Waiting for Betelgeuse: What’s Up with the Tempestuous Star?

Betelgeuse

Have you noticed that Orion the Hunter—one of the most iconic and familiar of the wintertime constellations—is looking a little… different as of late? The culprit is its upper shoulder star Alpha Orionis, aka Betelgeuse, which is looking markedly faint, the faintest it has been for the 21st century.

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Will Blanpain Perform? Comet Prospects for 2020

Comet T2 PanSTARRS

Looking forward to the next bright comet in 2020 or beyond? You’re not alone. Though we’ve had a steady string of decent binocular comets over the past few years, we haven’t had a good naked eye comet since W3 Lovejoy beat solar death during its blistering perihelion passage in 2011. But this survivor turned out to be bashful, and headed for southern hemisphere skies… Comet P1 McNaught followed suit in 2007, hiding from northern hemisphere observers at its best. And we all remember what happened to Comet S1 ISON—touted as the next great ‘Comet of the Century’ on U.S. Thanksgiving Day 2013. Here it is almost 2020, and you have to go allll the way back nearly a quarter of a century to Hale-Bopp and Hyakutake to remember just how brilliant a good naked eye comet can be.

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December Meteor Squalls: Prospects for the 2019 Geminids and Ursids

2019 Geminids

December means chillier climes for northern hemisphere residents, a time to huddle inside near the campfire, both real and cyber. I’ve always thought this was a shame, as the cold crisp nights of winter also offer up sharp, clear skies. Over the past decade or so, December gives observers another reason to brave the cold: the Geminids.

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Our Guide to the November 11th, 2019 Transit of Mercury Across the Sun

One of the finest spectacles in astronomy is to witness the passage of one object in front of another. This can transpire as an eclipse, an occultation, or a rare event known as a planetary transit. We get a shot at seeing just such a singular event next Monday on November 11th, as a transit of Mercury across the face of Sol occurs for the last time this decade.

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