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Schiaparelli is Gone. Smashed on the surface of Mars

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter view of Schiaparelli landing site before and after the lander arrived. The images have a resolution of 6 meters per pixel and shows two new features on the surface when compared to an image from the same camera taken in May this year. The black dot appears to be the lander impact site and the smaller white dot below the paw-shaped cluster of craters, the parachute. Credit: NASA Instead of a controlled descent to the surface using its thrusters, ESA’s Schiaparelli lander hit the ground hard and may very…

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Explore the Night with Bob King Halley's Comet meteor Observing Observing News & Current Celestial Events Orionids 

Halley On Fire! Orionids Peak This Week

The annual Orionid meteor shower is active all week, peaking Friday morning October 21st. If you’re up before dawn, you might just see these Halley’s Comet castoffs come to life. A bright Orionid makes a dash near the star Bellatrix in northern Orion during the 2014 shower.Bob King Christmas may come only once a year, but dust from Halley’s Comet fires up the night sky twice: first in May during the Eta Aquarid meteor shower and this week when the Orionid shower peaks on the mornings of October 20th and 21st. Meteor…

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Explore the Night with Bob King Lambda Aquarii Moon Neptune Observing Observing News & Current Celestial Events occultation Occultations planets 

See Two Tricky Occultations — Neptune and Lambda (λ) Aqr

Now you see ’em, now you don’t. Watch the Moon occult Neptune and nearby Lambda Aquarii on the same night. On July 22-23, the waning gibbous moon occults Neptune, here shown during its simulated reappearance. The planet’s tiny 2.3″ aqua disk is dwarfed by the Moon. Stellarium I love magic. It always makes me feel so dumb. That’s probably because I’m terrible at figuring out magic tricks. Levitating tables? Death saw? Keep ’em coming! A favorite trick is to make a quarter disappear and then pull it out of someone’s ear, a…

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Explore the Night with Bob King Great Rift Milky Way Observing Types of Objects to Observe 

Paddle the Milky Way’s Dark River

Take an imaginary journey in a boat down the Milky Way’s Great Rift, exploring rich star clouds and dark nebulae along the way. The Great Rift, a series of dark molecular clouds hovering in the plane of our galaxy, appears to cleave the Milky Way in two.Stellarium I found myself staring into nothing the other night. This wouldn’t surprise my wife. But in truth I was gazing at the dark marrow of the Milky Way galaxy’s backbone: massive clouds of starlight-soaking interstellar dust better known as the Great Rift. It’s hard to look…

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Astronomy ESO exoplanet Exoplanets Extrasolar Planets Featured HD 131399Ab Planet News SPHERE tatooine triple star VLT 

Astronomers Discover Exoplanet With Triple Sunrises and Sunsets

In the famous scene from the Star Wars movie “A New Hope” we recall young Luke Skywalker contemplating his future in the light of a binary sunset on the planet Tatooine. Not so many years later in 2011, astronomers using the Kepler Space Telescope discovered Kepler-16b, the first Tatooine-like planet known to orbit two suns in a binary system. Now astronomers have found a planet in a triple star system where an observer would either experience constant daylight or enjoy triple sunrises and sunsets each day, depending on the seasons, which last…

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aurora Auroras Explore the Night with Bob King northern lights Observing 

Aurora at Your Fingertips

A survey of free services and apps that let you keep tabs on space weather so you can anticipate the next great aurora. Don’t miss the next aurora. With online subscription services or phone apps you’ll always be in the know.Babak A. Tafreshi Seeing a great aurora ranks right up there with witnessing a total eclipse of the Sun. Auroraphiles travel thousands of miles and spend thousand dollars to join tours in frozen locales ringing the Arctic Circle in hopes of shivering under one of nature’s grandest spectacles. The rest of us wait it out, hoping…

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