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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Mercury transit May 9_2016 8_50am_FEA

Let The Transit Begin!

“So you took the day off work to watch a little black dot cross the sun?” my wife asked drily. Well yes. Yes I did. OK, so I’m a little nuts. I admit it. Just came back in after getting my first look at Mercury through a 3-inch refractor, and it was much more obvious even…
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Transit Mercury TRACE 2003 (1)

Psyched For Tomorrow’s Mercury Transit? Me Too — Come Join Us

On Monday May 9, the planet Mercury will be out in front of the sun nearly all day. Instead of hiding in its glare, the innermost planet will pass directly across the sun’s face in an event called a transit. Our sun is big and Mercury is both small and far away (52 million miles / 83.6 million…
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Transit Mercury TRACE 2003 (1)

Watch Mercury Skip Across The Sun On May 9

On Monday May 9th, we have a rare opportunity to see the solar system’s innermost planet pass directly in front of the sun. Maybe you saw one or both Venus transits back in 2004 and 2012. All you needed then was a handheld solar filter to that planet’s perfectly black, perfectly circular self silhouetted against the…
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