Geminids Meteor Shower

On the nights of December 13th and 14th observers with a clear night sky observed several  meteors.  A dark sky was necessary to see this event.

Note the planetarium staff view the night sky on Dec. 13th for 3 hours and observed 6 meteors. Two were spectacular  and the image below is only part of that meteor.  Photo taken with a Canon 20Da using a 28mm f4 lens with a 45 sec. exposure by Kent Blackwell, planetarium volunteer and telescope operator.

Why Meteors?

As the Earth moves around the Sun if often collides with small to large space rocks called meteoroids.  When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere it begins to glow due to friction.  The object appears as a “falling Star” and is known as a meteor.  If it hits the Earth its name changes to a meteorite.  Several of the best meteor showers occur in August, October, November and December.  A good meteor shower could produce one or more meteors per minute on average. You will need a dark sky away for street lights for the best view.

Moon passed the Jupiter and Saturn conjunction Dec 21

After sunset the planets Jupiter and Saturn appeared close in the evening sky. Here is a photo taken in a Virginia Beach neighborhood of the event.  Several local armature astronomers had telescopes to help observe the planets and the Moon. We shared our telescope with all that attended the conjunction event.

Jupiter is the brighter object on the left with Saturn dimmer on the right.  the planets will continue to look close for the next several nights.

Look to the southwestern sky after sunset.

Rare Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn on Dec. 21, 2020

On the evening of December 21, 2020 the planet Jupiter passed the planet Saturn and the two planets appeared close in the sky. This was the closest these planets have appeared since 1623.  The only problem with observing this event was the sunset glow in the southwester sky.  To see this conjunction at its best find a location with a clear view of the southwest.  Around 8,000 years ago it is believed that Jupiter passed directly in front of Saturn.

The planet Mars will appear high in the sky and appears orange.


Sky at sunset with jupiter and saturn




New comet was in the evening sky….

A comet named NEOWISE was in the evening sky.   It was visible first in the northeastern horizon and slowly moved into the evening sky.  A pair of binoculars was needed to locate the comet.  The photo below was taken July 7th in Virginia Beach Kempsville area.

The comet is in the lower middle of the photo just above the red cloud. It appears as a star like object with a tail pointing up.


Some great photos of the moon taken with an Iphone.



We viewed the transit of Mercury at the planetarium on November 11th, 2020

see Mercury? The top of the photo is the curve of the Sun’s limb.  (small dot at top is Mercury)


November 11 , 2019 in front of the planetarium

The planet Mercury crossed the face of the Sun on November 11th, 2019.  Visitors viewed this special event at the planetarium.  The next time a transit of Mercury occurs will be 2032.  Local astronomy clubs participated by providing viewing through special solar filtered telescopes.  Mercury appeared as a small black dot on the Sun. This was an outdoor event and reservations were not necessary.  Many students and families participated in the event.

  Future astronomer?

Never Look At The Sun Without Proper Solar Filters!

Times for the transit 11/11/20 EST

Transit Began    7:36 a.m.

Mid Transit       10:20 a.m.

Transit Ended      1:04 p.m.

Telescope Viewing started around 7:36 a.m.

Total time for Mercury to transit the Sun was 5 hours 28 minutes


Planet Mercury on Sun's surface Mercury appears as a small dot near the Sun’s edge


This was an outdoor event and reservations were not necessary. The viewing was in front of the planetarium building located in the City of Chesapeake Municipal Center on Cedar Road.

Visit the planetarium for future events and shows. (currently closed due to pandemic)

Direction:  From interstate 64 take Battlefield Boulevard    exit south.  Cross the Intracostal Bridge and turn right onto Cedar Road. The Municipal Center is on the right.




Total Lunar Eclipse January 20/21, 2019

The photos below were taken at the Chesapeake Planetarium. A small telescope was used to capture the images.  Several hundred attended the Total Lunar Eclipse Watch in front of the planetarium building on January 20 / 21, 2019

Lunar eclipse sequence of six images into totality

Earth's moon looking orange during lunar eclipseLarger view of the Moon during a lunar eclipse

lunar surface with small meteor impact appearing as a dot.

Total Lunar Eclipse photos taken at the Chesapeake Planetarium January 20, 2019

Meteor impact on moon during totality appeared as a small flash in one image.

On the night of January 20 /21 the moon passed though the Earth’s Shadow.

Several hundred stargazers arrived at the planetarium Sunday, January 20 to view one of nature’s most spectacular celestial events, a total lunar eclipse.  The photo above was taken using a small telescope that was able to image the entire lunar surface.

visitors to the planetarium viewing the lunar eclipse with the planetarium's telescope

For current planetarium program information call the planetarium star line  547 STAR (7827)

The eclipse watch began at 9:30 p.m. It was clear, and everyone observed the eclipse.

This was an outside event and no reservations were needed to attend.

Time Table for the eclipse

9:35 p.m.   The eclipse started as the Moon enters the lighter penumbra shadow of Earth.  The shadow appeared as a light darkling of the left (western side) side of the Moon. Observers noticed the shadow had a curved shape, which is proof that the Earth is round.

10:33 p.m.  The Moon entered enter the darker (umbra) shadow at approximately 10:33 p.m., at which time observers noticed a red color.

11:40 p.m.  The Moon was completely in the umbra (totality began.)

O:43 a.m. (January 21) totality ended as the Moon begins to leave the umbra.

2:49 a.m.  The eclipse ended as the  Moon moved out of the penumbra.


The next total lunar eclipse in Tidewater will be on May 26, 2021