Night Sky On The Fourth Of July

Today we celebrate American Independence Day, when lots of us will be out watching fireworks displays at dusk. Since getting a good seat means arriving early, you might have a little time on your hands to look around and take in the stars before the show begins. Or even after the show. Assuming a forecast…
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Triangles For Lunatics, Crater Riot

If you missed last night’s amazing occultation, the moon has more in store tonight. Look up at dusk and you’ll see three very different objects form a right triangle high in the southwestern sky. The moon occupies one corner and the Jupiter and Spica the others. Spica, the faintest of the three, is intrinsically the…
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It’s 69! Two New Moons Join Jupiter’s Family

Jupiter’s moon count just hit 69! Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science added the latest two in announcements published in the Minor Planet Circulars on June 2nd and June 5th. Named S/2016 J 1 and S/2017 J 1 (S=satellite, J=Jupiter), they’re only about a mile across apiece and very, very faint, about magnitude +24.…
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Moon-Planet Conjunctions — The Possibilities Are Infinite!

Every month, the traveling moon circles across the entire sky, passing through the 12 constellations of the zodiac and briefly lining up with various bright planets that currently inhabit those star groups: Jupiter in Virgo, Saturn in Ophiuchus (not an official zodiac constellation, but that’s another story) and Venus in Pisces. The alignments are called conjunctions,…
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Juno Delivers Again On Perijove 5 With Closeups Of Jupiter’s Turbulent Clouds

Take a virtual stroll through the gallery today. They’re all photos returned from NASA’s Juno probe’s fifth close flyby of Jupiter on Thursday, May 18 at 9 p.m. CDT. At the time of perijove — the point in Juno’s orbit when it’s closest to the planet’s center — the spacecraft skimmed just 2,200 miles (3,500…
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