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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Exotic Creatures of the Southern Sky
Constellations telling the ancient tales of gods and heroes are still in use by astronomers. But there are only 48 classical constellations, and the skies around the south celestial pole can't be seen from the Mediterranean, so those constellations are more modern. Here are some of them.

Sky of Grand Central Terminal - History
In New York City, you can see the Milky Way on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal. A beautiful mural of the night sky has graced this elegant Beaux-Arts building since its opening over a century ago. But why is there a black spot and hole in the ceiling? Are the constellations really backwards?

Columbus and the Flat Earth Myth
Doesn't everyone know that in the 15th century people thought the Earth was flat? And that brave Christopher Columbus sailed westward from Spain to get to Asia to show that the Earth was round? Once I'd have answered “Yes” to both of these questions, but it turns out that they are myths.

Constellations – Facts for Kids
Some of our constellations go back thousands of years. Others were invented when Europeans began to explore the distant seas of the southern hemisphere. But what's the difference between a constellation, an asterism and a star cluster? And what does the constellation Pyxis represent?

Scorpius the Scorpion
Anyone wary of spiders may want to avoid the spider's cousin Scorpius. Most constellations don't look like their namesakes. But Scorpius is easily imagined as a giant scorpion with a blood red heart gleaming in the southern sky. It's been an astronomical scorpion for over 3000 years.

Blood Moons and Lunar Tetrads
A tetrad of Blood Moons sounds very dramatic. It could even be the title of a fantasy novel. But what is a “Blood Moon”? What is a lunar tetrad? And is it as apocalyptic as it sounds? Have a look.

Meteors and Meteorites – Facts for Kids
What's the difference between meteors and meteorites? And what is a meteoroid? Are they different from shooting stars, falling stars and fireballs?

Saint Patrick's Day – Wearing the Cosmic Green
Saint Patrick's Day is associated with the shamrock and the color green. Although there don't seem to be any cosmic shamrocks, there are many green phenomena in the skies. Discover a beautiful green nebula, what excites electrons, and why con men sold “comet pills”.

ABC of Astronomy – B Is for Bok Globule
B is for Bok globule, a kind of dark nebula studied by Bart Bok. B is for Bayer who invented a handy system of star designations beginning with a Greek letter. And B is for Baily's beads. You won't find them in a jewelry shop, but you might see them in a solar eclipse, as Francis Baily did.

Triton Facts for Kids
Neptune's big moon Triton was nameless for over a hundred years after its discovery. And it was so far away that astronomers knew almost nothing about it. Then Voyager 2 visited and saw active ice volcanoes on a moon that is probably a cousin to Pluto.

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