen a total eclipse. I’ve heard from many of those that I’ve spoken to that this trip is for the true eclipse chaser. (The...
0

Total solar eclipse in Gabon, plus a day in Casablanca

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
After a crazy two days of traveling — followed by 10 hours of sleep — it’s finally hit me that I’m in Africa to see the November 3 total solar eclipse. I’m here with a group from MWT, Astronomy’s travel partner. We’re staying in the city of Libreville, Gabon, along the west coast of Africa. For eclipse day we’ll head to a site some 130 miles (200 kilometers) southeast, and we’re hoping for clear skies during totality. (This will be my first t...
0

ESA releases a video of Mars Express' best images

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
If Mars had a Division of Tourism, that organization would be plastering the European Space Agency’s new video all over the Internet. The film is a compilation of high-res images from the Mars Express mission — in orbit around the Red Planet — the quality of which should make the National Security Agency jealous. The four minutes of footage that make up “Mars Showcase” show a planet pocked by craters and smoothed by rivers and lava flows. The mission, launched in J...
0

The Astronomy Legacy Project preserves photographic plates

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Terabyte hard drives were not always $75 and the size of Post-it notes. Storage devices have been cumbersome for most of history, but that does not mean people didn’t have data that needed storing. In modern, but not ultra-modern, astronomy — before CCD cameras but after the first big telescopes — scientists took observations on photographic plates. Hundreds of thousands of these exist, preserving the cosmos as it looked from the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries. More than 40 c...
1

Watch Comet ISON move

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
Longtime Astronomy contributor Terry Hancock sent in a video he and fellow amateur astronomer Cliff Spohn created. Here’s Terry’s report.“We captured Comet ISON on Monday, October 21, 2013, from Cliff’s remote amateur observatory in Marion, Ohio. It was the first time in almost two weeks that we had a break in the clouds and rain, and we could not miss this rare opportunity to image the comet using Cliff’s QHYCCD QHY9 monochrome CCD camera hooked up to his...
2

Making Nepal a dark-sky destination

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Kiran Adhikari, a young astronomer and astronomy popularizer in Nepal, has noticed (as one would expect) a few things about his country: It’s high, it’s dry, it’s dark, and it’s populated in some pockets and not in others. That all bodes well for natural beauty in general, but it’s especially helpful for the natural beauty that’s above our heads. He’s also noticed that high, dry, and dark aren’t the global norm. Ask anyone on the American East Coas...
0

Distant Suns releases Comet Watch app

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember where constellations are. After all, their positions in the sky change every season. It’s even harder to remember where a comet is — its location changes even faster, putting it in different constellations on different nights. How are you supposed to keep track? Luckily for you, this is the 21st century, and you don’t have to calculate your own ephemeris for every night-sky object of interest. You can look it up. There is, in fact, an app...
1

How does Comet ISON look through the telescope?

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
We get a lot of images here at the magazine, but not as many observing reports as you might think. The following one (which describes three separate viewing sessions) came from Wayne Johnson, aka “Mr. Galaxy,” who lives near Benson, Arizona.I have not seen many decent visual observations of Comet ISON, so I thought I would share a few observations I made of the object a couple weeks ago when it was just becoming bright enough to see in a telescope.First observation from my backyard n...
1

A visit to Yerkes Observatory

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Yerkes Observatory looks like it belongs in Rome (or at the very least, an era in which support of science was as strong as classical columns), though it is in fact located in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. It has three large telescopes — a 40-inch refractor, a 40-inch reflector, and a 24-inch reflector. The refractor lives under a dome on one side of the complex, while the reflectors live in separate domes on the opposite side. Some smaller telescopes are used for educational purposes. I was fo...
0

Why the Higgs theorists won the Nobel Prize five decades later

Posted 5 years ago by Liz Kruesi
Sometimes it takes five decades to prove a theory as fact. That’s what happened in 2012 when the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) confirmed the discovery of the Higgs boson. And then this week, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in physics to Peter Higgs and François Englert “for the theoretical discovery of a mechanism that contributes to our understanding of the origin of mass of subatomic particl...
0

The story of the (currently suspended) Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array

Posted 5 years ago by Karri Ferron
On Friday, October 4, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) was forced to temporarily suspend all U.S. operations because of lack of funding due to the government shutdown. But before this organization (which is a facility of the National Science Foundation) shut its many doors throughout the country, it did release a new 24-minute film about its recently renovated Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope, located west of Socorro, New Mexico.Fittingly, Beyond the Visible, ...
0

Join the Target Asteroids! team

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Perhaps you live in a city or a blindingly bright suburb. Perhaps you have a 4-inch telescope that’s great for looking at lunar craters but not so hot for more distant objects. Perhaps you have to send your kid to college instead of buying a full-on astroimaging setup. We understand. And so does a professional-amateur collaboration that provides would-be astronomers with top-notch images of asteroids and access to analysis software. Using the data and tools from the International Astronomi...
9

What does the government shutdown mean for NASA?

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
What has 18 arms, all of which are broken? Knock, knock.Who’s there?NASA.NASA who?Psych, NASA is shut down. An astronaut, an astronomer, and rocket scientist walk into a bar. Because their place of employment is not functional. All joking aside, the government shutdown is a serious matter, leaving millions without work, without pay, and without the ability to update their employers’ social media sites. NASA is among the organizations that the standstill in Congress has brought to...
1

Help students develop a National Astronomy Olympiad

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
What were you doing with your free time in high school? Homework? Band practice? Listening to music loudly and telling people they just didn’t understand you? Forming a national network of science Olympians? Wait, what? Personally, I was doing a lot of the first three but not much of that last one. That makes me different from a group of American students who participated in the 2013 International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics (IOAA) — the first astro-reps of the Unit...
0

Discover the Universe (and art) in Charlottetown

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Science and art mesh well together, contrary to what you may have heard, and astronomy and art are particularly well-matched. After all, what’s more aesthetically pleasing or philosophically provocative than a look light-years into the distance? With this in mind, the Sidewalk Astronomers of Charlottetown took their skills and scopes to the Art in the Open festival on Prince Edward Island last month. The event in this Canadian province brings together local artists, artisans, and — ...
0

Map the Sun's course through the year

Posted 5 years ago by Sarah Scoles
Astronomy can feel a bit abstract. You can’t feel the heat of a supernova, hover inside a star cluster, or set foot on an exoplanet. You can collect photons with your eyes or a camera, measure positions, do calculations — and that’s all great. But there’s something satisfying about getting your hands a little dirtier. Tor Arne Holm, a teacher from Skjetten, Norway, wrote to us about an astronomy project that produces the kind of concrete results that give students the phy...
3

Pack your scope and head to Kansas City

Posted 5 years ago by Michael Bakich
Actually, I should amend the title to “… 75 miles (121 kilometers) south of Kansas City.” That’s where the eighth annual Heart of America Star Party (HoASP) will occur October 3–6. And I’ll be speaking there. Twice. (Whether the second talk has an audience will, I guess, depend on how the first talk goes.) The host of HoASP is the Astronomical Society of Kansas City (ASKC), one of the most active astronomy clubs in North America. Early in 2005, the club acqu...
1

The results of "Wave at Saturn"

Posted 5 years ago by Karri Ferron
On July 19, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which is currently exploring the Saturn system, was in a position to face Earth and capture an image of how our planet appeared from nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. The mission team hyped the event as “the first time that inhabitants of Earth knew in advance that their planet was being imaged” and decided to therefore encourage public participation. The result? The “Wave at Saturn” campaign, which ask...

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

ADVERTISEMENT

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Receive news, sky-event information, observing tips, and more from Astronomy's weekly email newsletter. View our Privacy Policy.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook