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Video: A year in the life of Earth’s CO2

NASA Goddard released this video on November 17, 2014. It’s based on an ultra-high-resolution NASA computer model showing how carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere – a greenhouse gas – travels around the globe.

Hummingbird flies more like insect than bird, says study

You might think a hummingbird simply beats its wings so fast and hard it pushes down enough air to keep its small body afloat. Turns out it’s much trickier than that.

Want to see a planet? Try Mars and the moon on November 24-26


Look low in the southwest as darkness falls to catch the red planet Mars above the thin waxing crescent moon. The moon will be even closer to Mars at nightfall on November 25. Mars is the only planet that’s easily visible to the unaided eye as darkness falls on these November 2014 evenings.

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014

The Geminid meteors radiate from near star Castor in Gemini.

The Geminid meteors radiate from near star Castor in Gemini.

Next up … the famous Geminid meteor shower in December. In 2014, the last quarter moon moon will interfere. You can try watching in the evening, before moonrise around midnight. And we encourage you to stick around and watch after midnight, too, despite the moon. These meteors are bright! Best night will likely be the evening of December 13 until dawn on December 14. Try the night before (December 12-13), too.

Everything you need to know: Geminid meteor shower

Meteor flying straight from Gemini's two brightest stars, Castor and Pollux, on night of December 12-13, 2012.  Photo by EarthSky Facebook friend Mike O'Neal in Oklahoma.  Thank you Mike!

Meteor flying straight from Gemini’s two brightest stars, Castor and Pollux, during the 2012 shower. Photo by Mike O’Neal in Oklahoma.

The peak night of the 2014 Geminid meteor shower will probably occur on the night of December 13 (morning of December 14). The night before (December 12-13) may offer a decent sprinkling of meteors as well. And you could try watching on December 14-15, if all else fails. The meteors tend to be few and far between at early evening, but intensify in number as evening deepens into late night. Don’t let the late-night moonlight discourage you from watching after midnight, or during the peak viewing hours. Geminid meteors are bright!

Orion rises at mid-evening in November and early December

Stars trails of constellation Orion via EarthSky Facebook friend Jean Baptiste Feldman. Can you pick out the three stars in Orion’s Belt? Notice also the different colors of the stars in Orion.

Orion the Hunter is one of the easiest constellations to identify in the night sky. You will find Orion rising in mid-evening in late November and early December. Depending on where you live, this constellation will climb over your eastern horizon by around 9 p.m. tonight. The mighty Hunter appears to be lying on his side when you first spot these stars in the east. Orion’s Belt juts upward, and his two brightest stars — Betelgeuse and Rigel — shine on opposite sides of the Belt.

Study says gravity and Higgs boson interacted to save the universe

View larger. | Time line of the universe via NASA/WMAP Science Team

Time line of the universe via NASA/WMAP Science Team

One startling announcement earlier this year was that the Higgs boson should have made our universe collapse less than one second after it began expanding outward from the Big Bang. The universe did not collapse, and now European physicists say they can explain why without the need for “new physics.”

Venus returning to evening sky!

View larger.| See the little white dot of the planet Venus in the upper right of this photo?  It'll be back to your evening sky in early December.  Helio de Carvalho Vital captured this image on November 18, 2014 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  He wrote,

View larger.| Venus near the setting sun on November 18, 2014 by Helio de Carvalho Vital in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Helio de Carvalho Vital captured this image of Venus – which will soon return to your western sky after sunset – on November 18, 2014 from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. See the planet? It’s the little white dot in the upper center of this photo. Look inside to learn how he captured it, and when you might see this brightest of planets.

Ten things you might not know about space

Image credit: UltraVISTA/Terapix/CNRS/CASU

Image credit: UltraVISTA/Terapix/CNRS/CASU

Ten oddities and misconceptions about space that you may – or may not – have heard before.

Big Dipper bowl points to star Capella

You've heard of the Big Dipper's

You’ve heard of the Big Dipper’s “pointer” stars? You can use them to find the star Capella, too.

If you can see the Big Dipper tonight, use the top two bowl stars to find the bright star Capella. But can you see the Dipper? Maybe yes, and maybe no. The Big Dipper sits low in the northern sky on November evenings from northerly U.S. latitudes. From southerly U.S. latitudes, and farther south, you can’t see the Dipper at all. It is hidden below the horizon in the evening.