Why Does the Moon's Eclipse Shadow Cross the US from West to East?

Among the many excellent questions posed by visitors at the summer eclipse programs now being presented at the planetarium at De Anza College is one about the motion of the Moon's shadow during the upcoming eclipse. During the program we show the progress of the darkest part of the Moon's shadow moving eastward over the US (from Oregon to South Carolina) confusing some visitors in light of the familiar apparent westward drift of sky objects that we observe every night.

Why Are Planets Round?

Recently after a planetarium program about the Solar System, a young girl, maybe 4 years old asked from her mother's arms, "Why are all planets round?".  Answering a question like this in the planetarium environment can be challenging due to time constraints, but especially so for very young visitors with little physical experienc

Moon and Venus Pair Up Early December

If you're viewing from the US West Coast you can catch a close approach of Venus and the thin crescent Moon Monday morning December 7. Look to the southeastern sky about 6AM and you'll see the Moon and Venus to the lower left. The objects will appear to be quite close together from Earth's perspective, though in reality Venus is MUCH further away from us than the Moon.

Tycho Brahe, Astronomical Giant, Odd Fellow

There's no figure in astronomical history more "colorful" than Tycho Brahe (Latin pronunciation tee-ko bra-hay, 1546-1601), a Danish nobleman with a fascination for things astronomical. The name of this site "Sky City" is taken from the name of Tycho's fabulous castle/astronomical observatory. His astronomical contributions were many. Prior to the invention of the telescope, Tycho and his assistants built astronomical instruments more than twice as accurate as anyone before him. In 1572 Tycho wrote a book about the appearance of a nova in Cassiopeia and proved that this new star was much further away than the Moon (Aristotle thought comets were atmospheric effects). A bright comet appeared in 1577 and Tycho, by comparing his own observations with those of other European astronomers showed that it was also further away than the Moon, further evidence that the heavens were not "perfect" and unchanging as Aristotle had held.

Early Morning Planet Show Continues

Three planets adorn the early morning sky in mid-October, with brilliant Jupiter continuing his apparent run towards an even brighter Venus. Jupiter emerged from the solar glare in the middle of September and has since been rushing to join Venus now at full brilliance. Last week Venus reached it's maximum separation from the Sun, a generous 35 degrees above the horizon. Mars, dimmest of the three planets has been dancing between the two as the distance between Jupiter and Venus dwindles.

Public Planetarium Programs Resume September 30th, 2017

The Fujitsu Planetarium on the campus of De Anza College in Cupertino begins the the season of Saturday night public programs on September 30th. A combination of astronomy, laser light shows, and special events are featured in the Fall schedule. Check out the show schedule on the Fujitsu Planetarium Website. The astronomy shows consist of a full sky dome presentation on specific astronomical topics, and are followed by a "current sky" interactive constellation show.

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