Black Canyon Astronomical Society

While there are always objects of interest to see in the night sky throughout the year, the summer sky is unique in that it offers us a view into the very center of the Milky Way, our home galaxy.

This is the first in a series of Western Slope Skies episodes about Women in Astronomy.  We hope that, in some manner, these inspire our young female listeners to become involved in astronomy.

On June 16, 1963, the Russians launched Vostok 6.  The lone astronaut on board was Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space.  She was in space for 48 orbits over three days.  In her single mission, she logged more time in space than all the American astronauts who had been in space to that date combined.

Have you ever attended a night sky session and heard people talk about Messier 13 or Messier 6?  Today we discuss the man whose list is a legacy that still excites astronomers over 200 years later. 

Charles Messier was born in France on June 26, 1730.  He became interested in astronomy at a young age.  In 1751, the French Navy hired Messier as an assistant astronomer in Paris. 

“Hey, can you see the flag in that thing?!”  It’s a question that makes us wince when observing the moon at astronomy outreaches.  The answer is…Maybe if you were aboard NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter… but, all six of the flags are now faded to white, and the first one blew over when the Apollo 11 lunar module blasted off departing the moon.  

From our backyards, the moon, our closest celestial neighbor, is easily observed by the unaided eye  as it moves through its changing phases.  During the next two weeks, the moon will move from new to nearly full.


Western Slope Skies 4/26/2013

Apr 26, 2013

Saturn…The ringed planet. The sixth planet from the Sun; second largest in the Solar System behind Jupiter; and the one that evokes the most vivid images in our thoughts. It is an unforgettable sight, even in a small telescope.  

From now until early May, Saturn will be the brightest it has been for more than 5 years. It rises in the east as the Sun sets and will be visible all night long.

Listen to Western Slope Skies, a report on the night sky by the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.  

Listen to Western Slope Skies, an astronomical report created by the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.

This could be a spectacular year for comets, ending with one that may be the brightest comet in many years appearing in the last 2-3 months of the year. 

The term Light Pollution refers to excessive and glaring artificial lighting, especially light that is scattered above the horizon.  This is a very serious problem for astronomers, because it can prevent them from seeing objects in space.

Winter Solstice

Dec 19, 2012

December 21st marks the year’s longest night and shortest day, with daylight lasting only 9 hours and 20 minutes on the Western Slope.  This is our winter solstice, the first official day of winter.