Eye To The Sky


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Eye to the Sky-Column - Halloween has roots in the stars

Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, is an astronomical holiday.

Eye to the Sky-Column - Pluto’s demotion lends focus to smaller objects in space

Nine years ago this week Pluto lost its status as a planet. The International Astronomical Union, the organization that names astronomical objects and defines terms, determined Pluto did not meet its new definition of a planet.

Eye to the Sky-Eye to the Sky - Perseid shower promises space light show next week

Every year in mid-August, the Earth intersects the orbit of the Swift-Tuttle comet. When Earth intersects the comet’s orbit, it enters a debris field created from the rocks and dust released by the comet as it melts when it passes near the sun.

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Eye to the Sky-Column - Spacecraft to observe Pluto after nearly 9½-year voyage

This NASA spacecraft was launched on Jan. 19, 2006, and has been traveling to Pluto for the last 9½ years. It’s traveling too fast to go into orbit around Pluto, but on the morning of July 14 it will pass by 7,000 miles from the surface at nearly 8.6 miles per second.

Eye to the Sky-, Science & Tech-Scott - Mars rover Curiosity takes break as sun comes between it, Earth

The Earth and Mars will be on opposite sides of the sun for most of the month of June, an alignment called Mars solar conjunction.

Eye to the Sky-Column - Solar system plays out on Walla Walla’s Planet Walk

You can explore the solar system on a nice day in Walla Walla by taking the Planet Walk.

Eye to the Sky-Column - Earth gets ringside seat on Saturn views in May

Saturn, the sixth planet from the sun, is the gem of the solar system because of its icy white ring system.

Eye to the Sky-Column: Now is perfect time to observe Jupiter

Now is one of the best times this year to view the planet Jupiter — not because of the calendar, but because of the positions of Jupiter and the Earth in their orbits around the sun.

Eye to the Sky-Column: Asteroids, comets have similar origins, different traits

The European Space Agency has a satellite orbiting a comet, and NASA is planning a mission to an asteroid. I often get asked, What is the difference between a comet and an asteroid?

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Eye to the Sky-Column: Stargazers can take Taurus by the horns in February

If you found Orion on the few clear nights we’ve had this month, then finding its neighbor, the constellation Taurus, will be easy.

Eye to the Sky-Column - Winter’s star constellation opens door to discovery

The winter solstice — the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere — occurred last Sunday at 2:57 p.m. local time. This is good news and bad news for astronomers.

Eye to the Sky-Winter owes gratitude to celestial latitude

You may have noticed the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. You may have also noticed the sun appears to be moving south, getting closer to the southern horizon each day.

Eye to the Sky-, Local-Long, strange trip to comet landing for Europe spacecraft

The European Space Agency is about to pull off a first — landing a spacecraft on the nucleus of a comet.

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Eye to the Sky-Solar wind shapes, colors northern lights

In the past few weeks I’ve been asked several questions about the northern lights, also called the aurora borealis. In this month’s column I will answer some of these questions and introduce you to this mysterious and unpredictable display of light in the night sky.

Eye to the Sky-Website offers launchpad for volunteer astronomers

When you see images and hear reports from NASA missions, do you ever wish that you could be part of the team? If so, your wish may be coming true.