Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Articles written by Dennis Mammana

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 By Dennis Mammana    News 

The Celestial Water Snake

Springtime in the Southern California deserts is when the snakes begin to appear. They're beautiful creatures, of course, but considering how much time I spend prowling around after dark, I'm always concerned that I might... — Updated 4/6/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Listen to the Moon

There's an old joke that I just love to tell. An elementary school teacher was presenting a lesson about the moon and asked the children which is more important, the sun or the moon, figuring the answer was obvious. After all, the... — Updated 4/1/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Star Patterns Made Easy

I recall many years ago standing under the stars trying to figure out why the starry heavens looked nothing like the elaborate drawings I'd seen in star maps and books. Why could I never find a bear among the stars of Ursa Major,... — Updated 3/25/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Seeking the Zodiacal Light

Stargazers who spend time in rural locations get to experience celestial sights that are invisible, and sometimes completely unknown, to those living near the bright lights of a city. For example, the number of stars scattered... — Updated 3/24/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Seeing History... in Real Time

It's been said that most of our knowledge of the universe comes to us in the form of light. But just what is light? Well, that's a question that scientists have pondered for ages, and the answer seems quite peculiar. We now know... — Updated 3/17/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Sneak Peek at the Summer Sky

If you’re like I am, you long for summertime, not only for its warm weather and abundant growth but also because its nighttime sky is among the richest of the year. So it’s usually around late February that I begin wandering outdoors before dawn to sneak a peek at the stars... — Updated 3/3/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Seeing the Sun at Night (Well, Sort Of)

Stars are not all alike. If they were, we could determine their relative distances just from how bright they appear. They do share one important similarity, however: Each is a thermonuclear furnace. In most cases, the cores of the... — Updated 3/3/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Hare-y Tales of the Winter Sky

If you haven't been out to enjoy a dark night sky this winter, you'll be happy to learn that few activities can keep you more socially distanced than stargazing. The stars are so brilliant right now not because of the frosty night... — Updated 3/3/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Return of the Big Dipper

Scientists tell us that our sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory triggers. Get a whiff of a freshly mown lawn or a turkey roasting in the oven and I'll bet you agree. For me, there's another memory trigger that seems... — Updated 2/19/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

How Far South Can You See?

This week I spotted the star Canopus for the first time since last winter, and I was reminded of an interesting fact. Quite a few folks still believe the Earth is flat. Hard to believe, I know. Many of these people belong to the... — Updated 2/8/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

When Celestial Giants Meet

If you've got a small backyard telescope, this is the time to set it up, because next week, you'll witness something you may never witness again. On the evening of Dec. 21, stargazers looking low toward the southwestern sky during... — Updated 1/28/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The 'Linking' Star

Many folks believe that constellations are celestial pictures and are disappointed when they can't see these fanciful images from ancient times. That's because constellations are not pictures but areas of the sky. Astronomers have... — Updated 1/27/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

2021: A Year of Celestial Wonder

The beginning of each new year is filled with hope and optimism. This year will be no exception, especially after the gut-punch we received from 2020. And with the new year comes a list of resolutions we swear we’ll follow. How many times can we possibly say, “And this year, I... — Updated 1/11/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Mooning Around on Winter Nights

The final full moon of 2020 arrived on Dec. 29, when it rose majestically over the northeastern horizon shortly after sunset. We astronomers usually schedule our observing programs for times when the sky isn't obscured by such... — Updated 1/8/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

A Change of Seasons

Nights have been growing longer; snow is blanketing much of the land; and furnaces are working overtime. Yes, there's definitely a change of seasons coming our way. It's surprising how many folks don't understand why the seasons... — Updated 1/6/2021

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Which Astronomy Books are the Best?

One of the most common questions I hear around the holiday gift-giving season is this: "Which is the best book to buy for a beginning stargazer?" I wish it were that easy, but the fact is I just have no answer! Unfortunately,... — Updated 12/31/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Geminids Meteor Shower

I was well into adulthood before I ever considered spending an entire night outdoors during December. Once I moved from the U.S. East Coast to a more temperate climate, however, I did this frequently. Why? Because I've since... — Updated 12/11/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Did you ever wonder what folks During the predawn hours of Nov. 30, night owls and insomniacs in North America may see an eclipse of the moon as our nearest natural satellite drifts through the Earth's shadow as it orbits our... — Updated 12/11/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

A Celestial 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 decades... — Updated 11/26/2020

 
 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 vivid imaginations might be able to trace the stars of Taurus into the outline of a bull's... — Updated 11/23/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Seeing the Inner Planets at Dawn

In Roman times, it was known as the god of commerce, travel and thievery. The Greeks called it Hermes, the messenger of the gods, when it appeared at dusk, and they called it Apollo when they saw it at dawn. Today, we know it as... — Updated 11/16/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

The Demon Star

It's known as Algol, the Demon Star, and it glows diabolically in our sky each year as Halloween approaches. To find it this week, go outdoors during the early evening, and look low toward the northeast. The accompanying sky map... — Updated 11/7/2020

 
 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 – many like our own sun – is it not possible that,... — Updated 10/30/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Shine on Harvest Moon

If you're looking to score some points with your sweetie, here's a great idea. Late on the afternoon of Sept. 30 or Oct. 1, pack a romantic picnic and a blanket, and head toward a hilltop with a nice, clear view of both the... — Updated 10/28/2020

 
 By Dennis Mammana    News

Encounter with the Red Planet

It was Halloween eve 1938. Millions of war-jittery Americans listened as special news bulletins reported that the tiny town of Grover's Mill, New Jersey, had been captured by invaders from Mars. It was only a radio play – a... — Updated 10/20/2020

 

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