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ABC of Astronomy – G is for Gravitational Lens
We have optical lenses in telescopes, cameras and eyes. They're made of transparent material, and they focus light. However astronomers now make use of gravitational lenses to detect distant galaxies, dark matter and extrasolar planets. What's a gravitational lens made of, and how does it work?
Absolute Beginners - Autumn Skies
As the long days of summer slip away and the skies darken earlier, the first stars of autumn appear. The centerpiece is the Great Square of Pegasus. It's the key to other autumn sights, including the most distant object you can see without a telescope - it's a billion billion miles away.
Absolute Beginners - Observing the Moon
We take the Moon for granted, because it's so close to us and easy to see. But it's a beautiful and interesting object as it goes through its monthly changes. If you use a pair of binoculars, you can learn to recognize many of its main features. Some of them are visible without binoculars too.
Absolute Beginners - Observing the Sun
Study the Sun, but treat it with respect! Protect your eyes and use equipment with care, and you can count sunspots and see solar eclipses and transits. Or from the the comfort of your living room your computer will let you see space telescope images of solar flares, prominences and maybe a comet.
Absolute Beginners - Seeing Mars and beyond
Three beautiful planets - Mars, Jupiter and Saturn - are all visible to the unaided eye. If you have binoculars or a telescope, you can also see some of the moons and other features. Here's a beginner's guide to the planets which lie beyond Earth.
Absolute Beginners - Seeing Mercury and Venus
We can see five planets with our unaided eyes. But people often ask how to find them and how to recognize them. Here is a beginner's guide for seeing Mercury and Venus.
Absolute Beginners - Spring Skies
Days lengthen, flowers blossom and it's starting to get warmer. Even if your spring weather is late, daffodil-colored star Arcturus says it's spring. Use the Big Dipper to find Arcturus, Polaris the pole star, the constellation of Leo the lion, and a number of galaxies and nebulae.
Absolute Beginners - Start Observing
You'd like to know the night sky better? But you haven't a got a telescope,live in a city, don't know any constellations or can't tell a star from a planet? Time to give up? Absolutely not. Time to read on and look up.
Absolute Beginners - Summer Skies
Warm summer nights are a great time to study the sky. Here is a guide to the main summer constellations. You can see all of these things without a telescope, so head outside and look up.
Absolute Beginners - Winter Skies
Many bright stars sparkle in the sky on crisp winter evenings. Brightest of all is Sirius the Dog Star, the face of one of the two dogs of Orion the hunter. The belt of Orion himself is an easily-identified feature and the constellation also has both a red supergiant star and a blue one.
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