All posts by Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch

About Shawn Laatsch

Shawn Laatsch is the director of the Emera Astronomy Center and Jordan Planetarium at the University of Maine. He started his astronomy education career in 1984 and has directed planetariums in university and science center facilities, taught undergraduate astronomy courses, and given numerous lectures around the globe. He serves as President (2017 & 2018) of the International Planetarium Society, Inc. the world’s largest organization of planetarium professionals. Shawn has a passion for sharing astronomy and stargazing with people of all ages.

April Fool’s Day and the end of the year!

During the Middle Ages New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 in most European cities and towns as it way near the Vernal Equinox.  Often the celebration lasted a week, and the last day was a day of pranks and jokes which today we observe as April Fool’s Day.  Here is your guide to […]

Spring Begins – Time to chase a Bear!

Spring is here!  Well at least astronomically speaking as March 20th marks the Vernal Equinox, so while we still have wintry weather with snow, spring now has officially  sprung.   Here is your guide to the sky for March 20 to 26, 2017… Sun – Earth – Moon Monday, March 20 at 6:29 am marks the […]

Mercury rising , Venus sinking, and a lion in the sky!

The planets dance as we see Venus sinking while gaining Mercury in our skies at sunset.  Leo that majestic lion signals Spring is arriving, and we have a bounty of morning chances to see satellites this week.   Here is your guide to the sky for March 13 to 19, 2017… Sun – Earth – Moon […]

Target Earth – A near miss by an asteroid

Asteroids have hit the Earth in the past, and astronomers are keeping an eye out for these objects.  While Earth gets hit by well over a ton of space dust and debris each day, most burns up in our atmosphere.  If chunks are larger than a few inches in size they have potential to reach […]

Spring ahead on March 12, well at least for your clocks!

While Spring officially starts on the Vernal Equinox later this month, Daylight savings begins on Sunday morning March 12 at 2:00am when we “spring ahead” an hour.  Find out who to blame for your lack of sleep later in this post. For early risers there are chances to see the International Space Station every morning […]

A Hare in the sky, chance to see Ceres, and morning satellite views!

We are leaping along and winter has only a few weeks left, so it is a good time to catch Orion and his stellar companions.  This week we look for one that is right beneath his feet.  Here is your guide to the sky for February 27 –March 5, 2017… Sun – Earth – Moon […]

Seven Planets around a Dwarf Star – Earth sized worlds with water

The European Southern Observatory (ESO) and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered a system of seven Earth-sized planets just 40 light-years away in the constellation of Aquarius. The planets were detected as they passed in front of the ultra-cool dwarf star known as TRAPPIST-1. The middle three of the planets lie in the habitable zone […]

Saturn and the Moon, an early morning delight…

Saturn and the Moon provide and early morning delights this week for early risers.  We have a couple bright Iridium flares, and two royal constellations to check out.  Let’s hope this week we get a reprieve from the snow and have some clear skies. Here is your guide to the sky for February 19 -26, […]

Cosmic views for Valentine’s Day!

Venus the goddess of love, along with a bright Iridium satellite provide some great views for Valentine’s Day.  Why not take the one you love outside and spend a few minutes stargazing?   Here is your guide to the sky for February 12 -18, 2017… Sun – Earth – Moon Sunrise this week is at 6:37 […]

A Lunar Eclipse on Friday…of the Penumbral flavor!

On Friday night (February 10, 2017) here in Maine we will be able to see a penumbral lunar eclipse. A lunar eclipse occur when the Moon passes through Earth’s shadow and the Sun’s light is blocked from reaching the Moon.  Lunar eclipses have three flavors or – total, partial and penumbral – with the most […]