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5 Sky Events This Week: Lunar Wall, Mars Up-Close, and a Blue Giant

Fantastic fault lines and planetary close encounters this week offer sky-watchers some impressive cosmic views of the heavens. The lunar wall. The first quarter moon, which comes into view on Monday, April 7, offers the best moment this month to view, in small telescopes, an amazing lunar feature called the lunar wall, or Rupes Recta (sometimes called the…

5 Sky Events This Week: Moon Joins God of War While Leo’s Heart Winks Out

Sky-watchers can rejoice at the change of seasons this week, seeing the moon join forces with Mars and Saturn, just as one of the sky’s most brilliant stars is eclipsed. Moon joins Spica. Late at night on Monday, March 17, look for the waning gibbous moon to rise in the eastern sky with two bright celestial…

5 Sky Events of the Week: Stellar Peak-a-Boo and Leo Paws at the Moon

With a change of seasons only days away, mid-March skies offer celestial sights that even the novice stargazer will find easy to enjoy. Lunar rectangle. After nightfall on Monday, March 10, look for the waxing gibbous moon to form a corner of a rectangle with Jupiter and the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, high in the southern…

4 Sky Events This Week: Seven Sisters and a Stellar Sandwich

A final glimpse of the seventh planet from the sun comes this week, and the moon takes sky-watchers on a celestial tour of some stunning star clusters. Last-chance green giant. After dusk on Monday, March 3, the razor-thin crescent moon acts as convenient guidepost to the fast-fading planet Uranus, which will hang just below the moon.…

Brightest Lunar Impact Ever Recorded

This artwork depicts the blast formed from an impacting meteor on the lunar surface. Credit: NASA Anyone looking up at the right moment on September 11, 2013, may have caught sight of a brief flash of light on the moon. The flash was the biggest and brightest lunar impact ever observed by astronomers, a new Monthly…

4 Sky Events This Week: Venus at Dawn and Gemini’s Double Jewel Box

A crescent moon snuggles up to the innermost planets this week, while sky-watchers will also see mythical twins reveal two stellar wonders. Zodiacal lights. With the moon out of the early evening sky this week, ideal sky conditions prevail for hunting down the elusive zodiacal lights. This ethereal glow across the sky is caused by sunlight…

China’s Lunar Rover Comes Back to Life

Reports of the demise of China’s Jade Rabbit (Yutu in Chinese) lunar rover appear greatly exaggerated. The rover looks to have survived a long, cold night on the moon.  According to state-run media Xinhau, Chinese mission engineers managed to restore communication with the moon buggy late this week, after much angst over a technical malfunction…

Awesome First Snapshot of Earth From Curiosity Rover

Not much more than just a few pixels on the photo above, that bright dot in the twilight Martian sky is Earth, as seen by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover. A first view of the rover’s picture of its home planet, taken from the surface of Mars, even shows Earth’s moon. And while NASA engineers say…

5 Sky Events This Week: Winged Equine, Jovian Shadows, and Seven Sisters

The game’s afoot! A cosmic menagerie offers sky-watchers an exciting chase this week, with everything from a mythical steed to a red bull’s eye. Moon and Pegasus. After nightfall on Monday, February 3, folks in the Northern Hemisphere can look for the Great Square of Pegasus. Appearing tipped on one corner, the distinct four-sided pattern represents…

5 Sky Events This Week: Mercurial Evenings, Cosmic Triangle and Lord of the Rings

The most elusive planet, little Mercury, pays a visit to the early evening skies this week, while the moon guides sky-gazers toward the true Lord of the Rings and other stellar delights. Mercury rising. Just after sunset on Tuesday, January 21, and for the rest of the month, the closest planet to the sun, Mercury, will…

5 Sky Events This Week: Ice Giant, Lunar Wonder, Ex-Comet Shower

Sky-watchers get a chance to see a giant lunar wall, hunt down a distant world, and the moon makes for a convenient guidepost in hunting down a distant planet. Green Giant. Late night on Tuesday, January 7, the seventh planet from the Sun, Uranus, will pass near the moon. The green giant will appear about 9 degrees…

Cool Photos: While China’s Jade Rabbit Sleeps, NASA Watches Overhead

NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has snapped an image of both the Chinese lander and the hibernating Yutu, or Jade Rabbit, rover sitting among the craters on the surface of the moon. (Related: “Cool Video: Watch HD Footage of China’s Historic Moon Rover Landing.”) Although the six-wheeled robotic geologist is only a scant 5 feet…

Sneak-Peek: Top 5 Sky Events of 2014

  The New Year promises a pair of lunar disappearing acts and a potential surprise meteor shower, among other celestial delights. While scores of amazing astronomical phenomena are in the offing, here are our picks for sky-watching events worth circling on your calendar for 2014. 1. Total Eclipse of the Moon This year sky-watchers will…

Probe to Attempt Nearest-Ever Flyby of Mars’s Largest Moon on Sunday

As Europe’s Mars Express celebrates 10 years in orbit around the Red Planet it’s getting set to make a daredevil dive on our neighboring world’s largest moon, called Phobos. Flying past at only 28 miles (45 kilometers) above its craggy surface on December 29, this will be the closest encounter with the potato-shaped moon ever…

5 Sky Events This Week: Charioteer Rides With Stellar Gifts, Moon Pairs With Heavenly Gems

Starry skies abound this holiday week, with treats for both the novice and the seasoned sky-watcher.  The moon joins bright stellar landmarks, while brilliant star clusters take center stage in the sky. Celestial charioteer. With the moon absent from the early evening sky on Monday, December 23, it’s a great time to look instead toward…