Author Archives: Tony Flanders

About Tony Flanders

Associate editor Tony Flanders has been working at S&T since 2003.

Tony Flanders's biggest and smallest telescopes.

What to Know Before Buying a Telescope

Looking through a telescope introduces you to a whole new world of unexpected wonders. But telescopes come in a huge range of sizes and shapes. Here's a detailed, printable guide to the essential features that every good scope needs to have.

3C 273

Quasar Hunting

The March 2014 issue of Sky & Telescope features an article by Bob Cava, who hunts for quasars in light-polluted New Jersey with his 10- and 16-inch telescopes. As Cava discovered, quasar hunting requires considerable skill with astronomical databases and online tools. This web supplement describes some useful resources and collects their URLs in...

Comet Lovejoy on November 30th

Lovely Comet Lovejoy

Comet ISON has come and gone, but lovely Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) is still going strong. It is now at or near peak brightness, and well placed in the Northern Hemisphere's predawn sky.

Comet ISON on November 10, 2013

Comet ISON Comes to Life!

Veteran comet observer John Bortle reports that Comet ISON is undergoing a major outburst. It was six times brighter when he observed it this morning (November 14th) than on the previous morning.

Comet Lovejoy

The Other Great Morning Comet

While Comet ISON is brightening rapidly, Comet Lovejoy (C/2013 R1) is far more impressive right now, and also much better placed in the sky. It's shown here passing Messier 44, the Beehive Cluster.

Jupiter and the Moon

The Moon Salutes Jupiter

On the evening of Sunday, March 17th, stargazers all across the Americas will be able to watch the Moon pass spectacularly close to Jupiter, the third brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus.

Messier 101, the Pinwheel Galaxy

Guide to Messier 101

This is the web supplement to Howard Banich's article "The Determined Observer's Guide to M101," in the June 2013 issue of Sky & Telescope. In it, Banich describes observing M101 with his motorized 28-inch alt-azimuth Newtonian, preparing the sketch shown below at low resolution. M101 is extraordinarily rich in active star-forming regions, 10 of...

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The May-June 2013 Planet Dance

A remarkable series of events takes place low in the west-northwest shortly after sunset from late May to late June. It features the tightest three-planet grouping visible without binoculars until 2026 and an excellent apparition of Mercury.

Mars appears less than 1° upper left of much brighter Mercury low in the west-southwest after sunset on February 7th.

Mercury Meets Mars

Mercury and Mars, the two smallest planets, appear spectacularly close to each other shortly after sunset on Thursday and Friday, February 7th and 8th.