Astronomers reveal asteroid 2000 WO107 as a contact binary

Asteroid 2000 WO107 passed Earth safely on November 29, at 11 times the moon’s distance. Astronomers at Goldstone bounced radar signals from its surface and discovered it’s 2 asteroids that touched, and stuck.

China’s Chang’e 5 has set a lander down on the moon

China’s robotic Chang’e 5 is to be the 1st sample-return from the moon since the 1970s. It launched successfully last week atop a Chinese Long March 5 rocket. Now it’s reported to have landed on the moon.

Arecibo telescope receiver platform crashes onto dish

The telescope has been inoperable since August, when a major cable broke. In November, a second cable broke and multiple engineering companies declared that safety in and around the telescope could not be guaranteed. Now astronomers’ fears for Arecibo have come to pass. No one was injured.

Schedar shines brightly at the Queen’s heart

Orange-hued Schedar is the brightest star in the distinctive W-shaped northern constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.

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December 2020 guide to the bright planets

December 2020 will show you 3 bright planets as soon as darkness falls: Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Venus, the brightest planet, is in the east before sunrise. On December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will have their once-in-20-years conjunction in our sky, appearing closer than they have for centuries, only 1/5 of a moon-diameter apart.

A magnified view of Jupiter and Saturn at conjunction

On December 21, 2020, Jupiter and Saturn will be only 1/5 of a moon-diameter apart! Guy Ottewell offers insights and charts showing a magnified (telescopic) view of their once-in-20-years great conjunction.

When is my earliest sunset?

For the southernmost US and similar latitudes, the earliest sunsets of the year are happening now. Your earliest sunset depends on your latitude, but always comes before the winter solstice.

Monster sunspot AR2786 swings into better view

The sun is becoming active again as it enters Solar Cycle 25. This week, scientists’ predictions of sunspots were proven via photos from astronomers around the world. Giant sunspot AR2786 can be viewed with proper filters and may create strong flares that reach Earth.

Why not an eclipse at every full and new moon?

If the Earth and moon orbited on the same plane around the sun, we’d have a total solar eclipse – and a total lunar eclipse – every month. As it is, in 2020, there are 6 eclipses: 2 solar and 4 lunar.

What is an eclipse season?

There are many cycles in the heavens. An eclipse season describes one of the most interesting. When we’re in the midst of one, as we are now, an eclipse is inevitable.

November’s full moon falls on November 30

November’s full moon is at 09:29 UTC November 30, but it will look full before and after that date.

Curiosity rover spots signs of ancient megafloods on Mars

We already know that Gale Crater on Mars used to hold a lake or series of lakes a few billion years ago. Now, NASA’s Curiosity rover has found evidence for ancient giant floods that washed through the region as well.

Seeing things that aren’t there? It’s called pareidolia

Seeing a dragon in a patch of clouds or a face on the moon, are examples of what’s called pareidolia. Take a look at these photos to test your own abilities to recognize patterns.