Blog Archives

Weekend Sky Show

The two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, have been drawing closer and closer to each other as seen from Earth for the past several days. This weekend they will be joined by the hard-to-see innermost planet Mercury

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Posted in Planets, Sky Phenomena, Solar System

A Pattern And A Puzzle

In my previous post, I talked about the strong evidence for the presence of water ice in permanently shaded crater floors around the north pole of Mercury. Part of the evidence for this was the thermal modeling of surface and

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Posted in Planets, Solar System

Ice On A Sun-Scorched Planet

The universe is full of surprises. More than once I have read an article about a new discovery and told myself something like this: “That can’t be right! They must have messed up somewhere, and we’ll read about how in

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Posted in Planets, Spacecraft

Planets In The Morning

One of the more pleasing aspects of astronomy is the extent to which it is utterly predictable. The North Star will never appear in the southern sky, the Southern Cross will never be visible from Virginia, and if Orion is

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Posted in Planets, Solar System

Mission to a Small Planet

On Saint Patrick’s day, the MESSENGER spacecraft will slip into orbit around Mercury, the planet closest to the sun, and the smallest of the eight classical planets. It will be the first to do so. You would think this would

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Posted in Planets, Solar System, Spacecraft