Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Articles written by Dennis Mammana

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 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Great Winter Hexagon

If you've ever quit an evening of stargazing in frustration because you couldn't find a great bear, an archer or a winged horse in the sky, take heart. Neither can I. Unfortunately, some beginning skywatchers expect to see such... — Updated 2/2/2023

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Venus Meets Saturn

You may have noticed a brilliant "star" shining in the southwestern sky at dusk, but you might have missed the other one not far above it. Actually, these aren't "stars" at all; they're planets – the brightest in all the heavens... — Updated 1/20/2023

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Return of the Great Celestial Hunter

One of my favorite constellations in all the heavens has made its grand reappearance in our evening sky, much as Robert Frost described in the opening lines of his famous poem "Star-Splitter": "You know Orion always comes up... — Updated 1/10/2023

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star...

It began as a five-verse poem called "The Star" that appeared in the 1806 publication "Rhymes for the Nursery." More than three decades later, this poem by Ann and Jane Taylor was set to music: a 1761 French folk tune that,... — Updated 1/6/2023

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Seeing the Inner Planets at Dusk

It's always fun to ask stargazers why they believe that, if Mercury is the closest planet to the sun, it's not also the hottest of our solar system. That honor belongs to Venus, nearly twice as far from the searing heat of our star... — Updated 1/4/2023

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Viewing the Moonlit Geminid Meteors

It's December, and with it come colder temperatures throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere and, in the sky, the most prolific meteor shower of the year: the Geminids. Never heard of it? Well, that's not a huge surprise. If you... — Updated 12/20/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Mystical Northern Lights

Stand just once beneath the shimmering curtains of the northern lights – the aurora borealis – and you will never forget the experience. They are without question the most hauntingly beautiful and unearthly of all natural pheno... — Updated 11/28/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Winter Stars are Coming!

Whenever I spot the constellation Taurus, the bull, rising in the east after dark, I know that winter can't be far behind. Stargazers with a vivid imagination might be able to trace the stars of Taurus into the outline of a bull's... — Updated 11/22/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

A Cosmic Soap Opera

Did you ever wonder what folks did for entertainment before we had television and social media? Well, before TV and the internet there was radio. And before radio – long before radio – there was... well... the sky. People decad... — Updated 11/14/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

A True 'All-Star' Baseball Game

I remember as a kid sitting in our front room next to our small black-and-white Motorola television set as my dad introduced me to many of the comedy teams of his day. What a treat it was to share laughter with him over such... — Updated 11/10/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Journey from Andromeda

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, a beam of light began its journey across the cosmos. At the remarkable speed of 186,282 miles per second, this beam could orbit our planet nearly 449 times in just one minute. But it wasn'... — Updated 10/28/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Moon Meets Uranus

Go ahead. Get all the jokes out. You know you want to. I've done it too, but quite honestly, they were all much funnier in seventh grade! In a few days the planet Uranus (pronounced YOU-rah-nus, by the way), will undergo what... — Updated 10/18/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Moon and the Gas Giants

The most prominent "star" on the celestial stage this week will be the moon. It will reach its first quarter phase on the evening of Sunday, Oct. 2, when you will see it due south at sunset. Its 2,200-mile-diameter orb will be sunl... — Updated 10/18/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Are We Alone?

Who among us has never gazed into a starry night sky and wondered, "Are we alone in the universe?" With the hundreds of billions of stars in just our own Milky Way galaxy – with possibly trillions of other galaxies beyond – is... — Updated 10/6/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Searching for Neptune After Dark

Remember a few years back when Pluto was deemed to be no longer a planet? The internet erupted with protests. "Why isn't Pluto a planet?" people cried. "It was a planet when I went to school and, as far as I'm concerned, it still... — Updated 9/27/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Seeing a Cosmic Yardstick

One of the most common questions I hear regards how we determine distances to the stars – a question not so easily answered by waving my arms around in the dark. Many folks think that if a star appears fainter, it must be farther... — Updated 9/19/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Finding the Asteroid Vesta

I remember well those wonderful days of elementary school when the very mention of the "solar system" conjured up in my mind amazing images of the sun, the planets and their attendant moons, and even mysterious comets sweeping by... — Updated 9/13/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Dog Days of Summer

As summers go, this one hasn't been unusually hot here in the Southern California desert, but it's not over yet! We've still got a while before the onset of autumn and, hopefully, the arrival of some cooler temperatures. In the mea... — Updated 9/7/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Three Decades of Stargazing!

It's hard to believe, but it will be 30 years on Aug. 19 since I published my first "Stargazers" column. Over those years, we've seen eclipses darken the land, planets converge in the sky or transit across the sun, meteor showers... — Updated 8/30/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Ring World: Saturn

It's often been said that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, so if I were to ask which is the most beautiful of all the planets, I would expect a variety of answers. Some might say it's the delicate white crescent of Venus; ot... — Updated 8/23/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

A Stellar Chinese Valentine's Day

There's a wonderful ancient Chinese story that tells of two lovers – Niulang, a poor, orphaned cowherd and Zhinu, a young, beautiful weaving maiden and the seventh daughter of the Emperor of Heaven – who once were separated... — Updated 8/19/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Ophiuchus, the Serpent-Bearer

Even beginning skywatchers can go outdoors on a clear night and easily find among the stars the classic shapes of Scorpius, the scorpion, and the teapot of Sagittarius. Right now, you can see them both low in the southern sky... — Updated 8/19/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Desperately Seeing Pluto

"My very energetic mother just served us nine pizzas." Anyone who's ever studied the solar system in school has learned this mnemonic device in which each word begins with the same letter as the planets of our solar system in... — Updated 8/3/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Check Out the "Not So Super" Moon

Here we go again. Another month, and yet another "super moon"! What's so super about the "super moon"? You may have already asked yourself this question after going out to see it and coming away thinking "Gee, it looks just like ev... — Updated 8/3/2022

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Exploring the Celestial Scorpion

During late June evenings, we can easily see one of the great celestial symbols of summertime. Look low toward the southern sky after dark, and you'll spot the long, curving arc of Scorpius, the scorpion. You will easily notice... — Updated 8/1/2022

 

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