Looking Up

Each week Hal Bidlack from the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society alerts Southern Colorado listeners to what to watch for in our night skies.

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Looking Up: Royal Road

Mar 25, 2019

Bruce Bookout carries the weight of this week's episode of Looking Up in which four majestic stars come together for something special. Why? Because we want you to know how ancient cultures viewed the night sky.

Around 3000 BCE, the Persians looked at the sky saw kingliness.  They had four stars they considered “Royal Stars”; Aldebaran, Antares, Fomalhaut and Regulus. 

Looking Up: On Its Last Dogleg

Mar 18, 2019
constellation photo by unknown author licensed under creative commons; additional 'struggling star' artwork created by A.R. Procell / CC BY-SA-NC

This week on Looking Up we learn about a distant star that sure could use a leg up on finding another supply of hydrogen for its core.

If you have been thinking that these Looking Up segments are increasingly going to the dogs, I must agree, at least about today, because I want to tell you about a neat star in the constellation Canis Major, or the big dog, that follows Orion the Hunter across the Colorado night sky right now. The special star is Mirzam, the right front leg of the big dog, below and to the right of the brightest star in the sky, Sirius.

Looking Up: This Star Is Linkedin

Mar 11, 2019
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors) / nasa.gov

On this week's episode of Looking Up we hear about two familiar constellations and what they have in common.

We’ve talked before about most everyone’s favorite winter constellation, Orion the Hunter. We’ve also talked about Taurus the Bull, who is the target of Orion’s hunt. And today, I want to talk with you about a cool star in Taurus that is visible in the Colorado night sky right now.

NASA/JPL-Caltech / nasa.gov

Good news/bad news on this week's episode of  Looking Up. Now you can check the weather before your trip to Mars, but you probably won't like it. 

We are, or at least I hope we are, nearing the end of a long and cold winter. I for one do not like cold temps, but I do like what a great job the national weather service does in keeping us up to date on the weather forecast. Today I want to tell you about a very different weather prediction site that is available to you, over at nasa.gov.

Looking Up: Fuelish Behavior

Feb 25, 2019
Wellentheorie blog (https://wellentheorie.wordpress.com/) / Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial 4.0 International license (CC BY-NC 4.0)

Sirius may be the 'big dog' in the constellation Canis Major but Wezen can throw its 'weight' around, too, as we learn on this week's Looking Up.

Today I want to tell you about a very interesting star in the Colorado night sky right now, but be sure to lift with your knees when you look at the star Wezen. The name means, well, literally weight. Wezen is the third brightest star in the constellation of Canis Major, the big dog.

Looking Up: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

Feb 18, 2019
M. Procell

Hal is 'over the moon' in bringing us this week's episode of Looking Up.

One object I never tire of is our old, dependable Moon. I really love the Moon, and I love to explore the mountains, ridges, and craters through my telescopes.

Looking Up: Or Not?

Feb 11, 2019
yves_guillou / Creative Commons Open Clipart

Hal Bidlack takes a measured approach to the constellation Sextan in this week's episode of Looking Up.

As this month’s shows mark four years since I first started making Looking Up episodes, I thought today I’d so something a bit different than I have been the last 200 plus episodes.

Looking Up: The Luminosity Of Leavitt

Feb 4, 2019
public domain / wikipedia

This week on Looking Up guest host Caitlyn Voige illuminates a luminary by the name of Henrietta Swan Leavitt.

When we look up into the night sky, stars look immeasurably small and distant, unchanging and everlasting. One woman, however, helped to find the distances to stars, and her name was Henrietta Swan Leavitt.

public domain / www.goodfreephotos.com

This week on Looking Up Mike Procell has a few more tips on nightscape photography.

The world can be a dark place. Half of it literally is at any given moment. The good news is nowadays you can readily capture beautiful images in the dark.

Looking Up: Enter The Dragon

Jan 21, 2019
By Firkin / open clipart / public domain

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout is back, and he has a dragon 'tale' to tell.

Our Colorado skies contains a constellation that coils around the north celestial pole.  Let’s briefly discuss the dragon constellation – Draco.

Looking Up: Is It Better To Burn Out Or Fade Away?

Jan 14, 2019
Derrick Lim / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal spotlights Bellatrix, one of his favorite stars in the constellation Orion.

The mighty constellation of Orion dominates Colorado’s winter sky, and it’s a wonderful area of the sky to observe with a telescope, binoculars, or just naked eye.

M. Procell

This week on Looking Up Mike Procell interrupts Hal's life story to talk a bit about night sky photography. 

Nightscape photography is something you can easily try your hand at. All you basically need is a camera that you can hold the shutter open for more than few seconds. DSLR cameras are perfect for this application.

Looking Up: New Horizons For A New Year

Dec 31, 2018
NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI / nasa.gov

On this New Year's Eve edition of Looking Up Hal makes sure we don't forget an old acquaintance - the New Horizons spacecraft.

With New Years Day tomorrow, many of us will be thinking about the coming year and wondering about the new horizons we will see. But before we talk about new horizons, I’d like to talk about a very cool thing that is happening tomorrow with the old New Horizons.

Looking Up: A North Star By Any Other Name...

Dec 24, 2018
By Anonymous. Originally uploaded by Dan Gerhards / Creative Commons Open Clipart

This week on Looking Up we learn that even an old workhorse star like Polaris needs a little time off now and then. We also learn which star will be filling in for Polaris as the "north star". 

Have you ever looked up at the stars and wondered which of those thousands upon thousands of visual stars might have planets going around them?

Looking Up: Wazn This Nice?

Dec 17, 2018
worker / Creative Commons Open Clipart

This week on Looking Up Hal passes along a 'speedy' season's greeting of peace and love. 

Well, it’s the season of peace and love, so let’s talk about a very interesting star, Wazn, in the constellation of Columba the Dove. Didn’t know there was a dove up in the sky? No worries, most folks don’t. There is also a telescope and a microscope, but those are for another episode.

Looking Up: Right Where You Belong

Dec 10, 2018
Sidney Hall. Restoration by Adam Cuerden / Wikimedia Commons

This week on Looking Up Hal invites us to 'check out' a star by the name of Sheratan, conveniently located in the Colorado night sky near you.

If you are ever wondering where to spend a night looking at the Colorado night sky, may I suggest stopping by the Sheratan? And by Sheratan, I mean the very cool star Sheratan, high in our night sky right now.

Looking Up: A Celestial Trifecta

Dec 3, 2018
NASA/JPL-Caltech / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal points out two planets and a star hanging relatively close together in the early December night sky.

If you take a look to the west after dark, you will likely notice the bright red planet Mars gleaming in the Colorado night sky. But on either side of Mars you can see, two other cool things, although you’ll need a telescope to see one of them.

Looking Up: Large Visitor To A Small Planet

Nov 26, 2018
herval / Wikimedia Commons / flickr

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout sends us an invitation to learn more about the meaning of meteorites in the Native American community.

In Native American communities, space rocks are not just astronomical curiosities; they are sacred objects.  One such famous meteorite is known by the Grand Ronde tribes of Oregon as “Tomanowos”; translated as “heavenly visitor” or “visitor from the moon”. 

Looking Up: The Universe... Big, Isn't It?

Nov 19, 2018
Marshall McCall/York University / earthsky.org

This week on Looking Up, Tammy Terwelp, the General Manager of 91.5 KRCC, is the guest host. She gives us an idea of just how big the universe is.

We’ve been airing the weekly Looking Up show for just under 4 years now, and during that time, listeners have heard Hal talk about lots of different and amazing things in the Colorado sky. We’ve learned about planets, galaxies, comets, stars, and more. But one thing I’ve wondered about is just how much stuff is out there? In other words, how big is big?

Looking Up: So Close, So Far

Nov 12, 2018

This week on Looking Up Hal speaks of night sky wonders both near and far. 

There are lots and lots of amazing and wonderful things in the Colorado night sky. Some make you say “wow” because of how beautiful they are and others because of the wonder of what you are actually seeing. And if you are an early riser this Wednesday, November 14th, you get to see something that is both – a pair of bright and beautiful objects very close to each other.

Looking Up: Khan-Gratulations Are In Order...

Nov 5, 2018
X-ray: NASA/CXC/RIT/J.Kastner et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI / nasa.gov

To the star Menkar, which, as we learn on this week's episode of Looking Up, is well on its way to becoming a planetary nebula.

With the end of daylight savings time, the nights come early to southern Colorado. And while that make it tough to get a round of golf in after work, it makes it easier to look up at the many cool things in the Colorado night sky. And one of the coolest, literally, is the very interesting star Menkar.

Looking Up: Can You Hear Me Now?

Oct 29, 2018
E. Kolmhofer, H. Raab; Johannes-Kepler-Observatory, Linz, Austria (http://www.sternwarte.at) / wikipedia

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout inspires us with comet 'tales' from various cultures.

Comets are very remarkable objects in the night sky. Most celestial bodies travel across the skies at regular, predictable intervals; comets' movements have always seemed very erratic and unpredictable. Ancient people in many cultures believed that the gods dictated their motions and were sending them as a message.

Looking Up: From Dusk To Dawn

Oct 22, 2018
NASA/Erich Karkoschka (Univ. Arizona) / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal gives us the low down on a planet that will be up all night long. 

Regular listeners of Looking Up will recall that I really like the planet Uranus. Uranus is cool in many ways – it’s the first planet discovered in modern times, as it is too dim for ancient folks to properly map it. It also is tipped way over on its axis, with a single year lasting 84 Earth years, Uranus has 42 years when only the northern hemisphere gets sunlight, followed by 42 years with only the south getting some sun. So, you want to plan your Uranus vacations carefully.

NASA / JPL-Caltech / MPS / DLR/ IDA / PSI / nasa.gov

This week Hal takes a "vested" interest in space rocks of all kinds.

Have you ever touched a rock that was not of this Earth? If you visited the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, you may well have stood in line to touch the moon rock they have on display in the great hall. But other than that, have you touched a moon rock? A rock from Mars? Or even an asteroid?

Well, maybe.

Looking Up: Hamal Is A Special Star, Just Like Every Star

Oct 8, 2018
public domain / Creative Commons

This week on Looking Up Chloe Brooks-Kistler returns as guest host with some info on Hamal, a protoype orange giant star.

Today’s edition of Looking Up is going to be, well, very average. And that’s because the subject of today’s episode is a very average star named Hamal. But in this case, being average is very, very helpful to astronomers. Let me tell you why.

Looking Up: 'B' Is For Brightest

Oct 1, 2018
Till Credner - AlltheSky.com / Wikimedia Commons

The alpha star is not always the brightest star in a constellation, as we learn on this week's Looking Up.

I want to tell you about a very strange star known formally as Beta Ceti, and less formally as Diphda.

Looking Up: We Love You Mr. Moonlight

Sep 24, 2018
by caizheng / Creative Commons Open Clipart

It's known by many names but there's no mistaking being face to face with a full moon.

Many early Native Americans tribes kept track of time by observing the seasons and lunar months, although there was much variability. Some tribes defined a year as 12 Moons, while others assigned it 13. Certain tribes that used a lunar calendar added an extra Moon every few years, to keep it in sync with the seasons. Colonial Americans adopted some of the Native American full Moon names and we maintain that tradition even today. 

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.