How Dark Will It Get During The August Total Eclipse?

Total solar eclipse on the island of Svalbard in 2015. The planet Venus is visible off to the left. Shadow bands flicker across the foreground seconds before totality. They form when the last tiny bit of sun refracts through air pockets of different densities and temperatures, creating a series of undulating bands of light. Toss a…
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The Secret To Finding All Eight Planets On Your Own

I love sharing the news of planets, conjunctions, comets and all the rest with you guys. But you might be a do-it-yourself kind of person that likes strike out on their own. If so, here’s my two-step process to find every planet in the solar system. Step 1: Follow the moon, which any of us can…
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Visit Uranus — The Blue Planet 1.8 Billion Miles From Home

Uranus, the 7th planet, reached opposition, its closest point to Earth this year, more than a month ago. A few amateur astronomers like to drop by to spy the planet’s pale blue disk — best appreciated at magnifications of 100x and up — or seek its two brightest moons, Titania and Oberon, faint pinpricks of light within…
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Deepest Look Ever Into Orion Nebula Reveals Lots Of Tiny Tots

Orion Nebula in July? Sure, why not! Especially when new photos taken in infrared light of the famous star factory in the sky reveal tons of brown dwarfs and gobs of smaller, planet-mass objects.  Astronomers used the wide-field HAWK-I infrared instrument on the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to produce the deepest and most…
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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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