NASA estimates that the MESSENGER spacecraft will crash into Mercury this afternoon at 3:26 p.m. EDT near the 30-mile-wide crater Janacek on the opposite side of the planet from Earth. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Time To Kill The MESSENGER – NASA Probe Crashes Into Mercury Today

Mercury got a brand new crater today. At 2:26 p.m. this afternoon (CDT) NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft plowed into the planet and excavated a 52-foot-wide crater in a flash of light. The spacecraft was out of sight and communication during the impact, since it occurred on the far side of the planet as seen from Earth. Roughly 30…
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Pleiades Passage / Aurora Night 3?

You couldn’t help noticing Venus and the Pleiades last night glimmering in the west at dusk. Tonight they’ll be nearly as close. If you have a small telescope, take a closer look and see if you can discern the planet’s small, not-quite-round disk. Venus passes through phases just like the moon and has surprised more than a few…
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More Auroras Forecast / Venus Snuggles Up To The Pleiades

Time lapse of the aurora from Spirit Lake, Idaho April 9-10 by Donny Mott. Things get interesting about halfway through. Yes – auroras made a sweep of the sky overnight and were visible as far south as Colorado. Unfortunately they weren’t particularly bright in part because of moonlight. But through the camera lens, the rays…
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See The Starry Stepping Stones Of Spring

They may all officially belong to the winter sky, but Sirius, Orion’s Belt, the Hyades and Pleiades tilt over in the most appealing way every April. With Venus joining the scene, you can star hop from one to the next the way you might use stepping stones to cross a stream. Take a look in the west…
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Can You Feel The Love(joy) Tonight? Winter Comet Now At Its Best

Darkness came in heaps and lingered for hours last night. Although Comet Q2 Lovejoy competes well with the glare of the city and isn’t hard to see from my driveway, I craved something closer to a classic 18th century, electricity-free sky. That meant putting another 25 miles between me and Duluth. From the countryside it…
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