Not the Big One. Comet PanSTARRS in the evening sky on March 22nd.
One aspect of being an avid sky watcher is that the passage of time isn’t marked just with pages in a calendar, but also by gaps — the spaces between “once-in-a-lifetime” events. It's been over 15 years since Comet Hale-Bopp visited the inner solar system and the gap widens with each passing year spent watching amd waiting for the arrival of the next great comet. Could the wait finally be ending?
This past summer I tried my hand at medium-format astrophotography for the first time. While digital imaging has largely eclipsed emulsion-based photography, old-school techniques and materials can still yield pleasing results. There’s just something about a black-and-white Milky Way photo that evokes the work of E. E. Barnard, much the same way that high-contrast landscape photography inevitably draws comparisons with Ansel Adams.
Waiting for twilight's end at the Table Mountain Star Party.
The summer star-party season is in full swing once again and it's time to hit the road! As an editor for Sky & Telescope magazine, I’ve traveled to most major (and quite a few minor) star parties in North America. They’re fun events and tend to have a number of things in common. Here’s a rundown of my top ten star party perks.
The most impressive bunch of sunspots in a long while recently slipped off the face of the Sun, but not before unleashing an X-class flare and triggering an auroral show visible even from southern Canada. Here's hoping there's more to come soon.
After a gloomy start to the day and an equally gloomy weather forecast, I had all but given up hope of seeing the transit of Venus. Oh well, I told myself, at least I got to see a bit of the 2004 event. And then, miracle of miracles, at midday the Sun broke through the clouds and by first contact, the sky was clear. Venus bit into the solar limb exactly on time, and all was right with the universe.
My copy of Sky&Telescope’s new Moon globe arrived recently and I’ve been enjoying it ever since. I have a special fondness for lunar cartography. I’m proud to say that I helped create both the Sky&Telescope Moon Map and Field Map of the Moon and I also got to serve as editor for Antonín Rükl’s classic Atlas of the Moon. But there’s one thing that these flat maps and even computer software can't do very well — show you the entire Moon from any perspective quckly and easily.
It appears Amazon is back in stock with my book Binocular Highlights. But if you’re interested in picking up a signed copy, you can get one from me directly. I have a very limited supply left, so it’s strictly first come, first serve.
Use the "Contact me" link to the left to drop me a line for details if you’re interested.
My book, Binocular Highlights is currently keeping company at the top of its category with two of my favourite titles: Terence Dickinson's NightWatch (the very best introduction to the hobby of backyard stargazing) and Sky & Telescope's Pocket Star Atlas, which I think is the finest general purpose star atlas. Of course I'm biased in my opinions. I worked on the atlas and Terence Dickinson is my editor at the fine Canadian magazine SkyNews. Still, as the Amazon rankings illustrate, I'm not the only one who thinks these are good books!. (And for those of you unfamiliar with my book, you can look it over here at Amazon.com.)
Sunset as seen from 10° north latitude.
(Camera: Agfa Isolette II; Film: Fuji Reala 100, 120 format)
Our 8th annual Costa Rica Southern Star Party ran from February 27th to March 6th and proved to be one of the biggest and best of the series. There was plenty of starlight and sunshine and a good time was had by all.
I was recently interviewed for the Houston Astronomical Society’s newsletter GuideStar. I’ve been interviewed a few times before and have found that the quality of the resulting article depends hugely on the interviewer. Prep is everything. And in this case, Clayton Jeter was a real pro. His questions were thoughtful and interesting, and clearly the result of having done his homework.