Hal Bidlack

Looking Up: A Moonth By Any Other Name

13 hours ago
By Firkin / creative commons / openclipart

This month's archeo-astronomy lesson takes on a Novemberish tone with guest host Bruce Bookout.

We mark a calendar to help us track our revolution around the sun. Over the centuries we found breaking the year up into smaller portions was useful. Calendars are funny things in that keeping them and naming their parts lends to strange things.    

X-ray: NASA/CXC/CfA/E. O'Sullivan Optical: Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope/Coelum / nasa.gov

This week a quintet of galaxies takes center stage on Looking Up.

What would you say if I told you there was a beautiful quintet available to you, right now? Would you reach for your headphones? Well, in this case, it’s not a lovely musical interlude, but rather an amazing and beautiful grouping of galaxies high in the Colorado night sky, called Stephan’s Quintet. 

Looking Up: The Comet Who Came In From The Cold

Nov 6, 2017
gnokii / Creative Commons Open Clipart

This week on Looking Up we hear the strange tale of a comet with a killer name - ASSASN 1.

Every now and then, we are graced by a visit from a comet from deep space, and right now, we have one of those visitors in the inner-solar system right now.

NASA, JPL-Caltech, GALEX, C. Martin (Caltech), M. Seibert(OCIW) / nasa.org

This week on Looking Up Hal has a Halloween themed story in mind.

Well, it’s almost Halloween – a night for strange and spooky stuff and maybe a good ghost story. So how about I tell you the tale of the strange and ghostly star, Mira?

Looking Up: Saturn Slides Off Into The Sunset

Oct 23, 2017
NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout gives us a brief archeoastronomy lesson on the planet Saturn.

As summer wanes, one of the most beautiful planets in the heavens will be leaving our skies for the far side of the solar system. As Saturn moves behind the sun for the next several months, let’s “ring” around some of Saturn’s legends.

Looking Up: I Am Grus

Oct 16, 2017
Chaouki (Frankfurt, Germany) / Wikimedia Commons

This week on Looking Up we learn a little bit about Grus the Crane, a relatively 'new' constellation.

When you think of the elegant bird known as the Crane, you likely think of grace and bright feathers. But when you look at the constellation of the Crane, visible low in the South in Colorado skies right now, you might be in for a surprise.

Looking Up: To Catch A Globular Cluster...

Oct 9, 2017

This week on Looking Up we're back in the Constellation Capricornus, this time to hear about M 30, a globular cluster, and what makes it so special.

Have you ever felt like things were getting crowded? If so, you may have something in common with the remarkable globular cluster, known as Messier object number 30, high in the southern Colorado sky right now. 

Looking Up: A Goat Tail Tale

Oct 2, 2017
By Firkin / Creative Commons Open Clipart

This week on Looking Up Hal tells the tale of Scheddie, a dying star in the constellation Capricornus.

Some people are known by a single name, like Cher, just as some stars are known by a single name, like Polaris or Betelgeuse. But most of us have more than one name, and there is a star in the Southern Colorado sky right now with at least three names. 

Looking Up: The Little Spacecraft That Could...

Sep 25, 2017
NASA/JPL-Caltech / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we learn the whereabouts of Voyager 1.

Over the past 140 or so episodes of Looking Up, we’ve talked about all kinds of astronomical items up in the sky. Today, let’s talk about something that is far out, but is also man-made, our first interstellar spacecraft, Voyager 1.

Looking Up: Something Old, Something New...

Sep 18, 2017
Stephen Leshin, Collaboration: Deidre Hunter and LARI / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal introduces us to one of our galactic neighbors - Barnards' Galaxy.

Do you live in a small town that is seeing lots of new things being built all the time? If so, you have a lot in common with a tiny galaxy that is our neighbor in space, the remarkable Barnard’s Galaxy. 

Looking Up: A Tunnel Runs Through It

Sep 11, 2017
Terry Hancock (Down Under Observatory) / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal guides us towards the very center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

When you look at the constellation Sagittarius, now visible in the Southern Colorado sky, you are looking toward the actual center of our spinning pinwheel of a galaxy, the Milky Way. And the Milky Way is big, with at least 200 billion stars, and it is dirty – in that there are vast clouds of dust and gas that block our view inward toward the center, or core, of our galaxy.

Dieter Willasch (Astro-Cabinet) / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal directs our attention to an open cluster of stars located in the tail of the Scorpion.

We’ve talked before about the constellation Scorpio, and how, unlike so many other constellations, it actually looks like its name – a scorpion. High in the southern Colorado sky right now, the scorpion has a beautiful straggler following behind the stars that make up the stinger – the gorgeous bunch of stars known as Ptolemy’s Cluster.

https://bobs-spaces.net/ / EARTHSKY.ORG

This week on Looking Up Hal tells the tale of a star in the tail of Scorpio.

Hopefully, you’ve never had to deal with a really bad neighbor. But if you are part of the double star system Kappa Scorpii, better known as Girtab, you just might be in for the worst kind of bad neighbor, the exploding kind.

S. Habbal/M. Druckmüller / nasa.gov

And it's definitely not 'the same old thing as yesterday'. Today is the day that many folks throughout the Continental U.S. will have an opportunity to witness a once in a lifetime total solar eclipse!

This is an exciting morning, astronomically speaking, in Colorado Springs! If you are listening to the first airing of Looking Up, at 9 am, pay close attention to what will be happening very soon. If you are listening to a rerun, hope you enjoyed the eclipse!

S. Habbal, M. Druckmuller, and P. Aniol / nasa.gov

In this Looking Up Extra Edition, Mike Procell interviews Hal Bidlack in anticipation of the total solar eclipse coming up August 21, 2017. There's also some additional information on events related to the solar eclipse that are happening in the Colorado Springs area that day.

Looking Up: Me And My Shadows...

Aug 14, 2017
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal has some advice for those observers not in the path of totality of the upcoming solar eclipse on August 21st. In other words, what to expect during a partial solar eclipse.

We are only a week away from that rare and beautiful astronomical wonder, a solar eclipse. If you’ve decided not to drive up to Wyoming or western Nebraska next Monday, let me give you a couple of tips on how to look at the partial eclipse visible in southern Colorado, and what you are going to see.

M. Procell

This week on Looking Up Hal tells the strange tale of a star located in the tail of the scorpion.

Have you ever had that “dead inside” feeling? Not too peppy? If so, you may have something in common with the very interesting star, Sargas. Also known as Theta Scorpii, Sargas is the third brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. It is the southern-most star in the constellation, forming the bottom of the scorpion’s tail, just before it curls back up to the north. 

Looking Up: In Search Of Totality...

Jul 24, 2017

This week on Looking Up Hal advises us on some of the best 'nearby' locations to catch the total solar eclipse on August 21st, 2017.  

Two weeks ago, in the first of several Looking Up episodes dedicated to the upcoming solar eclipse, I talked about how to safely view the partial eclipse here in Southern Colorado. In today’s episode, I want to urge you to get out of town! In other words, drive a few hours to see this stunning celestial event that most people won’t see in an entire lifetime.

Looking Up: If It Looks Like A Duck...

Jul 17, 2017
Credit & Copyright: Jean-Charles Cuillandre (CFHT), Hawaiian Starlight, CFHT / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we go hunting with Hal for one of the tightest and brightest of the open clusters in the sky , the Wild Duck Cluster.

It’s Duck Season! If you are a hunter, or watched a certain cartoon growing up, you’ve heard those words before. But I’m not talking about any terrestrial feathered friends, but rather the very remarkable and beautiful Wild Duck Cluster, now soaring in the southern Colorado sky.

Looking Up: Do Try This At Home (But Safety First!)

Jul 10, 2017

This week on Looking Up we get the first of several episodes that will be dedicated to the total solar eclipse coming in August.  

One of the most remarkable things that can happen to the skies over the Untied States will take place next month, and so I want to give you a heads up so you can be ready. On the morning of August 21st, a total solar eclipse will sweep across the country! 

Looking Up: Zeta O' Brother Where Art Thou?

Jul 3, 2017

This week on Looking Up Hal  reveals an 'inconvenient truth'. 

Can I tell you the dirty little secret of the nonsense known as astrology? Turns out, there are not actually 12 signs of the Zodiac, but rather 13. Yup, the Sun moves through 13 constellations each year, not 12, so astrologers just pretend that the constellation of Ophiuchus doesn’t exist. 

Looking Up: Messier's Mistake

Jun 26, 2017

This week on Looking Up we learn the whereabouts of Messier's missing galaxy.

All June we’ve been talking about cool galaxies that are part of the Virgo Super-Cluster, and are visible in Southern Colorado skies right now. Let’s keep up that theme for this last June episode, but let’s add a twist, seemingly taken from the pages of a TV crime drama – the Missing Galaxy of Messier! 

Looking Up: M98... Coming Soon To A Galaxy Near you

Jun 19, 2017
R. Brent Tully (U. Hawaii) et al., SDvision, DP, CEA/Saclay / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we continue our trek through the Virgo Super Cluster of Galaxies. 

So far in June we’ve talked about a couple of very interesting galaxies visible in the southern Colorado skies. Let’s keep up the trend this week and explore the very pretty, very faint, and very strange galaxy known as Messier object number 98.   

Looking Up: Chain Gang

Jun 5, 2017
Credit & Copyright: Piotrek Sadowski / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we link up with Hal to learn about the Markarian Chain of Galaxies.  

Some people like to wear chains. Some people like to wear really big chains. But in the Southern Colorado skies right now, you can see the biggest chain out there – Markarian’s Chain.

Looking Up: King Snake

May 22, 2017
Image via bisque.com / EARTHSKY.ORG

This week on Looking Up we learn the tale of  Hydra the snake, the longest constellation in the night sky.

If you are keeping up with your action movies these days, you know of the danger posed by the evil organization, Hydra! In the world of Marvel Comics, Hydra is a big deal.


This week on Looking Up Hal gives some perspective on the amount of stars in the sky.  

One of the challenges in astronomy is getting your brain around some of the really big numbers involved in studying the night sky. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, contains between 200 and 300 billion stars. That huge number may be easier to visualize when I tell you there are more stars in the Milky Way than there are grains of sand on all the beaches and deserts on Earth. 

Looking Up: Pinwheel Of Fortune

May 8, 2017
Image Credit: Subaru Telescope (NAOJ), Hubble Space Telescope, European Southern Observatory - Processing & Copyright: Robert Gendler / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up we get face to face with M83, a beautiful galaxy , also known as the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy.

If you have a clear view to the south, you may just be able to catch a glimpse of a remarkable object in the southern Colorado sky – the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy!

This very cool object was first recorded in 1752, and Charles Messier added it to his famous catalogue of celestial objects, as M83, in 1781. This spiral galaxy, which we see face on, is special because of its beauty but also because of some very cool science associated with it.

Looking Up: The Trouble With Triples

May 1, 2017
Image Credit: ESO, INAF-VST, OmegaCAM; Acknowledgement: OmegaCen, Astro-WISE, Kapteyn I. / nasa.gov

This week on Looking Up Hal takes us on a trip to a galactic triplet.

If you are a baseball fan, you likely are very excited by triple plays. If you love burgers, a triple with everything sounds delicious. But if you are interested in looking up this spring, you can see the biggest triple out there – the Leo triple galaxy cluster!

Looking Up: Nothing To Crow About

Apr 10, 2017
Author: Till Credner / AlltheSky.com / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

This week on Looking Up Hal makes a toast at the Cup & Crow.

You’ve heard the expression, “I’ll drink to that!” but be careful with your toast, or you might end up stuck forever in the southern Colorado night sky, like the interesting constellation of Crater, the cup. [Crater isn’t a very big constellation, but it is interesting because of the lore surrounding it, and because of a couple of things in it.] 

Looking Up: Royal Opposition

Apr 3, 2017
M. Procell

This week on Looking Up we hear about the king of planets heralding the arrival of spring.

Spring is here, and the stars that mark the warmer months are starting to appear in the southern Colorado Sky. But wait, what is that super bright star, rising in the east? To paraphrase the movie, that’s no Star! It’s Jupiter, making a bright and beautiful return to the night sky, after hiding in the daytime skies for the winter.