The Solar System
If you love seeing spectacular celestial bodies getting close to one another, then get ready! Just after sunset on February 25, 2012 there will be an amazing winter planetary alignment. It really doesn’t get any easier than this my fellow space fans. Here are your instructions: when the sun goes down on February 25th, put your winter coat on (optional), go outside, take a deep breath, look to the west and say WOW!
Did you know that on September 27, 2007, NASA launched a mission to rendezvous with a protoplanet? Well, here it is almost four years later and NASA reported that the DAWN probe successfully entered into orbit around Vesta on July 15, 2011. We are just beginning to see the first images of Vesta, an object in the asteroid belt which is DAWN’s first stop in it’s ten year mission.
Planet Earth is the third planet closes to the sun. Using the old saying, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas,” it can be remembered that the order of the planets goes like this: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto (if you consider it to be a planet). Accordingly, it would seem as though either Venus or Mars would be the closes planet to Earth. But which is it?
Have you ever been out on a very dark, moonless night after all the remnants of sunlight have faded away and noticed a faint triangular shaped glow extending upwards into the sky? This relatively rare phenomenon is called the Zodiacal Light. Why is it rare? Conditions have to be good to see it because moonlight and light pollution can easily hide it.