Hal Bidlack

Looking Up: Tilt The Season

Sep 17, 2018
open clipart

This week on Looking Up we learn the astronomical reason for the seasonal changes.

I have breaking news from the world of astronomy. The Earth has seasons! Ok, so maybe you already knew that. But do you know why? Ok, you probably do. You know that the Earth is tilted off being straight up and down in space by about 23 ½ degrees. But do you know why? Well, it’s because, we think, not too long after the Earth was formed, it got smacked by a massive collision with a protoplanet perhaps the size of Mars that knocked our fair planet off vertical and into, well, having seasons.

Looking Up: Vanishing Point

Sep 10, 2018
NASA / nasa.gov

Sometimes when a thing becomes hidden, something else is revealed. Hal reveals an upcoming occultation in this week's episode of Looking Up. 

One of the great things about astronomy is that there are so many different things you can look at. Some astronomers are fascinated with planets, while others study entire galaxies. And there are some dedicated amateur astronomers that are all about asteroids – those hunks of material left over from the formation of our solar system.

Looking Up: C'mon Back Neptune

Sep 3, 2018
NASA/JPL / nasa.gov

When a planet appears to reverse course and move 'backwards' in the night sky it's said to be in retrograde motion. You may have heard about Mercury doing that but other planets do, as well. This week on Looking Up we learn of Neptune's impending retro action.

Lots of things are going retro – fashion, TV shows, and giant balls of gas. That last one refers to the giant gas planet Neptune, the most distant planet in the solar system.

Looking Up: One More Time...

Aug 20, 2018
N.A.Sharp/NOAO/AURA/NSF / nasa.gov / earthsky.org

On this week's Looking Up Hal points out the meteoric rise of GZ (short for comet Giacobini-Zinner) a celestial visitor visible in the Colorado sky this month.

Comets, you recall, are often called dirty snowballs in space. They are made up of the original materials from the formation of the solar system, and thus are some of the oldest things out there. Trillions of comets slowly circle the Sun way, way out there, many times farther than Pluto, in a cloud of comets known as the Oort Cloud. Some of these comets will never fall in toward the inner-solar system, and others will drop by and then zip away for thousands, or even millions of years.

Looking Up: A Big Baby Begs For Attention

Aug 13, 2018
Till Credner - AlltheSky.com / wikipedia

When you're No. 2 you have to shine a little harder. This week on Looking Up we learn of the 2nd brightest,  but much lesser known star in the constellation Aquila.

If you’ve listened to Looking Up for the past three years or so, you may have noticed that sometimes I talk about really obvious things, like, say, the Moon or the Sun, or Jupiter or Saturn. And other times, I tell you about very obscure things that you likely have never heard of. I do the latter for two reasons. First, I think some of these lesser known things are really cool, and second, it gives you something to talk about at cocktail parties.

Looking Up: Cosmic Debris

Aug 6, 2018
Jean-Francois Graffand / nasa.gov

The Perseid Meteor Shower is back and the 2018 edition could be a banner event as we learn on Looking Up this week.

Looking Up: The God Of War Is Getting Rusty

Jul 30, 2018
Damian Peach, Chilescope team / nasa.gov

This week Mars will be as big as the full moon (as long as it's viewed through a telescope at about 100x magnification).

There’s a rusty planet up on the Southern Colorado sky right now that is definitely worth taking a look at, because you’ll won’t see it this well again until 2035. I’m talking about Mars, and as it turns out, the orbits of Mars and the Earth are such that right now, Mars is about as close as it ever gets to Earth. In more “normal” years, so to speak, Mars is still a pretty thing in a telescope. With decent optics, you can make out the frozen pole and some dark places on the surface. With Mars so close, we should get even better views.

Looking Up: There May Be Snow On The Roof...

Jul 23, 2018
New Horizons Mission / nasa.gov

But there's still fire, or some mysterious heat source, deep in the belly of Pluto, as we learn on Looking Up this week.

OK, I admit it, I’m a sucker for Pluto. The diminutive dwarf planet has always fascinated me, and I still clearly remember a few years ago when I was able to actually observe the tiny speck of light that is Pluto through my own telescope.

Looking Up: A Spot That's Hard To Spot

Jul 9, 2018
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington / nasa.gov

It's a good week to try and find the closest planet to our sun.

Often times, the brightest objects in the sky are our fellow planets. Jupiter, Saturn, and especially Venus blaze in the night sky. But the most elusive of all the planets to see might well be one that isn't farthest from the Sun, but rather is closest, the remarkable planet Mercury.

Looking Up: Miss Beehiven

Jun 18, 2018
Copyright: Jimmy Westlake (Colorado Mountain College) / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Venus entertains the Beehive Cluster in a celestial gathering of lovely and luminous objects.

Have you been wondering what that really bright star-like thing is in the western sky after sundown? Well, it’s the planet Venus, the third brightest thing in our sky, after the Sun and the Moon.

NASA/Penn State University / wikipedia / public domain

This week on Looking Up we are introduced to Barnard's Star.

There is a lovely constellation in the Southern Colorado sky right now, with the awkward name of Ophiuchus. And in Ophiuchus is a remarkable star with the unusually possessive name of Barnard’s Star.

Looking Up: Will Work For Helium

Jun 4, 2018
Till Credner, AlltheSky.com / wikipedia

This week on Looking Up we comb through Leo the Lion's mane and discover a star by the name of Algenubi. 

We’ve talked before about constellations that really don’t look like what they’re named after, and some that do. The constellation Leo falls into that second group, as the bright star Regulus anchors the neck, so to speak, of the lion, with five stars above making what looks like a backwards question mark, or more correctly, the head and mane of the lion. And the very last star in that mane, out at the end, is the very cool star with a very long name, Al Ras Al Asad Al Janubiyyah, known today simply as Algenubi.

Looking Up: Big Little Ceres

May 21, 2018
Gregory H. Revera, NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up we check in on one of our solar system neighbors... Ceres.

Can we talk Ceres for a minute? Or, more precisely, 90 seconds? You see, Ceres, the largest asteroid in the Solar System, is particularly well positioned to observe this week, and you should take a look – Ceres-ously!

Looking Up: In The Court Of The Planet King

May 14, 2018
NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester) / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we learn about the second biggest object in our solar system - Jupiter.

May is a great month in the southern Colorado sky if you like things that are really big. What's the biggest thing in our neck of the woods? I'll give you a hint, it's the Sun, which contains 99.98% of all the mass of the entire Solar System - planets, asteroids, comets, dust, the works.

Looking Up: Zub A Dub Dub, 3 Stars In A...

May 7, 2018
Francois du Toit / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we learn about an interesting star system, and also how to pronounce Zubenelgenubi.

There is a very interesting star to see in the southern Colorado sky right now, and it’s pretty easy to find this month. Why? Because it has a giant ball of gas nearby as a marker. That’s right, the massive planet Jupiter, the brightest thing in our sky after the Moon and Venus is just below the difficult to pronounce star that is in the constellation of Libra.

Looking Up: Hey Hey, It's Better To Burn Out...

Apr 23, 2018
JA Galán Baho / commons.wikimedia.org

Movie stars have been known to lead secret lives. This week on Looking Up Hal divulges the secret of a star called Izar.

There is an interesting star, or rather two stars, up in the Colorado night sky that is, or are, very cool, and by that, I mean hot, the nifty star Izar, in the constellation of Bootes.

Looking Up: Galactic Hydra-tion

Apr 9, 2018
Angus Lau / nasa.gov

As it turns out, galaxies tend to hang out in groups. We learn more about that on this week's Looking Up.

April showers bring May flowers, but clear nights in April bring one of the most wonderful and beautiful things up in the sky, clusters of galaxies.

Looking Up: Two For Tea

Apr 2, 2018
M. Procell

This week on Looking Up Hal invites us out for a 'steaming' cup of 'celestial tea'.

One of the frustrations of looking at the sky can be wondering how the heck astronomers decided a particular pattern of stars looks like.

Till Credner, AlltheSky.com / Creative Commons / Wikimedia Commons

This week on Looking Up we learn about a rising star in the east that is a harbinger of spring and summer weather.

We are only a couple days away from the beginning of Spring, at least astronomically speaking. And for astronomers, one of the stars we look for as a sign that warmer days are ahead is the brilliant Arcturus, the brightest star in the roughly kite-shaped constellation of Bootes.

Looking Up: I Am Algieba, Hear Me Roar

Mar 12, 2018
the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

This week on Looking Up Hal starts looking ahead to a famous springtime constellation...

One of my favorite constellations, Leo the Lion, is back in our night sky.

Looking Up: Our Not So Little Runaway

Mar 5, 2018
This work has been released into the public domain by its author, Kryptid at the English Wikipedia project.

Have you seen Naos, the runaway star? This week on Looking Up Hal pinpoints it in the night sky for us.

There is an interesting and odd star visible in the Southern Colorado sky right now that is worth a look, the strange and lovely star Naos, at just under 1000 ly from Earth.

Looking Up: 'V' Is For Hyades

Feb 26, 2018
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo / nasa.gov

There are two 'sister' star clusters in the constellation Taurus the Bull. This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout introduces us to the five daughters of Atlas... the Hyades.

Over the last few years we have discussed the beautiful winter asterism known as the Pleiades. These fair maidens of the night are an easily found object high above in the constellation Taurus the Bull.  What most observers overlook are the other sisters that form a ‘V’ shape that marks the head of the  celestial bull.

Looking Up: So Long And Thanks For All The Barium

Feb 19, 2018
Image via bisque.com / earthsky.org

This week on Looking Up... meet Alphard, a giant orange sun that seems to have lost its partner but gained a lot of barium in the process.

In earlier episodes, we’ve talked about the bright stars that make up the winter night sky here in southern Colorado. We’ve talked about the very bright Sirius, and the only slightly less bright Procyon, Castor, Pollux, and so on. Today, I want to tell you about a very interesting star that is a bit farther to the east, forming a triangle, laying on its side, with Sirius and Procyon, the weird orange star Alphard.

Looking Up: This Subject Matter Is 'Way Out There'

Feb 12, 2018
Image Credit & Copyright: Damian Peach, Jose J. Chambo / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal gives us the extended celestial forecast - partly cloudy, with a chance for comets...

I admit it; I’m a sucker for comets. I can’t help but wax a tad philosophic when I think of these remarkable and ancient objects. There are famous comets that come back regularly – think Halley’s Comet – and there are others, like the very bright Comet West back in 1976, that have much larger orbits, over 70,000 times the Earth-Sun distance, and so won’t return for about 500 million years, give or take. 

Image Credit & Copyright: Jingyi Zhang / nasa.gov

This week  Hal dusts off a topic we covered previously on Looking Up but is now in need of an update.

A couple years ago I told you about a cool thing you can see in the Southern Colorado sky, Zodiacal Light! And the good news is, it’s back.

M. Procell

This week on Looking Up Hal prepares us for the impending total lunar eclipse. 

Set your alarms early for Wednesday, January 31st, because it will be your only chance in 2018, and your first in two years, to see a total lunar eclipse! And we in the West have the best look at it, as the Moon sets for folks east of the Mississippi before the show really gets going.

Looking Up: Flashy Footstool

Jan 15, 2018
Original uploader was Orthogaffe at fr.wikipedia / Wikimedia Commons

This week on Looking Up Hal points out a lesser known star near the constellation Orion that appears to want our attention.

We’re just two weeks into the New Year, and already I’m going to curse, sort of, on the radio. That’s because today I want to talk to you about the very interesting star, Cursa, high in the Colorado sky right now.

Looking Up: Seeing Red

Jan 8, 2018
earthsky.org

Wondering what some of those bright and colorful objects rising in the eastern pre dawn sky are? This week on Looking Up Hal identifies some of those mysterious spheres.

I warned you last week that you’ll need to get up early to see most of the stuff I’m talking about in January, and this episode is no exception. But, if you do get up early, you’ll get to see something really cool, and I mean that literally.

M. Procell

Happy New Year! This week on Looking Up you can get an early start on scanning the 2018 skies. Inconspicuous Mercury is in the pre dawn sky, and a full blown moon dominates tonight.

As you listen to the upcoming January episodes of Looking Up, you may find a common theme – stuff to look at in the early morning. Sometimes things just line up that way.

Jason Furman from CSAS

Audio Pending...

It's a very appropriately themed topic of wonderment on Looking Up this week...

Merry Christmas everyone, and in keeping with the holiday spirit let’s talk about the Christmas tree you can find in the Colorado night sky right now, the Christmas Tree Nebula! 

Pages