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Phantom Planets and Moons
Moons of Venus and Mercury? An unknown planet nearer the Sun than Mercury? Astronomers can misinterpret what they see, too. Happily, other observers, better instruments and new theoretical understandings can put it right. Here are some phantom objects that many astronomers once thought existed.
Photography and the Birth of Astrophysics
Saturn's rings, spiral galaxies, solar flares. Astrophotography has shown us some wonderful images, but it's more than pretty pictures. It has allowed us to discover objects too dim for the human eye to see. Partnered with spectroscopy, it moved astronomy from mapping to understanding the stars.
Pleiades - the Seven Sisters
The Pleiades - the Seven Sisters - were shown in star catalogs six thousand years ago. Visible from northern and southern hemispheres, probably every culture that ever watched the sky had a name for them. But what is this group of stars? And are there actually seven of them?
NASA's New Horizons is on its way to visit Pluto, but it has a long way to go yet. Meanwhile here's a profile of dwarf planet 134340 Pluto, largest object in the Kuiper Belt and former planet. It has a lot of titles - and moons - for something so small.
Pluto Facts for Kids
A dwarf planet so far away that the Sun would look like a exceptionally bright star, so cold that its atmosphere is frozen for most of its year. This is Pluto, former planet, and now the gateway to the Kuiper Belt.
Pluto Is a Dwarf Planet
Some people are still upset that Pluto isn't considered a planet any more. But was it ever really a planet?
Polaris - 10 Fascinating Facts
Today we travel paved roads using good maps or a GPS system to find the way. Imagine sailing uncharted waters or journeying through trackless deserts without such help. In the northern hemisphere one of the greatest of navigational aids has for nearly two thousand years been the north star Polaris.
Quasar Facts for Kids
Quasars are the brightest and most distant objects in the universe. And when we see them we are looking into the past, to a time even before our Sun and Solar System existed.
Red Dwarfs - Ten Facts for Kids
If you go outside on a clear dark night, you might see a few thousand stars. But without a telescope, not a single one will be the most common type of star in the Universe. You won't see red dwarfs, the stars that will still be shining in the far distant future when all the others have died.
Rhea Moon of Saturn
Rhea was Saturn's wife in classical mythology. Rhea the moon zips around Saturn in four and a half days. Although it has an oxygen atmosphere, we won't be moving there anytime soon. Even in direct sunlight, it's -281 degrees Fahrenheit and the "atmosphere" is similar to a vacuum on Earth.
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