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Astronomy & Observing News

Top Astronomy News Stories of 2020

This has been a year rocked by a global pandemic that has left its mark on nearly every aspect of society. Wildfires, social unrest, and loss have only added to our sense of struggle. Yet it has also been a year of celestial wonders, astronomical discoveries, and space successes. We…

Leonid fireball crossing Orion

Night Sky Sights

The Best Meteor Showers in 2021

Sky & Telescope predicts that the year's best meteor shower will be the strong, fireball-rich Perseids in mid-August.

The Moon and the Winter Hexagon

Night Sky Sights

Watch the Moon Journey Across the Winter Hexagon

About once a month this winter, we can watch the Moon take a four-day journey across a field of stars termed the "Winter Hexagon."

Orion Nebula and the Running Man Nebula

Celestial News & Events

What to See with Your New Telescope

Maybe you just got a shiny new telescope. Awaiting you are stupendous, faraway things in the night sky. Surely you're itching to try it out....

Aldebaran vs. the Sun

Night Sky Sights

Meet Aldebaran, the Bull’s Eye

Learn more about Aldebaran, the red-orange giant star that "follows" the Pleiades across the sky.

Sunspot, in detail

Solar System

Will the Next Solar Cycle Surprise Us?

The coming months will test a new prediction that — contrary to most expectations — forecasts one of the strongest sunspot cycles on record.

Planets

Jupiter and Saturn Embrace in Solstice Conjunction

Jupiter and Saturn fashion the Great Conjunction of 2020 when they pair up on December 21st, the winter solstice. That evening they'll be closest in nearly 400 years.

Jupiter and Saturn in conjunction

Astronomy and Society

The 400-Year Rhythm of Great Conjunctions

A new visualization reveals the centuries-long pattern of "Great Conjunctions" between Jupiter and Saturn over the centuries.

Chang'e 5

Astronomy in Space with David Dickinson

Chang'e 5's Lunar Sample Arrives on Earth

China’s Chang’e 5 lunar sample-return capsule has arrived safely on Earth.

Babylonian planet grouping

Astronomy and Society

Ancient Babylonians Witnessed Unique Planetary Gathering

Jupiter and Saturn's "Great Conjunction" is a noteworthy event, but on the morning of March 25, 185 BC, an even grander planetary gathering greeted Babylonian sky watchers

Gamma-ray burst

Stellar Science

Astronomers Find Most Distant Gamma-ray Burst Yet

From the farthest-known galaxy in the observable universe comes the brightest and most energetic of events: a possible gamma-ray burst.

Totality from Las Grutas, Argentina

Celestial News & Events

Totality Reports from South America

Remote locations, rainy weather, and even a pandemic couldn't keep diehard observers from viewing December 14th's total solar eclipse.

illustration of active galaxy

Black Holes

Survey Finds Newborn Black Hole Jets in Distant Galaxies

Astronomers have spotted a surprising number of quasars with jets launched within a couple of decades.

Path of the solar eclipse on December 14, 2020.

Eclipses

A South American Total Eclipse

The Moon’s shadow visits Chile and Argentina again. If you can't be there, watch online!

Side-view of Heracles' remains

Milky Way

Astronomers Discover Galactic “Fossil” Inside the Milky Way

Thousands of stars that once belonged to an ancient galaxy are inside our own.

Cosmology

A Dark Matter-less Galaxy, Explained (Maybe)

An international team of astronomers has explained the lack of dark matter in a distant dwarf galaxy — another galaxy stole it.

Geminids from Tenerife

Celestial News & Events

A Banner Year for the Geminid Meteor Shower

With no Moon to brighten the night, this year's rich Geminid meteor shower should be one of the best ever. Find a spot away from city lights, dress warmly, and don't forget the hot chocolate.

Hayabusa 2

Astronomy in Space with David Dickinson

Hayabusa 2 Returns Sample of Asteroid Ryugu to Earth

The predawn operation to recover the Hayabusa 2 sample-return capsule in the Australian Outback was a success.

Stellar Science

Gaia Makes Most Accurate 3D Map of the Milky Way Yet

Astronomers have released a new, extremely detailed three-dimensional census of our Milky Way galaxy.

Chang'e 5 panorama

Astronomy in Space with David Dickinson

China's Chang'e 5 Collects Samples, Departs from the Moon

China's Chang’e-5 ascent vehicle has departed Oceanus Procellarum with pieces of lunar soil after a lightning-quick sample collection.

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