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IAU approves 86 more star names

Astronomers often know multiple names for stars, and they’ve had different names throughout history. Now, the International Astronomical Union has chosen “official” star names for 86 stars.

Juno probes depths of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

Juno spacecraft data show the Great Red Spot – nearly 1.5 Earths wide – with roots penetrating some 200 miles (300 km) into Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Solstice coming up December 21

December solstice 2017 arrives on December 21 at 16:28 UTC. High summer for the Southern Hemisphere. For the Northern Hemisphere, the return of more sunlight!

How to see rock-comet 3200 Phaethon

You can’t see 3200 Phaethon – parent of the Geminid meteor shower and a strange asteroid-comet hybrid – with the eye alone. But backyard telescopes can pick it up. Charts and more here.

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Awesome Geminid meteors in 2017? Thank 3200 Phaethon

This mysterious rock-comet is the parent body of the Geminid meteor shower, which peaks on the morning of December 14. It’ll brush closely past Earth on December 16.

Don’t miss the Geminids in 2017!

The Geminid meteor shower is always reliable, but might be extra special in 2017. Peak morning is likely December 14. Be sure to watch for the moon near the morning planets!

Arctic report card 2017

The report shows the warming trend that’s transforming the Arctic region is persisting. The Arctic shows no sign of returning to reliably frozen region of recent past decades, say scientists.

Exposed to wildfire smoke? 5 questions answered

The intense wildfires in southern California are triggering air quality alerts. What do health experts know about how inhaling smoke affects human health?

Darth Vader horseshoe crab

A 245-million-year-old fossil horseshoe crab, recently discovered in Idaho, has been named Vaderlimulus after Star Wars’ Darth Vader. It’s easy to see why.

Astronomers chart galaxy orbits in our Local Supercluster

“For the first time, we are not only visualizing the detailed structure of our Local Supercluster of galaxies, but we are also seeing how the structure developed over the history of the universe.”

Find the Geminid meteors’ radiant point

December’s Geminid meteor shower radiates from the constellation Gemini the Twins. To see it, look east in mid-evening or overhead by about 2 a.m.

California in flames

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the 2017 California wildfire season is the worst on record.

Last quarter moon is December 10

Watch for the last quarter moon Saturday night after midnight or Sunday morning. The moon will be showing us half of its lighted half, or day side.