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Absolute Beginners - Spring Skies
Days lengthen, flowers blossom and it's starting to get warmer. Even if your spring weather is late, daffodil-colored star Arcturus says it's spring. Use the Big Dipper to find Arcturus, Polaris the pole star, the constellation of Leo the lion, and a number of galaxies and nebulae.
Mars Facts for Kids
Mars has no little green men, but it's a fascinating place. It has a mountain three times the height of Everest and a deep valley that dwarfs the Grand Canyon. Although Mars has no liquid water on the surface, if the southern polar icecap melted, it could cover the planet 36 feet deep in water.
Nebulae are titanic clouds of gas and dust - celestial gossamer in the spaces between the stars. They're stellar nurseries, stellar graveyards and dark constellations. Some of their mysteries have been penetrated by infrared telescopes, but the cloaking dust still keeps some secrets.
Caroline Herschel was an intelligent young woman trapped in domestic servitude by her mother. Her brother William rescued her and trained her as a singer. After he discovered the planet Uranus, the two of them ended up forming a great partnership whose work revolutionized the study of astronomy.
Tales of the Northern Lights
The aurora is an ethereal, shifting light in the northern sky and is associated with many tales and beliefs. It can look like the dawn, so Galileo named it after Aurora goddess of the dawn. It has reminded others of dragons, spirits, dancers, shield maidens, herrings or the legendary fire fox.
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.
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