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Magellanic Clouds and more

Photo by Justin Ng of Singapore

Photo Credit: Justin Ng

Justin Ng of Singapore contributed this beautiful photo of the Magellanic Clouds, taken from Mount Bromo, an active volcano in Indonesia.

Moon still close to Mars as darkness falls on November 26


Tonight … November 26, 2014 … the waxing crescent moon and planet Mars still appear close together in the evening sky. On this date, the twosome will be found near the sunset point as darkness begins to fall.

Dolphins use specific whistles as names

Image credit: Shutterstock / Willyam Bradberry

Image credit: Shutterstock / Willyam Bradberry

Bottlenose dolphins in Africa use signature whistles to identify each other, similar to the way humans use names, say scientists.

Small Magellanic Cloud is a nearby dwarf galaxy

View larger. |  A Perseid meteor streaks between the two Magellanic Clouds during the peak of the 2013 Perseid meteor shower.  Photo by Colin Legg.

A Perseid meteor streaks between the two Magellanic Clouds. Photo by Colin Legg.

You’ll see the Small Magellanic Cloud from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere. It’s even farther to the south than its larger cousin, the the Large Magellanic Cloud . These two hazy patches in the southern sky are really separate galaxies from our Milky Way. They are satellite galaxies to the Milky Way, orbiting around it. Follow the links inside to learn more about the Small Magellanic Cloud.

Star of the week: Mira the Wonderful

Mira, from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer

Mira, as seen by NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer. Mira’s comet-like tail, discovered in 2007, stretches 13 light-years in space.

The star Omicron Ceti – aka Mira – in the constellation Cetus varies in brightness like clockwork over 11 months. That’s why, for centuries, stargazers have called it Mira the Wonderful.

Lifeform of the week: Cranberries

My first encounters with cranberries were in the form of cranberry sauce, specifically the canned variety. But cranberries are more than just a holiday condiment.

Ice-covered lighthouse in Michigan

Photo credit: Joshua Nowicki

Photo credit: Joshua Nowicki

Wow! A fearsome ice king! Outer lighthouse in St. Joseph, Michigan on Friday night.

Moon closest to Mars on November 25


The waxing crescent moon and the red planet Mars appear in the southwest sky at nightfall on Tuesday evening. Be sure to check out these worlds shortly after they sun goes down. They’ll follow the sun beneath the horizon by mid-evening.

November 2014 guide to the five visible planets

Skywatcher, moon, planet (looks like Venus) from Predrag Agatonovic.

Skywatcher, moon, planet from Predrag Agatonovic.

This month, Mars is lighting up early evening. Mars is near the moon November 24-26. Meanwhile, bright Jupiter is out from midnight until dawn. Mercury and Saturn in sun’s glare in late November. Have you seen Venus yet?

Animation shows Venus in evening sky late 2014 and 2015

Larry Koehn of the wonderful website shadowandsubstance.com dropped us a note today about his newest astronomy animation. It shows the much-anticipated upcoming apparition of the sky’s brightest planet – Venus – in the evening sky in late 2014 and 2015.