Romancing The Stars

The night sky has inspired romance, wonder, and art for thousands of years. Check out the story of Cepheus and Cassiopeia. He was the easy going king of Ethiopia and she was the vain queen, a “mirror, mirror on the wall” type. Poseidon sent a sea monster after Cassiopeia for insulting his wife. She survived that ordeal, only to then insult Hera, queen of the Greek gods. Hera dispatched Cassiopeia to the sky.  A heart broken Cepheus begged his buddy Zeus to send him to be with his beloved Cassiopeia. Now Cephus and Cassiopea permanently embrace in the heavens. How […]

Learn What Science Has To Say About The Star Of Bethlehem

Bright stars top Christmas trees in homes around much of the world. The Star of Bethlehem or Christmas Star has appeared in art, literature, and science for over 2,000 years, but where is it and how can you see it? The Star of Bethlehem is part of the nativity story in the Gospel of Matthew. Three “wise men from the East” (Magi) are inspired to follow the star to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. The star moved across the sky, then stopped over a manger marking the location for the birth of Jesus. This is the only mention […]

The Anatomy Of A Star – How Old Are They Really?

How old are the stars? The short answer is “It’s complicated”, but we can have some fun with this question. For example did you know that there is a star that is older than the universe? That is right. Scientists estimate the age of the universe at 13.8 billion years, but they also believe there is a star that is 14.2 billion years old. This discrepancy is referred to as the “age paradox” and it pits cosmologists against astrophysicists. Now isn’t that fun? Cosmologists measured cosmic microwave background radiation to derive the expansion rate of the universe. The expansion rate […]

Let Orion Lead You On Winter Night Sky Tour

Even though it is cold, Winter can be the best time of year for stargazing, because low humidity brings clear skies. The sun goes down early too, so it gets plenty dark to take the kids out before bed time. Bundle up and go outside to see some of the brightest stars and popular constellations. Let Orion be your guide to the winter night sky. The belt points to some of the brightest stars in the sky and Orion’s sword contains one of the best known and most photographed nebulae in the sky, the Orion Nebula (Messier 42). Follow the line formed […]

Best Mars Viewing In 32 Years Happens Tuesday

The fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy the night sky. Remember to bundle up and maybe fix a mug of hot chocolate. October started with a full moon, the Harvest Moon, and will end with a Halloween Blue Moon. A second full moon in the same calendar month only happens about once every 3 years, so don’t miss it. Mars viewing will be at its best until 2052. The peak will be Tuesday, October 13, however viewing should be excellent until the end of October. Look directly due east one hour after sunset in the middle […]

America’s First Astronomers – Native Americans

  Did you know that the first astronomers in America were Native Americans? Although the original inhabitants of North America did not leave a written language, they did leave behind rock art, pottery, and architecture indicating that Native Americans were studying the night sky long before the voyage of Columbus. Some archaeologists believe that a star and crescent symbol on a panel near the Penasco Blanco ruin in Chaco Canyon represents the AD 1054 Crab supernova explosion. The ancient Chinese also recorded this same celestial event as reported in a previous Name a Star blog.   The Mimbres of New […]

Ancient Chinese Dragon Bone Star Charts

  The first star charts were inscribed on dragon bones by Chinese astronomers in the 14th century B.C.E. Actually, the bones were ox shoulder blades or tortoise shells. They were called Oracle Bones or Dragon Bones because diviners or fortune tellers would carve star patterns or symbols, then crack the bones with a hot poker. The cracks would be interpreted to tell the future. NASA astronomers used fourteenth-century B.C.E oracle bones to help determine how much the earth’s rotation is slowing down. Based on analysis of the tortoiseshell inscriptions, astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Pasadena reported they had […]

Astronomy Learning Resources

Most schools are distance learning. Some are doing it right. Some leave a bit to be desired. To supplement their curriculum, here at Name a Star we put together a helpful guide for your budding astronomer or scientist. There is still plenty of summer weather left to get outside to enjoy the night sky, so round up your kiddos and take them outside tonight to have fun learning something new! Would you like to know if sharks could live in space? Of course you do. Discover this and more from The Discovery Channel on TV and online. There is also […]

Why Does Old Glory Have Stars And Stripes?

We were all taught the meaning of the American Flag design when we were in grade school, but do you remember? Here’s a quick refresher, plus some fun history you may not know. The flag of the United States has 13 horizontal stripes, alternating red and white, which represent the original Thirteen Colonies. In the upper left corner is a field of blue with 50 white stars, which represent the 50 states. This is the 27th version of the US flag. It was ordered by President Eisenhower in 1959 after Alaska became the 50th state and adopted by Congress in […]

Why Stars Change With The Seasons

Have you ever noticed that your favorite constellation is not always visible in the night sky? For example, the belt of Orion the Hunter is easy to spot in the winter, but nowhere to be seen in the summer. Where do the stars go? The short answer is that they are still out there shining during the day when you can’t see them. To understand, remember that the earth rotates on its axis every day, while revolving around the sun every year and you can only see the constellations at night, when your part of the earth is facing away […]