The Sky Tonight Update: Blue Moon & Mars at Opposition, May 20-23

This May 21st, the Moon will be located on the opposite side of the Earth as the Sun and its face will be fully illuminated. This full moon was known by early Native American tribes as the Full Flower Moon because this was the time of year when spring flowers appeared in abundance. This moon has also been known as the Full Corn Planting Moon and the Milk Moon. Since this is the third of four full moons in this season, it is known as a blue moon. This rare calendar event only happens once every few years, giving rise to the term, “once in a blue moon.” There are normally only three full moons in each season of the year. But since full moons occur every 29.53 days, occasionally a season will contain 4 full moons. The extra full moon of the season is known as a blue moon. Blue moons occur on average once every 2.7 years.

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Sky Tonight Update: Total Solar Eclipse – 03/09/2016

total solar eclipse 2016

This year, on March 9th, there will be a Total Solar Eclipse, visible over Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean. A total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely blocks the Sun, revealing the its beautiful outer atmosphere known as the corona. An eclipse thereby totally or partly obscures the image of the Sun for a viewer on Earth. The view you see here will be the view of the sky visible in parts of central Indonesia and the Pacific Ocean.

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The Sky Tonight Update: March 8 – Jupiter at Opposition

jupiter at opposition

March 8 will bring us what is called “Jupiter at Opposition.” This means the giant planet will be at its closest approach to Earth and its face will be fully illuminated by the Sun. Jupiter will be brighter than any other time of the year and will be visible all night long. It will be seen on the eastern horizon after sunset under the constellation Leo, the lion.

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The Irene W. Pennington Planetarium Blog is Your Place for the Astronomical Calendar of 2016

astronomy calendar 2016

Hello everyone:  people of Baton Rouge and around the world.  This is just an update for what is going to happen periodically through 2016 on this blog.  Here at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and the Irene W. Pennington Planetarium, we will be producing a series of astronomical updates that will be appearing both on our big planetarium dome and on this blog.  Most of the significant astronomical events will be discussed here in detail and accompanied by an original video production.
These videos will, for the most part, display what you will see in your Baton Rouge sky and where you can find what is being discussed.

Sometimes there will be astronomical events outside the US.  We’ll cover those, too.  For example, the total solar eclipse coming up on March 9th will be discussed this coming Monday.  Look forward to a video detailing what the eclipse will look like from Indonesia and what it will look like from space.

So, for all upcoming blogs labeled “The Sky Tonight Update” you can find not only information on  what is coming up in your sky, but a video production of that very event as well.

Come back soon, we’ll be having many of these updates–as well as other blogs about interesting astronomical events–throughout the coming year.

~ Jay Lamm, Planetarium Producer
Louisiana Art & Science Museum

The David Bowie Constellation – Aladdin Sane

aladdin sane

Since the passing of David Bowie, Belgian astronomers have announced an unofficial constellation dedicated to the musician, located just below Virgo.  The grouping of stars makes out the shape of a lightening bolt, familiarized from the cover of Bowie’s 1973 album, “Aladdin Sane.”  But where can you find it and is it truly constellation? Continue reading

Meet the Black Hole 21 Billion Times the Mass of Our Sun

ngc 4889

It is believed that the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way Galaxy, Sagittarius A, is 4 million solar masses.  This is the the most massive object in our galaxy.  Even so, it is dwarfed in comparison with the black hole located at the center of NGC 4889, a galaxy 308 million light-years away at the center of the Coma Cluster.  This elliptical galaxy is one of the brightest and largest galaxies in the Coma Cluster, and even though it doesn’t display much activity, it contains a black hole with a mass 21 billion times that of our Sun.

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