Deborah Byrd
Photo of blue-white star Spica.

Spica is a whirling double star

Spica’s 2 stars orbit a common center of gravity in only 4 days. Their mutual gravity distorts each star into an egg shape, with the pointed ends facing each other.

Sunrise video still from Hideto Shimizu in Japan.

Nature in Japan: Time travel

Hideto Shimizu hiked many miles across the mountains of Japan to capture the images in this gorgeous 90-second video. He wrote: “I hope it delivers you the feelings of the places I photographed.”

Look for the legendary green flash

A sea horizon is best for seeing a green flash, but any distant, flat horizon will do. Look at the last moment before the sun sets.

Photographic image showing flat galactic disk. The inset shows dark lanes of dust, where stars form.

Star formation burst created 50% of Milky Way disk stars

Analysis of data from the Gaia satellite shows a powerful burst of star formation – a stellar baby boom – in our Milky Way galaxy 2 to 3 billion years ago. This single burst might have created half the stars in the galaxy’s flat disk.

Why can’t I find the Milky Way in May?

From the Northern Hemisphere now, the plane of the Milky Way is as parallel to your horizon as it can be, in early evening. Just wait. Around midnight, the starry band of the Milky Way will begin ascending in your eastern sky.

Milky Way over Lunar Crater, Nevada

This volcanic crater in Nevada – called Lunar Crater – was used to train Apollo astronauts in 1972.

1st quarter moon is May 11-12

The 1st quarter moon comes on May 12 at 1:12 UTC. At European and American time zones, you’ll find it high up at sunset on May 10 and 11. It appears nearly or completely half-illuminated, like half a pie.

Two airplane glories, half a world apart

Liz Dunster caught a photo of an airplane glory during a flight over North Carolina. Karthik Easvur caught a glory over India and provided a video!

Today in science: Neil Armstrong’s close call

On May 6, 1968 – more than a year before his famous first moonwalk – Neil Armstrong narrowly escaped disaster during a training exercise, at the same time demonstrating the right stuff.

The young moon returns

Casual observers rarely see a moon within 24 hours of new moon. But observers who have the right conditions, and are watching carefully – and those using telescopes or binoculars – can see much younger moons.