Sun Sports A Big Black Spot, Leaky Hole

A very distinguished sunspot blackens the sun today. It’s more than twice the size of Earth and plainly visible to the naked eye as a small, dark dot through a safe solar filter such as a #14 welder’s glass. The spot is the “leader” in a small group of sunspots called Region 2529. Sunspots are…
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Arcturus Flashes On April Nights

The western sky belongs the Mercury and the crescent moon this week, but several people have asked recently about “that bright star low in the eastern sky.”  It’s Arcturus! This flashing orange gem is the fourth brightest star in the nighttime sky and the brightest star north of the celestial equator. The celestial equator is an…
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Crescent Moon Hits The Bull’s Eye Sunday

The other day we talked about how to find the planet Mercury at dusk. Tonight, you can use the arc of the thin crescent moon to help point you to the planet, located just 8° or just shy of one fist held at arm’s length to its lower right. By Sunday night (April 10), the moon will have…
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Monster Black Hole Turns Up In Cosmic Boondocks

Astronomers have uncovered a black hole 17 billion times more massive than the sun. While a black hole resulting from a collapsed star is around 12 miles across, one that massive would extent at least 10 times as wide as the orbit of Neptune. How do you hide something that big? Normally, big black holes…
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Mercury Makes Best Appearance Of The Year At Dusk

Evening twilight needs a planet. The skyline in that direction’s been mighty bare lately. Venus departed long ago, and Mercury’s been missing for months. That’s about to change as Mercury gallops back to the western sky this week. Tonight, it’s about 3 fingers high 30-40 minutes after sunset tonight. Watch for the planet to climb steadily…
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