The Observer's Notebook

a series of astronomy articles for backyard observers by John Rummel.

 In this age of urbanization and artificial light, it is difficult to appreciate the paramount importance of the sky to our ancestors. Digital watches and desk calendars are readily available; there is no need to watch the sky to tell the time of day or the year. And under the lights of our cities, we can scarcely see anything overhead - the night is diluted. Most of the stars are fainter than the background of scattered light. For city dwellers, the night sky is preserved only under the dome of the local planetarium. We have struggled - successfully - to shelter ourselves from the elements, and we have managed to shut out the sky. In the process, we also have removed ourselves from one of the fundamental components of our culture



Binocular Delights

A February Rendezvous

Dance of the Planets

Between Summer and Winter

A Stellar Disappearing Act

The Planets of Summer

Planetary Treats

Will the Lion Bare his Teeth?

The Ringed Planet


Total Lunar Eclipse

The Brightest Star

The "Grand Conjunction?"

More Planetary Alignments

Spotting the Young Moon

Summer Reading

Sagittarius and Scutum

The Search for Water

Fall Planet Roundup

Partial Solar Eclipse


Planets in January

2001 Then and Now

Asteroidal Observations

Solar System Update

The Return of Mars

Mars in the Milky Way

History of Mars Exploration

The Explorers of Mauna Kea


Winter's Brightest Stars

A Planetary Full House

Surprising Solstice Facts


Seasonal Changes in the Sun's Angular Size

Observing Retrograde Motion

How Close Mars?

2004 Observing the Venus Transit From Wisconsin


Observing Mars in 2005

Special Columns

Nuts and Bolts: Planning an Amateur Observing Session

Madison's Eclipse Drought

How to get started in astronomy for only $200

January 2000 Lunar Eclipse

August 2000 Aurora Borealis

December 25, 2000, Partial Solar Eclipse

Review of Starry Night Pro

Photo Restoration: An Unfortunate Annular Eclipse Photo Restored

Rare Book Review: Photographic Atlas of the Milky Way

Another Book Review: The Great Atlas of the Stars

Updated August 27, 2005

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