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Astronomy Essentials

From late January, and through mid-February, 5 bright planets were visible at once in the predawn sky. This image is from February 8, 2016.  It's by Eliot Herman in Tucson, Arizona.  View on Flickr.
Science Wire | Feb 08, 2016

See 5 bright planets at once

First time we can see 5 planets at once since 2005. All 5 are up before dawn, still, and all 5 will remain visible until Mercury disappears in the dawn just after mid-February.

90-precent-mars
Science Wire | Feb 07, 2016

Mars’ west quadrature on February 7

At west quadrature on February 7, 2016, the red planet appears 90% illuminated as seen through a telescope. Fantastic time to see Mars is just ahead.

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.

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.

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.

meteor-quadrantid-aurora-1-3-2014-Tommony-Eliassen-Photography-sq
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.

earth_sun_300
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?