Hal Bidlack

Looking Up: Kochabitation

Mar 20, 2017
earthsky.org

This week on Looking Up Hal reminds us that Polaris is not always the North Star.

Chances are, if there is anything you know about navigating around the night sky, it is that you can use the front two stars of the Big Dipper to find Polaris, the North Star. In the pre-GPS world, lots of navigation, from sailing ships to aircraft to even spacecraft, relied on celestial navigation to find their way home. And, for about the last 1500 years or so, Polaris has been the star everyone used. But did you know that this was not always the case?

Looking Up: The Edge Of Night

Mar 13, 2017
NASA, ESA, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: W. Keel (U. Alabama)

This week Hal spins a tale about the Spindle Galaxy, affectionately known as NGC 5866.

Most things in the sky have scientific names. But sometimes we also name things because of what they look like, like the Big Dipper. And if you are under 50 years old, you may be forgiven for asking what the heck the Spindle Galaxy is named after. 

Looking Up: Big Shiny Red Fire Engine

Mar 6, 2017
Wikipedia

This week on Looking Up we find out about one of the biggest, reddest stars up in the northern sky - the Garnet Star.

When you look at the wonderful night sky in Colorado, nearly every star looks like a tiny diamond of white light. But there are a handful of stars that have a different color. And in the northern night sky we can see just about the reddest star out there, Mu Cephei, commonly known as the Garnet Star!

Looking Up: Width & Wisdom

Feb 20, 2017
NASA, ESA, and L. Lamy (Observatory of Paris, CNRS, CNES) / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal takes us planet hopping. The final destination will be the planet Uranus.

Some things in the southern Colorado sky are very easy to spot – the moon, super-bright Venus and pretty bright Mars. But other things are much harder to spot, especially when city lights make viewing harder. So today I want to tell you about a little trick you can use this week to find one of the more difficult to spot items, the planet Uranus, using the much brighter and easier to spot planet Mars, in the early evening sky. 

Looking Up: Show Your Work!

Feb 13, 2017
Merlin 2525 / free clipart

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

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? 

Looking Up: Dim & Dimmer

Feb 6, 2017
Robin Lee / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal puts the moon in a different 'light'.

Can we talk about a dark subject? One that is lurking in the shadows? Because on the night of Friday, February 10th something very unusual and a little dark will rise in the east – the Moon!

Looking Up: Bee-lightful, Bee-licious, Bee-lovely

Jan 30, 2017
Bob Franke / Nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal shares the beeswax on the Beehive Cluster. 

Ever wonder what’s the buzz about what’s up in the southern Colorado sky right now? Well, part of it could be coming from a stellar apiologist -- the Beehive Cluster.

Looking Up: A Stern Look At Asmidiske

Jan 16, 2017

  

This week on Looking Up Hal remarks on a remarkable star - Asmidiske, in the constellation Puppis.

  It’s nice to have a roof over your head, especially when you are sailing across the ocean. And did you know that there is a constellation in southern Colorado skies right now that represents the roof of the back end of the ship. You’ve heard it referred to before, even as you giggled at the name – poop deck.  

Looking Up: Pi in the Sky

Jan 9, 2017
mage Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors) / Nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up  Hal reminds us to wear our helmets and also chats about the Starfish Cluster, located in the constellation Auriga.  

In this safety-conscious age, it’s always wise to wear a helmet when riding a bike, skiing, or driving a chariot. So maybe it’s not surprising that high in the southern Colorado sky right now is the pointed helmet of a charioteer, the constellation Auriga (or-EYE-gah). 

Looking Up: And Forward to 2017...!

Jan 2, 2017
Digitized Sky Survey, ESA/ESO/NASA FITS Liberator Color Composite: Davide De Martin (Skyfactory)

We start the new year on Looking Up by taking a look at Alnitak, a star in Orion's belt.

Men of a certain age often need a good, tight belt to hold up their pants. The constellation of Orion the Hunter is no different. That famous grouping of stars now dominates the Southern Colorado night sky, and as you look at Orion, you notice that he has a belt of three stars across his midsection. From those stars, the great Orion Nebula seems to hang down like a sword.

Looking Up: Pass-a-bull

Dec 12, 2016
earthsky.org

This week on Looking Up Hal is right on target with this description of the moon occulting Aldebaran (the eye of the bull). 

About a year ago we talked about a very interesting and very bright star in the southern Colorado sky, Aldebaran. The brightest star in the constellation Taurus, Aldebaran is the 13th brightest star in the night sky. This bright red star is the bright red eye of Taurus the bull. And it’s visible nearly all night during the winter, unless of course, something gets in the way.

Looking Up: Head in the Clouds

Dec 5, 2016
Rogelio Bernal Andreo / NASA.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal takes us inside the head of the hunter (Orion).

Heads up, everyone! Today let’s talk about a head that’s up. And by up, I mean a star visible in the southern Colorado sky right now, and by heads I mean the remarkable star that makes up the head of the wonderful constellation of Orion the Hunter.

Looking Up: Casio Watch

Nov 28, 2016
Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors) / nasa

This week on Looking Up guest host Bruce Bookout regales us with various mythologies surrounding the queen of the night sky, Cassiopeia.

Rising high in the autumn skies of Southern Colorado is the reigning queen of the sky - Cassiopeia.  Take a look after sunset to the northeast for a pattern of stars resembling a “W”. 

Looking Up: Diamonds Off The Sole Of His Shoe

Nov 21, 2016
Credit & Copyright: Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, J.-C. Cuillandre (CFHT), Coelum / NASA

This week on Looking Up we learn about yet another object Charles Messier looked down on - the open star cluster, M35.  

Do you like to look at babies? What about really pretty babies? What about really pretty babies that are only hundred million years old? Well, have I got a star cluster for you – Messier object number 35. And you can find it in southern Colorado skies right now, a little bit to the east of the left foot of the right-hand twin in the constellation Gemini.

Looking Up: No Mythgivings

Nov 14, 2016
William Morris letter J by Kuba / open clipart

This week on Looking Up Hal informs us of a relatively 'new' constellation. It's called Sculptor.

Today let’s do something a little different. In past episodes of Looking Up, we talked about bright and shiny things up in the sky. We talked about constellations like Orion and Ursa Major, that shine brilliantly in the southern Colorado sky. But today let’s talk about the constellation you likely have never heard of, and very likely have never seen, the constellation known as Sculptor. 

Looking UP: Ex-cetus

Nov 7, 2016
NASA, ESA, André van der Hoeven

This week on Looking Up Hal speculates on why a strange galaxy (M77) is in such a hurry to leave the company of the Milky Way.  

Is it something we said? Why are you leaving? You know the phrase, “keeping your distance?” Well, there is one galaxy that seems to be taking this idea to a whole new level.

The 77th object in Charles Messier’s famous catalog of interesting things in the sky, is a galaxy in the constellation Cetus, visible in southern Colorado skies right now. 

Looking Up: Happy Halloween!

Oct 31, 2016
ESA/Hubble, NASA

On this Halloween edition of Looking Up we hear about a vampire star.  

The leaves are mostly off the trees, pumpkins abound, and the spooky holiday of Halloween has arrived. Tonight the streets will be filled with all manner of ghosts and goblins, and probably quite a few Harry Potter’s. But if Count Dracula arrives at your door, you might let the little one know about a far bigger vampire -- the vampire star SS Leporis! 

Looking Up: See Salt?

Oct 24, 2016
NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA

This week on Looking Up we learn about Ceres, an object first thought to be a planet, then designated an asteroid, and now considered to be a dwarf planet.

Can I be Ceres for a moment? I want to talk to you about the planet, I mean asteroid, I mean dwarf planet, visible in southern Colorado skies right now. In 1801, a Sicilian astronomer went looking for what was thought to be a missing planet between Mars and Jupiter. And there he found the object we today call Ceres

Looking Up: Haley's Roots

Oct 17, 2016
Tunc Tezel / nasa.gov

This week you can look up to see the Orionid Meteor shower.  

Today I want to tell you about a very special meteor shower which is going on now, and will peak the night of October 20-21st, the Orionids! 

Looking Up: Uranus

Oct 10, 2016
NASA/JPL/STScI

This week on Looking Up Hal tells us exactly where to look to get a peek at the planet Uranus.

Regular listeners to Looking Up might remember that we talked about the planet Uranus about a year ago. And we call it the planet Uranus, because we are not 12. And as we have swung around the Sun again, Uranus is once again perfectly positioned in our night sky for viewing, if you know where to look. 

Looking Up: Nerd Star On The Left

Sep 26, 2016
Firkin / openclipart

This week on Looking Up we take a peak at the Atik. 

I know you won’t believe this, but every now and then astronomers can come off as a tiny bit nerdy. And today’s edition of Looking Up lets us delve into the truly nerdy, at a couple of levels.

Because today I want to talk to you about the very interesting star named Atik. 

Looking Up: Mercury - Retrograding On A Curve

Sep 19, 2016
photo from the Mercury Messenger satellite / NASA

This week on Looking Up Tristan tells us the current travel path of the planet Mercury.  

If you are an early riser, one of the most elusive planets in our solar system will be putting on a show this week. The planet Mercury, the innermost of all the planets, is remarkably hard to see. 

Looking Up: You've Tried The Rest, Now Triangulum

Sep 12, 2016
Photo by Linda Spadero / earthsky.org

This week on Looking Up Hal gives us the very latest hypote-news on a  constellation by the name of Triangulum.

We talked before about the interesting shapes of constellations in the night sky. Some look like their name, like Scorpio the scorpion. Others, like Ophiuchus, looked nothing like their namesake. But there is one small constellation in southern Colorado skies right now that you might recognize from both its shape and its name – Triangulum.

Three's Company

Aug 22, 2016
earthsky.org

This week Hal lets us know about the conjunction of Mars and Saturn.

The summer of 2016 is a particularly good one for anyone interested in planets. All the naked eye planets are visible, and the nights are warm enough that we can stay outside without getting too uncomfortable. Even binoculars will let you see the red surface of Mars, the stripes on Jupiter, and the rings of Saturn. 

Meteorite Before Your Eyes

Aug 8, 2016
NASA/JPL

This week Hal gives us a heads up on the tail end of Comet Swift - Tuttle.

We all love to see shooting stars in the sky. These brilliant, brief, and bedazzling streaks of light are both beautiful and fascinating.

On average night, if you lie on your back and stare at the sky you’ll see 2 to 4 meteors streak overhead per hour. But when there’s a meteor shower, you can see many more, and the very best meteor shower happens in mid August – the Perseids.

After The Dusk Settles

Aug 1, 2016
earthsky.org

This week Hal tells us about a stellar planetary conjunction in our early evening sky.

August 2016 is shaping up to be a pretty interesting month for people who like looking up. A number of unusual and lovely things are happening up there, and the warm days and nights will hopefully cooperate in letting you go outside and take a peek. 

Cosmic Debris-fing

Jul 18, 2016
B. Balick (U. Washington) et al., WFPC2, HST, NASA

This week Hal sheds light on the Saturn Nebula.  

How many Saturn’s do you see in the night sky? Well, right now, the answer could be two!

We talked recently about the beautiful and awe-inspiring planet Saturn, now high in southern Colorado skies. In many people’s eyes, it’s the most beautiful of all the planets, Saturn’s gorgeous system of rings make it appear oblong in binoculars or small telescopes.

This Week Hal Does Just Enif

Jul 11, 2016
Till Credner - AlltheSky.com

Hal discusses the big, bright, strange supergiant star Enif in the constellation Pegasus.

Enif of a good thing is visible in southern Colorado skies right now. And by Enif, I mean a remarkable star in the constellation Pegasus. Enif is the brightest star in that winged horse. It’s a fairly bright point of light, in otherwise fairly dim area of the sky, but what makes it special is what’s happening 670 ly away from Earth.

This Independence Day We Do The Invading

Jul 4, 2016
NASA/JPL-Caltech

This Independence Day Hal briefs us on the Juno Mission to Jupiter.  

It was just about one year ago that the New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto. That wonderful gizmo is still returning great scientific information and stunning pictures from 3 billion miles away.

This Fourth of July, NASA will do it again, as the Juno spacecraft will arrive at Jupiter, the largest planet in the solar system. 

Dschubba "... one star out of four"

Jun 27, 2016
M. Procell

    

This week Hal discusses Dschubba, a star (or 4) located in the head of Scorpius the Scorpion.

There are 88 constellations in the night sky, counting those in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Many of them look nothing like their names. Indeed, some of them are quite a stretch - I’m looking at you Ophiuchus. Sure, you look like a snake bearer.

But there are some that really do look like their namesake, and Scorpius the scorpion is one of those. With stars that seem to line up to make a body with a curved tail and stinger, and other stars that appear to line up to form the head and pincers, Scorpius looks like, well, a scorpion, and you can see it all summer in the southern Colorado sky.

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