Tuesday, July 26, 2011


 A enigmatic structure appeared suddenly yesterday at the Cincinnati Observatory.  It appears to be a recreation of the famous Stonehenge monument except made entirely out of... boxes.  Was it made by a race of Celtic giants?  Is it Alien in origin?  What civilization could've produced such a thing?  And for what purpose? 

Experts believe that the structure is ceremonial in nature and would draw crowds to witness celestial events.  A "Heel-box" was also erected at the precise place where the Sun would rise from the site on the summer solstice.  This display of astronomical knowledge demonstrates an advanced understanding of the heavens, but beyond a calendar what other mysterious uses does Boxhenge serve?  Cincinnati Observatory staff will continue to examine the site for more clues... 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Corona Bowl-ealis - The Northern Bowl

Ancient Greeks believed Corona Borealis to be the beautifully jeweled crown given to Ariadne after she was dumped by Theseus. But the formation of stars is so distinct that many other cultures saw different images in this region of the sky. For example the Australian Aborigines thought this constellation was a boomerang flying through the heavens. In a Native American legend it is the cave where the great bear lives. And at different seasons it looks like either a smile or a frown.
The Shawnee Indians saw the seven stars of the crown as seven beautiful maidens. One story tells of a brave hunter named White Hawk who was resting in a clearing one warm summer day. He was jolted awake by a giant silver basket descending by a silver cord from the clouds. Upon closer inspection, White Hawk noticed that the basket was occupied by seven stunning young women. When the basket touched the ground, the maidens stepped out of the basket and danced wildly in a ring. White Hawk watched from a good distance but crept closer. He was so enthralled that he wanted to ask the most beautiful maiden to be his bride. But when he approached, the women jumped into the basket, pulled the silver cord and flew back into the sky once more.
The next day, White Hawk returned to the same clearing at the same time. This time he disguised himself as a rabbit in the hopes of getting closer to the babes. Sure enough, the basket with the women descended again to the ground. They danced. He hopped closer (as a bunny)... but the disguise didn't work. The women jumped back into the basket, pulled the cord, and flew skyward. "Drat," White Hawk said.
So he tried it again the next day - this time disguised as a mouse. And for some strange reason, maybe his costume was better, maybe he was mousy already, the disguise worked. He scurried up to the seven maidens and grabbed the fairest of them all, and carried her away. White Hawk is represented by the bright star Arcturus, while the fairest of the maidens is brightest star in the Northern Crown, Alphecca.
The name Alphecca comes from an Arabic word meaning, "Bright one of the Dish." This refers to the Arab vision of this as a dish or bowl. Thus I call it "Corona Bowl-ealis." It's all a matter of perspective.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


 Great news!  I have been selected to be the permanent co-host of the new Star Gazers TV show!  The Star Gazers will feature me and astronomer James Albury from the Kika Silva Pla Planetarium in Gainesville, Florida on your PBS stations and online.  We will continue the tradition of Jack Horkheimer's Star Gazer and let you know "What's Up" in the night sky as well as demo new graphics and effects that will take you the edge of the universe, explain the workings of the heavens, and have you back in time to step outside and see it all for yourself.  Star Gazers will debut on October 4, 2011.    

In the meantime, I filmed classic Star Gazer episodes for July and will be back on in September as well.  To see the one-minute and five-minute shows for this week entitled "Planets, Planets Everywhere," right click on the links below and select, "Open in New Window"

For the archive of past shows, please do the same for Jack Horkheimer's page: http://www.jackstargazer.com/JHSG_DNLD.html

Keep looking up!