Pluto is smaller than our Moon, but it's the biggest known dwarf planet. On the inner edge of the Kuiper Belt, the Sun is so far away it would look like a bright star from there. And Pluto can get so cold that its atmosphere freezes and falls to the ground.
Some people think that Venus could be habitable. And perhaps you might daydream about being closer to the Sun when the long winter nights come, and the temperature drops. After all, "Earth's twin" should be a nice place, shouldn't it? Let's talk about that.
Easter Island and a distant dwarf planet – what do they have in common? The answer is Makemake – the creator god in the Rapa Nui mythology of Easter Island. How did his name come to be given to a small frozen body seven billion kilometers (four billion miles) from the Sun?
Mercury has a moon? Could the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect give you a floating feeling? Virgin Galactic has bought Pluto and has plans for getting it reinstated as a planet? Nope. April Fool hoaxes and jokes.
You've made it through the winter and watched the food stores diminish. But the days are getting longer and green shoots are appearing. Spring is on the way. The festivals of the vernal equinox emphasize rebirth and renewal. In many cultures the equinox is also the New Year.
Titan was a mystery for three and a half centuries. It's a giant moon shrouded in impenetrable clouds, and has only recently begun to share its secrets. Why do scientists say it's like Earth? Is it time to book a vacation to visit the lakes and mountains of Titan?
A mile above the California desert stands Palomar Observatory. Its 200-inch mirror was officially impossible to make, but George Ellery Hale's vision inspired a nation in the grip of the Great Depression and it became the jewel in the crown of astronomy for the second half of the twentieth century.
Observers used to call them “vermin of the skies”. Asteroids weren't interesting and their streaks ruined sky photos. But no more! They can tell us about the early Solar System. One of them may have finished off the dinosaurs, and more could be coming our way.