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Why stars seem brighter this time of year

No matter where you are on Earth on December, January and February evenings, you’re looking toward bright stars in our local spiral arm.

January’s birthstone is the garnet

Happy birthday January babies!  Your birthstone is the garnet.

Lucky New Year’s foods

Lucky New Year’s foods in the U.S. South and around the world. Happy 2017!

Why were prehistoric insects so huge?

Before the dinosaurs, giant insects ruled the world more than 300 million years ago.

Watch for earliest sunsets before solstice

Year’s shortest day comes at winter solstice. But, for Northern Hemisphere, earliest sunsets happen around early December. Southern Hemisphere? Your earliest sunrises are around now.

How long to orbit Milky Way’s center?

One journey of our sun and planets around the center of our Milky Way galaxy is sometimes called a cosmic year. That’s approximately 225-250 million Earth-years.

Why a halo around the sun or moon?

A large ring or circle of light around the sun or moon is called a 22-degree halo by scientists.

What is a supermoon?

Are supermoons hype? In our opinion … no, just modern folklore. And they cause real physical effects, such as larger-than-usual tides.

What is the Brocken Spectre?

The Brocken Spectre is your own shadow, cast on mists below you, when you are mountain climbing. The shadow may appear enormous and has a ring around it.

When can you see Earth’s shadow?

You can see it any clear evening …

Does Mars have a North Star?

Earth’s north star – Polaris – is located nearly directly above Earth’s north pole. There’s a star above Mars’ north pole, too, but it’s very faint.

What causes rainbow colors in clouds?

Iridescent clouds – clouds with rainbow colors – happen when especially tiny water droplets or small ice crystals individually scatter light.

What is the sun’s proper name?

You’ve no doubt heard star names such as Polaris or Betelgeuse. But what about our star? Does the sun have a name, and if so what is it?

How long to travel to Alpha Centauri?

Star travel via conventional propulsion and warp drives, plus a $100 million investment in proof-of-concept studies for an all-new way to get to the stars.

What makes a red rainbow?

Red rainbows happen when the sun is on the horizon. They’re created in much the same process that causes a sunset or sunrise to look red.

How can I capture star trails?

As Earth spins under the sky, the stars appear to move. When a camera captures that movement, that’s called a star trail. Plus … an astrophotographer explains how he does it.

What gives rainbows their curved shape?

A rainbow isn’t a flat two-dimensional image on the dome of sky. It’s more like a mosaic, composed of many separate bits … in three dimensions.

What is earthshine?

That glow over the unlit part of a crescent moon – called earthshine – is light reflected from Earth.

What is a sun pillar, or light pillar?

Sun pillars, or light pillars, are shafts of light extending from the sun or other bright light source. They’re caused by ice crystals drifting in Earth’s air.

Why beware the Ides of March?

What are the Ides of March? We in modern times probably wouldn’t know, if it weren’t for William Shakespeare.