Wishing You A Merry Ride On The Solstice Roller Coaster

Happy first day of summer! Last night at 11:24 p.m. CDT, the sun reached the top of its roller coaster ride across the sky, marking the summer solstice. That makes today the first full day of the new season. Around here it coincides with the start of what will soon be a riot of daises.…
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Seven Sisters And Two Goddesses Grace The Dawn

It’s an all female crew tomorrow at dawn. Look low in the northeastern sky starting about an hour and a half before sunrise and the first thing you’ll notice is the lunar crescent filled out with ample earthshine. To its left will shine radiant Venus, the brightest planet in the sky. Both Venus and the moon or Luna have…
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See M4, The Closest Globular Cluster. It’s So Easy!

What do amateur astronomers look at in their telescopes? Planets, double stars, asteroids, comets and deep sky objects. Deep sky is shorthand for galaxies, stellar birth clouds called nebulae and star clusters. You’re probably familiar with a few like the Orion Nebula, the Pleiades star cluster (a.k.a. the Seven Sisters) and Andromeda Galaxy. Tonight, we’re going…
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Fireflies — Green Sparks In The Dark

I worry every spring about whether the fireflies will return. Habitat loss from urban sprawl and light pollution are thought to be behind the decline in their numbers in recent years. When you use light as the language of love, bright porch lighting, streetlights and headlights can make it difficult for a potential mate to sense…
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Brown Dwarf Or True Star? What Decides? We Finally Have An Answer

Stars have fun names. There are red giants, yellow supergiants, red dwarfs, white dwarfs, neutron stars, magnetars and more. To hear astronomers talk stars, you might think you’re at J.R.R. Tolkien convention. Stars form when a cloud of gas and dust collapses due to gravity, resulting in a dense ball of material hot enough for…
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