A bi-weekly short feature on astronomy, produced by members of the Black Canyon Astronomical Society.
Western Slope Skies - Stars Above, Stars Within
You may fondly remember the classic Eighties science program Cosmos, narrated by the late great astrophysicist Carl Sagan. In the episode “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean”, he famously uttered “we’re made of star stuff”. We are the products of nucleosynthesis, a set of processes that created the chemical elements, the building blocks of all we see and are.
24/11/2023 • 3 minutes 34 seconds
Western Slope Skies - Astronomy Highlights for 2024
2024 is almost here, and in astronomy, a lot will be happening.
24/11/2023 • 3 minutes 39 seconds
Western Slope Skies - Shedding Light on Dark Matter
Dark matter. You’ve probably heard of it, maybe in a Sci-Fi novel or movie, and you’ve probably wondered what it is exactly. Well, welcome to the club. Scientists have been asking themselves this question since its discovery in 1933. Dark matter is an invisible, mysterious substance that makes up 22% of the universe, but we know very little about it.
27/10/2023 • 3 minutes 44 seconds
Western Slope Skies - Rings in Space
Ring nebulae and the rings of Saturn are among some familiar rings that exist in space. But consider ring galaxies!
12/10/2023 • 4 minutes 5 seconds
Western Slope Skies - Ring of Fire Solar Eclipse
In a total eclipse, the moon covers the sun completely and the sky darkens as if it were dawn or dusk.
29/09/2023 • 2 minutes 48 seconds
The Universe Got Bigger
On the night of October 5, 1923, using the 100-inch Hooker telescope on Mt. Wilson, Edwin Hubble captured a photographic plate image of M31, the Andromeda “Nebula”.
15/09/2023 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Western Slope Skies - ASTROFEST 2023
This year’s festival will run from September 14 through 16th, to coincide with the September new moon.
01/09/2023 • 3 minutes 29 seconds
Western Slope Skies - The Hubble Space Telescope
If you’ve been paying attention to the news in the past year you’ve no doubt heard about the James Webb Space Telescope. However, there is another space telescope that still deserves your attention.
18/08/2023 • 3 minutes 11 seconds
Western Slope Skies - Meteors and Dark Skies
One of the best meteor showers of the year will peak during the second weekend of August, presenting the perfect opportunity to spot shooting stars streaking across the sky.
04/08/2023 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
Western Slope Skies - Echoes Across a Cosmic Ocean
Recently, scientists announced detection of a persistent gravitational wave background (GWB), continually rippling the cosmos like a calm ocean breeze.
21/07/2023 • 4 minutes 4 seconds
Western Slope Skies - The Real Hubble
When people hear the name “Edwin Hubble,” they typically think of the Hubble Space Telescope. However, the Hubble Space Telescope was built after Edwin Hubble’s death as a way to honor him.
07/07/2023 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Western Slope Skies: Scotobiology
The concept of scotobiology as a science was developed at a conference on light pollution held in Muskoka, Ontario, in 2003. Just as the word “photo” relates to light, “scoto” is the word that relates to “darkness.” Therefore, Scotobiology is the study of the role darkness plays in living organisms.
23/06/2023 • 3 minutes 10 seconds
Western Slope Skies: The Magic Behind Shooting Stars
Have you ever wished upon a shooting star? For most of us, the novelty of wishing on a shooting star has faded since the days of our childhood.
09/06/2023 • 2 minutes 48 seconds
Western Slope Skies: Gran Telescopio Canarias
The telescope’s most important discovery to date has been finding the farthest black hole located at the center of a rare type of galaxy.
26/05/2023 • 2 minutes 48 seconds
Western Slope Skies: NASA DARTS an Asteroid
On September 26, 2022, a NASA spacecraft ran into the asteroid Dimorphos at nearly 15,000 miles per hour. Far from being a multi-million-dollar boondoggle, this collision is precisely what astronomers had planned. The spacecraft was part of the Double Asteroid Redirection Test mission, or DART for short. The goal: to test technology that could potentially divert a large asteroid, should we ever locate one on a collision course with Earth.
12/05/2023 • 3 minutes 19 seconds
Western Slope Skies: Lake City’s Starry Skies
From June 7-11, we will hold our first ever StarFest to celebrate Lake City’s starry skies and gather other dark sky advocates and interested folks from the western slope, the San Luis Valley, and throughout Colorado to see what more can be done to assure our precious night skies can be enjoyed by future generations. Unfortunately, light pollution is getting worse around the world so taking action is critical to turning things around.
28/04/2023 • 3 minutes 50 seconds
Western Slope Skies: The Saga of Venusian Exploration
Gleaming naked-eye apparition, Venus has captivated civilization since antiquity, garnering epithets of divine power and beauty-- Chac-Ek (“Great Star”) in Mayan, Jin-xing (“Golden Planet”) in Chinese, Phosphoros (“Lightbringer”) in Greek.
14/04/2023 • 3 minutes 58 seconds
Western Slope Skies: Lunar Delivery Driver
Back when our beloved western cities were still young and their skies still dark, customers waited weeks or even months for basic household items to reach their local mercantile shelves.
17/03/2023 • 3 minutes 21 seconds
Western Slope Skies: Charles Messier: Comet Hunter
Imagine being a poor 13-year old boy living in France in 1744 and observing a 6-tailed comet in the daytime. What aspirations might that have generated in a teenager?
03/03/2023 • 3 minutes 26 seconds
Western Slope Skies: The Winter Milky Way
The name Milky Way means two things: the star-packed photogenic river of stars across sky for one. It also refers to the hundreds of billions of stars that make up our galaxy. No matter where you look in the Western Slope sky, every star is part of our galaxy.
17/02/2023 • 3 minutes 45 seconds
Western Slope Skies: Comets: Icy, Dusty Visitors from Afar
Comets, once considered portents of doom, have long puzzled us. They move rapidly against the starry background. They grow tails, which may explain why the ancient Greeks called them “hairy stars.” Their brightness and even their exact paths can be hard to predict. So, what are these mysterious visitors that sometimes appear in our sky?
03/02/2023 • 3 minutes 9 seconds
Western Slope Skies - The Late, Late Show: Getting Personal with the Moon
In the very early hours of November 8, the second total lunar eclipse of 2022 will be visible from Western Colorado.
28/10/2022 • 3 minutes 49 seconds
Western Slope Skies - NASA’s Juno at Jupiter
This month is a great time to view Jupiter, because this 86,000 mile-wide, giant planet is visible nearly all night long.
14/10/2022 • 3 minutes 17 seconds
Western Slope Skies - June 10th - Olbers’ Paradox
Olbers’ Paradox - A familiar constellation in the dark night sky.