September 28, 2016 aurora. Credit: Bob King

Mercury Joins Forces With The Aurora

Late last night I could see the start of our three-day affair with the aurora as a glow behind a low bank of clouds. Early this morning, soft flames of the stuff flickered in the belly of the northern sky as dawn swelled in the east. Yesterday’s cheery forecast for G2 geomagnetic storms still holds for both…
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Credit: Bob King

‘Challenge’ Photos And A Jupiter-Moon Conjunction

Did you have any luck with last night’s challenge of finding the crescent moon and all five bright planets? I decided to take the challenge too. There were a few surprises. First, the both the thin lunar crescent and Venus were higher and easier to see than I expected. And once the sky darkened a…
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Mercury moon venus jupiter Aug 4_FEA

Observing Challenge — See A Slim Crescent, Venus, Mercury And Jupiter At Dusk

Every so often in this blog we feature an observing challenge. Since the summer weather’s so nice and you have a little free time after dinner, why not grab your binoculars and head out to the nearest western horizon shortly after sunset. If the air is transparent with no haze or clouds obstructing the view, tomorrow…
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Venus elongation phasesFEA

Hello Venus, Hello Mercury!

Quick. How many naked eye planets can you see in the night sky? If you answered three — Jupiter, Mars and Saturn — congratulations, you’re three-fifths correct! But two others have been sneaking up from behind when we weren’t paying attention. Venus has recently returned to the evening sky after a many-month hiatus, and Mercury’s putting…
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Ceres iceFEA

Ice Goes Into Hiding On Ceres / Dawn, Pluto Probe Update

We know there’s ice inside Ceres, but it may be chillin’ on the surface, too. Scientists with NASA’s Dawn mission have identified permanently shadowed craters on the dwarf planet that have likely been cold enough to trap water ice for a billion years. “The conditions on Ceres are right for accumulating deposits of water ice,” said…
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