Looking Up: Name That Leftover

Feb 24, 2020

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout tells us a bit about the naming process for asteroids.

During another 80's musical interlude, I wondered how asteroids are named. Asteroids are those left-over parts of the cloud that formed our solar system. These planetesimals didn't quite make it to a full planet and literally are our debris field among the planets. There are more than 794,000 known minor planets known. 

Looking Up: Mars Meets The Moon

Feb 17, 2020

Mars does a disappearing act in the early morning sky on February 18. But not to worry, it's just hiding behind the moon, as Hal explains on this week's Looking Up.

We’ve talked before about how the planets revolve around the Sun in pretty much a flat plane that is roughly circular. And remember too that the moons going around the planets in the Solar System are also going around in that same basic plane. That means that every now and then, from a particular observer’s point of view, planets and moons can seem to get very close to each other, and in fact, pass one in front of the other. And that’s what’s going to happen in the Southern Colorado sky tomorrow morning in the wee hours.

Looking Up: Seeing Double

Feb 10, 2020
public domain / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking up Hal informs us about a star named Porrima. But is it one star or two?

High in the east in the Colorado night sky is the very interesting star Porrima. Or rather, I should say stars, because there are actually two stars orbiting each other, only 38 ly away. Or maybe I should just say “star” because whether you see one or two stars through a telescope depends on what year it is.

Looking Up: Free Streaming Featuring Major Stars

Feb 3, 2020
public domain /

This week on Looking Up Hal grabs a celestial lion by the tail.

One of my favorite constellations is Leo the Lion, now rising in the east after sunset. Leo has lots of interesting stars, and it also actually looks a bit like what it is supposed to be, a lion.

Looking Up: The Spectral Light Knows

Jan 27, 2020
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington /

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout takes on a listener question. 

One of our listeners, Scott K., asked a great question that is the basis of how we know, what we know about the universe. His question is: “How do astronomers determine things such as the existence of water and/or the estimated temperature on a planet that is light years away?”

Looking Up: Together Forever

Jan 20, 2020
User:AugPi / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up Hal doubles our pleasure and doubles our fun by revealing some of the secrets of the Gemini Twins.

Did you ever wish you had a twin brother or sister? Someone to be with and to talk to all the time? How about to spend all eternity with in the Colorado night sky? If you said yes to the latter, you may well be talking about the wonderful constellation of Gemini soaring in the Colorado night sky now through May.

Looking Up: A River Runs Through It

Jan 13, 2020
Mario Cogo (Galax Lux) /

This week's Looking Up has a certain flow to it as Hal talks about the river constellation.

There are lots of constellations up in the Colorado night sky all year round, with 88 total constellations all told. Today I want to tell you about one you may never have heard of, but is low in the Colorado sky right now, the river constellation, formally known as Eridanus.

Looking Up: (We Long To Be) Close To You

Jan 6, 2020
following Duoduoduo's advice, vector image: Gothika / wikimedia commons

Fortunately, our very own star won't be falling down from the sky anytime soon. However, we are the closest to ol' Sol right now than at any other point of our yearly path around the sun, as we learn on Looking Up this week.

Well, we are now in the deep, dark, days of winter. The holidays are behind us, and we’re still about a month away from having a groundhog predict when Spring will arrive. And so, with the cold winter winds blowing past you, let me ask, were you a bit warmer yesterday?

Looking Up: Just The Cold Hard Facts

Dec 23, 2019
Duke Marsh /

This week on Looking Up Hal gets around to telling us about an asterism visible in the night sky this time of year - the Winter Circle.

If you are a weather wimp, like I am, you prefer warm weather. That point of view is a bit unfortunate for astronomers, because the winter night sky seen here in Colorado is in many ways far more beautiful and interesting than what we see when it’s warm outside.

M. Procell

Yes, the darkest days are still ahead but spring can't be too far behind as we learn on Looking Up this week.

We’ve talked before about how the Earth is tilted on its axis, and that tilt gives us seasons and days of varying length, in terms of how many hours of Sun and darkness we have.

Looking Up: It's A Wonderful Light

Dec 9, 2019
JV Noriega /

This week on Looking Up Hal informs us about a beautiful cosmic conjunction in our evening sky.

There are things in our Colorado night sky that are really interesting, and there are things that are really beautiful to look at, and there are some things that are both. For the next few days, we get both!

Looking Up: It's All In The Point Of View

Dec 2, 2019
Torsten Bronger / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up Hal speaks of the star Furud, which means "the solitary one".

I’m sometimes asked how I pick what objects in the Colorado night sky to talk about. Sometimes I pick things that are beautiful and other times I pick things that are inherently interesting, and sometimes it’s both. And then there is today’s topic, the star Furud.

Looking Up: Spinning Under Control

Nov 25, 2019
NASA, Mysid / / public domain / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout sets his sights on the Earth's precession.

During a recent 80’s musical flashback, I wondered about a fundamental part of our movement in the universe.  It is well understood that our spherical earth spins on its axis providing the basic unit of time defined as a day.  That spin establishes an axis of rotation that we further define by having poles on the surface of the earth; in the north and south.  And like a top spinning in space, the Earth wobbles, or more precisely “precesses”.

Farmakopoulos Antonis /

This week on Looking Up we are California Nebula dreamin'.

We humans like to find order in chaos, and we have a trait, called Pareidolia, which leads us to try to see patterns in, well, lots of things. That’s why we think we see a man in the Moon, and why some folks thought they saw a face on Mars.

Looking Up: Happy 250th!

Nov 11, 2019
public domain /

This week Looking Up reaches a milestone episode.

For some reason that I’m sure sociologists and anthropologists fully understand, humans tend to like things in nice round numbers, or at least I do. And so, the topic of this week’s episode of Looking Up is, well, Looking Up, as we’ve reached the 250th edition of our little astronomy show.

Looking Up: Mercury In Transition

Nov 4, 2019

The planet Mercury will transit the sun on November 11th, and you're invited to the party!

Today I want to invite you to a very special party here at KRCC, coming up a week from today. It’s a very special event that rarely happens, and if you miss this one, you’ll have to wait years to see it again. I’m talking about the transit of the planet Mercury across the face of the Sun!

Photo Courtesy Joey Mathews

What happens to Pueblo chile seeds when they go to space? A group of students at Pueblo Community College will soon find out.

Looking Up: The Ages Of Aquarius

Oct 28, 2019
public domain / Photo via <a href="">Good Free Photos</a>

Bruce Bookout steers this week's episode of Looking Up and guides us to the constellation of Aquarius.

Constellations are fickle things.  Defining what shape you see and what that means is all derivative of your culture and what that pattern appears to be.  We call this pareidolia; the tendency to interpret a vague stimulus as something known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds or seeing faces on Mars. 

Looking Up: Knee High To A Queen

Oct 21, 2019
chaouki / Flickr: cassiopeia /

This week on Looking Up Hal kneels at the throne of Cassiopeia in order to pay homage to the star Ruchbah.

Today I’d like to tell you about an interesting star, high in the Colorado night sky right now, the star Ruchbah. Ruchbah is the 4th brightest star in the northern constellation of Cassiopeia. In Arabic, Ruchbah means “the knee” which makes sense, given that Cassiopeia is supposed to be a queen sitting on her throne.

Looking Up: Backup Is Just A Wobble Away

Oct 14, 2019
JA Galán Baho / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up Hal goes to Plan B, which is always good to have if you're heading into outer space.

I don’t know about you, but I like to have backups for things in my life. I carry an extra pen, and I like to have a backup plan if I’m going out. So, it seems reasonable that we have a backup north star, or pole star.

public domain /

This week on Looking Up we go on a planet hunt with Hal.

How many of the 8 planets can you see? (sorry, Pluto fans, there are 8). I admit, it is a bit of a trick question. But the month of October is an especially great month for planet watching, in which you can see SIX of the 8 planets, though you’ll need a telescope to see some of them.

Looking Up: Scooting Off To Scutum

Sep 30, 2019
Johannes Hevelius [Public domain] / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up we are 'shielded' from ignorance about the constellation Scutum, thanks to Bruce Bookout.

The night sky contains many odd objects besides the menagerie of strange creatures.  This time of year, in our southwestern sky, you will find a “shield” of stars. The shield is the constellation Scutum.

Looking Up: Tilt A Whirld

Sep 23, 2019
wikimedia commons

Happy Autumnal Equinox from Looking Up!

Today marks the September Equinox. Most folks have heard of the two equinox events we have every year, the beginning of spring, with the Spring Equinox in March, and the Fall Equinox that falls in September. And today’s the big day. So, what does that actually mean?

Looking Up: Dolphin Dreams

Sep 16, 2019
Jimmy Westlake (Colorado Mountain College) /

On Looking Up this week we hear about a diamond encrusted dolphin visible in the late summer skies above Colorado.

Quite often on these broadcasts, I talk about things that are really big. Heck, the universe is pretty large, so it makes sense that lots of big and cool things are out there. But today I want to talk with you about one of the tiniest of the constellations, Delphinus the Dolphin.

Screenshot: U.S. Space Command Facebook Page

A ceremony Monday at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs marked the official re-opening of the U.S. Space Command. 

Looking Up: A Not So Tiny Dancer

Sep 9, 2019
NASA, ESA and J. Olmsted (STScI) /

Tonight's the night for a tiny dot of light to dance across the sky in full opposition of the sun, as we learn on Looking Up.

Tonight is a special night for a tiny dot of light, and today’s episode could be titled “far out,” because the dot of light I want to tell you about is the magnificent planet Neptune.

Looking Up: Star Hunt

Sep 2, 2019
Online Star Register /

This week on Looking Up Hal takes us on a star safari to search for possibly the southern most star visible from the Colorado sky.

Do you feel like going on a bit of a star hunt? If so, pay attention as I tell you about the elusive star Al Nair, currently low in the SW sky.

Looking Up: That's Nice, But Now Back To Me...

Aug 26, 2019
Original image by Niko Lang / wikimedia commons

This week on Looking Up we learn how a world view did change. The only destruction talked about is that of Ptolomy's geocentric system. Count yourself in...

Ever consider yourself central to a discussion? We humans for many centuries considered ourselves the center of the discussion, literally the center of everything.  As a model for the cosmos we called that geo-centralism – the placement of the earth in the middle of it all. 

Looking Up: The Young And The Restless

Aug 19, 2019
Restoration by Adam Cuerden / U.S. Public Domain

This week on Looking Up we learn about a lonely star passing through our galaxy.

I’m going to talk extra fast today to tell you about an extra-fast star in the Colorado sky right now, Gamma Piscium, the second brightest star in Pisces the fish.

Expedition 28 crew - ISS /

This week on Looking Up Hal reminds us it's time once again for the Perseid meteor shower.

It’s time to revisit one of the best meteor showers of the year, the Perseids. Every mid-August the debris left behind by Comet Swift-Tuttle gets smacked into by the Earth as we orbit the Sun.