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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Cosmic - book review
Cosmic isn't an astronomy text. It's a delightful novel for young people which includes space travel and a cast of great characters, including Liam who's too tall for his age. It's Willy Wonka meets Apollo 13, as the taikonauts get chosen in an unusual draw and end up stranded in space.

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012
An exquisite whirlpool of two galaxies held together by invisible bonds was this year's winning image. And the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year captured the beauty of the Pleiades, a cluster of hot blue stars surrounded by a delicate haze of reflective dust. A feast for the eye.

Autumnal Equinox
Autumn begins on the equinox as the Sun crosses the equator. Equinoxes were celebrated by the earliest known civilizations and still are in many places. One of the biggest celebrations these days is the Chinese Moon Festival. A traditional palace or garden probably has a moon-watching pavilion.

Andromeda the Chained Princess
Andromeda stands in the northern sky eternally chained to her rock. She is one of six constellations that Ptolemy described in the second century, all part of one particular ancient Greek myth. In the constellation is a quadruple star, a blue snowball, exoplanets and spiral galaxies.

Cassini Mission and Website
The space probe Cassini has been sending home fantastic pictures of Saturn and its satellites since 2004, and its mission has been extended twice. Its website has a wealth of images and some interesting material for teachers, students and astronomy fans.

Meteor or Meteorite & Other Posers
What's the difference between a meteor, a meteorite and a meteoroid? Is one of them the same as a shooting star? And what about asteroids and planetoids - which one is a minor planet? If any of these terms have puzzled you, here is a guide to help you out.

Illuminations - A Planetarium Afloat
Why is the Illuminations Planetarium unique? It's the only one that sails the seas. Purpose-built as part of a theater on board Cunard Liner Queen Mary 2, it shows astronomy films, and on some voyages, astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society in London use it to present the night sky.

Henrietta Swan Leavitt
Henrietta Leavitt isn't a well known name, but a century ago she made one of the most important discoveries of 20th century astronomy. Previously, astronomers could only measure distances up to 100 light years, but her work extended that to 10 million light years.

Cassiopeia the Queen
High in the sky, circling the north celestial pole are the distinctive stars of Cassiopeia, the boastful queen who nearly destroyed her kingdom. The Milky Way runs through the constellation and it's full of star clusters, galaxies and evidence of the life cycles of stars.

Night Sky Olympic Tribute
Planet Earth presents a grand international sporting spectacular every four years, the Olympic Games. Even if you're not fond of sports, it's a majestic pageant and a set of unfolding dramas that a scriptwriter couldn't hope to emulate. Here is my astronomical tribute to this magnificent saga.

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