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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Le Gentil - Heroic Failure
Here's the story of Guillaume Le Gentil who went to India to observe the transit of Venus in 1761 and took eleven years to get home again. War and weather conspired to prevent his making observations and illness further delayed his return. Was he the unluckiest astronomer ever?

Leo the Lion
Leo is a Zodiac constellation and its stars have represented a lion for over four thousand years. Leo contains one of the brightest stars in the sky and one of the dimmest, as well as a selection of spiral galaxies loved by amateur astronomers. And what was Regulus's dark secret?

Lick Observatory - 10 Fascinating Facts
Lick Observatory lies high on a mountaintop overlooking Silicon Valley. Known for major contributions to astronomy, it also has some unusual features. Its benefactor James Lick is buried under one of the main telescopes and its original seismogram of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake is on display.

Light Pollution
Light pollution isn't just a problem for astronomers. It means the loss of an amenity for all of us now and the generations that follow. It affects the natural world, can ruin our health, wastes resources, and what's more, we're paying for it!

Literary Moons of Uranus
Solar System moons are named from mythology. Except for Uranus - its moons are named from English literature, primarily Shakespeare. How did this come about and what is the connection with the moons of Saturn?

Lunar Eclipses
Imagine the horror: Something is eating the Moon, leaving its face covered in blood. This was how people once viewed lunar eclipses. Find out what actually causes a lunar eclipse, why the Moon may turn red during an eclipse, and where a lunar eclipse becomes a solar eclipse.

Lyra the Heavenly Harp
Music of the spheres? Here’s a harp to play it on: Lyra, the harp of Orpheus, that almost brought his beloved back from death. The constellation has one of the sky’s brightest stars, a star that is really four stars, and a colorful donut.

Maria Mitchell
Maria Mitchell was a true pioneer woman. She didn't brave a physical wilderness. Hers was the harder job of pioneering higher education for women. She was the first American woman to discover a comet, the first to be elected to scientific societies and the first woman professor of astronomy.

Mars Facts for Kids
Mars has no little green men, but it's a fascinating place. It has a mountain three times the height of Everest and a deep valley that dwarfs the Grand Canyon. Although Mars has no liquid water on the surface, if the southern polar icecap melted, it could cover the planet 36 feet deep in water.

Mercury Facts for Kids
Now that Pluto is a dwarf planet, Mercury is the baby of the planets. It's close enough to the Sun for lead and zinc to melt during the day. Yet there may be frozen water in its deep craters. Until space probes came along Mercury was a mystery hidden in the Sun's glare, but that's changing!

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