Author Archives: Damian Allis

NASA Night Sky Notes for January 2019: January’s Evening Eclipse And Morning Conjunctions

Poster’s Note: One of the many under-appreciated aspects of NASA is the extent to which it publishes quality science content for children and Ph.D.’s alike. Your tax dollars help promote science! The following article was provided for reprinting by the Night Sky Network in January, 2019.

By David Prosper

Observers in the Americas are treated to an evening total lunar eclipse this month. Early risers can spot some striking morning conjunctions between Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon late in January.

A total lunar eclipse will occur on January 20th and be visible from start to finish for observers located in North and South America. This eclipse might be a treat for folks with early bedtimes; western observers can even watch the whole event before midnight. Lunar eclipses takes several hours to complete and are at their most impressive during total eclipse, or totality, when the Moon is completely enveloped by the umbra, the darkest part of Earth’s shadow. During totality the color of the Moon can change to a bright orange or red thanks to the sunlight bending through the Earth’s atmosphere – the same reason we see pink sunsets. The eclipse begins at 10:34 pm Eastern Standard Time, with totality beginning at 11:41 pm. The total eclipse lasts for slightly over an hour, ending at 12:43 am. The eclipse finishes when the Moon fully emerges from Earth’s shadow by 1:51 am. Convert these times to your own time zone to plan your own eclipse watching; for example, observers under Pacific Standard Time will see the eclipse start at 7:34 pm and end by 10:51 pm.

Lunar eclipses offer observers a unique opportunity to judge how much the Moon’s glare can interfere with stargazing. On eclipse night the Moon will be in Cancer, a constellation made up of dim stars. How many stars you can see near the full Moon before or after the eclipse? How many stars can you see during the total eclipse? The difference may surprise you. During these observations, you may spot a fuzzy cloud of stars relatively close to the Moon; this is known as the “Beehive Cluster,” M44, or Praesepe. It’s an open cluster of stars thought to be about 600 million year old and a little under 600 light years distant. Praesepe looks fantastic through binoculars.

Mars is visible in the evening and sets before midnight. It is still bright but has faded considerably since its closest approach to Earth last summer. Watch the red planet travel through the constellation Pisces throughout January.

Venus makes notable early morning appearances beside both Jupiter and the Moon later this month; make sure to get up about an hour before sunrise for the best views of these events. First, Venus and Jupiter approach each other during the third full week of January. Watch their conjunction on the 22nd, when the planets appear to pass just under 2 ½ degrees of each other. The next week, observe Venus in a close conjunction with a crescent Moon the morning of the 31st. For many observers their closest pass – just over half a degree apart, or less than a thumb’s width held at arm’s length – will occur after sunrise. Since Venus and the Moon are so bright you may st1ill be able to spot them, even after sunrise. Have you ever seen Venus in the daytime?

If you have missed Saturn this winter, watch for the ringed planet’s return by the end of the month, when it rises right before sunrise in Sagittarius. See if you can spot it after observing Venus’ conjunctions!

You can catch up on all of NASA’s current and future missions at

Have you ever wondered how eclipses occur? You can model the Earth-Moon system using just a couple of small balls and a measuring stick to find out! The “yardstick eclipse” model shown here is set up to demonstrate a lunar eclipse. The “Earth” ball (front, right) casts its shadow on the smaller “Moon” ball (rear, left). You can also simulate a solar eclipse just by flipping this model around. You can even use the Sun as your light source! Find more details on this simple eclipse model at

About The NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit to find local clubs, events, and more!

CNY Skeptics – Carbon Fee And Nuclear Power: The Batman And Robin Of Fighting Climate Change – 16 January 2018

Greetings all – this in recently from our friends in (and fellow members of) CNY Skeptics. For more information, see or visit the event Meetup page.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019 – 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Manlius Library – 1 Arkie Albanese Ave, Manlius, NY 13104

We are in danger of missing a crucial window of action to limit the negative effects of climate change. Popular calls for 100% renewable energy can mislead and distract from two necessary and underrepresented solutions: a carbon fee and nuclear power. We’ll dive into the facts and numbers on these solutions, why they are needed, and how we can advocate for the bipartisan (!) Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (HR 7173) which was introduced in the House of Representatives in November 2018.

Biography: Ethan Bodnaruk is a wastewater engineer with Master’s degrees in nuclear engineering and ecological engineering. He is an active member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-partisan organization whose aim is to build the political will for Congress to pass a revenue neutral carbon fee to mitigate climate change. He is an advocate for open and transparent public discussion of science, policy, and current events. He considers himself a Christian Atheist and is working on a book about the synthesis of science and spirituality for the 21st century. He blogs at

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique: “Virtual Reality For Real Life!”

Saturday – December 15, 2018, 9:30-11:00am
Please RSVP to
Milton J Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology – Syracuse, NY

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Speaker: Amber Bartosh, RA, LEED AP BD+C, Assistant Professor, School of Architecture Syracuse University, and Co-Director, Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL)

Talk Overview: Have you seen the movie Ready Player One? Did you see how the characters co-exist in the physical environment and the virtual world? What if I told you that that future is already here? Come see how new hybrid reality technologies (which seem like video games!) are actually informing our everyday environments. Try on a Virtual Reality headset and witness how the virtual and physical are always intertwined. Energy and information flows are moving around us all the time. Plus, learn how you can create your own 360 degree virtual environments as well.

Biography: Amber Bartosh is a LEED-accredited architect and interior designer who has designed and managed award-winning projects in the United States, China, Kuwait, and the U.A.E.

She received her B.A. in Art and Architecture from Rice University and her M.Arch from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Amber is currently an Assistant Professor at Syracuse University School of Architecture, a Syracuse Center of Excellence Faculty Fellow, and co-director of the Interactive Design and Visualization Lab (IDVL).

Her work focuses on the architectural application of emergent materials through physical prototyping and advanced visualization technologies including virtual reality simulation.

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique

TACNY Junior Cafe Scientifique, a program for middle-school students founded in 2005, features discussions about topics in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in an informal atmosphere and seeks to encourage students to consider careers in these areas. Students must be accompanied by an adult and can explore the MOST at no cost after the event.

Technology Alliance of Central New York

Founded in 1903 as the Technology Club of Syracuse, the nonprofit Technology Alliance of Central New York’s mission is to facilitate community awareness, appreciation, and education of technology; and to collaborate with like-minded organizations across Central New York.

For more information about TACNY, visit