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May guide to the bright planets

Three of the 5 bright planets are easy to see: Jupiter, Saturn and Venus. Mars is obscured in western twilight. Mercury is veiled by eastern dawn.

Why do we celebrate May Day?

Happy May Day! A few words about this annual celebration, which has its roots in astronomy.

Simulating the smallest ring world

Chariklo is the smallest space body known to have rings. A new supercomputer simulation by Japanese researchers suggests a life expectancy for the rings of only 1 to 100 years.

Cassini dives between Saturn and rings

The Cassini spacecraft made the first-ever dive through the narrow gap between the planet Saturn and its rings on Wednesday.

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How Kepler saw Neptune

New video from NASA depicting the observations of our solar system’s 8th planet, Neptune, by the famous planet-hunting Kepler telescope.

Watch for the young moon

The young moon is back in the west after sunset. Very lovely, and passing near some bright stars in the days ahead.

Landslides on dwarf planet Ceres

A recent study shows that landslides are common on the dwarf planet Ceres and reinforces the idea that Ceres has a lot of water ice.

Why birds smash into windows

Up to 1 billion birds die each year in the U.S. due to collisions with windows. Why do birds slam into windows, and what can you do to prevent it?

New Project Skyglow video and giveaway

The guys at Project Skyglow have done some amazing videos, and they have a new book out. It’s not too late to enter their giveaway, honoring International Dark Sky Week.

Northerners’ guide to Southern Cross

The Southern Cross climbs highest – due south – in the evening around now. Latitudes like Hawaii can see it. It’s possible to see from latitudes like the far-southern contiguous U.S., but difficult.

Use Southern Cross to find due south

From the Northern Hemisphere, a fairly bright North Star marks the direction north. From the Southern Hemisphere, the Southern Cross points the way south.

Star of the week: Hadar

Hadar, aka Beta Centauri, joins Alpha Centauri in pointing to the Southern Cross. It’s a triple system. Two of its stars will someday become nearby supernovae.

Why cats can’t resist (even a phony) box

Twitter has been blowing up with posts on cats’ attraction to taped squares on the ground. An animal behavior expert explains what draws Fluffy to the #CatSquare.