Changing Leaves, Slanting Sun, Falls Begins Today

At 3:02 p.m. Central time today falls begins. The moment is also called the autumnal equinox from the Latin “equal night” — on the first day of fall, day and night are equal at 12 hours apiece.  Like the Earth, the sky is divided into hemispheres, north and south. There’s even an equator up there…
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Comet Or Asteroid? Hubble Discovers Unique Solar System Object

The Hubble Space Telescope is always up to something. Now, a German-led group of astronomers have observed a one-of-a-kind object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scratch that. Two-of-one-kind: a pair of asteroids orbiting each other that show comet-like features including a bright coma and a long tail. It’s the first known binary asteroid also…
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An Excellent Week To Visit Neptune

Neptune reached opposition on Sept. 5th, when it was closest to Earth for the year, making now through December an ideal time to observe the solar system’s most distant planet. Opposition occurs when both the Earth and an outer planet line up on the same side of the sun. Since Earth’s in the middle, the sun…
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The Planets And Moon Have Something Nice In Store

Earlier this morning, Mars and Mercury passed very close to one another low in the eastern sky at dawn. Sunday morning (Sept. 17), they’ll still be just ½° apart and preceded by the star Regulus, planet Venus and the crescent moon.  It gets even better on the 18th, when the moon, now sliver-thin, resides like a…
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Wildfire Smoke Smudges Our Starry Skies

Red suns? Anemic night skies? Whether you live on the East Coast or the West Coast or somewhere in between, you’ve been affected by the smoke from Canadian and western wildfires. Those of us in the Midwest, stuck in the middle, have had smoky skies since July with fewer than 10 days and nights in…
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