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Chinese mantis

Chinese mantis by Jacob Baker

Chinese mantis by Jacob Baker

EarthSky Facebook friend Jacob Baker in Massachusetts posted these two photos of Chinese mantis yesterday. This mantis – native to China and other parts of Asia – was accidentally introduced to the United States by a nurseryman at Mt. Airy near Philadelphia in 1896.

Find the Andromeda galaxy on dark autumn nights

The Andromeda galaxy (upper right of photo) as seen by EarthSky Facebook friend Ted Van at a Montana campsite.

You might be able to find the Andromeda galaxy just by looking for it on a dark, clear night. Otherwise, try star-hopping from the Great Square in the constellation Pegasus.

Crocodiles work as a team to hunt their prey

Photo credit: Martin Heigan

Photo credit: Martin Heigan

Crocodiles are able to conduct highly organized game drives. In fact, they might be second only to humans in their hunting prowess, says University of Tennessee researcher Vladimir Dinets.

Massive icebergs once drifted to Florida

Photo credit: Rghrouse/Flickr

Photo credit: Rghrouse/Flickr

In a new study on ocean circulation, researchers have shown that icebergs and meltwater from the North American ice sheet regularly reached South Carolina and even southern Florida during the last ice age, about 21,000 year ago. The researchers studied “iceberg scours,” the grooves and pits that were made by icebergs as they scraped the bottom of the seafloor along the southeastern U.S.

Double Cluster in Perseus: Two star clusters

The Double Cluster is also known as h and Chi Persei. It resides in the northern part of the constellation Perseus, quite close to the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen. If you have a dark sky and find Cassiopeia – which is easy, because the constellation has a distinctive M or W shape – be sure to look for Perseus, too. Then just scan with your binoculars between them. The Double Cluster – a breathtaking pair of clusters, each containing supergiant suns – will be there. Follow the links inside to learn more.

Found Cassiopeia? Now look for Perseus

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If you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, try looking northeast this evening for two prominent constellations, Cassiopeia and Perseus. The easier to see will be Cassiopeia, which has a distinctive M or W shape. Cassiopeia represents a queen in ancient mythology, and is one of the most famous constellations in the sky. You’ll see it in the northeast this evening, and higher up in the evening sky in late fall and winter.

4 a.m aurora

Photo credit: Colin Chatfield

Photo credit: Colin Chatfield

Colin Chatfield wrote from Canada:

It was very windy out, so some of the trees appear blurry. The full moon was also behind me, so I was able to use that as a natural light source for the foreground.

Star of the week: Schedar lies at the Queen’s heart

Cassiopeia constellation on Mercator globe.

Cassiopeia constellation via the Mercator globes at the Harvard Map Collection via Wikimedia Commons. On star maps, the Queen is often depicted as hanging upside down, in punishment for her vanity.

Are you familiar with the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen? If so, then you know it is one of the easiest-to-recognize constellations, having the shape of an M or W, depending on the time of night, time of year, and your perspective. The alpha star of Cassiopeia is called Schedar. This star marks either the righthand vertex of the W – or the lefthand vertex of the M – in this well known star pattern. Follow the links inside to learn more about Schedar aka Alpha Cassiopeiae.

Cassiopeia the Queen at its best autumn evenings

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Tonight, look for the W or M-shaped constellation Cassiopeia the Queen on her throne in the northeastern sky. You can use the Big Dipper to find her, if you look in the early part of the night, when the Big Dipper is low in the northwest. These two star formations are like riders on opposite side of a Ferris wheel. As one rises upward, the other plunges downward, and vice versa.

Largest-yet study describes near-death experiences

So-called “near death experience” – tunnels ending in light, your life flashing before you, out-of-body experience – might be a very real phenomenon, says study.