Albireo the Beautiful Summer Double

Image credit & copyright: Daniel LaShomb.

Here’s the beautiful Beta Cygni or as it’s famously known, Albireo that I captured last week. This incredible summer double star resides about 430 light years away in the constellation Cygnus the swan. The sapphire and gold color contrast of these two is unmatched by any other pair that I can think of and interestingly enough, although it’s labeled as Beta Cygni, it’s actually the 5th brightest star in the constellation. It’s unknown if in fact this pair is an actual double star or just a line of sight double as if they are together they have an orbital period of at least 100,000 years. This sight is available to even small telescopes so get out there and have a look.  Just wear bug spray, I did the experiment for you. Also, for those of you who like to know; I captured this at ISO 3200 with single 30 second images with my Celestron C8 on a Celestron CGEM equatorial mount and a Nikon D750 camera. Feel free to use this image with credit, thanks.

Name: Beta Cygni, Albireo.

What is it?: Double star

How far away is it?: 430 light years

Apparent separation: 35” arcseconds

Apparent magnitude: 5.1

Where is it (general)?: Constellation Cygnus the swan

Where is it (exact RA/Dec J2000)?: RA 19h 30m 43.2s / Dec +27d 57’ 34.8”

Other designation: SAO 87301

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Image credit & copyright: Benjamin Williamson.

The coast of Main is one of the most beautiful locations that I’ve ever been to day or night. It’s a wonderful place the whole family can enjoy and as we see in this awe inspiring image captured by Benjamin Williamson, you never know what you’re going to get on any given night at any given location. On the best nights, you’ll be rewarded with a view of the universe, nature here on Earth, peace and the incredible feeling of nailing that one magnificent shot.

In this image we see the incredible blue glow of bioluminescent dinoflagellates working their hardest to out-perform the mighty Milky Way galaxy as it stretches high overhead. Just because you’re wondering; bioluminescent dinoflagellates are tiny single celled organisms that are sometimes known as fireflies of the sea and when amassed in a large bloom they’re often called the “Red Tide” as in daylight, they give the area a red hue while at night they put on a wonderful blue display along the coastline and along anything that they may interact with such as rocks, breaking waves, your feet, boats and kayaks and their paddles. See if you can spot some yourself and as always if you enjoy this image (how can you not?) make sure you check out more of Benjamin’s work.

Benjamin Williamson Photography:




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Now is the Time to Observe Saturn

Image credit: NASA/JPL Cassini Spacecraft.

If you’re a fan of the night sky, you’ve been noticing the trio of Jupiter, Saturn and Mars rising one at a time in the East as it’s been quite a treat for the past few months.  If you haven’t seen this yet I would urge you to do so because it’s a fantastic view that’s peaking right now.  Beauty aside, they’re also a big trio. Mars hits opposition in a few weeks and Jupiter reached opposition back on May 8.  Well now it’s Saturn’s turn as its hitting opposition this Wednesday, June 27, 2018 but the exact date and time doesn’t really matter.  Saturn reaches opposition every year or 378 days or 54 weeks and this opposition will bring Saturn to 9 AU (AU being 1 Earth/Sun distance or about 93 million miles) from Earth.

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Oregon’s Coast Highway 101

Image credit & copyright: Jasman Mander.

The Pacific Coast Highway from California to Washington State is, in my opinion the single most beautiful stretch of road in the country. If not the most beautiful, it’s certainly on the podium. This image of the Milky Way making its nightly journey across our night sky exists not in a dream, but along the Pistol River area of the Southern Oregon coast. Many beautiful details of our home star city can be seen on display in all of its incredible colors and scale. As I often like to do; I wonder about who was in those cars going by. Where were they going? Where were they coming from? Who are they? And do they ever think to take pause to see vistas such as these? I sure hope so.

I hope everyone’s having a great weekend and if you enjoy this image please check out more of Jasman’s work.

Jasman Mander:




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SpaceX CRS-15 from Cape Canaveral This Week

Image credit & copyright: SpaceX. Live stream link and press kit updates are typically the day prior.

LAUNCH ALERT! Friday, June 29, 2018 at 05:41 EDT (09:41 UTC and 02:41 PDT) SpaceX Falcon 9 (core 1045.2) previously flown on NASA’s TESS mission will be launching from Cape Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) as part of Commercial Resupply Service 14 (CRS-14 or SPX-14) to resupply the International Space Station (ISS). Dragon (C-111.2 & D1-17) which previously flew on CRS-9 will be captured and berthed to the nadir (Earth facing) side of Station’s Harmony module (Node-2) where it will remain for approximately one month before returning to Earth. At roughly 71 days, this will almost double the fastest turnaround time of a booster to date. Current record is about 135 days. Also SpaceX in the past as SpaceX had reused Dragon capsules, they’ve been adding blue sortie stickers to designate past missions so keep an eye out for this one when it’s berthed to Station. The Dragon image that I’ve shown below displays one of these stickers so have a look.

Stats: This will be SpaceX’s 12th launch of 2018 and the 63rd SpaceX flight overall (5 Falcon 1, 57 Falcon 9, 1 Falcon Heavy). At this time it doesn’t appear that a landing attempt will be made so SpaceX’s landing successes will likely stand at 25; 14 on drone ships and 11 on land.

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Grasp the Night

Image credit & copyright: Jeff Berkes.

If you want wide open horizons, the Southwest United States has you covered. Located in Utah’s 120 square mile Arches National Park is Delicate Arch. This most prominent feature is a 60 ft. (18 m) high sandstone arch carved by wind for the explorers among us to visit and for the rest of us to admire in these amazing images. In this image we see Delicate Arch illuminated by the headlamps of members of Jeff’s night sky workshop which he was holding that night. Light years beyond, our home star city has begun to roll into view to create nothing less than the perfect scene. I hope everyone’s having a great week and be sure to check out more of Jeff’s work.

Jeff Berkes Photography:




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Now is the Time to Observe Vesta

Images and illustrations credit & copyright: NASA & Naked Eye Planets.

It’s not every day that you can observe a main belt asteroid with nothing more than your eyes and right now is one of those times. Asteroid 4 Vesta is the second largest main belt asteroid after dwarf planet 1 Ceres and it reaches opposition (its closest point to Earth in its orbit) on Tuesday, June 19. Its apparent magnitude is around 5.7 now and is scheduled to reach about 5.2 or 5.3 at opposition and remember, the lower the number the brighter the object is, and in very dark skies anything under 6 or 6.5 is naked eye visible.

Understanding Magnitudes:

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