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Thud of Philae landing on comet

Today, German scientists released a two-second recording of the sound the Rosetta mission’s Philae lander made when it touched down on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko’s icy surface. Philae landed on the comet, which is about 311 million miles (500 million kilometers) from Earth, last week (November 12, 2014).

What makes a halo around the sun or moon?

Halo around the sun, seen from Sweden on April 24, 2014 and captured by Fotograf Goran Strand.

Halo around the sun, seen from Sweden on April 24, 2014 and captured by Fotograf Goran Strand.

A ring or circle of light around the sun or moon is called a halo by scientists. We get many messages throughout each year from people who’ve just spotted a ring around the sun or moon.

People want to know: what causes a halo around the sun or moon?

Burning questions about winter cold

Snowfall departure from normal October 2014, via Rutgers Snow Lab

Snowfall departure from normal October 2014, via Rutgers Snow Lab

Old Man Winter seems to have gone maverick in the Northern Hemisphere over the last few years. Take 2014 as an example. It’s on track to be the warmest globally in more than a century of record-keeping, with May, June, August, and September all setting world heat records for those particular months. Yet February only managed to tie for 21st warmest globally, mainly because of two regions of prolonged cold across North America and central Eurasia.

One of the highest resolution images of Mercury, ever

Mercury via MESSENGER

This image shows an area at 83.20 degrees North latitude and 267.80 degrees East longitude on Mercury. Resolution 10 meters. Image via NASA / JHU / APL MESSENGER spacecraft.

Here is the sun’s innermost planet, Mercury, imaged on September 15, 2014 by the MESSENGER spacecraft. This is of the highest resolution images of Mercury ever obtained. MESSENGER has been orbiting Mercury since 2011, but now the craft’s fuel is nearly depleted. It is slipping toward Mercury in orbit, and space engineers have been periodically boosting it higher. MESSENGER will impact Mercury in March 2015. For now, we’re getting some of the best-ever Mercury pics.

Sky Bear comes to Earth on November evenings

09nov12_430

In our Northern Hemisphere, the Big Dipper is probably the sky’s best known asterism. In other words, it’s a recognizable pattern of stars — not an official constellation. The Big Dipper is part of the constellation Ursa Major, otherwise known as the Great Bear.

Every year, the Big Dipper (Great Bear) descends to its lowest point in the sky on November evenings. In fact, people in the southern part of the United States can’t see the Big Dipper in the evening right now, because it swings beneath their northern horizon.

This date in science: Edwin Hubble and the expanding universe

This image is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, released in 2012.  Read more about this image here.

This is the Hubble eXtreme Deep Field, released in 2012. Nearly every speck of light here is a separate galaxy, beyond our Milky Way.

November 20, 1889. Happy birthday, Edwin Hubble! The Hubble Space Telescope is named for this astronomer. How did this honor come to be? Hubble’s work was pivotal in changing our entire cosmology: our idea of the universe as a whole.

Incredible lake-effect snow pounds Buffalo area, continuing today

Image Credit: Derek Gee via Twitter

Image via Derek Gee via Twitter

Lake-effect snow is nothing new for those north and east of Lakes Erie and Ontario. When it happens, snow totals climb over three to four feet (over a meter) in less than 24 hours. In isolated spots around the Buffalo, New York area this week, over five feet (1.5 meters!) of snow fell earlier this week, and a second round is happening and expected to continue through Friday.

What is lake-effect snow?

Podcast and interview with Tom Niziol, a longtime meteorologist-in-charge of the National Weather Service in Buffalo, New York, about lake-effect snow.

Snow in West Seneca, New York

Digging out of the snow in West Seneca, NY on November 19, 2014. Image appears courtesy of Carrie Boye Roof.

Image from November 19 courtesy of Carrie Boye Roof.

Digging out of the snow in West Seneca, NY on November 19, 2014.

November is the month of the Pleiades

Pleiades by s58y

Pleiades by s58y

November is the month of the Pleiades star cluster. Yearly, on or near November 20, the Pleiades cluster culminates – reaches its highest point in the sky – at midnight.