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What happens to constellations when you don't want them anymore? Nothing, physically. They aren't real groups of stars like star clusters are. They're the products of human imagination, and they come and go. Here are half a dozen of my favorite obsolete constellations.
Beagle 2 – Lost and Found
On Christmas day 2003 a British-European space probe called Beagle 2 was lost on Mars and never heard from. It was not only small, but possibly broken and scattered while attempting to land. Since Mars is quite big, it took eleven years to find the little lander, and there were some surprises.
Taurus the Bull
In Greek myth Taurus is Zeus's guise for the seduction of Europa. Yet the bull's red eye still glares at Orion in an enmity created long before the rise of ancient Greece. Today's Taurus is a constellation memorable for its two beautiful star clusters and one of the sky's most amazing objects.
Syzygy - When Heavenly Bodies Align
Syzygy may look like the letters on a dreadful Scrabble rack, but it just means three heavenly bodies lined up. When this happens, there are eclipses, transits, conjunctions, oppositions and occultations.
Top Five Dubious Astronomy Stories 2014
Have you read about the Top Ten Astronomy Stories for 2014? This article is complementary to it. Here are my choices for the top five debatable stories of the year. They were widely reported, but there isn't really enough evidence to accept their conclusions.
Top Ten Astronomy Stories 2014
What happened in the skies in 2014? Here's my top ten. Some hints: it takes in stories all the way from a tiny lander alone on a comet to a supercluster of galaxies 500 million light years across, perhaps another Earth, and an ocean on one of Saturn's moons.
What Color Is a Nebula
Nebulae are distant clouds of gas and dust. We see pictures of them in glorious color, but is that what we would we see with our own eyes if we were closer? If not, what color is a nebula?
Cosmic White Christmas
If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, the cosmos may have something of interest. How about deep snow on one of Saturn's moons, a gigantic Christmas tree whose lights are baby stars, a snowman on an asteroid or an Einstein ring?
Natural History Museum London - Astronomy Tour
How about an astronomy tour of the Natural History Museum in London? It won't take more than 13.8 billion years – or much less, as your watch measures it. Highlights will be the evolution of the Earth, and pieces of Mars and the Moon, one of the oldest known meteors, and diamonds from stardust.
Rosetta's Story – Facts for Kids
It's gone where no space mission has been before! Rosetta caught up with a comet in deep space and went into orbit around it. The lander Philae was the first ever to land on a comet. Read the story so far and watch out for new developments.
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