Daniel Johnson is a Wisconsin-based freelance writer and professional photographer and the co-author of over a dozen books. He’s a longtime amateur astronomer and fortunate enough to live in a rural region with excellent seeing conditions. You can view some of Dan’s photography at www.foxhillphoto.com.
Meet Spica, the "ear of grain" in the constellation Virgo. This bright star is actually part of a binary orbiting so closely, they tug each other out of spherical shapes and whirl around each other every four days.
Meet Vega, the fifth-brightest star in the night sky and the most brilliant star in the constellation Lyra. Vega is in the prime of its life on the main sequence, but it's notable for its speedy spin and infrared-radiating debris disk.
So far, humans have sent five probes into space that are or will go far beyond the solar system: the Pioneers, the Voyagers, and New Horizons. As an exercise in fun, here's how you can find those probes' locations on the sky.
Meet Regulus A, dubbed "Little King" and "Heart of the Lion," among the 25 brightest stars in the sky. The star belongs to a complex system, including a close white dwarf companion that makes its ultimate fate uncertain.