The Wilderness Above (astronomy)


Exploring the full moon

A recent edition of this column discussed the phases of the moon. The full moon occurs on April 11. For several days before or after that date, the nearly-full moon will be visible for most of the night. This is the time when almost all of the near side of the moon will be visible to the naked ...


Late March sky tour

A new moon marks the last week in March which also means it’s a good time to get out and do some observing. Having a new moon means our only natural satellite is on the same side of the Earth as the sun so we will not see it throughout the night. Without that moonlight and minimal light ...


Astrophotography and the Orion Nebula

Astrophotography is a great way to explore and share the celestial objects viewed through a telescope. Ever since the development of digital camera technology, astrophotography has become much less time consuming compared to film and more accessible to the amateur astronomer. Results are ...

As the moon orbits the Earth, the fraction of the lit side visable creates phases. The outer ring shows the side of the moon racing the sun is always bright. The inner ring of moons shows the phases as seen from Earth. The times around the Earth show the time of day experienced by observers at those positions.

Objects in the sky and relation to time

The only clocks and calendars our early ancestors had were the motions of objects in the sky. All of us pay some attention to the position of the Sun through the day. Few of us note the position of the Big Dipper as the sky darkens. If you do notice it and realize that its position shifts 15 ...


Encircling the Vernal Equinox

In early January, I wrote about the cosmic grid of right ascension and declination. Declination is cosmic latitude measured north and south from the Celestial Equator to plus 90 degrees and minus 90 degrees. Right ascension, cosmic longitude, is measured from the Vernal Equinox to the east in ...


Great American Eclipse of 2017

The Great American Eclipse of 2017 will be the biggest astronomical event this year. On Aug. 21, the moon will pass directly between the Earth and Sun and cast its shadow onto Earth in a total eclipse of the Sun. Since the sun is a disk and not a point, there ...


Earth approaches closest point to the sun

As the new year dawns, the Summer Triangle plunges toward the western horizon. Cygnus (SIG-nuss), the Swan, wings south along the Milky Way with the geese seeking warmer climes for the winter. For us, the days are slowly starting to lengthen. The latest sunrise was yesterday (7:33 a.m. ...


Look out for Delta Cephei

Northwest of the Demon Star in Perseus of the Dec. 6 column is another variable star to watch, Delta Cephei (SEH-fee). This star is the prototype of the Cepheid (seh-FEE-id) Variable stars that Edwin Hubble used in the 1920s to expand the universe well beyond the bounds of our home ...

FIGURE 1 — The eastern sky as seen from Tupper Lake at 8:30 p.m. Dec. 6.
(Made using Starry Night Software)

Look into Medusa’s eye for the Demon Star

As the winter constellations rise in these evenings of late autumn, they are heralded by the Demon Star, Algol in Perseus (PER-see-uss). It has been associated with a demon, al ghul in Arabic (from which our current name is derived) and Gorgon in Greek, for at least 3,200 years, according to an ...


Early darkness allows for more star gazing

Returning our clocks to Standard Time on Saturday night has given us back the gift of early darkness in which we can explore the wilderness above. Though it looks quite still, the celestial objects glittering in our sky are changing and dynamic, with most moving at speeds incomprehensible given ...