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Pluto And Charon: Their True Colors Are Shining Through

    Pluto And Charon: Their True Colors Are Shining Through By Judith E Braffman-Miller We are a curious species; we like to explore alien places that lie far beyond the comfortable world that we know. And so we sail into the mysterious and dangerous darkness of distant space to see that which no one has ever before seen, kissed…

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Pluto: The Magnificent And Gigantic Comet

    Pluto: The Magnificent And Gigantic Comet By Judith E Braffman-Miller Ephemeral and fragile, comets that come streaking inward towards the melting heat and light of our Star are the wandering refugees from a distant twilight region of ice. There, in our Solar System’s deep freeze, myriad comet nuclei dance around our Sun beyond the orbit of Neptune–the outermost…

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An Asteroid “Weirdo” In The Kuiper Belt

    An Asteroid “Weirdo” In The Kuiper Belt By Judith E Braffman-Miller Asteroids and their comet-cousins are the relics of a bygone era when our Sun and its familiar family of objects were still in the process of forming. During this very ancient time, our Solar System was a “cosmic shooting gallery”, where relatively small and primitive primordial bodies–called…

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A Hidden Moon For A Distant Mini-World?

We are an inquisitive species. For all of our human flaws, one of our more admirable traits is our need to explore–to go where no one has ever gone before, to see what no one has ever seen before. This distant hum of singing Sirens perpetually haunts our dreams, tantalizing our imaginations, luring us into regions of distant, frigid darkness–far, far away. NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has now left Pluto and its quintet of moons behind, and is well on its way to explore more distant regions of the “Kuiper Belt”, where a vast multitude of icy worldlets swim in a mysterious sea of everlasting twilight. In August 2015, a Kuiper Belt Object, with the lengthy name of (486958) 2014 MU69, was chosen as New Horizons’ next target of exploration–and this enchanting little world, that does its mesmerizing dance in our Solar System’s frigid Twilight Zone, is now whispering to us some of its well-kept secrets–it may have a hidden moon all its own!

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Distant Icy Worlds: The Dancers And Their Dance

    Distant Icy Worlds: The Dancers And Their Dance By Judith E Braffman-Miller Performing their mysterious, mesmerizing dance in the alien gloom of a perpetually frigid twilight, trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) keep themselves well-hidden from the prying eyes of curious astronomers who seek to find them in our Solar System’s most secretive and remote corners. The first TNO to be…

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Triton: The Mystery Moon That May Be Neptune’s Ruthless Guest

    Triton: The Mystery Moon That May Be Neptune’s Ruthless Guest By Judith E Braffman-Miller Banded, beautiful, and a bewitching sapphire blue, the ice-giant planet Neptune is the most distant major planet from our Star–and it is also circled by a bizarre large moon that may not have been born a moon at all. Neptune’s moon, Triton, may really…

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In Our Solar System’s Dark Deep Freeze, Poor Pluto Is Much Too Cold

    In Our Solar System’s Dark Deep Freeze, Poor Pluto Is Much Too Cold By Judith E Braffman-Miller In the dark, distant, and mysterious outer fringe of our Solar System, the dwarf planet Pluto dwells with a multitude of others of its frozen kind–circling our Star in a domain of everlasting twilight. Astronomers are only now first beginning to…

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Ring Around Haumea: Pluto’s Peculiar Neighbor

Ring Around Haumea: Pluto’s Peculiar Neighbor By Judith E Braffman-Miller Far from our fiery Star, and well-hidden from our view in a distant region of perpetual twilight, there lies a belt composed of icy, frozen objects. Located beyond the orbit of the deep-blue, banded, ice-giant planet, Neptune–the most distant known major planet from our Sun–this myriad of strange objects, composed…

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Wandering Stars And Cosmic Disasters

Wandering Stars And Cosmic Disasters By Judith E Braffman-Miller Comets are delicate and transient visitors from our Solar System’s frigid, dark twilight regions beyond the orbit of the outermost major planet, Neptune. These dazzling objects come screaming into the warm and well-lit inner Solar System, close to the brilliant fires and melting heat of our Sun, with their sparkling thrashing…

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