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BellaOnline's Astronomy Editor

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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Starbirth
People once thought that stars were eternal and unchanging. Today we know that they have life cycles of birth and death. Here is the story of how a star like our Sun is born.

Stars Ten Facts for Kids
Stars are nuclear reactors. If a really big one took the Sun's place, it would swallow up the Sun and everything as far away as Jupiter. Yet others aren't much bigger than Jupiter. Big stars don't live very long and die in a blaze of glory. Smaller ones live for billions of years.

Start Observing - with Binoculars
What does every astronomer need? Most people would answer "a telescope." But, actually, binoculars are the best way to start observing the sky. Many experienced astronomers use them in addition to a telescope. Here is some guidance about getting started.

Stellar Misunderstandings
If stars aren't white, why isn't the night sky more colorful? If it's 93 million miles to the Sun, how many times farther away is the next nearest star? Will the Sun become a black hole and suck us in? Here's a short explanation of some common misconceptions about the stars.

Summer Solstice - St John's Day
Each day for six months after the winter solstice, the Sun rises a bit higher in the sky. It reaches the maximum height at the summer solstice, the longest day. Evidence of rituals and festivals at the times of the solstices goes back thousands of years.

Syon House
The Wizard Earl, the start of astronomy with a telescope, Sir Walter Raleigh, Virginia, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Smithsonian. What does all of this history have in common? Syon Park, a stately home on the River Thames.

Syzygy - When Heavenly Bodies Align
Syzygy may look like the letters on a dreadful Scrabble rack, but it just means three heavenly bodies lined up. When this happens, there are eclipses, transits, conjunctions, oppositions and occultations.

Tales of the Northern Lights
The aurora is an ethereal, shifting light in the northern sky and is associated with many tales and beliefs. It can look like the dawn, so Galileo named it after Aurora goddess of the dawn. It has reminded others of dragons, spirits, dancers, shield maidens, herrings or the legendary fire fox.

Taurus the Bull
In Greek myth Taurus is Zeus's guise for the seduction of Europa. Yet the bull's red eye still glares at Orion in an enmity created long before the rise of ancient Greece. Today's Taurus is a constellation memorable for its two beautiful star clusters and one of the sky's most amazing objects.

Teaching Moon Phases and Eclipses
Why does the Moon seem to change shape? If eclipses happen when the Sun, Moon and Earth are all lined up, why don't they happen every month? If you're an educator, you may need to understand why and explain it to children. Here are some online resources to help you out.

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