Wanna Name A Crater On Mercury? Find Out How

NASA’s orbiting MESSENGER spacecraft has snapped more than 250,000 photos since plunking into orbit around Mercury in 2011. The solar system’s innermost planet’s ancient surface is Swiss-cheesy with craters of all sizes, all named – according to convention – after deceased artists, musicians, painters, and authors who have made outstanding contributions to their field. Hellacious…
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Stargazing On Christmas Night

Merry Christmas and a happy holiday! I hope you’re enjoying time with family and friends and a clear night is in the forecast. Should you poke your head out tonight, here’s what’s up. At nightfall, a pretty crescent moon ornaments the dim constellation of Capricornus not far from Mars. Barely half a degree to the…
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Comatose On Rosetta’s Comet, A Follow-up On Philae

As the good folks behind the Rosetta mission take a well-deserved year-end break this week and next, it’s a good time to check in on Philae, the little lander that that finally settled down for good on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko after bouncing three times on that gravity-deprived world. No one yet knows exactly where the craft…
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Venus Returns, Joins Exceptionally Young Moon Tonight

Have you noticed something missing lately? Venus has been absent from view since late last summer. We last saw it struggling against the solar glare at dawn. Now, just in time for the holidays, Venus is returning to the evening sky, low in the southwest after sundown. Tonight there’s even a chance to see it…
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Winter Solstice Brings Longest Night, Warm Comforts

You can kiss the fall goodbye starting at 5:03 p.m. (CST) tonight. That’s when the Sun arrives at its southernmost point in the sky in the constellation Sagittarius. For those of us in the northern hemisphere it rises late, never climbs very high in the south and sets early, making today the shortest day and…
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