Jupiter Close, Big And Bright

I just know you’ve seen it already. That big, pale yellow “star” climbing the southeastern sky at nightfall. That’s Jupiter! It’s on a seesaw with the other bright evening planet, Venus. As Venus settles into the west, Jupiter takes over in the east. On Monday night, Jupiter reached opposition to the sun, meaning it appears…
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Fun With Contrails … And Auroras

Contrails, those streaks of condensed moisture that form in the wake of high-flying aircraft, can be annoying if you’re a photographer. They mark up an otherwise blue sky and can add an unwanted man-made element to pristine landscape photos. But sometimes contrails can become a subject of their own, where they add an geometric or…
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InSight Mission Blasts Off To Mars / Chance For Weekend Auroras

We’re headed back to Mars! NASA’s Mars InSight mission lifted off at 6:05 a.m. (Central Time) this morning from the West Coast en route to the Red Planet. After a 6½ month journey, it will arrive and set up camp on Nov. 26. The landing site is Elysium Planitia, a broad, smooth plain just north…
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Gaia’s Gift — The Lowdown On 1.7 Billion Stars

There are about 9,000 stars in total visible with the naked eye from a dark sky anywhere on planet Earth. In 1989, a star catalog was compiled to help the Hubble Space Telescope target objects of interest in space. It contained about 20 million stars. Last week, the European Space Agency’s Gaia mission released a…
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How A Dwarf Nova Hit The Big Time

Yuji Nakamura of Japan was taking pictures of the sky last Sunday night (April 30), when he recorded a remarkable stellar explosion 12,685 light years away in the constellation Perseus. It turned out to be a brand new nova. That night and the following night, the star was easily visible in binoculars. By last night…
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