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Tracking an oddball group of near-Earth asteroids

The asteroid Euphrosyne glides across a field of background stars in this time-lapse view from NASA's WISE spacecraft. WISE obtained the images used to create this view over a period of about a day around May 17, 2010, during which it observed the asteroid four times. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The asteroid Euphrosyne glides across a field of background stars in this time-lapse view from NASA’s WISE spacecraft. WISE obtained the images used to create this view over a period of about a day around May 17, 2010, during which it observed the asteroid four times. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

A new NASA study has traced some mysterious members of the near-Earth asteroid population back to their likely source – the Euphrosyne family of dark asteroids in the outer asteroid belt.

Venus, Jupiter, Mercury from Zimbabwe

View larger. | Venus (brightest), Jupiter (next brightest) and Mercury low in the twilight on August 3, 2015.  Photo by Peter Lowenstein in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Venus (brightest), Jupiter and Mercury low in the twilight on August 3, 2015. Photo by Peter Lowenstein in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Peter Lowenstein in Zimbabwe – who has contributed many amazing photos to EarthSky – offers what might be your final glimpse of the planets after sunset.

Breakthrough Listen not all about aliens

Searching for alien acquaintances. Image credit: Lewis Francis/wikimedia

Searching for alien acquaintances. Image credit: Lewis Francis/wikimedia

New SETI project will scan the skies for signs of alien communications, but might also unveil other secrets about the universe.

Looking toward the Milky Way’s center

View larger. | Looking in the direction to the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Photo by Max Corneau

View larger. | Looking in the direction to the center of our Milky Way galaxy. Photo by Max Corneau

Max Corneau captured this image of what is called the Sagittarius Triplet. It consists of two nebulae (M8 and 20) and a star cluster (M21). He wrote:

I adore summer astronomy. When I was a young boy, my dad and I spent the cool Rhode Island nights at the seashore fishing. I did not realize, and never thought to ask why there was always a big ‘cloud’ in the sky. Now I know because that’s our home ….

Cassiopeia the Queen on summer evenings

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One of the most recognizable constellations is Cassiopeia the Queen, which now can be found in the northeastern sky a couple of hours after the sun goes down. This constellation has the distinct shape of a W, or M, depending on your perspective. This fairly bright constellation is oftentimes visible on a moonlit night. However, if the glare of tonight’s waning gibbous moon proves to be too overwhelming, try viewing Cassiopeia in another day or two. By then, you’ll have more moon-free viewing time after dark.

Cassiopeia is associated with a queen of Ethiopia. She is sometimes called the Lady of the Chair. Queen Cassiopeia was said to have offended the sea nymphs, or Nereids, by boasting that her own beauty was greater than theirs.

What’s the birthstone for August?

Peridot

Peridot

Happy birthday to our August friends! This is one of your birthstones, peridot. Your other birthstone is sardonyx.

Read about both of your birthstones….

What the Philae comet lander found

A photograph of the surface of Comet 67P at Agilkia, Philae's intended landing site, from a height of just nine meters, taken with the ROLIS camera. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

A photograph of the surface of Comet 67P at Agilkia, Philae’s intended landing site, from a height of just nine meters, taken with the ROLIS camera. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

The data suggest that the organic compounds that eventually translated into organisms here on Earth existed in the early solar system, says scientist.

A third of Milky Way stars have changed orbit

This image shows two pairs of stars (marked as red and blue) in which each pair started in the same orbit, and then one star in the pair changed orbits. The star marked as red has completed its move into a new orbit, while the star marked in blue is still moving.  Image credit: Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital, Inc.; SDSS collaboration)

This image shows two pairs of stars (marked as red and blue) in which each pair started in the same orbit, and then one star in the pair changed orbits. The star marked as red has completed its move into a new orbit, while the star marked in blue is still moving. Image credit: Dana Berry/SkyWorks Digital, Inc.; SDSS collaboration)

Astronomers have created a new map of the Milky Way that shows that about 30 percent of the stars have traveled a long way from where they were born.

Seeing the star with nearest rocky planet

Color image of star HD219134 by Efraín Morales of the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe

Color image of star HD219134 by Efraín Morales of the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe

A week ago, astronomers announced that NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope had confirmed the nearest known rocky exoplanet, orbiting the star HD219134, about 21 light-years away. Finder charts show the star in your night sky. Plus … a gif image showing the star’s proper motion, captured by an amateur astronomer.

US deserts wet until 8,200 years ago

Death Valley. Near Lone Pine, California. Photo credit: Loïc Lagarde

Death Valley. Near Lone Pine, California. Photo credit: Loïc Lagarde

New research suggests that around 8,200 years ago, the climate of the American West began transitioning from a lush landscape to the desert terrain we know today.