Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
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 became the jewel in the crown of astronomy for the second half of the twentieth century.
*Big excitement – water on Mercury!*
Messenger, NASA's Mercury orbiter, has found evidence that there is water ice in quantity near the north pole. You may be surprised to know that Mercury is extremely cold, but it certainly is in the craters that are never exposed to sunlight. Here is a map based on Messenger data, with highly reflective regions in yellow: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1212/Lawrence_3aMercurycomposite900c.jpg These regions are floors and walls of impact craters with temperatures that never rise above -173 degrees C (-280 degrees F). Water may have come from impacts by comets.
You can find out more about this interesting planet at: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art55109.asp
*Jupiter at opposition*
Jupiter has been shining brightly in Taurus for some while now and will continue to do so. The king planet is at opposition on December 3, and is at its closest point to the Earth. So if you've been wondering about the two bright “stars” - sometimes near the Moon – Jupiter is the brighter one. The slightly reddish one is the eye of Taurus, Aldebaran. Here is an annotated photo by the superb astrophotographer Tunç Tezel:
There is more about Jupiter here: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art38645.asp
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I wish you clear skies.
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