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Tonight

Look for the beautiful Northern Crown

Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, as captured by Fred Espenak.  Used with permission.  Visit Fred Espenak's Portal to the Universe.

Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown, as captured by Fred Espenak. Used with permission.

Here is a constellation that’s easy to see on the sky’s dome, if your sky is dark enough. Corona Borealis – aka the Northern Crown – is exciting to find. It’s an almost-perfect semi-circle of stars. This beautiful pattern will adorn the evening sky from now until October.

Find a famous globular star cluster, M13

M13

Photo of M13, the great Hercules globular star cluster, by John Giroux of Syracuse, New York. Thank you John!

M13 is a densely packed globular cluster of about 300,000 stars, more than 25,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Hercules.

Find the Keystone in Hercules

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From mid-northern latitudes, you can easily find the brilliant star Vega in the eastern sky at dusk and nightfall. Vega acts as your guide star the Keystone – a pattern of four stars in the constellation Hercules. The Keystone, in turn, is your ticket to finding a famous globular star cluster in Hercules, otherwise known as Messier 13.

Star of the week: Polaris is the North Star

Ken Christison captured these glorious star trails around Polaris, the North Star.  He wrote,

Ken Christison captured these glorious star trails around Polaris, the North Star. See more photos from Ken Christison.

The North Star or Pole Star – aka Polaris – is famous for holding nearly still in our sky while the entire northern sky moves around it. Polaris is not the brightest star in the nighttime sky, as is commonly believed. Polaris is only about 50th brightest. Still, this star has been a boon to travelers throughout the Northern Hemisphere, both over land and sea. Follow the links inside to learn more about Polaris, the North Star.

Coming to know Corvus the Crow

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One of my favorite constellations, little squarish Corvus the Crow, can be found in the south after sunset at this time of year. It’s not far from the bright star Spica – brightest light in the constellation Virgo the Maiden.

Astronomy events, star parties, festivals, workshops

Jim Elliott of Powell, Ohio, contributed this photo. He wrote: “The moon over Jupiter over Columbus, Ohio, at the OSU planetarium star party. April 16, 2016.”

Jim Elliott of Powell, Ohio, contributed this photo. He wrote: “The moon over Jupiter over Columbus, Ohio, at the OSU planetarium star party. April 16, 2016.”

Summertime star parties! We just added many new events to this list of astronomical events throughout the U.S. and Canada. Find one near you, join in and have fun!

Close and far Martian oppositions

What's really cool is that you can use the brilliant planet Mars as you guide

What’s also cool is that you can use the brilliant planet Mars in 2016 as your guide “star” to the planet Saturn and the star Antares.

Tonight – May 23, 2016 – we’re just one day past Mars once-in-26-months opposition. In other words, yesterday Earth flew between Mars and the sun. What a wonderful event! However, 2016’s opposition of Mars – although good – doesn’t bring Mars as close to Earth as the extremely close opposition of 2018. Find out about close and far Martian oppositions, inside…

Brightest Mars in 10 years

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The May 22 opposition of Mars presents Mars at its closest to Earth in over 10 years, or since the opposition of November 7, 2005. Super-close oppositions of Mars recur in periods of 15 to 17 years. The last super-close Martian opposition happened on August 28, 2003, and the next one will occur on July 27, 2018. Extra-close oppositions happen when we go between Mars and the sun around the time Mars is closest to the sun. Makes sense, right?

Blue Moon and red Mars on May 21

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Tonight – May 21, 2016 – the Blue Moon will be near red Mars, now exceedingly bright and nearly at its closest to Earth for this two-year period. Wow! Of course, the moon won’t look blue in color. Find out more, inside.

Can you tell me the full moon names?

Image Credit: Luz Adriana Villa A.

Image via Flickr user Luz Adriana Villa A.

For both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, full moons have names corresponding to calendar months or seasons of the year.