Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Articles written by Dennis Mammana

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A Stunning Celestial Sparkler

Every year around this time, I can expect my email inbox to overflow and my phone to begin ringing. Folks who spend time outdoors during early-evening hours in mid-January frequently notice a brilliantly sparkling diamond low in... — Updated 1/11/2017

 

The First Meteor Shower of 2017

If you missed the Geminid meteor shower of mid-December (and most of us did because of bright moonlight), you've got another chance. Not with the Geminids, of course -- they won't return until next December -- but with the... — Updated 12/29/2016

 

Well, That's a Star of a Different Color!

I've been gazing skyward for more than five decades, and in that time I've learned a few things. One is that novice stargazers have some deeply ingrained misconceptions about the heavens. For example, many think that we cannot see... — Updated 1/6/2017

 

Spotting the Seven Sisters

One of the wonderful features of the nighttime sky is its timelessness. Want to see the stars as viewed by sky watchers of old? Simply step outdoors and look up. On December evenings, you can see a truly ancient constellation,... — Updated 12/1/2016

 

Viewing the Moonlit Geminid Meteors

It's December, and with it comes colder temperatures throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere and the most prolific meteor shower of the year: the Geminid. Never heard of it? Well, that's not a huge surprise. If you ask beginning... — Updated 12/8/2016

 

Count the Stars

How many stars are there in the universe? No one knows, of course, but Dr. Carl Sagan, on his popular 1980s television mini-series "Cosmos," said that there are "more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on all the... — Updated 11/2/2016

 

Here Comes the Super Moon!

Imagine that you stopped at your favorite Italian restaurant and ordered a 14-inch pizza. Now, suppose they brought you a 16-inch pizza by mistake. Think you would notice the difference immediately? If so, would you call the... — Updated 11/9/2016

 

Buying Your First Telescope

Well, it's that time of year again. The holidays are barreling toward us like an out-of-control sleigh. If you're considering presenting that special stargazer in your life with a telescope this holiday season -- or buying one for... — Updated 11/23/2016

 

See the Dwarf Planet Ceres

It was on the first day of the 19th century that the Italian priest, mathematician and astronomer Giuseppe Piazzi found a strange object in the sky that no one had ever seen before -- an "intruder" among the familiar stars of the... — Updated 10/13/2016

 

A Celestial Halloween

Ghosts and goblins and ghouls, oh, my! That's what many of us will be thinking this week and next as Halloween arrives and trick-or-treaters pound excitedly on our doors. We see costumes of monsters, superheroes, politicians and... — Updated 10/27/2016

 

Finding Aquatic Constellations

After the flooding that some of our nation experienced this summer, I almost hesitate to bring this up. But of the 88 constellations that fill our night sky, 15 are somehow associated with water. Of those 15, several shine in our... — Updated 9/23/2016

 

Venus and the Moon Return

If you haven't yet checked out Venus glistening low in the southwestern sky at dusk, now would be a great time to do so. Many people might have missed seeing it there because of low-lying clouds or mountains blocking the view. But... — Updated 10/3/2016

 

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 Thursday, Sept. 15, or Friday, Sept. 16, pack a romantic picnic and a blanket and head toward a hilltop with a nice, clear view... — Updated 9/8/2016

 

Winter Sky Sneak Preview

After a long, hot summer, it's nice to know that the seasons are changing and cooler temperatures are finally on their way. Before we know it, many of us will be whining about the cold and the snow, and wishing for the return of su... — Updated 9/20/2016

 

The Sky is Falling!

Few sights are as thrilling as the fiery spectacle known as a falling star, also called a shooting star or meteor. Astronomers cannot predict exactly when or where a meteor will appear, but sky watchers head far from the city... — Updated 8/4/2016

 

STARGAZERS - Six Planets and the Moon

Six Planets and the Moon Week of August 14-20, 2016 One of the coolest sights of the nighttime sky is one that's completely invisible -- unless, of course, you know where to look. Stargazers who understand the workings of our... — Updated 8/17/2016

 

The Celestial Dragon

While leading one of my popular Night Sky Tours this past week, our discussion somehow turned to the constellation of Draco, the dragon. Now, Draco isn't one of the top 10 stellar groupings that people can name, but I was... — Updated 8/31/2016

 

STARGAZERS - Big Moon Rising

Week of July 17-23, 2016 There are few things in nature I enjoy more than watching a massive full moon rising over the horizon. This is truly a treat everyone should experience at least once, and when you do you'll surely raise... — Updated 7/22/2016

 

Seeing a Cosmic Yardstick

I have a friend who swears that he can tell the distances to the stars just by looking at them, but he's never convincingly demonstrated to me his amazing powers. The reason is that it just isn't possible. Oh, sure, anyone could... — Updated 7/22/2016

 

Solar System Show at Dusk

It's been quite a while since we've seen the planet Venus glistening in the western sky at dusk. It has spent much of the past year on the opposite side of its orbit, rising and setting before the sun, but now it's back in the... — Updated 7/31/2016

 

Stargazers - The Celestial Strongman

No matter how long I study the sky there will always be star groupings I just can't see. The ancients certainly didn't make it easy for us. They never actually devised the constellations to look like animals, objects and people,... — Updated 7/7/2016

 

STARGAZERS - Does the Moon Rotate ... or Doesn't It?

Well, here we are in August already, and another full moon shines in our sky this week. This one occurs officially on the 29th and, as the full moon always does, will rise in the east at sunset. The August full moon is often known as the Sturgeon moon, since this is the time when... — Updated 8/17/2015

 
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