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Deborah Byrd

Messier 33: 2nd-closest spiral galaxy

The Triangulum galaxy, aka Messier 33, is 2.7 million light-years away, and the 3rd-largest member of our Local Group, after the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.

Small asteroid to sweep close this weekend

The low velocity of asteroid 2018 WV1 suggests it’s a fragment of the moon, ejected when a larger asteroid hit the moon long ago. It’ll pass closest during the night Saturday, according to clocks in the Americas.

December guide to the bright planets

In December 2018, the dazzlingly bright object up before the sun is Venus. Mercury and Jupiter join Venus in the east before sunup around mid-December. Saturn sets soon after sunset. Mars stays out until around midnight.

Meet ESA’s SpaceBok robot

The walking and hopping SpaceBok robot is being tested now in ESA’s Mars Yard, in the Netherlands. Someday these little robots might help explore the moon, or Mars.

Last quarter moon is November 29-30

The next last quarter moon falls on November 30, 2018 at 00:19 UTC. A last quarter moon rises around midnight and sets around noon the following day.

InSight lander sets down safely on Mars

There’s a new robot on Mars’ surface, the InSight spacecraft, designed to study the planet’s interior. It set down safely Monday after nearly 7 months of flight from Earth and a 7-minute nail-biting plummet through Mars’ thin atmosphere.

Lone Wanaka Tree in New Zealand

There’s a legend about this tree. It’s said it started out as a fence post about 80 years ago, then sprouted into the tree you see here, beloved of photographers.

I saw a cloud with rainbow colors. What causes it?

The term cloud iridescence – aka irisation – comes from Iris, the Greek personification of the rainbow. True iridescent clouds are relatively rare. Here’s what causes them.

Hear Opportunity’s 5,000th sunrise on Mars

Scientists used data sonification to transform a photo of the now-silent Opportunity rover’s 5,000th sunrise on Mars into a piece of music.

Landing on Mars is still hard

There’s a reason space engineers describe landing on Mars as “7 minutes of terror.”