Stargazers from Creators Syndicate Creators Syndicate is an international syndication company that represents cartoonists and columnists of the highest caliber. en Fri, 15 Jan 2021 21:58:17 -0800 Stargazers from Creators Syndicate edff85f8ae14a2b55afe22246ed2c601 Our Cosmic Ancestors for 01/14/2021 Thu, 14 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Jan. 17-23, 2021</p> <p>We are made of star stuff. </p> <p>How often, over the years, have we encountered this phrase but never stopped to consider its true significance? <p>Updated: Thu Jan 14, 2021</p> 443d676f265b6b3aedb7a50f1d561928 The 'Linking' Star for 01/07/2021 Thu, 07 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Jan. 10-16, 2021</p> <p>Many folks believe that constellations are celestial pictures and are disappointed when they can't see these fanciful images from ancient times. That's because constellations are not pictures but areas of the sky. </p> <p>Astronomers have divided the heavens into 88 such areas, some large and some small. And as you might expect, each star we see is part of its own constellation. <p>Updated: Thu Jan 07, 2021</p> a2a2887718022e538ddee53d0a325df2 2021: A Year of Celestial Wonder for 12/31/2020 Thu, 31 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Jan. 3-9, 2021</p> <p>The beginning of each new year is filled with hope and optimism. This year will be no exception, especially after the gut-punch we received from 2020. And with the new year comes a list of resolutions we swear we'll follow. How many times can we possibly say, "And this year, I mean it!"</p> <p><span class="column--highlighted-text">There is one resolution, however, that can easily carry us through the entire year: keeping watch on the heavens. And believe me, 2021 will be, without question, quite good for sky watchers! </span><p>Updated: Thu Dec 31, 2020</p> e4f9eb9d6271bfcddf85da259cccdca6 Mooning Around on Winter Nights for 12/24/2020 Thu, 24 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Dec. 27, 2020 - Jan. 2, 2021</p> <p>The final full moon of 2020 arrives on Tuesday, Dec. 29, when it rises majestically over the northeastern horizon shortly after sunset. </p> <p>We astronomers usually schedule our observing programs for times when the sky isn't obscured by such bright moonlight. Whenever I'm invited somewhere and must decline because of the moon's phase &#8212; well, the looks I receive are priceless. <p>Updated: Thu Dec 24, 2020</p> 55f8a191cb0be44b3c83261f5b180806 A Change of Seasons for 12/17/2020 Thu, 17 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Dec. 20-26, 2020</p> <p>Nights have been growing longer; snow is blanketing much of the land; and furnaces are working overtime. Yes, there's definitely a change of seasons coming our way. </p> <p>It's surprising how many folks don't understand why the seasons even exist. Many believe that wintertime occurs because our planet lies farthest from the sun and we have lower temperatures as a result. Now, while it's true that our distance from the sun does change during the year, we're actually about 6 million miles closer to the sun during January than during July! <p>Updated: Thu Dec 17, 2020</p> 350a1dc3374e9db95be7fdc06838ba85 When Celestial Giants Meet for 12/10/2020 Thu, 10 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Dec. 13-19, 2020</p> <p>If you've got a small backyard telescope, this is the time to set it up, because next week, you'll witness something you may never witness again. On the evening of Dec. 21, stargazers looking low toward the southwestern sky during twilight will see the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn appear to merge into one. </p> <p>Keep an eye on these two planets over the next few days and you will be able to watch as their orbital motion (combined with that of the Earth) carries them closer and closer in the sky. <p>Updated: Thu Dec 10, 2020</p> 986643fc6b7922c08848c410840140a9 Which Astronomy Books Are Best? for 12/03/2020 Thu, 03 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Dec. 6-12, 2020</p> <p>One of the most common questions I hear around the holiday gift-giving season is this: "Which is the best book to buy for a beginning stargazer?"</p> <p>I wish it were that easy, but the fact is I just have no answer! Unfortunately, there is no one "best" book, any more than there's a "best" car, computer or brand of root beer. So much depends on your previous knowledge and experience, age, budget and preferences about what kind of book works for you. Instead, let me suggest that you visit your local library or bookstore, sit on the floor in the astronomy section, and begin flipping through all the books that capture your eye. That's what I would do.<p>Updated: Thu Dec 03, 2020</p> 81b2f0f3af4f86657e55914cf64569d7 Geminids Meteor Shower for 11/26/2020 Thu, 26 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5, 2020</p> <p>I was well into adulthood before I ever considered spending an entire night outdoors during December. Once I moved from the U.S. East Coast to a more temperate climate, however, I did this frequently. Why? Because I've since learned two things. </p> <p>First, there's no such thing as cold weather, only poor clothing choices. When I was young, my parents insisted that, to be warm, I must wear a heavy coat. Not true. The secret is to dress in loose-fitting layers of fabrics that trap in body heat. I now spend many winter nights each year under the stars and northern lights of the Arctic, where nighttime temperatures can plummet to well below zero degrees Fahrenheit &#8212; never a problem when I dress properly. To learn more about the subject, do a Google search on a phrase such as "dressing for cold weather" and you'll find many great tips. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 26, 2020</p> 19db988a236e3529c71355c79550c341 Penumbral Lunar Eclipse for 11/19/2020 Thu, 19 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Nov. 22-28, 2020</p> <p>During the predawn hours of Nov. 30, night owls and insomniacs in North America may see an eclipse of the moon as our nearest natural satellite drifts through the Earth's shadow as it orbits our planet. </p> <p>Technically, I should say "shadows" because the Earth (and all solid bodies illuminated by the sun) casts two shadows into space: a dark inner shadow we call the umbra and a light outer shadow known as the penumbra. You'll notice the same phenomenon on a sunny day if you cast the shadow of your hand onto a wall or sheet of white paper about two or three feet away and look carefully at the shadow's edge. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 19, 2020</p> 508504343ef23ff48724729cd07281e7 A Celestial Soap Opera for 11/12/2020 Thu, 12 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Nov. 15-21, 2020</p> <p>Did you ever wonder what folks did for entertainment before we had television and social media? Well, before TV and the internet, there was radio. And before radio &#8212; long before radio &#8212; there was ... well ... the sky. </p> <p>People decades or centuries ago didn't live in large, brightly lit urban areas like most do today. They enjoyed gazing at the night sky; they could recognize many of the stellar patterns there, and they often knew the mythology associated with them. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 12, 2020</p> 22456db241ac0fe8abf42eb87e498443 Seeing the Inner Planets at Dawn for 11/05/2020 Thu, 05 Nov 2020 00:00:00 -0800 <p>Week of Nov. 8-14, 2020</p> <p>In Roman times, it was known as the god of commerce, travel and thievery. The Greeks called it Hermes, the messenger of the gods, when it appeared at dusk, and they called it Apollo when they saw it at dawn. </p> <p>Today, we know it as Mercury &#8212; the nearest planet to the sun &#8212; and this elusive planet is back in our dawn sky this week for all to enjoy. <p>Updated: Thu Nov 05, 2020</p> cd32e5e6092fcd45256bdcd5f1f1c06f The Winter Stars are Coming! for 10/29/2020 Thu, 29 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Nov. 1-7, 2020</p> <p>Whenever I spot the constellation Taurus, the bull, rising in the east after dark, I know that winter can't be far behind. </p> <p>Stargazers with vivid imaginations might be able to trace the stars of Taurus into the outline of a bull's head and long horns, with the bright star Aldebaran marking its fiery red eye. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 29, 2020</p> 7cc1f3da86de0ef15fde295171740a48 A Halloween Blue Minimoon for 10/22/2020 Thu, 22 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Oct. 25-31, 2020</p> <p>Once every blue moon, weird things will happen. Who could possibly expect anything less from 2020? So, when I tell you that, on Halloween night, we'll experience an unusual situation in the heavens, you surely won't be surprised. </p> <p>Ghosts and goblins out that night will be illuminated by a full moon, the first that all of North America has experienced on that date since 1944. But this won't be just any ordinary old Halloween full moon. On that night, the moon will lie near its orbital "apogee" &#8212; its farthest point from the Earth (about 251,600 miles away) &#8212; and will appear as the smallest full moon of this year. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 22, 2020</p> cf2e205343b7329c4c8c313bceea68e7 The Demon Star for 10/15/2020 Thu, 15 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Oct. 18-24, 2020</p> <p>It's known as Algol, the Demon Star, and it glows diabolically in our sky each year as Halloween approaches. </p> <p>To find it this week, go outdoors during the early evening, and look low toward the northeast. The accompanying sky map should help you locate it. After dark, you will easily spot the bright star Capella twinkling wildly very low over the northeastern horizon. High above it lies the famous "W" of Cassiopeia (now nearly on its side, appearing more like the number "3"), and between Cassiopeia and Capella, you'll find the stars of Perseus with its bright stars Mirfak and Algol. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 15, 2020</p> c9ccff3bbd39da5b40950feb03f6d43a Are We Alone? for 10/08/2020 Thu, 08 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Oct. 11-17, 2020</p> <p>Who among us has never gazed into a starry night sky and wondered, "Are we alone in the universe?" With the hundreds of billions of stars in just our own Milky Way galaxy &#8212; many like our own sun &#8212; is it not possible that, orbiting nearby, there are planets and, at least on some of them, life? </p> <p>You may be surprised to learn that these are not questions conjured up by modern astronomers. In fact, they've been debated and studied for millennia. In a letter to Herodotus, the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus wrote: "There are infinite worlds both like and unlike this world of ours ... we must believe that in all world there are living creatures and plants and other living things we see in this world." <p>Updated: Thu Oct 08, 2020</p> e5f8301399868e45eb5652f74ce95ecf Encounter with the Red Planet for 10/01/2020 Thu, 01 Oct 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p></p><p>Week of Oct. 4-10, 2020</p> <p>It was Halloween eve 1938. Millions of war-jittery Americans listened as special news bulletins reported that the tiny town of Grover's Mill, New Jersey, had been captured by invaders from Mars. <p>Updated: Thu Oct 01, 2020</p> 4dfdc54e2799302553ddffa4b006d9dd Shine on Harvest Moon for 09/24/2020 Thu, 24 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Sept. 27 - Oct. 3, 2020</p> <p>If you're looking to score some points with your sweetie, here's a great idea. </p> <p>Late on the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 30 or Thursday, Oct. 1, pack a romantic picnic and a blanket, and head toward a hilltop with a nice, clear view of both the eastern and western horizons. Oh, and don't forget to take your sweetie with you. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 24, 2020</p> d64057c3fa2bca65fad7da93ca6452a2 Autumn Is Coming ... Thankfully! for 09/17/2020 Thu, 17 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Sept. 20-26, 2020</p> <p>Well, I don't know about you, but I've had just about as much of the summer of 2020 as I can take. I've lived in the desert for a quarter-century, and while I enjoy the hot, dry summers, three consecutive months is plenty, thank you. </p> <p>Couple the searing heat with smoke from all the western wildfires and wearing face masks outdoors, and, well, you can see why I'll be overjoyed to welcome autumn to our part of planet Earth next week. I can only hope that, within a few weeks, our high temperatures will drop back to consistently double-digit numbers and the smoke will finally clear out. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 17, 2020</p> 9c19cccc8333e4999163e31fb8a52d6e The Celestial Dragon for 09/10/2020 Thu, 10 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Sept. 13-19, 2020</p> <p>While leading one of my popular Night Sky Tours recently, our discussion somehow turned to the constellation of Draco, the dragon. </p> <p>Draco isn't one of the top 10 stellar groupings that people can name, but I was surprised that, when I mentioned it, I heard a chuckle coming from the darkness &#8212; as if I were making it all up. <p>Updated: Thu Sep 10, 2020</p> 9f6866ea0fbee524a9bd92bcc156676b Finding Neptune After Dark for 09/03/2020 Thu, 03 Sep 2020 00:00:00 -0700 <p>Week of Sept. 6-12, 2020</p> <p>Scientists are in the business of classifying everything from butterflies to rocks to clouds to stars. And sometimes, when new understanding becomes available, they must go back and reclassify things to make them better fit the scheme. </p> <p>So, it should have come as no surprise to anyone who follows science that astronomers reclassified Pluto &#8212; a tiny ice ball near the edge of our planetary system &#8212; as a "dwarf planet." <p>Updated: Thu Sep 03, 2020</p>