Looking Up: Show Your Work!

Feb 13, 2017

This week on Looking Up Hal comes clean, astronomically speaking.

Hal brings himself into focus now that he's a "star" - Happy 2nd anniversary to Hal & Looking Up!!
Credit Merlin 2525 / free clipart

If you’ve listened to every episode of Looking Up since we started two years ago, either over the airwaves or online, or now by downloading episodes as podcasts on iTunes, you’ve listened to over 100 segments on aspects of astronomy ranging from interesting stars to giant clouds of glowing gas, to how ancient people looked up, to distant galaxies. And you may have asked yourself, how the heck does this Bidlack guy know all this stuff? 

Well, while I’d like to claim that I knew the chemical makeup of the Orionid meteors off the top of my head, the fact is I do research for each episode, to learn more about the amazing things appearing nightly in the southern Colorado skies. So, where do I get that information? Often times, the same place you can get it yourself!

[There are two prominent magazines I consult: Sky and Telescope magazine, and the aptly named Astronomy Magazine. I highly recommend both. Sky and Telescope tends to be a bit more technical and scientific, and both magazines are wonderful resources.]

There are also great online astronomy resources as well. I recommend you visit my old friend Phil Plait’s daily column on Slate.com. Search for his cleverly named “bad astronomy” for a great science story every day.

There are also great websites that can alert you to upcoming cool things in the sky, such as flyovers by the International Space Station, which appears as a brilliant point of light, zooming across our skies. Calsky.com is a great site that will email you interesting things in the sky every day.

There are also wonderful apps for your phone or tablet. Sky Safari is the gold standard for many of us, with very detailed star maps as well as a huge library of information about just about everything that is up there. It comes in a low cost version for a couple of bucks, as well as a $40 version that lots of us have and love.

There are many phone apps as well for viewing the night sky, including Google Sky and others. Most will allow you to hold your phone or table up to the sky to line things up and learn what they are.

Before long, you’ll master these apps and sound like a professional radio astronomy talking guy – how hard can it be?

If you’d like to take a closer look at the wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit CSASTRO.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties! 

This is Hal Bidlack for the Colorado Springs Astronomical Society, telling you to keep looking up, Southern Colorado!