Everything that we’ve covered thus far has been about how to create an automated, in-the-can, movie-style, Sky Tonight show. We, of course, also do Live Sky Tonight shows as well. Both the Live and Auto versions of the Sky Tonight show are two very different beasts, requiring different methods of production.
When you come to the Louisiana Art & Science Museum and see a Sky Tonight show—when you see the stars on the dome, the planets in orbit, the deep sky objects far beyond our own galaxy—you’re actually looking at a 3D model of our observable universe. Every star, planet, and object is placed where they belong in space. You’re underneath a dome that operates essentially like a digital universe. Navigating through this and making a show with the enormity of space can be a little bit tricky. Well, that’s where I come in.
In May, we are looking away from the crowded, dusty plane of our own galaxy—toward a region where the sky is brimming with distant galaxies. Locate Virgo to find a concentration of roughly 2,000 galaxies—and search for Coma Berenices to identify many more. Keep watching for space-based views of the galaxies, including the Sombrero Galaxy, M87, and M64.
In February, the Winter Triangle is your guide to the night sky: The northern hemisphere is treated to views of the stars Procyon, Sirius, and Betelgeuse. Keep watching for the awe-inspiring space-based views of the Orion Nebula, which is sculpted by the stellar winds of central bright stars.
“Tonight’s Sky” is a monthly video of constellations you can observe in the night sky. The series is produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope, in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning. This is a recurring show, and you can find more episodes—and other astronomy videos—at https://hubblesite.org/videos/science.
In September, your binoculars will reveal the rusty surface of Mars, iconic rings of Saturn, the waxing Moon—and the comet Giacobini-Zinner, which passes through the constellation of Auriga.
Find out more about what you can see from your backyard, front stoop, or local park by viewing this monthly program. “Tonight’s Sky” is produced by HubbleSite.org, online home of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Mid-month, the Perseid meteor shower—an always-anticipated feature of the August night sky—will peak. Backyard telescopes will also reveal sunlight reflecting off the clouds of Venus’s thick atmosphere and the Ring Nebula, an expanding shell of glowing gas in the constellation Lyra.
Find out more about what you can see from your backyard, front stoop, or local park by viewing this monthly program.
This post is courtesy of HubbleSite.org
The Ursids is a minor meteor shower producing about 5-10 meteors per hour. It is produced by dust grains left behind by comet Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1790. The shower runs annually from December 17-25. It peaks this year on the the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd. The crescent moon will set early in the evening leaving dark skies for optimal observing. Best viewing will be just after midnight from a dark location far away from city lights. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Ursa Minor, but can appear anywhere in the sky.
The December solstice occurs at 16:28 UTC. The South Pole of the earth will be tilted toward the Sun, which will have reached its southernmost position in the sky and will be directly over the Tropic of Capricorn at 23.44 degrees south latitude. This is the first day of winter (winter solstice) in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer (summer solstice) in the Southern Hemisphere.
This December 18, the Moon will located on the same side of the Earth as the Sun and will not be visible in the night sky. This phase occurs at 06:30 UTC. This is the best time of the month to observe faint objects such as galaxies and star clusters because there is no moonlight to interfere.
The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The waning crescent moon will be no match for the Geminids this year. The skies should still be dark enough for an excellent show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.