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stardate

StarDate 11/26/2014: Galaxy Mergers

Galaxies could use a set of traffic cops — they’re always running into each other. These galactic wrecks can produce some of the most beautiful objects in the universe.

11/26/2014

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StarDate 11/12/14: Making Methane

There’s a problem with Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. There’s a fair amount of methane in its atmosphere and in its big lakes.

11/12/2014

In this artist's view the red supergiant supernova progenitor star (left) is exploding after having transferred about 10 solar masses of hydrogen gas to the blue companion star (right) (NASA)

StarDate: Supergiant Blast, White Dwarf Collision Could Trigger Bright Supernova Blast Seen Across Universe

One of the giants of the Milky Way stands high overhead at nightfall. Deneb marks the tail of Cygnus, the swan. It’s a supergiant — about 15 times as massive as the Sun, and more than a hundred times as wide. And it shines more than 50,000 times brighter.

11/05/2014

(image courtesy NASA.gov)

StarDate 10/17/2014: Close Call For Comet That Will Shoot Past Mars

Mars is about to dodge a big snowball — a comet that will swing just 82,000 miles above the planet’s surface on Sunday. That’s just a third of the distance between Earth and the Moon, so it’s quite a close call.

10/17/2014

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StarDate 8/13/2014: Scanning The ‘Barcode’ Of The Sun

Until the middle of the 19th century, the stars were little more than mysterious points of light. Astronomers could plot a star’s position in the sky, or record changes in its brightness, but that was about all

08/13/2014

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StarDate 8/7/2014: Getting To Know The Neighbors

A few of our stellar neighbors are hard to miss. Vega, which passes high overhead on August evenings, is just 25 light-years away. And Sirius, the brightest star in all the night sky, is nine light-years away.

08/07/2014

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StarDate 8/6/2014: Taking A Census Of Our Stellar Neighborhood

In a time when astronomers are studying galaxies that are billions of light-years away, you might think that we know everything there is to know about our own cosmic neighborhood.

08/06/2014

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StarDate: The Brick

The center of the Milky Way is already crowded with stars. But in a few million years, tens of thousands more could flare to life in a region known as the Brick. It’s a vast cloud of cold, dark gas and dust that’s shaped like a brick.

07/28/2014

The NASA Spitzer Space Telescope (Photo credit should read HO/AFP/Getty Images)

StarDate 7/25/2014: Logging Star Clusters In Sagittarius

One of the first items on almost any amateur astronomer’s “to-do” list is completing the Messier marathon — looking at all 110 objects cataloged by Charles Messier. Messier himself began the first marathon 250 years ago.

07/25/2014

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StarDate 7/23/2014: Visiting The Cool Mountains Of Venus

There’s nothing like a trip to the mountains to escape the summer heat — whether you’re here on Earth or on Venus, our nearest planetary neighbor.

07/23/2014

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