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Astronomy Essentials

Photo Credit:  A. Dupree, R. Gilliland, NASA
Science Wire | Feb 05, 2016

How far is Betelgeuse?

Finding star distances isn’t easy. Here’s how it’s done, and why astronomers recently modified the distance estimate to the famous star Betelgeuse.

Skywatcher, by Predrag Agatonovic.
Tonight | Feb 02, 2016

February 2016 guide to the 5 bright planets

The first week of February, 2016, presents the best time to see all 5 planets – Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter – together.

Groundhog Day
Science Wire | Feb 02, 2016

Everything you need to know: Groundhog Day 2016

Groundhog Day – a celebration with its roots in astronomy – comes every year on February 2. It’s the year’s first “cross-quarter” day.

J-shaped Scorpius with Shaula and Lesath
Tonight | Feb 02, 2016

Two stars in Scorpius are harbingers of spring

Go ahead. Treat yourself to something beautiful, and hopeful: a glimpse of two stars that represented a Pawnee version of Groundhog Day.

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Science Wire | Feb 01, 2016

Give me five minutes and I’ll give you Saturn in 2016

Watch for the moon to pair up with Saturn on the mornings of February 3 and 4. And learn how to identify Saturn for the rest of 2016.

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Science Wire | Jan 27, 2016

See 5 bright planets at once!

First time we can see 5 planets at once since 2005. All 5 are up before dawn. The moon is now sweeping past the planets and can help you identify them.

Photo credit: Gattou
Science Wire | Jan 23, 2016

Can you tell me the full moon names?

For both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the full moons have names corresponding to the calendar months or the seasons of the year.

Image via shadowandsubstance.com
Blogs | Jan 05, 2016

Dates of lunar and solar eclipses in 2016

The next eclipse is a total solar eclipse – caused by a supermoon – on March 8-9, 2016.

Total solar eclipse via Fred Espenak
Blogs | Jan 05, 2016

How many solar and lunar eclipses in one calendar year?

Each calendar year has at least four eclipses – two solar and two lunar. Most years have four, but five, six or even seven eclipses are also possible.

View larger. | As January, 2016, opens, there are four planets in the predawn sky.  Ben Zavala caught them on January 4, 2015.  Thanks, Ben!
Science Wire | Jan 05, 2016

Astronomical events in 2016

Dates of major moon phases, conjunctions and oppositions of planets, meteor showers and other important dates in 2016, from astronomer Fred Espenak.

Photo by Justin Ng
Tonight | Jan 04, 2016

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! Here’s a list of major meteor showers in 2016.

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Tonight | Jan 02, 2016

Everything you need to know: Quadrantid meteor shower

The 2016 Quadrantid meteor shower is likely to produce the most meteors before dawn January 4, with little disruption from the waning crescent moon.

Full moons at apogee (left) and perigee (right) in 2011.  Composite image by EarthSky community member C.B. Devgun in India.  Thanks, C.B.!
Science Wire | Jan 01, 2016

Close and far moons in 2016

This year’s 14 lunar apogees (far moons) and 13 lunar perigees (near moons). We also share a secret with you on the intriguing cycle of far and close moons.

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FAQs | Dec 31, 2015

Are the December solstice and January perihelion related?

December solstice 2015 was December 22. Earth will closest to the sun in 2016 on January 2. Coincidence?

As the Moon orbits Earth, its changing geometry with respect to the Sun produces the characteristic phases. This composite image is a mosaic made from 25 individual photos of the Moon and illustrates its phases over one synodic month. For complete details about this image, see Moon Phases Mosaic. The individual images included in this composite can be found in the Moon Phases Gallery. For more composites, see Moon Phases Mosaics. Photo copyright 2012 by Fred Espenak.
Science Wire | Dec 29, 2015

Moon in 2016

Pretty much everything you want to know about the moon in 2016 – including phases, cycles, eclipses and supermoons – from world-renowned astronomer Fred Espenak.

 
Tonight | Dec 27, 2015

See brightest star Sirius at midnight on New Year’s Eve

Sirius might also be called the New Year’s star. It reaches its highest point in the sky around midnight on New Year’s Eve.

Credit: Russell Croman
Science Wire | Dec 23, 2015

Was the Christmas Star real?

A wondrous star has grown to be a major symbol of Christmas around the world. But what was it, really?

Simulation of the line of sunrise as it hits the Eastern Seaboard around the December solstice. Image credit: Earth and Moon Viewer
Science Wire | Dec 20, 2015

Solstice tale of two cities

On the December solstice, the sun rises at the same time in St. Augustine, Florida and New York, New York. But St. Augustine enjoys an hour more of daylight. Six months later, it’s the sunset that happens concurrently at both places, yet when New York City has an extra hour of sun.

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Tonight | Dec 17, 2015

Ursid meteors around December solstice

Start looking for Ursid meteors this weekend. They’re active around this upcoming solstice. In 2015, a bright moon will diminish the visible meteors at the peak.

December solstice
Blogs | Tonight | Dec 15, 2015

Everything you need to know: December solstice 2015

December solstice 2015 is coming on December 21 or 22 (depends on your timezone). Celebration time!

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Tonight | Dec 12, 2015

EarthSky’s top 10 tips for meteor-watchers

How to watch a meteor shower. Tips for beginners.