StarDate 8/13/2014: Scanning The 'Barcode' Of The SunUntil 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
StarDate 8/7/2014: Getting To Know The NeighborsA 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.
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.
StarDate: The BrickThe 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.
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.
StarDate 7/23/2014: Visiting The Cool Mountains Of VenusThere’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.
StarDate: ‘New’ StarsAt Christmas of 1934, a bright “new” star exploded to life in Hercules. For a few days, it was one of the brightest stars in the night sky. It made the front pages of newspapers, and astronomers tracked it for months as it slowly faded from sight.
StarDate 7/17/2014: The Night Of The Living Dead StarsA white dwarf sounds harmless enough. It’s the small, dead core of a once-normal star like the Sun. But to a close companion star, a white dwarf is anything but harmless.
StarDate 7/16/2014: Cosmic Missiles Slam Into JupiterOur solar system can be a dangerous place. The most striking evidence of that came 20 years ago today, when the first fragment of a shattered comet blasted the planet Jupiter.
StarDate: Magellanic Collision
StarDate: Venus and MercuryMercury and Venus, the Sun’s closest planets, team up in the eastern sky at dawn the next few mornings. Venus is the “morning star,” so it’s an easy target. Mercury is fainter, but it’s not far to the lower left of Venus, which will help you pick it out.