Inside Our Solar System: Planet Mercury

Surface:  The first planet from the Sun, Mercury’s small size (4,879 kilometers in diameter- the smallest planet in the Solar System) deceptively hides its extreme nature.  Surface temperatures can reach a scorching 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius) during the day, only to drop 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit to a nighttime …

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This Week’s Sky: August 14th-20th

Sunday, August 14th  Jupiter shines at a magnitude -1.7 within the western portion of the Virgo constellation a half hour after sunset.   Since it is low in the sky- around 10 degrees high- the planet’s detail is limited when seen through a telescope.  During the predawn hours, M31, the Andromeda …

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Skywatching: The Iconic Summer Triangle

Look directly overhead at 10:30 pm EDT and you will see Vega- the brightest star in the constellation Lyra and the fifth brightest in the night sky. Using Vega as a reference point, Altair is located to the lower left (southeast) and Deneb to the left (east). Together, these three …

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Origins: The Hubble Space Telescope

Since the 1920s, astronomers have struggled to deal with the very thing that keeps humanity alive: the atmosphere.  Although it provides a relatively stable and hospitable climate on Earth, it also makes studying the cosmos from Earth challenging.  The atmosphere absorbs ultraviolet light, x-rays, and gamma rays, an important attribute …

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