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ABC of Astronomy – C Is for Cosmic Rays
Hundreds of cosmic rays zip through your body every minute. They're a danger to astronauts, and may damage the electronics of satellites and spacecraft. Some aren't cosmic, none are rays, and a few seem to be impossible. What are they and where do they come from?
In the darkness of space we see the part of the Moon that the Sun illuminates. But sometimes there is a bright crescent Moon with a dark shadow filling in the rest of the Moon's face. What lets us see the Moon's night side, and how might the phenomenon detect life on distant worlds?
Polaris – Facts for Kids
Polaris, the North Star, has been a navigation star for 1500 years. It's easy to find using the pointer stars of the Big Dipper. Did you know that it hasn't always been the North Star? Or that it's really three stars?
Mary Somerville and the World of Science – book
Mary Somerville was an exceptional individual. Although self-educated and - as a woman - barred from membership in scientific societies, her books sold well and were used as textbooks for many decades. Allan Chapman relates her achievements to the context of 19th century science in Britain.
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.
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