astronomy

Bill Dunford / NASA

When we talk about proper alignment, we’re often talking about our spines, or our priorities, or perhaps our metaphysical place in the universe.

Contributor Jean Creighton is all for those kinds of calibrations, but the kind of alignment she wants to talk about in this month’s astronomy chat is planetary.

"We have an unusual situation where we can see four planets, practically simultaneously, in the night sky," she notes.

NASA Planetary Defense Coordination Office

These days, the word 'asteroid' usually only comes up when we're talking about the extinction of the dinosaurs. But astronomy contributor Jean Creighton notes that a near-Earth object,or NEO, is either a comet or asteroid that gets within 30 million miles from the Earth's surface. But what would we do if a massive object were hurtling toward Earth today?

Craig A. Mullenbach / Fotolia

There have been astronomers in Wisconsin for a long time. There’s the Yerkes Observatory near Lake Geneva. There are astronomy programs at places like UWM and UW-Madison. And even a private observatory up in the Northwoods.

But astronomy contributor Jean Creighton tells Lake Effect’s Bonnie North that well before European settlers landed in the area, Wisconsin's Native Americans were already studying the night sky.

trahko / Fotolia

Black holes have a bad reputation.  The line is that they’re so dense, not even light can escape, and many of us imagine being pulled inexorably toward an enormous vacuum cleaner or a drain with no hope of escape.

The truth is a little more nuanced than that.  And we know much more about them today because of the Hubble Space Telescope. 

"The Hubble Space Telescope gave us the first concrete evidence of the existence of a super massive black hole in another galaxy," notes astronomy contributor and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at UW-Milwaukee, Jean Creighton.

Dawn Erb / UWM Dept of Astronomy, Gravitation & Cosmology

Stargazers can take note. Soon, you may not be able to use the historic Yerkes Observatory on Geneva Lake in Williams Bay, Wisconsin.

The observatory, built in the 1890s, has in recent decades been used primarily for education and outreach. The University of Chicago, which runs the observatory, announced that it will be ceasing its operations at the facility on October 1, 2018.

NASA

One of the key pieces of technology that has enabled space exploration is the Hubble Space Telescope. Astronomy contributor Jean Creighton, who also leads UW-Milwaukee's Manfred Olson Planetarium, celebrates the telescope's four most important contributions in her current program: Hubble's Cosmic Quest.

ikonacolor / Fotolia

A meteor shower is always a good excuse to get outside and look into the night sky. But it’s not the only time when you can see a streak of light overhead.

Astronomy contributor and Manfred Olson Planetarium director Jean Creighton says that while people generally know shooting stars have something to do with solar system debris, many don't know its origin.

"The shooting star is what we see in our atmosphere, but it starts earlier and farther away from either the chunk of an asteroid or comet - which are called meteoroids in the void of space," she explains.

NASA/JPL

As we just get started with 2018 we still take the time to look back on the not-so-distant 2017 and all of its “best of” lists. From best trends, to best foods, movies, events, and more – we often try to quantify a year into a compact bullet list.

One area that is often overlooked in your “best of” scrolling is the best of astronomy. 2017 was an incredibly exciting year for space – from the discovery of gravitational waves, to the solar eclipse, and capturing the most detailed photo of Earth ever taken from space.

NASA/ESA/Hubble / www.nasa.gov

Every month Jean Creighton comes down to the studio from her usual haunt in the Manfred Olson Planetarium to tell us stories about the cosmos. Today we talk about color, or lack of it, in the universe:

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

It’s been a big couple of years for gravity and the people who study it. Astronomy contributor Jean Creighton joins Lake Effect each month to talk about space - near, far, and in between each month.

This month, the director of UWM's Manfred Olson Planetarium discusses the collision of two neutron stars and the global effort behind capturing the event. “There were seventy telescopes that were able to observe in all continents, including Antarctica, across all light ways from gamma rays all the way to radio. Everybody saw it."

Mark Peate / Flickr

The days have been getting shorter since mid-June - the Summer Solstice, but now things start to get serious. As we near the Autumn Equinox, the point at which night is a larger part of our lives than day, our days will continue to get shorter. 

"The sun is going to rise due east and it’s going to set due west. That doesn’t happen on any other day, except the two equinoxes," says Lake Effect astronomy contributor, Jean Creighton. 

Bob Adams / Wikimedia

For the first time in nearly 100 years, there will be a coast-to-coast solar eclipse in the United States. The moon will move between the sun and Earth, totally blocking the sunlight for people on the "path of totality."

Courtesy of Romeo Durscher/NASA

It is indeed dark during the day as a total solar eclipse makes its way from Oregon to South Carolina. Eleven states are in the path of total darkness. Follow the astronomical phenomenon's journey across America along with NPR journalists and others experiencing the eclipse.

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Manoj.dayyala
Wikimedia

On Monday, part of the United States will experience a total solar eclipse, where the moon completely covers the sun. Milwaukee won’t get totality, but we will still experience a partial eclipse. 

"In Milwaukee we're going to see a partial solar eclipse, 86%... most people, if they've seen a solar eclipse at all, it's likely to be partial," says Jean Creighton, Lake Effect astronomy contributor and director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium. 

astronomy.com

On August 21st, parts of the United States will experience a total solar eclipse. It’s the first time in a century that the path of totality will be visible from the west coast to the east. Milwaukee isn’t in the totality path but it will still be darker than normal as the sun will be 86% eclipsed.

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