Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Another trip around the sun…   Leave a comment

Astrono-ME!  Productions is two years old!  And while I certainly am not the most prolific blogger, I wanted to thank you for your comments and company.  I hope to post more in the upcoming year.

The winter sky is so beautiful these days, with Venus shining brightly in the early evening, Jupiter up for most of the evening, and the winter circle  asterism (a group of bright stars that makes a pattern) shines like a jeweled necklace in the sky. Mars graces the morning sky, and the Geminid showers are peaking.  It’s a wonderful time to look up!

If you are curious about what is in the sky from night to night, here is a great resource:

Every night they have a few paragraphs and pictures of what you can see in the heavens.

Until next time, here is a beautiful image from the Hubble turned into a holiday card. (You can get yours here:

All the best to you and yours!


Posted 14 December, 2013 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

Twinkle, twinkle…   2 comments

Happy 2013!

One of the groups I hope to excite about the stars here at Astrono-ME! Productions is children and families. Often when I turn out the lights to star a children’s planetarium show, we sing the song, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” It’s a great way for the kids to relax in to the show, without mentioning the D-A-R-K! But is it time for this two hundred year old classic to get an update?

Many people only know the first verse:

Twinkle, twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are!

Up above the world so high,

Like a diamond in the sky,

Twinkle, twinkle little star

How I wonder what you are!

But actually, the poem actually has four more stanzas, which you can follow the link to find. (See stolen from Wikipedia “The English lyrics were first published as a poem with the title “The Star” by sisters Ann and Jane Taylor (1783–1824) in Rhymes for the Nursery in London in 1806.[2] The poem was written by Jane.”

While I can appreciate the wonder in the traditional song, my version is just a simple update that includes a little more science, in an age appropriate way.  Here goes:

Twinkle, twinkle little star.

I know a bit about what you are.

Though you’re very far away,

You’re like the Sun that shines in the day.

Twinkle, twinkle little star.

I know a bit about what you are.

What do you think?  I thought perhaps the last line should be “Science has taught me what you are.” But I would love your comments.

Keep looking up!



ps – If you are interested in hearing a Girl Scout’s rewrite, check out:

Posted 9 February, 2013 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

A Special Reason to look up this December 25th!   Leave a comment

Although many of us do not celebrate Christmas, there is a good reason to look to the skies this 25th of December. A chance to see the moon and Jupiter appearing very close together. 

The first object I ever found in a telescope myself was the planet Jupiter.  Seeing the cloud bands and the tiny white moons surrounding it took my breath away! It is a moment I will never forget. Right now is a great time to look at Jupiter.  To find it in the sky,  simply look away from the setting sun (towards the southeast) and the bright object you see will be it!  You really can’t miss it.  The moon will be getting closer to it over the next few days, culminating on a very close appearance in the night sky on December 25th. It will be a nice holiday activity to go outside after 5 pm and see! Happy Holidays to all!

Take care,

Posted 22 December, 2012 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

Perseid meteor shower   Leave a comment

The Perseid Meteor Shower is coming up soon. It is always in mid- August, and this year the peak will be on Sunday the 12th of August, 2012 at 5:00a.m. PDT.  The Perseids are rightly considered one of the best meteor showers of the year, with observers regularly reporting 60+ meteors per hour at the peak.

Even the days leading up to the shower will have increased meteor activity.  Astrono-ME! Productions will be hosting a viewing on Sunday night, complete with an astronomy talk, directions on how best to view the shower, and hot cocoa for those who pre-register (or while supplies last).  Suggested donations are $10 – 20 per person or group, but of course, no one is turned away!  We will be  blogging more about the Perseids in the days to come, so stop by soon!


Posted 3 August, 2012 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

another quick post about the Venus Transit tomorrow…   2 comments

Please check out this nice film from the California Academy of Sciences on tomorrow’s once in a lifetime event:

Venus transits have been used throughout history to help measure the distance between the Earth and the Sun, an “astronomical unit” or AU, in particular, the transit pairs in 1761, 1769, 1874 and 1882. Here is a great newspaper account from our fair city at the 1882 transit:

“Many of the residents of San Francisco were noticed yesterday with a piece of smoked glass to their eye, looking curiously at the sun, between the hours of about sunrise and noon, during which time Venus was visible; and even under these disadvantages without the aid of a suitable telescope, it was still a grand and beautiful spectacle. All who missed a view of the transit of Venus are to be commiserated, for should they live to be 100 years old the chance will not come again occur.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

The transit tomorrow was paired with the one in 2004.  The next one will not occur until 2117. DON”T MISS IT!!!!

Posted 4 June, 2012 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

Venus Transit!!   Leave a comment

Are you missing thinking and planning about how and where to view the eclipse? It was amazing and we’d love to hear your stories and share pictures. But  now there’s something else to ponder and plan – the only transit of Venus until 2117! If you miss it, you won’t be alive to see the next one. (Unless you are a miracle of science.) And perhaps unlike the eclipse, most of the people reading this blog will be able to view the transit. Check out the below graph to see if you are some of the unfortunate few who will miss out:

Photo Courtesy of Fred Espenak (NASA GSFC),

So when do you want to view it?  For the US, it’s sunset.  For your local area and times, check out here:

In the Bay Area, it will start a little after 3 p.m. and end at almost 10 p.m.; when sadly, the Sun will be out of view because night will have fallen. Of course you must view it safely, so please review the safe eclipse watching post or visit for a refresher. More transit information will follow…

Posted 27 May, 2012 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

A video about this Sunday’s Solar Eclipse…   Leave a comment

This youtube video is from the Morrison Planetarium / California Academy of Sciences.  It is a great overview of what happens during an eclipse and how to watch one safely.

Check it out:

More Eclipse Information…   Leave a comment

From the previous post, you know the date and time of the solar eclipse… so you just need to look up right? NO!!

You have to be safe!  The ultraviolet rays from the Sun can cause permanent injury to your eyes. You should never stare directly into the Sun. That’s my safety PSA for the day.

So now, how do you safely view the eclipse? You can watch it directly with eye protection, or watch a projection of it on something. Let’s look at them in turn.

Protection: You can use specially made eclipse glasses, solar filters from telescopes or binoculars, or eclipse viewing filters. I wouldn’t use anything else.  Some people use welders glass or film negatives but it is not safe.  But hey, it’s your eyes.

Projection:  The cheapest, easiest way to view the eclipse is  to make a ‘pinhole projector’. Simply take two pieces of cardboard or paper and use a pinhole in one to project the image of the Sun onto the other. You will still see the effect of the Sun with a “cut out” image on the viewing side.

Here’s two web sites for more information:

A good longish video about how to view it safely (7 minutes):

General sun safety page:


In San Francisco, the eclipse will begin at 5:16 p.m. PDT. The maximum eclipse will occur at 6:32 p.m. when 84.22 percent of the sun will be obscured. The eclipse will end at 7:40 p.m.

Posted 14 May, 2012 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

Are you ready for the solar eclipse?   Leave a comment

The 20th of May 2012 will be one of the first solar eclipses for a long time that we have been able to see from California.  Safe viewing tips will be coming up soon. If you want to see what, if anything will be seen from your area, please check out:

or the more easily understood:

If you are in San Francisco, here’s the times to be aware of:

Lat.: 37.7378° N
Long.: 122.4399° W
Partial Solar Eclipse
Magnitude: 0.896
Event Date Time (UT) Alt Azi
Start of partial eclipse (C1) : 2012/05/21 00:15:54.8 033.7° 270.5°
Maximum eclipse : 2012/05/21 01:32:42.1 018.7° 281.5°
End of partial eclipse (C4) : 2012/05/21 02:39:57.3 005.9° 291.1°

For those of you not fluent in NASA speak, in San Francisco, the eclipse will begin at 5:16 p.m. PDT, this Sunday May 20th. The maximum eclipse will occur at 6:32 p.m. when 84.22 percent of the sun will be obscured, then it will slowly come out until 7:40 p.m.   Take advantage of this wonderful moment to share with your loved ones.

Posted 11 May, 2012 by tjsummer in Uncategorized

Astronomy Day – this Saturday!   Leave a comment

If you are in San Francisco, please join Astrono-me! Productions at the California Academy of Sciences to celebrate Astronomy Day, this Saturday 28 April 2012. There will be astronomy activities around the museum all day, and I will be there in the afternoon (around 3) creating pocket solar system models that you can take home with you.  Please stop by!

Astronomy Day started in Northern California in 1973.  It’s a chance for people to get to know the astronomy resources in their community.  It happens every year between mid April and mid May on the Saturday closest to the new moon.  This is so the sidewalk astronomers who set up telescopes for the general public won’t have to deal with the bright full moon blocking the fainter objects from their telescopes.  Most cities have many events going on, so check out what might be going on locally for you.


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