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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Aurorae - Polar Light Shows
There's a glow on the northern horizon. The Sun set hours ago and there are no city lights there. What's up? You could be seeing nature's great polar light show - an aurora. With solar activity on the rise, you might not have to go to the far north (or south) to see one.

Icarus at the Edge of Time - book review
Icarus flew too close to the Sun with wings of wood and wax. The wax melted and he fell to his death. Brian Greene's Icarus of the future flies too close to a black hole and finds that he should have paid more attention to Einstein.

Choosing and Using a Telescope
You've learned about the night sky with binoculars and you want to see more. What kind of telescope is good for a beginner? Here are some hints for choosing and using your first telescope. They've come a long way since Galileo first looked up through a telescope.

Rhea Moon of Saturn
Rhea was Saturn's wife in classical mythology. Rhea the moon zips around Saturn in four and a half days. Although it has an oxygen atmosphere, we won't be moving there anytime soon. Even in direct sunlight, it's -281 degrees Fahrenheit and the "atmosphere" is similar to a vacuum on Earth.

Start Observing - with Binoculars
What does every astronomer need? Most people would answer "a telescope." But, actually, binoculars are the best way to start observing the sky. Many experienced astronomers use them in addition to a telescope. Here is some guidance about getting started.

Bode and Bode's Law
Johann Elert Bode, the author of the greatest star atlas of the Golden Age of star atlases, is better known today for Bode's Law. Strangely, Bode's Law is neither a law nor original to Bode. So what was it? How did it inspire the Celestial Police? How did Neptune ruin it all?

Ecliptic and Equinoxes
The objects in the night sky seem to be projected onto the celestial sphere. A coordinate system lets us say where everything is, but something's not quite right. The north polar star will be Vega one day. Astrological star signs don't match the constellations any more. What's going on?

Mercury Facts for Kids
Now that Pluto is a dwarf planet, Mercury is the baby of the planets. It's close enough to the Sun for lead and zinc to melt during the day. Yet there may be frozen water in its deep craters. Until space probes came along Mercury was a mystery hidden in the Sun's glare, but that's changing!

Teaching Why We Have Day and Night
Why do we have day and night? For thousands of years most people thought it was because the Sun went around the Earth. That is certainly what it looks like, so how can you explain that day and night happen because the earth spins on its axis? Here are some ideas.

The Sun the Moon the Calendar
If you look at your calendar to find today's date, you can see the month, days of the week and maybe some appointments. But you're also looking at something that tracks Earth's journey around the Sun, reflects three thousand years of history and helps hold our society together.

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