With star party season now in full swing many observers are in search of galaxies, nebula and perhaps a comet of their own. But don’t forget to take a look at Comet Petriew this August as it peaks in brightness around mid-month marking the 2nd anniversary of it's discovery. Recently we caught up with Vance at his observatory: Vance Petriew Interview (YouTube video).
I was recently listening to some vintage country music by Glen Campbell. He was singing “Southern Nights” which is one of my favourites. This song was a big hit for him in March 1977 as the it held the number 1 position in Billboard magazine for two straight weeks. Midway through the song we hear the lyrics “Southern Skies, have you ever noticed Southern Skies. Its precious beauty, lies just beyond the eye …..” and this is so true. As we venture outdoors on these warm July nights, we cast our eyes and telescopes south to the center of our home galaxy called the Milky Way.
It is comforting to know that some people other than backyard astronomers still take the time to look up on a clear night and ponder many questions. After all, the twinkling sky was nightly entertainment for many early civilizations. But even at this stage of technology where satellite TV with its bazillion channels, smart phones, iPads and the internet, observing those distant points of lights high above is not a thing of the past.
It is great to see our parent star - the Sun making the news once again. It started with an active region labeled sunspot 1402 and the M-9 solar flare that blasted off the sun’s surface on January 22nd at 10:59 p.m. EST. From that point on, the explosion and expected grand aurora displays was talk on TV, radio and water coolers around the world. An astronomical event like this is a good catalyst on motivating people to learn more about the night sky.