Author Archives: Bob King

About Bob King

Amateur astronomer since childhood and long-time member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), Bob King also teaches community education astronomy. The universe invites us on an adventure every single night. All we need do is look up.

Old rock sprinkled atop new

Blue Moon Rayed-Crater Blowout

Like "catching some rays"? This weekend's Blue Moon invites us to explore the beauty and dazzle of crater rays, the tracks left by powerful impacts in the not-so-distant past.

Green-striped night

Why We Can See In The Dark

In search of a pitch black night? Don't expect to find it on Earth. Thanks to starlight, zodiacal light, and especially airglow, true darkness doesn't exist.

Barnard's footsteps

Dive Into Scutum’s Dark Nebulae

One of the smallest constellations in the sky hosts one of the richest concentrations of dark nebulae. Join me for a dip in these dark pools from which the next generation of stars will be born.

Dazzling and dizzying fast

Will We Still Recognize the Sky in 27,800 AD?

With Arcturus as our touchstone, we set off in a virtual time machine to visit the sky of the distant future. Bright orange Arcturus twinkles high in the southeastern sky at dusk this week. Its slow climb from the northeastern horizon every March heralds the arrival of spring. Earth's revolution around the Sun ensures that Arcturus follows...

Saturn Hubble for ST

Splashy Saturn At Its Best and Brightest

Saturn reaches opposition this week, offering the best view of it we've had in years. This guide will help you explore the ringed planet's many charms. "That doesn't look real." "I've never seen anything like it." "Wowwwww ...!" Sound familiar? Then you must have shown somebody Saturn through a telescope. Or maybe one of those describes your...

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Visit Venus in Its Darkest Hour

Keep your eye on the prize in the western sky. Venus sets exceptionally late this month, presenting skywatchers with several unusual observing opportunities. This season's apparition of Venus has been a happy one for northern hemisphere skywatchers as the planet continues to part from the Sun and increase in brightness. In May, Venus stands high in Gemini, an...

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Catch Comet Lovejoy in Cassiopeia

Still bright and easier than ever to find, Comet Lovejoy continues to delight skywatchers. Watch as it cuts through Cassiopeia this week. Comet Lovejoy, now a long-time visitor to our night sky, lies poised at the limit of naked eye visibility. Hovering around magnitude 5.8, the comet looks like a faint star from a dark sky,...

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Crazy About Concentric Craters

With the Moon riding high this week, what better time to look for its three best-known yet enigmatic "ring" craters? We welcome back the waxing Moon this week. It's a chance for many of us to put dark-sky targets on the back burner and give some love to she who lights the night. During fall, the evening...

Sketching makes the eye grow sharper

Pleasures of Keeping an Astro Journal

Keeping a record of what you see in the telescope is not only fun but helps grow your observing skills. Learn how to start a journal and see how other amateurs keep theirs.  Do you write down what you saw after a session at the telescope? I've been doing it since I was a kid....

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Is There Such a Thing as a Random Meteor?

Meteor showers like the Perseids get all the press. But have you ever wondered where all the random meteors come from? We explore their origins.  We've all seen them. The sporadics. Those random meteors that flash across the sky on any old clear night. If you were to make a lifelong tally of meteors,...