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

Star of the week: 61 Cygni

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-cropped

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-espanak-lg

Vega is the Harp Star

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

The extra second - or leap second - is added to world clocks one second before midnight, UTC.

2016 will have a leap second

Delay those New Year’s plans. World timekeepers have announced they’ll add a leap second just before midnight on December 31, 2016.

Red Antares, via Fred Espenak at AstroPixels. Used with permission.

Antares is Heart of the Scorpion

Bright reddish Antares is easy to spot on a summer night. It is the brightest star in the fishhook-shaped constellation Scorpius the Scorpion.

Artist's concept of Kochab seen from its planets via ESky

Kochab and Perked, guardians of north

Two noticeable stars in the Little Dipper are said to guard the north celestial pole because they circle so close to Polaris.

Nearly first quarter moon on the evening of June 11, 2016. The moon reached the first quarter phase on June 12, 2016 at 0810 UTC, or 3:10 a.m. CDT.  Translate to your timezone.

Quarter moon or a half moon?

Half the moon always faces us. And half the moon is always lit by the sun. But, in the language of astronomers, there are no ‘half moons.’

Stars. Image via NASA

Top 10 cool things about stars

Here’s a collection of 10 unexpected, intriguing facts about the stars of our universe – including our sun – that you probably didn’t know!