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Thread: Night Sky (Astronomy blog)

  1. #1 Night Sky (Astronomy blog) 
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    I started a new astronomy blog this summer. Help me correct errors and express ideas better. Nothing is easy......Jim

    I went to the Sudekum Planetarium in Nashville and joined the Barnard-Seyfert Astronomy club. Yes, it is Barnard with two "a"s and Seyfert with two "e"s. The group meets on the third Thursday of every month at the Adventure Science Center. I am looking for dark sky sites so I can see the stars. What interests me is that BSAS meets regularly about an hour down Natchez Trace, far from Nashville's lights.

    I gave $20 to Bill Griswold for membership. The BSAS newsletter, The Eclipse, comes by email. Terry Reeves is the club president. Phone: 386-3134

    E. E. Barnard (1857-1923) was born in Nashville. He was a great observer and discovered the first Jovian moon since Galileo. He became an astronomy professor at the University of Chicago and photographed the Milky Way at Yerkes Observatory.

    Carl Seyfert (1911-1960) was born in Cleveland. He came to Vanderbilt in 1946, and was influential in building Dyer Observatory. He was its first director. Seyfert died in a car wreck in Nashville.

    July 17, 2008, I attended the meeting of BSAS at the Science Center. Terry Reeves gave a presentation with slides showing constellations and the location of Messier objects. There was discussion about star parties, when and where they should be held. The gal who operates the planetarium showed the night sky. She pointed out Saturn and Mars near Regulus in Leo.

    I am looking forward to a Messier marathon. They are held in the second half of March.

    It is not easy to believe that the earth is rotating. The ancients thought the stars rose nightly in the east and set in the west. This is an illusion caused by our spinning planet.

    70% of the earth is covered by water. There are four oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian and Arctic. 10% of the land is covered by ice.

    Life began in the oceans, and our bodies are 75% water. All land creatures need water to survive. Plants invaded the land 400 million years ago. Plants give off oxygen which makes animal life possible.

    The sun does not rise and set. The spinning earth makes it appear to. The apparent path of the sun is called the ecliptic because it is where eclipses take place. The ecliptic is really the path of the earth's orbit around the sun. It is in the center of the zodiac.

    The sun is a star. It is one of 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy. It seems like a different animal or different from other stars because it is close. We circle it. It is yellow and a mere 93 million miles away. Other stars appear as points of light because they are trillions of miles away.

    The sun formed when a cloud of gas and dust collapsed. Its core was squeezed so tight that nuclear fusion began. Hydrogen atoms combined to form helium and give off energy in the process. The sun shines by nuclear energy. Some of it takes the form of light. Visible light waves lie between the infrared and ultraviolet on the electromagnetic spectrum.

    Someday the sun will exhaust its hydrogen. Then it will burn helium to form other elements. Toward the end of its cycle, its core will shrink. The sun will become a red giant. Its outer shell of gas will expand. We call this a "planetary nebula." Its core will be a white dwarf and eventually a burned-out ember. The heaviest elements are made when massive stars explode as supernovas. Elements fly into space. The sun is a hydrogen bomb.

    Bob Berman writes about crescent shapes and how common they are throughout the universe. We can create a crescent by holding a ball to a lamp and viewing it from behind. Berman notes that the moon appears as a crescent when it is closer to the sun than we are. We probably know this subconsciously, but how many of us think about it?

    Crescent aficionados strain to see young moons. Crescents younger than 14 hours cannot be seen. A two-day-old moon is easy.

    As the moon waxes, earthshine dims because the earth becomes a thin phase in the lunar sky. An almost full earth illuminates a young crescent moon.

    The moon is like a mirror. The principle is the same. When we look into a mirror, light reflected from our face hits the mirror and is reflected to our eyes.

    Look at earthshine through binoculars. Is earthshine bright enough to make out some of the moon's features?

    June 18, 2008, I stood outside my apartment at the Village at Vanderbilt where I had observed the lunar eclipse four months earlier. I looked at the full moon through binoculars. What I noticed was the foot with three toes and the darkness of the solidified lava (maria) compared with the brightness of the southern highlands. The maria are darker because the iron-rich lava reflects less sunlight.

    I saw the backwards Y composed of craters Copernicus, Aristarchus, Kepler and Grimaldi. I made out Tycho. Jupiter shown brightly in Sagittarius with a magnitude of -2.7.

    By June 22, darkness had engulfed the three toes and half of Tranquility. The left side of the moon was lit. "Gibbous" is Latin for "hump."

    The moon orbits the earth from west to east. It rises 50 minutes later each night. It is visible in the sky less than half the time.

    Full moons rise in the east at sunset and set in the west at sunrise. I recall a full moon rising above the orchard on Aiken Road. A full moon is the only phase which can be seen all night. The Harvest moon for 2008 was on September 15. Harvest moons are no bigger or brighter than other full moons. What distinguishes Harvest Moons is that they rise only about 30 minutes later on successive nights due to the narrow angle between the ecliptic and the horizon in the fall. Farmers and hunters historically relied on these full moons to finish their work.

    The sun's rays hit the moon directly when it is full. No shadows are cast. The moon's features are best seen along the terminator at first and last quarters when there are long shadows. The terminator is the line separating night and day. Before a full moon, the terminator marks the sunrise line. After a full moon, it marks the sunset line.

    I do not see a man in the moon. What I see is a foot with three toes. The heal is the Sea of Serenity. The arch is the Sea of Tranquillity. The toes are the Seas of Crises, Fertility and Nectar.

    The ancients called the planets "wanderers" because they moved in relation to the stars. They identified the wanderers with gods and goddesses. Jupiter was named after the king of the gods. Venus was named for the goddess of love. Mars took its name from the Roman god of war. The observant noted that the planets as well as the sun and moon stay inside a narrow strip of constellations. This band became known as the zodiac (zoo) because it was comprised of animals.

    Of course, the planets are not gods and goddesses. Nor are they mere lights in the sky. They are places, worlds, like and unlike our own. We still talk of planets being "in" constellations, knowing that it is another illusion. It makes them easy to find. That the planets, sun and moon stay inside the zodiac proves the flatness of the solar system. Its parts move in the same plane.

    From the Wal-Mart parking lot in Lebanon, Tennessee, I used binoculars to view an alignment of Saturn, Mars and Regulus near a four-day-old crescent moon. I observed the moon's terminator separating day and night and earthshine, that ghostly light reflected from Earth to the moon and back to Earth. The drama took place in the constellation Leo in the west after sunset. Saturn, Mars and 1st magnitude Regulus lined up to the right of the moon like Orion's belt. I could see the three at once through my binoculars. This was the night of July 6, 2008.

    I was with cousin Larry on July 10, 2008. He got out his reflector, and we looked at a first quarter moon, Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. We had a good view of the moon's craters in the southern highlands. Central peaks were visible. We saw three of the Galilean moons around Jupiter. The fourth must have been in front of or behind the planet. Saturn and Mars were in conjunction in Leo in the west. They were about two degrees apart. Saturn was brightest, and we looked at its rings. I recalled that Galileo described the rings as "handles." Saturn and Mars will not be this close again until 2022. We located the summer triangle. I brought it up about how massive Deneb is. Its luminosity is greater than any of the other 1st magnitude stars.

    Saturn will be behind the sun for two months before it reappears in the morning. Its rings will be even more edge-on. Saturn took its name from the Roman god of farming.

    Mercury goes around the sun in 88 days. It flits back and forth from the western sky at sunset to the eastern sky at dawn.

    Venus returned as the "evening star" in August, 2008. Venus takes 19 months to journey around the sun and return to the same place in the sky.

    Venus was behind the sun at superior conjunction. It is at inferior conjunction when it is between the earth and sun. It alternates between the two.

    Conjunction is when two celestial bodies are close in the sky.

    Venus will transit the sun, June 6, 2012. It will appear as a black dot moving across the sun.

    Mars is in Leo and moving toward Regulus. On June 30, 2008, the red planet and Regulus were only 3/4 of a degree apart. Saturn was 5 degrees away. I watched them in the west after sunset.

    Mars circles the sun in 697 days, less than two earth years. Mars' orbit is highly elliptical compared with the earth's which is nearly a circle. Mars is closest to earth during opposition, at which time it is on the opposite side of us from the sun. Mars is at opposition every 22 months.

    The Phoenix Lander is the latest spacecraft to search for signs of life on Mars. Phoenix is analyzing Martian soil and is said to have found water ice. The public will not become excited until undisputable fossils are found or a man walks on the planet.

    In June, 2008, Jupiter is moving backwards in Sagittarius. Jupiter takes 12 years to circle the zodiac.

    Jupiter is made of hydrogen and helium. It has no surface. When we view Jupiter, we are looking at the top of its thick clouds. Jupiter rotates every 10 hours. This rotation has stretched clouds into parallel bands. The dark bands are called belts. The light bands are called zones. The equatorial zone surrounded by equatorial belts looks like an Oreo cookie. Jupiter's Great Red Spot is more orange now.

    Saturn is also made of hydrogen and helium. Yellow and gold bands comprise its atmosphere. The Hubble Space Telescope imaged Saturn's northern and southern lights. Titan is the best known of its 60 moons. Titan is the second largest moon in the solar system after Jupiter's Ganymede.

    Saturn is in Leo, east of Regulus, as I write. The distance between Saturn and Regulus will increase as the ringed planet moves eastward.

    Saturn takes 29 1/2 years to complete a revolution of the sun. Saturn's rings are best seen near opposition. Right now they are closing.

    Uranus is in Aquarius. It takes Uranus 84 years to circle the sun.

    Uranus' moons are named after Shakespeare's characters. William Herschel started it.

    Three tragic women are Ophelia from Hamlet, Juliet from Romeo & Juliet and Desdemona from Othello.

    From A Midsummer Night's Dream, there are Oberon and Titania, king and queen of the fairies, and the mischievous Puck.

    The main players from The Tempest are here: Prospero and daughter Miranda, her man Ferdinand, Ariel and the evil Caliban.

    Neptune is in Capricornus. It circles the sky in 146 years. We seldom hear about the German who discovered Neptune. His name was Johann Gottfried Galle. He discovered the planet in 1846.

    I defended Pluto for a while. Now I am thinking it is a Kuiper Belt Object. That Pluto crosses Neptune's orbit casts suspicion on its status as a planet. Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory. Pluto's demotion is a put-down of Tombaugh.

    Pluto will be in Sagittarius until 2024. It 248 years for Pluto to go around the sun.

    New Horizons arrives at Pluto in 2015.

    Comets, Meteors
    The Perseids is the most famous and most consistent meteor shower. Two other showers are the Leonids and the Geminids. Leonids peak November 17/18. Geminids peak December 13/14. The Leonids have been known to make a strong showing. The problem is that November nights are cold. I will try to see them in 2009 as there will be no moon.

    The Leonids of 1833 are legendary. It was a meteor storm. An estimated 100,000 meteors per hour fell. The superstitious believed it was the end of the world. The Leonids are associated with comet Tempel-Tuttle. The radiant is in the sickle of Leo. The "id" suffix means "from."

    Bright meteors leave smoke trails. We may wonder how objects the size of sand can be so bright. They reach temperatures of up to 4,000 degrees. Furthermore, being seen against dark skies highlights brightness. Meteors coming toward us appear as stationary bursts of light.

    Stars rise four minutes earlier each night as the earth revolves around the sun. Stars rise two hours earlier each month and, after a year, will be in the same positions they were the previous year.

    Changes in longitude do not affect the way we see the sky. Changes in latitude can affect it dramatically. Flying from Santiago to Sydney, the sky will look the same. Flying from Sydney to Reykjavik, we will see big changes. This is due to the 23 1/2 degree tilt of the earth's axis, the imaginary line running from the north pole through the south pole.

    If we were at the equator, we would see all the stars in the sky in a year. If we were at the north pole, Polaris would be overhead and we would see only the stars in the northern half of the sky. They would circle us. None would rise or set. If we were at the south pole, we would see only the south circumpolar stars. If we were floating in space away from the earth, we would see the stars in all directions at once. It is easy to see how the idea of a "celestial sphere" developed even though there is no such thing.

    There are 88 constellations, the number of keys on a piano. Western civilization inherited its constellations from the ancient Greeks and Romans. Some look like what they are supposed to be. Others do not. The Big Dipper certainly looks like a dipper. It is part of Ursa Major, the big bear. It is circumpolar, which means it is close enough to the celestial north pole to not rise and set at mid-northern latitudes. It is seen all night. The Big Dipper is an asterism. Asterisms are well-known groups of stars which are not constellations. Orion's Belt, the Square of Pegasus and the Summer Triangle are asterisms.

    Constellations are not real. They are imaginary star patterns made up by farmers, shepherds, poets and astronomers. Farmers relied on the positions of stars to know when to plant and harvest their crops. Shepherds watched the night sky as they tended their flocks. Poets composed narratives about heroes and passed them from generation to generation. The Greeks gave us 48 classical constellations. But even the Greeks were influenced by the Egyptians, Babylonians and Sumerians. 40 constellations were added by Europeans following the scientific revolution. Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius added Leo Minor, and Dutch navigators Keyser and de Houtman created Phoenix. Nicolas de Lacaille was responsible for 17 southern constellations. De Lacaille worked out of South Africa. The International Astronomical Union divided the entire sky into 88 sections, adhering to classical boundaries whenever possible. Now every object in the sky is part of a constellation.

    The end stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper are called the pointers. They point to Polaris, the North Star. Polaris is still inching closer to true north, the point directly above Earth's axis. Polaris has not always been the north star nor will it always be. Thuban in Draco was the north star 4,500 years ago. Vega will be the north star in 13,000 years. Precession of the equinoxes causes the shift. Over time, the earth wobbles like a top.

    The constellation Draco winds between the two dippers. Draco was the dragon killed by Hercules when he fetched the golden apples from the Garden of the Hesperides. The Hesperides were three nymphs who tended the garden. The apples bestowed immortality.

    The story of Hercules is told in the stars. We see the Nemean lion (Leo) and the crab (Cancer) vanquished by Hercules as part of the 12 labors. The constellations in general depict man's conquest of the animal world.

    The handle of the Big Dipper curves toward Arcturus. Orange Arcturus is the 4th brightest star. It is in the constellation Bootes the Herdsman. Bootes is accompanied by his hunting dogs, Canes Venatici. They chase the bears around the pole. The Whirlpool Galaxy (M51) is in Canes Venatici.

    Spica is the 1st magnitude star in Virgo the virgin. Spica is found by extending the curve of the Dipper's handle through Arcturus. Spica is one of four bright stars which can be occulted, or covered, by the sun or moon because of its proximity to the ecliptic. Regulus, Antares and Aldebaran are the others.

    Virgo is associated with the Earth goddess, Demeter, and her daughter, Persephone. Persephone was abducted by Pluto and taken to the Underword. Zeus brokered a deal whereby Persephone would spend summers with her mother and winters with her husband. In this way the Greeks explained the seasons.

    In Greek mythology, the Pleiades were seven sisters. Orion the hunter fell in love with them and chased them across the sky. Orion was killed by a scorpion. So Orion and Scorpius are never in the sky at the same time, at least not in the northern hemisphere. I saw them together in Australia.

    Some people see seven Pleiades. Others see six. There are stories surrounding the missing sister. One myth says Merope is the Lost Pleiad. She married a mortal and hides herself in shame.

    The Crab Nebula (M1) is in Taurus the bull. It is the remains of a supernova and the first object on Messier's list. A massive star exploded, leaving an expanding cloud of gas and rotating pulsar. The Chinese recorded the event in 1054. M1 is located near the bull's northern horn. Taurus is said to be charging Orion.

    The Hyades, an open cluster in Taurus, are half-sisters of the Pleiades.

    The Hyades, an open cluster in Taurus, are the half-sisters of the Pleiades. The bull is said to be charging Orion.

    Auriga the Charioteer is drawn with a goat on his shoulder and two kids (little goats) on his arm. It is anybody's guess why a man driving a chariot would be holding goats. Capella in Auriga is the 6th brightest star.

    Scorpius is a constellation which looks like what it is supposed to be. From my parents' front yard, I watched it crawl silently across the sky. It moved low on the horizon. Scorpius' first magnitude star Antares is like Betelgeuse in that both are red giants. They are nearing the end. Shaula is the bright star in the scorpion's tail.

    Libra the scales was once regarded as the scorpion's claws. Libra is the only non-living constellation in the zodiac.

    Sagittarius the archer avenged Orion's death by killing the scorpion. Sagittarius resembles a teapot. Its star clouds look like steam coming from a spout. Locate two star clouds: the large and the small. The Trifid nebula is in Sagittarius. It is divided into three lobes by dust lanes. A star inside the Trified causes the hydrogen gas to glow.

    The Orion Nebula (M42) is a stellar nursery like the Pleiades. Stars are forming from gas and dust. Four stars in (M42) are called the Trapezium. The Horsehead Nebula is in Orion under the first star in the Belt, Alnitak. The Horsehead is a dark nebula visible only through large telescopes. We see it because Alnitak lights up gas behind it to provide an outline.

    Constellations fit together in groups to create scenes or to tell stories. Orion's dogs, Canis Major and Minor, are chasing Lepus the hare. Sirius in Canis Major is the brightest star in the sky because it is close, 9 light-years away. Sirius is blue and shines at -1.4 magnitude. Blue stars are young and hot. Canopus, the second brightest star, is brighter than Sirius but farther away.

    Vega, Altair and Deneb make up the Summer Triangle. Vega is the bright star in Lyra. It is the 5th brightest. Lyra is the only musical instrument in the sky. Orpheus saved the Argonauts from the sirens by playing this lyre. The Ring Nebula (M57) is a planetary nebula in Lyra. It would be better if planetary nebulas were simply called dying stars.

    Cygnus the swan flies overhead in summer. The Cygnus star cloud is a particularly bright region of the Milky Way. Deneb is massive, 60,000 times more luminous than the sun and 3,200 light-years away. It outshines all other 1st-magnitude stars in absolute brightness. The Greeks thought Cygnus was Zeus in the form of a swan. The swan seduced Leda, queen of Sparta. She laid eggs from which hatched Castor and Pollux, the twins of Gemini. The twins sailed with Jason and the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece. Zeus also appeared in the guise of Taurus the Bull to seduce Europa. The V-shaped star cluster close to Aldebaran is actually far beyond it. The Pleiades are in Taurus. The seven sisters ride the bull. Star lore is fascinating even though it is about man's imagination as opposed to scientific reality.

    The constellations Aquarius and Aquila are related in myth. Aquarius the waterbearer is Ganymede, a Trojan prince. Zeus sent his eagle to get Ganymede because he wanted him as his personal cup-bearer. Ganymede gets water from the river Eridanus in which swims Pisces, the northern fish. 1st magnitude Achernar in Eridanus is at the river's end. I saw Achernar in Australia.

    Delphinus the dolphin, Cetus the sea monster and Capricornus the seagoat are found in this watery part of the sky. Organizing stars into pictures to tell stories make them easier to remember. The seagoat is Pan after he jumped in the river to escape a monster. Only part of Pan got wet, and that part changed into a fish. I always thought Capricornus looked like a fat banana.

    25 Brightest Stars
    ..1 Sirius --------- Canis Major
    ..2 Canopus -------- Carina
    ..3 Alpha Centauri --- Centaurus
    ..4 Arcturus ------- Bootes
    ..5 Vega ----------- Lyra
    ..6 Capella -------- Auriga
    ..7 Rigel ---------- Orion
    ..8 Procyon -------- Canis Minor
    ..9 Achernar ------- Eridanus
    10 Betelgeuse ---- Orion
    11 Hadar --------- Centaurus
    12 Altair -------- Aquila
    13 Acrux --------- Crux
    14 Aldebaran ----- Taurus
    15 Spica --------- Virgo
    16 Antares ------- Scorpius
    17 Pollux -------- Gemini
    18 Fomalhaut --- Piscis Austrinus
    19 Becrux -------- Crux
    20 Ceneb --------- Cygnus
    21 Regulus ------- Leo
    22 Adhara -------- Canis Major
    23 Castor -------- Gemini
    24 Gacrux -------- Crux
    25 Shaula -------- Scorpius

    The Milky Way -
    When I saw the Milky Way arching across the night sky as a teenager, I gave it little thought. It was a glowing band of light, little more. In my 30s, I realized the Milky Way is the galaxy in which our sun and planets reside. Our solar system lies at the edge of one of the galaxy's spiral arms. We see the brightest section of the Milky Way in summer stretching from the northeast to the southwest. The Milky Way circles the sky although part of it is never seen from the United States. I saw the southern piece from Australia. The light of the Milky Way is the combined glow of billions of suns thousands of light-years away. Our galaxy appears as it does because of its frisbee-like shape. It is like a fried egg. It bulges in the center and tapers at the edge. Our sun and solar system are located toward the outer edge. When we view the star clouds in Sagittarius, we look toward the Milky Way's bulging center. Looking in the opposite direction, we look toward the outer rim. Looking perpendicular to the Milky Way, we look out the top or bottom of the disk where stars are scarcer. The Milky Way is rotating. It spins once every 200,000 years. If I had understood this as a teenager, I would have been a genius. It is revelation to look at the Milky Way and to understand even if in some elemental way what we are seeing.

    Parts of the Milky Way are obscured by dust and gas. These are not holes. The Great Rift divides that part of the band moving from Deneb in Cygnus toward Sagittarius. In summer, we gaze toward the center of the Milky Way in the direction of Sagittarius. In winter, we look through Orion toward its outer rim.

    The Virgo supercluster is called the Realm of the Galaxies. When we look toward this cluster, we look away from the plane of the Milky Way. We see thousands of galaxies. M49 is accessible with medium-size telescopes.

    The Hubble Space Telescope may have added as much to our confusion as to our understanding. Images from Hubble illustrate the chaos of the universe and convey a feeling of being lost in space. The Pillars of Creation in the Eagle Nebula in the constellation Serpens provides some reference. Star formation is going on in these fingerlike spires of gas.

    The Hubble Deep Field and the Hubble Ultra Deep Field are the most pervasive photographs taken in the history of astronomy. The HUDF imaged 10,000 galaxies and looked back 13 billion years to when the universe was 700 million years old. HUDF penetrated a small area in the constellation Fornax the furnace 1/10 the size of a full moon. Nothing in this field is visible to the naked eye. Astronomers compared the HUDF to "looking through an 8-foot-long soda straw." We begin to comprehend the immensity of the universe and its billions upon billions of galaxies.

    There was pure energy after the Big Bang. It did not take long for some of that energy to freeze into matter. A wall of radiation prevents us from seeing back to the beginning. There is always a catch. Even if we could see the Big Bang, what would it mean? We would still question. Only when man is firmly united with God through Jesus and the Holy Spirit will he have true understanding and lasting peace.

    The big thing since 1995 has been exoplanets. These are planets circling stars in other solar systems. 304 exoplanets are confirmed. They were found by indirect methods, not by telescopes or imaging. Astronomers measured gravitational tug of exoplanets on their parent stars. Most found thus far are gas giants like Jupiter. This may be due to the limitations of current technology. Ultimately, there may turn out to be as many terrestrial exoplanets. The question is whether any of them support life.

    Our immediate reaction is to think there must be other civilizations. There may be. We do not know. The only one may be here and the rest of the universe, regardless of its size, may be leftover material from God's creation of Earth. Sawdust on the floor. We are still not alone if we have a loving Creator.

    Scientists think that if matter is arranged in a certain way, there will be life. I doubt it. Life is more than a particular arrangement of atoms and molecules. It was a divine spark which created life, the same spark which created the stuff of the Big Bang. Without God, no universe, no life. Consciousness is centered in the brain but is also independent of the brain. Jesus Christ is God.


    Berman, Bob. Cosmic Adventure. New York, William Morrow, 1998

    ________. Secrets of the Night Sky: The Most Amazing Things in the Universe You Can See with the Naked Eye. 1995

    Calia, Charles Laird. The Stargazing year. New York, Penguin, 2005

    Dickinson, Terence. Summer Stargazing. 1996

    Harrington, Philip S. Astronomy for All Ages. Discovering the Universe through Activities for Children and Adults. Globe Pequot, 2000

    ________. Eclipse!: The What, Where, When, Why, and How Guide to Watching Solar and Lunar Eclipses. New York, John Wiley & Songs, 1997

    Harrington, Philip S. Star Watch: The Amateur Astronomer's Guide to Finding, Observing and Learning about Over 125 Celestial Objects. Hoboken, John Wiley & Sons, 2003

    ________. Touring the Universe through Binoculars. New York, John Wiley & Sons, 1990

    Kaler, James B. The Little Book of Stars. 2001

    Kerrod, Robin. Hubble: The Mirror on the Universe. Firefly Books, 2003

    Kidger, Mark. Astronomical Enigmas. Baltimore, John Hopkins University Press, 2005

    Littman, Mark; Ken Willcox and Fred Espenak. Totality: Eclipses of the Sun. New York, Oxford University Press, 1999

    Miller, Ron. Stars and Galaxies. Minneapolis, Twenty-First Century Books, 2006

    Mosley, John. Stargazing with Binoculars & Telescopes. Los Angeles, Lowell House, 1998

    Olcott, William Tyler. Star Lore of All Ages: Myths, Legends and Facts Concerning the Constellations of the Northern Hemisphere. New York, G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1911

    Reynolds, Mike D. Falling Stars: A Guide to Meteors & Meteorites. Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, 2001

    Sasaki, Chris. The Constellations: Stars & Stories. New York, Sterling, 2002

    Schaaf, Fred. A Year of the Stars. Prometheus Books, 2003

    ________. 40 Nights to Knowing the Sky. New York, Henry Holt, 1998

    ________. Planetology: Comparing Other Worlds to Our Own. New York, Franklin Watts, 1996

    ________. The 50 Best Sights in Astronomy and How to See Them: Observing Eclipses, Bright Comets, Meteor Showers, and Other Celestial Wonders. 2007

    ________. The Starry Room: Naked Eye Astronomy in the Intimate Universe. New York, John Wiley & Sons,1988

    Upgren, Arthur. Night Has A Thousand Eyes: A Naked-Eye Guide to the Sky, Its Science and Lore. New York, Plenum Press, 1998

    Vamplew, Anton. Simple Stargazing. Collins, 2006

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  3. #2  
    Join Date
    May 2008
    To make a blog worth reading, it should have new stuff or something different from every other source of information on a subject. If you want to do a blog on astronomy, have observations you and others have made.

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  4. #3  
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Thanks for the comment. I am headed in the direction of your advise. I joined the Barnard-Seyfert astronomy group in Nashville and will do some observing with them this coming year. What I really want is to participate in is a Messier Marathon.

    Does anyone know of a Messier Marathon anywhere in the U.S. in March, 2009, or 2010? I will travel for this.
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