Astrology

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pluto moons neptune

Pluto was once a moon of Neptune?

Astronomers discovered Pluto in 1930, Geneva, and soon realized that this outer world actually crosses the orbit of Neptune, the next planet inward. In 1936, British astronomer Raymond Lyttleton proposed that this planet once orbited Neptune as a moon. But now we know that Pluto and Neptune are in a special type of orbit with respect …

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Say Cheese, Andes! 1

Say Cheese, Andes!

Susan Runco is an oceanographer at the Johnson Space Center. She’s part of a team of Earth scientists who’ve trained astronauts to take pictures from space. Susan Runco: I just tell people that when the photography does come back, it’s sort of like a Christmas present each time. You feel like you’re excited when the …

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Year 2012 and the Sun Energy

How is there fire on the sun when there’s no oxygen? Strictly speaking, oxygen is a part of what makes up the sun’s composition. Meanwhile, although the sun appears fiery, there’s no real fire on the sun at all. You get fire when a substance — a fuel — quickly combines with oxygen in the …

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Meteor Trails 2

Meteor Trails

Dust particles left behind by comets crash into Earth’s atmosphere and heat up due to friction with the air. That’s when they become glowing meteors. At what altitude do meteors become incandescent? Meteors are dust particles from space. They become incandescent — or glow — almost as soon as they hit Earth’s atmosphere. Some meteors such …

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Allen Telescope, Part 2

The SETI Institute is using off-the-shelf parts and techniques borrowed from automobile manufacturers to build a new kind of telescope. More on this less expensive but powerful telescope… Dave DeBoer is a researcher with the SETI Institute in California. He and his team are designing and building a new kind of telescope that’ll be used to …

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Allen Telescope, Part 1

To search for signs of life in outer space, scientists have had to borrow time on huge radio telescopes such as the Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico. How a new kind of telescope could change all that? For 40 years, scientists have looked for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth. Most of these searches have used …

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Astrobiology Grant

Researchers are competing for grants in a relatively new field — astrobiology. We’ll talk with the head of one team that plans to search for life in some harsh places — deep in caves and up in the clouds . If you were going to build a house, or start a business, you wouldn’t do …

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Universe on Empty

The universe is in its infancy. Stars and planets form, and galaxies shine. But what will the universe be like when it runs out of energy? Will there come a time in our universe when all available fuel for stars and galaxies is used up? What will happen to the universe then? We asked astronomers …

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Moon and Twins

In November, you can spot Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini, ascending in the eastern sky. They’re noticeable for being bright and close together on the sky’s dome. Most people know just two bright stars in the constellation Gemini. Castor and Pollux represent the starry eyes of the two mythological Gemini Twins. Pollux is slightly …

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