New Horizons was nearing Pluto in 2015 and the mission team would need names for the surface features they discovered. So they appealed to the public. The names would
be informal ones, but they hoped the International Astronomical Union (IAU) would make them official.
The Moon has always been our celestial companion, lighting the night, its changes serving as a calendar. What is it, where did it come from, why do we only see one side of it, what is our future together?
Space missions have taken us to the Sun and the Moon, asteroids and comets, planets, dwarf planets and moons, and looked beyond the Solar System. There have been so many missions it's hard to keep them straight. Can you match these descriptions to the missions?
There was no fanfare or countdown when Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit the Earth. On April 12, 1961, Vostok 1 blasted off with a “Let's go!”. Gagarin was an exceptional individual who came from humble beginnings, and at 34 his life ended all too soon.
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.
You've made it through the winter and watched the food stores diminish. But the days are getting longer and green shoots are appearing. Spring is on the way. The festivals of the vernal equinox emphasize rebirth and renewal. In many cultures the equinox is also the New Year.