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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?
Ecliptic and Equinoxes
The objects in the night sky seem to be projected onto the celestial sphere. A coordinate system lets us say where everything is, but something's not quite right. The north polar star will be Vega one day. Astrological star signs don't match the constellations any more. What's going on?
Edge of the Sky – book review
Robert Trotta lectures in astrophysics at Imperial College London. He's also a science communicator who likes to share his knowledge with the public. So he set himself the task of writing about the Universe using only words from a list of the 1000 most common English words. How did he do?
Halley didn't discover a comet, but he did research and published papers in astronomy and many other fields. Russian Czar Peter the Great liked him as a dining and drinking companion and King William III put this civilian in charge of a Royal Navy ship. But how did he get a comet named for him?
Edward Charles Pickering
Edward Pickering was a leading light of 19th century astronomy who made the Harvard College Observatory into an institution with an international reputation. He was honored for his work by scientific societies in several countries, but his name is now known from his employing “Pickering's harem”.
While World War I was tearing Europe apart in 1915, a German physicist presented a theory that would shake up the way we see the Universe. The physicist was Albert Einstein, his face still unknown to the world, his name not yet a synonym for genius. How did a solar eclipse in 1919 change all that?
Empire of the Stars - book review
A fateful meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society in London adversely affected the lives of two scientists and hindered progress in the study of black holes for a half a century. So says the author of Empire of the Stars. Liked the book, but wasn't convinced.
Enceladus – 10 Amazing Facts
Saturn's moon Enceladus is a strange one. There are eruptions of cold volcanoes. This adds “snow” to a surface so bright it reflects 99% of the Sun's light, and supplies particles to maintain one of Saturn's rings. And does the moon harbor life in the salty ocean that lies under the ice?
Epsilon Eridani - A Norse God in the River
Eridanus is the great river that flows through the southern sky. One its stars, Epsilon Eridani, is of special interest to us because of its nearness and because the sunlike star has a planetary system. Benefiting from a new IAU naming policy, the star and its planet are now also Ran and AEgir.
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.
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