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ABC of Astronomy E Is for Ecliptic
Star maps show you where the ecliptic is. That's because it's where you find the planets and the zodiac constellations. But what is the ecliptic plane on which the planets orbit? What shape are their orbits, and what do we mean by an eccentric orbit?
Mars Myths Would You Believe Them
Which famous astronomer kept seeing canals on Mars, even when they couldn't be seen with the world's biggest telescope? What was the tragic outcome of a fictional invasion from Mars? Is NASA hiding evidence of an ancient Martian civilization? Does Mars ever look as big as a full Moon?
How the Sun Will Die - Facts for Kids
The Sun was born in a nebula five billion years ago. It's going to keep going for another few billion years, but it won't last forever. Here's the story of what happens to a sunlike star when it runs out of fuel. And some of it is very strange.
Mizar and Alcor Horse and Rider
The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major. It's probably the best known item in the night sky after the Moon. More people could pick out its seven stars than could locate the Seven Sisters, the Pleiades. But are there only seven stars in the Big Dipper? What about the Horse and Rider?
ABC of Astronomy D Is for Double Star
We're used to having just one Sun, so the planet Tatooine in George Lucas's Star Wars seems exotic with its double sun. Yet at least half the stars we can see in the sky are doubles. But a "double star" can be a true binary or just an optical double, which is a chance alignment of unrelated stars.
Eris - Dwarf Planet
In a tilted orbit in the scattered disk, it shook up the traditional Solar System. Was it bigger than Pluto, and therefore a planet? No, both of them ended up as dwarf planets. Eris named for the Greek goddess of discord was an apt name for an object whose discovery started so many arguments.
The Starry Crowns Corona Australis
A wreath, a crown, a wheel of torment, a boomerang. The constellation Corona Australis has represented them all in different traditions. Its stars are dim, but its stories are vivid.
Four Historic Eclipses
An empire lost, an empire saved, lives lost, lives saved. Read about some unexpected outcomes of solar and lunar eclipses.
Sky of Grand Central Terminal It's Backwards
A splendid starry sky crowns the concourse of Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal. It's a 1940s reworking of the original that Paul Cιsar Helleu designed after consultation with a prominent astronomer. Yet a month after the station opened, a starwise commuter claimed that the sky was backwards.
Smallest Star in the Universe
No one could possibly say that a star is the smallest one in the whole Universe. But the smallest known star is 2MASS J05233822-1403022, which is a pretty big name for a star that's about the size of Saturn. Could there be even smaller ones as yet unknown?
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