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The Moon Is Distancing Itself From Earth

    The Moon Is Distancing Itself From Earth By Judith E Braffman-Miller Long ago, when our Solar System was still forming, our lovely lunar companion was much closer to Earth than it is now. Today, Earth’s Moon is the largest object suspended in our sky after sunset, and for eons it has captivated humans with its reflected silver-golden glow…

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Asteroid 2002 AJ129 to Fly Safely Past Earth Super Bowl Sunday

Asteroid 2002 AJ129 will make a close approach to Earth on Super Bowl Sunday, February 4, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. PST. At the time of closest approach, the asteroid will be no closer than 10 times the distance between Earth and the Moon. 2002 AJ129 is an intermediate-sized near-Earth asteroid, somewhere between 0.3 miles and 0.75 miles across. It was…

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Mercury Helps Reveal Our Middle-Aged Sun’s Secrets

    Mercury Helps Reveal Our Middle-Aged Sun’s Secrets By Judith E Braffman-Miller About 4.56 billion years ago, our Solar System was born from the relic, shredded fragments left behind by the long-dead, nuclear-fusing furnaces of previous generations of ancient stars. Today, our Sun is a lonely sphere of roiling, glaring, mostly hydrogen gas, but it probably was not always…

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Hot Jupiter Planets: Any Way The Wind Blows

    Hot Jupiter Planets: Any Way The Wind Blows By Judith E Braffman-Miller A generation ago, planet-hunting astronomers discovered the first exoplanets in orbit around distant stars beyond our own Sun–and these new discoveries have since provided a treasure chest filled with remarkable brave new worlds for scientists to ponder. Some of these remote planets show an almost eerie…

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How Our Solar System Formed: The Answer Is Blowin’ In The Wind

    How Our Solar System Formed: The Answer Is Blowin’ In The Wind By Judith E Braffman-Miller Our solitary Sun blasts our daytime sky with its shimmering fires, sending both welcoming warmth and light to Earth. Our Sun, and its familiar family of planets, moons, and smaller objects, emerged about 4.56 billion years ago from jumbled relics left over…

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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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A Dynamic Duo Of Alien “Oddballs” May Solve The Puffy Planet Puzzle

    A Dynamic Duo Of Alien “Oddballs” May Solve The Puffy Planet Puzzle By Judith E Braffman-Miller Hot Jupiters are wacky Wonder Worlds that cling closely to their parent-stars in incredibly speedy, roasting orbits. These bewitching behemoths are gas giant exoplanets with orbital periods that are less than 10 days long, and their extremely hot orbits around their roiling,…

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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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