Happy Autumnal Equinox

People with binoculars & a telescope looking at the starsGibbons, Gail.  Stargazers.  New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1992.

Today is the first official day of fall.  It is the Autumnal Equinox¹. Here in central Texas, it was a mite cooler this morning (68° F) and not quite so hot this afternoon (93° F).  For us, fall is an astronomical event not a meteorological one.  Eventually the leaves will change and the temperatures will be milder, but that time is still many weeks away.

backyard_fall16
My Backyard. First Day of Fall. September 22, 2016.

From now until the winter solstice, the nights get longer.  With longer nights, we have a more opportunity to stargaze.  I love to look up at the stars.  Tonight when it gets dark, here’s what I might see overhead: Pegasus, Andromeda or Hercules¹.  These are sometimes hard for me to locate.  There are others I can find more easily. They are the Big Dipper, Cygnus, and Cassiopeia.   The three brightest stars in the overhead sky will be Altair, Vega and Deneb. If you are here in the northern hemisphere you can use this map to help you locate these constellations and stars in our autumn night sky: Beckstrom Observatory Sky Map.

So on this autumnal day, I offer you this book about stargazers. In this time when schools are stressing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), it is a good resource to have on your bookshelf.  It is packed with information for anyone interested the stars and the night sky.  Gail Gibbons uses bright, visually appealing pictures to present basic information about stars and space in ways we can easily understand.  What are the tools a stargazer can use?  Do you know the difference between a refracting telescope and a reflecting telescope?  Have you ever visited an Observatory or a Planetarium?  With colorful pictures and careful language, she explains these wonders to us.

In this fall season, take advantage of our longer nights . Go out and enjoy the night sky.  Be a stargazer!

¹http://www.treehugger.com/natural-sciences/11-facts-about-autumnal-equinox.html

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