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Once in a Blue Moon
"Once in a blue moon" is a common English expression and it refers to a rare event. But why a blue Moon? And what is a blue Moon if it isn't blue? There is no unique answer, but here are a few things it could be.
Oort Cloud - Facts for Kids
Where do comets come from? The Oort Cloud is home to a trillion comets at the edge of the Solar System, nearly half way to the next star. Sometimes they get kicked out and sometimes they come to visit the inner Solar System.
Orion the Hunter
The stars of Orion have been part of humanity's mythscape for thousands of years. Seven bright stars outline the hunter's body. One of them is a supergiant nearing the end of its life. Yet just visible to the unaided eye is a vast stellar nursery where the next generation of stars is forming.
Our Explosive Sun - book review
The Sun is the star of the Solar System and makes life on Earth possible. But it's also a danger to our technological civilization. Learn all about our fascinating star in the beautifully illustrated “Our Explosive Sun.”
Packing for Mars - book review
If you think being an astronaut is a glamorous occupation, Mary Roach's book “Packing for Mars” will bring you down to Earth. Playing in free-fall looks like fun, but without gravity, eating, hygiene and dealing with waste are not fun. Here's the lowdown. Still want to go to Mars?
A mile above the California desert stands Palomar Observatory. Its 200-inch mirror was officially impossible to make, but George Ellery Hale's vision inspired a nation in the grip of the Great Depression and it became the jewel in the crown of astronomy for the second half of the twentieth century.
Pegasus the Winged Horse
A flying horse on feathered wings - it's the constellation Pegasus. You can spot it by its most noticeable feature, the Great Square of Pegasus, though one star of the square belongs to poor Princess Andromeda. There's also a star in Pegasus very like our Sun with a planet circling it.
Perseus the Hero
Perseus was a first-class hero: a demi-god, monster-slayer, maiden-rescuer, founder of Mycenae. When he died the gods put him in the sky. His constellation contains beautiful nebulae, a demon and a singing black hole.
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.
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