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 F E A T U R E   A R C H I V E  

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Smallest Star in the Universe
No one could possibly say that a star is the smallest one in the whole Universe. But the smallest known star is 2MASS J05233822-1403022, which is a pretty big name for a star that's about the size of Saturn. Could there be even smaller ones as yet unknown?

Heavens-Above website
You can see the International Space Station from where you live. But when and from which direction? What are the two bright stars you've seen after sunset? What's an Iridium flare? The website Heavens-Above is a tool for beginners and experienced observers to answer questions like this.

Cosmic Father's Day
What sort of tie would you give a cosmic father? What would you feed him? Where might he find challenging mountaineering, make an astounding golf shot or get up an interstellar soccer game? How can you send a special man a genuinely galactic greeting? Here's how.

The Starry Crowns Corona Borealis
There are two crowns in the sky, the northern and southern ones. Classically, Corona Borealis represents the crown of Ariadne, abandoned heroine of the tale of the Minotaur and the labyrinth. More prosaically, in Australian aboriginal astronomy, it's Womera the Boomerang, which it resembles.

ABC of Astronomy C Is for Cosmic Rays
Hundreds of cosmic rays zip through your body every minute. They're a danger to astronauts, and may damage the electronics of satellites and spacecraft. Some aren't cosmic, none are rays, and a few seem to be impossible. What are they and where do they come from?

Earthshine
In the darkness of space we see the part of the Moon that the Sun illuminates. But sometimes there is a bright crescent Moon with a dark shadow filling in the rest of the Moon's face. What lets us see the Moon's night side, and how might the phenomenon detect life on distant worlds?

Polaris Facts for Kids
Polaris, the North Star, has been a navigation star for 1500 years. It's easy to find using the pointer stars of the Big Dipper. Did you know that it hasn't always been the North Star? Or that it's really three stars?

Mary Somerville and the World of Science book
Mary Somerville was an exceptional individual. Although self-educated and - as a woman - barred from membership in scientific societies, her books sold well and were used as textbooks for many decades. Allan Chapman relates her achievements to the context of 19th century science in Britain.

Exotic Creatures of the Southern Sky
Constellations telling the ancient tales of gods and heroes are still in use by astronomers. But there are only 48 classical constellations, and the skies around the south celestial pole can't be seen from the Mediterranean, so those constellations are more modern. Here are some of them.

Sky of Grand Central Terminal - History
In New York City, you can see the Milky Way on the ceiling of Grand Central Terminal. A beautiful mural of the night sky has graced this elegant Beaux-Arts building since its opening over a century ago. But why is there a black spot and hole in the ceiling? Are the constellations really backwards?

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