Enjoying EarthSky? Subscribe.

224,068 subscribers and counting ...

Larry Sessions
Image via NASA.

Small Magellanic Cloud orbits our galaxy

Small Magellanic Cloud resembles a luminous cloud, but it’s really a dwarf galaxy, orbiting our Milky Way. Here’s how to see it, from Earth’s Southern Hemisphere.


Shedding light on the moon’s dark side

A far side of the moon remains hidden from Earth, but doesn’t stay permanently dark.

Alpheratz looks like one star to the eye, but spectroscopic analysis reveals that it is two stars. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Alpheratz is part of the Great Square

Come to know this star and be one step further along the path of finding the Andromeda galaxy.

This image shows the debris ring around Fomalhaut and the location of its first known planet. This is the actual discovery image, published in the journal Science in November, 2008. Fomalhaut b was the first beyond our solar system visible to the eye in photographic images. Image via Hubble Space Telescope.

Fomalhaut had first visible exoplanet

Fomalhaut is sometimes called the Loneliest Star. Its planet, Fomalhaut b, was the first planet beyond our solar system to be visible to the human eye.


Use Big Dipper to find North Star

The 2 outermost stars in the Big Dipper’s bowl point to Polaris.

61 Cygni is a double star, captured here by Scott MacNeill at Frosty Drew Observatory, Charlestown, Rhode Island, June 2015.

61 Cygni is the Flying Star

61 Cygni isn’t bright. But it moves exceptionally rapidly against the background of more distant stars. Its motion reveals its nearness to Earth.

Via Wikimedia Commons

Seeing things that aren’t there

Seeing animals in clouds, or a face in the moon, are examples of pareidolia. Look here for photos to test your own ability to see things that aren’t there.


Deneb is distant and very luminous

Deneb is one of the most distant stars you will see with your eye alone. That’s because it’s one of the most luminous stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Image via Ming Zhao / University of Michigan

Altair is the bright star of the Eagle

Altair needs only 10 hours to spin once on its axis, in contrast to roughly a month for our sun. This mighty star spins on its axis more rapidly than Earth! How to see it.


Vega is the Harp Star

One of the prettiest stories in all skylore surrounds this star. “On the 7th night of the 7th moon … “