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Astronomy Essentials

Credit: Peter Wienerroither
Tonight | Apr 12, 2014

Brightest Mars in six years on eclipse night

Earth passed between Mars and the sun on April 8. Our two worlds are closest on April 14. On that night, Mars is near the moon at the time of a total eclipse!

Lyrids and others via NASA/MSFC/D. Moser
Tonight | Apr 10, 2014

Everything you need to know: Lyrid meteor shower

Short-lived Lyrids’ peak comes on morning of April 22. In 2014, moon rises in middle of the night, but these meteors are bright. Some will withstand the moonlight.

Photo Credit: jasonb42882
FAQs | Apr 08, 2014

Why is Mars sometimes bright and sometimes faint?

The brightness of Mars in our sky depends on where our two planets are in orbit around the sun.

Meteor via Cumbrian Sky
Blogs | Tonight | Apr 01, 2014

When is the next meteor shower?

The next major meteor shower is the Lyrid shower, in late April 2014.

Zodiacal light
Tonight | Mar 31, 2014

Everything you need to know: zodiacal light or false dusk

The zodiacal light is an eerie light extending up from the horizon. No matter where you are on Earth, springtime or autumn is the best time to see it.

Mars,  via Hubble Heritage Project
Tonight | Mar 31, 2014

April 2014 guide to the five visible planets

April 2014 is Mars’ time! We’re closer to Mars – and it’s brighter in our sky – than it has been since December 2007.

earth_lighting_equinox_300
Tonight | Mar 18, 2014

Everything you need to know: Vernal or spring equinox 2014

In 2014, the vernal or spring equinox comes on March 20 at 16:57 UTC (11:56 a.m. CDT). Happy spring (or fall), y’all!

saturn_rings_300
Tonight | Mar 17, 2014

Give me five minutes and I’ll give you Saturn in 2014

Only night owls and early birds can see Saturn this month. By April, Saturn will rise into the evening sky before your bedtime. Viewing tips and charts inside.

Photo credit: Gattou
Tonight | Mar 16, 2014

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.

Groundhog Day
Tonight | Feb 02, 2014

Everything you need to know: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day comes every year on February 2. It has its roots in astronomy, in the sense that it’s a seasonal festival, tied to the movement of Earth around the sun.

Jupiter's Great Red Spot
Tonight | Jan 12, 2014

Best time to see Jupiter in 2014 is now

Jupiter is always closest around the time of its yearly opposition, which came on January 5, 2014. For the rest of this month, Jupiter is at its best!

Lyrid April 22, 2013 via Mike O'Neal
Tonight | Jan 10, 2014

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014

The Lyrid meteor shower in late April is next!

Hoax image via social media.
Tonight | Jan 02, 2014

Double moon on August 27?

Will Mars and the moon will appear the same size on August 27, 2014? Nope.

Quadrans Muralis via Atlas Coelestis.
Tonight | Jan 02, 2014

Everything you need to know: Quadrantid meteor shower

The 2014 Quadrantid meteor shower is likely to be at its best before dawn on January 3 for North America, and before dawn on January 4 in Asia.

Supermoon-cp
Dec 29, 2013

Does a supermoon have a super effect on us?

A supermoon’s effects are imperceptible, far smaller than those encountered in other everyday situations, such as being near a mountain or even a large building.

Credit: Russell Croman
Tonight | Dec 24, 2013

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?

December solstice
Blogs | Tonight | Dec 20, 2013

Everything you need to know: December solstice 2013

The December solstice marks the longest night in Northern Hemisphere and longest day in the Southern Hemisphere. Celebration time!

ursid-radiant-point-cp
Tonight | Dec 19, 2013

Ursid meteors active around December solstice

As many as 100 Ursid meteors per hour have been seen – but only in short bursts. Expect 5 to 10 meteors per hour.

meteor_shower_300
Tonight | Dec 12, 2013

EarthSky’s top 10 tips for meteor-watchers

You might see a lot or you might not see many, but if you stay in the house, you won’t see any.

The Geminid meteors radiate from near star Castor in Gemini.
Blogs | Tonight | Dec 10, 2013

Radiant point for December’s Geminid meteor shower

The December Geminid meteor shower radiates from the constellation Gemini – in the east in mid-evening or overhead by about 2 a.m.

Geminid meteor by Mike O'Neal.
Blogs | Tonight | Dec 09, 2013

Everything you need to know: Geminid meteor shower

Don’t let the moonlight discourage you. These meteors are bright! No matter your location, Geminid meteors will fall most abundantly after midnight on December 13 and 14.