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What you will actually see March 28 2023

No Planet Parade This Month

Overhyped Astro Story

You may have heard that you should look for a "Planet Parade" of five solar system objects coming to the sky on March 28.  "Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus, and Mars will be visible at the same time that night," some may say.  Sounds too good to be true?  It is.

While it is true that the planets Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Uranus, and Mars will be lined up in the sky on March 28, there is a huge problem: you won't see three of them.  Mercury and Jupiter will be too low in the sky after sunset and will quickly set below the ground.  And to see Uranus you need a telescope.  

So what will you see when you look up on March 28 after sunset?  

A dazzlingly bright star-like object, so bright you'll think it's a UFO.  That will be Venus.  High in the southwestern sky, you'll see a first quarter moon just above the red planet Mars.  This is one of those times where what looks good on paper does not match reality and certainly not a "planet parade."

But something even cooler will be happening on the evening of March 24.  Just after sunset, you'll find Venus, Mars, and the crescent Moon.  If you have a small telescope, aim it toward the left side of the Moon.  Move the scope further to the left about 1 degree and then you may see a little blue-green disc of light.  That will be the planet Uranus which will be in conjunction with the Moon on March 24.  Now that will be cool!

Today's Space Fact

Weekdays on Instagram

In honor of my new book 1,000 FACTS ABOUT SPACE from National Geographic, I've started posting Today's Space Fact on my INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT

Every weekday you can learn a new fact about the Moon, Planets, Galaxies and the Universe.  They're quick, fun, a little quirky, but each one will have you thinking big and exploring space above.  

Be sure to like them, share them, and spread the word. 

And let me know what space fact I should cover next.

Annular Solar Eclipse
Annular Solar Eclipse I photographed from Reno, Nevada in 2012

Astronomical Highlights

What's Coming Up in 2023

January 22 the planets Venus and Saturn will only be about 1/3 of a degree apart – so close together that you may be able to see them both at the same time through a telescope.  

January 25 the crescent Moon will be in conjunction with the giant planet Jupiter.  

March 1 just after sunset when you look low in the western sky, you will see two incredibly bright “stars.”  These are actually the two brightest planets: Venus and Jupiter.  They will appear about ½ degree apart from each other and almost seem to touch. 

Meteor Showers

It’s always difficult to predict what kind of show a meteor shower will bring.  Most times, if there are clear skies with no moonlight, you can see about 12-15 shooting stars (meteors) per hour.  There will be several promising meteor showers to look for in 2023.  The Lyrids peak on the night of April 22-23 but are generally a second-tier meteor shower.  The showers with a higher chance of creating more shooting stars are the Orionids on October 21, the Leonids on November 17, and the Geminids on December 13.

August 30-31 Blue Moon Supermoon

When you have two full moons in one calendar month, the second of the pair is often called a “Blue Moon.”  The Moon doesn’t actually turn the color blue, it was just a nickname for a rare occurrence.  

The next Blue Moon is on the night of August 30-31, 2023 and it should look a little larger in the sky.  This is because that night we will also have a Supermoon. 

October 14 Annular Solar Eclipse

What you will see on October 14 depends on where you live.  For most of the United States, a portion of the Sun will be blocked by the Moon creating a partial solar eclipse.  But a narrow swath of the country, from southern Oregon to southeastern Texas will be treated to an annular eclipse.  It will look like a ring of fire in the sky.

During an annular eclipse, the Moon is further from the Earth and does not appear large enough to completely block the Sun.  At the heart of annularity, the Moon slides in front of the Sun and seems to nestle completely inside the solar disc.  Though not as dramatic as a total solar eclipse, an annular solar eclipse is still well worth a trip to observe.  This annular eclipse will be visible from some truly beautiful locations such as Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, Utah’s Capitol Reef National Park, Monument Valley in Arizona, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.  

Looking at the Sun is dangerous and you need certified eye protection when even looking at a sliver of Sun.  This would be a good time to purchase specially-made eclipse glasses so you can be ready for both the October 14, 2023 and April 8, 2024 eclipses.

Check Out a Telescope at Cincinnati Libraries

I'm so excited to be partnering with the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Libraries to offer the stars to library patrons.  Telescopes may be checked out from certain branch libraries starting this month.

Over the past two years, I donated 15 telescopes to the libraries so that patrons can borrow them like checking out a book.  My hope is that people will be inspired by their views through the telescopes and the universe. 

With just your library card you can sign up to reserve a telescope for a three-week period.  The telescopes are small but powerful and can show the craters on the Moon, the planets, and stars and star clusters up close. 

I wished I had this at my local library growing up. I believe that everyone should be able to explore the universe like this with friends and family.

For more please see: This Link!

Total Lunar Eclipse November 8, 2022 by Dean Regas



Taken by Dean Regas


Ault Park, Cincinnati, Ohio

November 8, 2022


The skies stayed clear enough to observe the eclipse from beginning to moonset.  When the eclipse began we could even see a faint halo around the Moon.  And during the eclipse several bright meteors streaked across the sky and the International Space Station passed overhead.  Quite an astronomical morning!

First Quarter Moon

Sunday October 2, 2022

From the Cincinnati Observatory

What a lovely evening for a moonwatch!  I invited some people over - who were clouded out for International Observe the Moon Night on Saturday - to see the Moon, Jupiter, and Saturn with me on Sunday.  The conditions were so perfect that I hooked my phone up to a little refracting telescope outside the Observatory and just sat and watched.  The motion you see in the video is the Earth rotating.  As our planet spins, the Moon appears to move from east to west.  Click to make it full-screen and check out those craters!

Dean Regas - Astronomer in Residence

At Grand Canyon National Park

I am returning to the Grand Canyon June 20-23 to take part in the annual Star Party.  I'm giving some talks and then 50-100 astronomers set up telescopes for the public to view.  More than 1,000 people look through telescope each night.  It is a real STAR PARTY!

To the right is an interview I did, right on the edge of the South Rim in Fall 2021 during my month-long Astronomer in Residency at the Grand Canyon.

And you can Listen to Dean Regas talk about the Astronomy in Residence program on Science Friday

Cast of Don't Look Up movie

Please Look Up

Dean Regas reviews Don't Look Up

I watched Netflix’s movie, Don’t Look Up twice: once as a movie patron and again as an astronomer.  I’m always interested in how movies portray astronomers and after two viewings, I’m happy to say we came out looking like the normal ones (maybe the only normal ones). 

Note: This review is for people who have already seen the movie, so I won’t rehash the plot. But that also means spoilers are definitely ahead.

Does studying the universe give you a unique worldview?  In Don’t Look Up, that was definitely a theme.  In a world of filled with the social media-obsessed, the fame-driven, the politically-ambitious, the bellicose, and everyone in between, the astronomers were the only voices of reason.

Astronomers Behaving Well

I will say that the astronomers depicted in the movie do not fully represent my colleagues or the field as a whole.  But these were the scenes where I thought the movie nailed it.

In the opening scene, Kate Dibiaski (Jennifer Lawrence) displays the true wonder and emotion when she first sees her comet.  This is what astronomy is all about: searching and, if you’re lucky and good, finding.  It was perhaps one of the best movie scenes to depict the sheer joy of discovery.

Contrast that with the emotion of uncertainty, then certainty, then disbelief, and then terror that Richard Mindy (Leonardo DiCaprio) showed when his math exposed the nightmare scenario: that on paper, the comet was going to hit the Earth.  No CGI needed. His face was apocalyptic.


Want to discuss space movies? Join Dean For An Online Class March 8 called "Please Look Up"

Peter Isherwell character in Don't Look Up

Two Types of “Scientist”

Don’t Look Up also contrasts two types of scientists. The astronomers represent the pure scientist, forever looking, ever-curious.  They are in the dome, in the lab.  Classic. 

The second kind of scientist is demonstrated by eccentric tech-wizard Peter Isherwell (Mark Rylance), who embodies a conglomeration of Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg.  Isherwell is the perfect user of science, the technologist who does things just to do them (and turn a profit).  Science and technology are really two sides of the same coin.  But the public in Don’t Look Up views them as separate entities - one group makes theories while the other makes our lives better.  To put in a more negative light, technologists are just like the astronomers only much more successful.

Isherwell’s “success” comes at a price: his soul.  He obviously does not have humanity’s best interests at heart.  His analytics tell him that a vast new pile of minerals on a dead planet is still a vast pile of minerals.

Life on Earth – Not Just Us

Although too short and oddly-timed, the montages of life on Earth impacted me.  By showing the various animal and plant life it reminded me that this planet is not just us.  The movie sucks you into human concerns so much that, I’ll admit, I didn’t even think about life other than humans.  It made me feel so human-centric.

It made me consider, for maybe the first time, we (humans) have a responsibility to all life on Earth.  If we fail, we fail not just us but everything that has evolved from the beginning of time on perhaps the only place life exists.  The weight of that responsibility can be overwhelming.

Ariana Grande and Kid Kudi in Don't Look Up

Apocalyptic Comedy

One of the most moving scenes was when Dr. Mindy and the public first see the comet with their own eyes.  Fear, beauty, wonder, the comet is horrific and glorious at the same time.  This is what ancient stargazers must have thought whenever a new, cometary guest emerged in their sky.  “Wow,” mixed with, “Uh oh…”

The apocalyptic comedy was at its best when President Orlean (Meryl Streep) smokes in front of a flammable truck while telling Dr. Mindy, “You’re with the grown ups now.”  And the benefit concert led by the astronomers and featuring Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi. The performance goes sideways so subtly as Grande rises up from the stage in a flowing, nebulous outfit.  It was only after five seconds, with my mouth agape, when I realized the supreme tone-deafness of the moment and yelled at the TV, “No!  No!  Oh my god, she’s the freaking comet.  Nooooooo!”

Interview scene from Don't Look Up

Astronomers Are Like Us

The movie shows the many true intersections between the world of astronomers and everyone else.  Astronomers shine under the domes and at their equipment.  However, the world of media, politics, and business are alien.

While a quaint idea and expedient to the plot, the movie put unrealistic gravity on the interviews with the morning show hosts Kate Blanchett and Tyler Perry.  There is no one TV show to which everyone watches.  The days of a live TV show going viral are extinct.

But I still thoroughly appreciated the interviews.  It so accurately shows the astronomers coming face to face with real people trying to make small talk.  “Wait,” the interviewers think – and you can see them think, “are they astrologers or astronomers?  Shoot, what’s the difference?”  This is followed by the voice in their heads screaming, “Don’t ask about aliens.  Don’t ask about aliens.”  

This was exactly what I experienced early in my career with media interviews about the latest discoveries.  I prepared myself with the facts and then, wham, the first question came at me, “So Dean, you can tell us.  Are there really aliens?”  Like Dr. Mindy, I quickly learned to be ready for any question, to “keep it simple”, “tell us what it is”, and “don’t use math.”

There were two major mistakes in the movie’s depictions of the astronomers. 1) The DiCaprio-Blanchett affair was pure fiction. True astronomers are generally immune to earthly seductions.  They are either oblivious to them or are simply not interested since their one and only love is the stars.  2) No observational astronomers would sit down for dinner as the comet fell. They would be at the closest point to the impact site and counting it down.  Astronomers’ fear of missing out is stronger than even the end of the world.

Dean Regas looking through the Mitchel Telescope at the Cincinnati Observatory

Do We Deserve to Survive?

As an astronomer, I’ve wondered, “Will I ever have to break this news to the public?” How would I relate the devastating news that an asteroid is going to destroy life on Earth and there is nothing we can do about it? 

I heartily believe in the parting words of the movie, “We really did have everything, didn’t we?”  Maybe that is where astronomers have a unique perspective.   With all of our studies of the heavens, astronomers have still not discovered one planet where life exists.  In fact, there is no place in the universe that we know of, outside Earth, where you can walk outside without a spacesuit and not die instantly and painfully.  We may someday find a hospitable planet, ready for us to move in, but it will be trillions of miles away and require a journey of 20,000 years.  We can’t run.  We can’t hide.  There is nowhere else for us to go (and subsequently be eaten by a bronteroc).

Earth has been struck by comets and asteroids before and it will be struck again.  But there’s good news: We are a point in history, for the very first time, that we can spot an incoming asteroid and do something about it.  We have the power to save the Earth.  Are we up to the challenge?  And as Don’t Look Up painfully askes, do we deserve to survive?


Want to discuss space movies? Join Dean For An Online Class March 8 called "Please Look Up"

Partial Solar Eclipse 

Thursday June 10

I chased the eclipse in search of clear skies and better views and traveled to Mackinaw City, Michigan.  Luckily the clouds stayed away and I was able to get capture this video of the partially eclipsed Sun just above Lake Huron at sunrise. 

It is so awe inspiring and such an amazing sight to see the Moon block out part of the Sun.  The next solar eclipses visible from the United States will be October 14, 2023 and April 8 2024.  Mark your calendars and don't miss them!

Jupiter and Saturn Come Together

On the nights of December 20, 21, and 22 the largest planets in our solar system, Jupiter and Saturn, appeared closer together in the sky than they have since 1623.  In fact they were so close that you could see the two planets in a telescope at the same time!  

To the right is video captured by Astronomer Dean Regas through the Cincinnati Observatory's 175 year old telescope on December 21.

“Return of the Moon Joke Episode”

Classic Star Gazers Episode

From February 12-18, 2018

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