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BellaOnline's Astronomy Editor

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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?

Heavens-Above – website
You can see the International Space Station from where you live. But when and from which direction? What are the two bright stars you've seen after sunset? What's an Iridium flare? The website Heavens-Above is a tool for beginners and experienced observers to answer questions like this.

Cosmic Father's Day
What sort of tie would you give a cosmic father? What would you feed him? Where might he find challenging mountaineering, make an astounding golf shot or get up an interstellar soccer game? How can you send a special man a genuinely galactic greeting? Here's how.

The Starry Crowns – Corona Borealis
There are two crowns in the sky, the northern and southern ones. Classically, Corona Borealis represents the crown of Ariadne, abandoned heroine of the tale of the Minotaur and the labyrinth. More prosaically, in Australian aboriginal astronomy, it's Womera – the Boomerang, which it resembles.

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Europa Facts for Kids

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