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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Ultra-cool Dwarf and the Seven Planets
When a planet was first discovered around an alien sun in 1995, it was big news. Now we know thousands of them, so it takes something special to get into the news. In February 2017 one team hit the jackpot: a star with seven Earth-sized planets, three of them in the habitable zone.

Astronomical Doodles
Google doodles are little drawings and animations that incorporate the Google name into a presentation of a person or event of note. Here are five doodles with an astronomy theme, including asteroids, a lunar eclipse and how the speed of light was calculated by observing Jupiter and Io.

European Astrofest 2017
It was the 25th Astrofest – and how things have changed since the first one! No one knew then if other stars had planets. Pluto was still a planet and its discoverer Clyde Tombaugh was still alive. The Rosetta mission was in the very early planning stages, and Cassini-Huygens hadn't been launched.

Space Missions - Quiz
Space missions have taken us to the Sun and the Moon, asteroids and comets, planets, dwarf planets and moons, and looked beyond the Solar System. There have been so many missions it's hard to keep them straight. Can you match these descriptions with the missions?

Cosmic Valentines
Valentine's Day is no assurance that love is in the air. Hearts and flowers aren't guaranteed to come your way. You may or may not get one of the billion valentine cards that are sent each year. But heart shapes are everywhere and anyone can admire them. Here is a cosmic selection for everyone.

Makemake - Facts for Kids
Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz discovered an icy object out in the Kuiper Belt nearly five billion miles from the Sun. Three years later the International Astronomical Union (IAU) listed it as a dwarf planet, and named it Makemake.

Tarantula Nebula (30 Doradus)
The biggest, brightest nebula in our galactic neighborhood is not for arachnophobes. It's a cosmic spider hundreds of light years across known as the Tarantula Nebula. Although the nebula is 170,000 light years away it's so luminous that it can be seen with the unaided eye.

Dorado the Mahi Mahi
Since the heavenly flying fish (Volans) is intact, its neighboring constellation Dorado must still be hungry. Dorado is a dolphinfish, mahi mahi being the most common type. Mahi mahi pursue flying fish through tropical seas, and you might imagine Dorado chasing Volans through the southern skies.

Volans Flies the Southern Skies
Volans (the Flying Fish) flees from its predator Dorado (the Mahi Mahi) across the southern sky. They're two of the southern hemisphere constellations that Flemish astronomer Petrus Plancius (1552-1622) created to fill in parts of the sky not visible to northern astronomers.

Five Astronomical Non-events 2016
The astronomical delights of 2016 are wonderful discoveries and beautiful heavenly events. Not so delightful are the flaky stories and shaky science and “intelligent aliens” as the answer to any mystery. Here's my selection of five such non-events from 2016.

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