Thursday, August 04, 2005

My article in Nightsky magazine

I have an article about astronomy and backyard observing in the latest issue of Nightsky magazine. It's about the occultation of Antares by the moon, which I observed back in March and wrote about briefly.

Nightsky doesn't publish online, so I am putting in the first two paragraphs to entice you into buying it.

Antares is the orange-red heart of the constellation Scorpius and one of the brightest stars in the sky. I always associate it with warm summer evenings, so it was unusual and even a bit strange for me to want to see it before dawn last March 3rd with the temperature below freezing. But I had a very good reason. I wasn’t about to miss the rare chance to watch the Moon cover it up and to see it reappear an hour later.

Astronomers call an event like this an occultation. It’s simply one body passing in front of another, blocking the latter from view. That can include everything from small asteroids blotting out distant stars to the grand spectacle of the Moon covering the Sun during a total solar eclipse.

As I found that frosty March morning, it’s not hard to watch a bright star disappear behind the Moon....