SKYWATCH: GAIA LAUNCHES TO MAP MILKY WAY, SEE VENUS’S THIN CRESCENT, AND MORE

News
Gaia lift-off

ESA / S. Corvaja

Gaia Launches to Pinpoint a Billion Stars

December 18, 2013                                                                | Gaia launched flawlessly Thursday morning at 9:12 UTC (4:12 a.m. Eastern Standard Time). This long-awaited mission will precisely map the distances and motions of 1 billion stars in our galaxy. > read more

Comet ISON: What We’ve Learned

December 17, 2013                                                                | Comet ISON’s untimely demise didn’t prevent scientists from studying it, revealing the comet to be smaller than previously thought and harboring high concentrations of carbon. > read more

Chang’e 3 Brings Rover to Lunar Surface

December 14, 2013                                                                | For the first time since 1976, a spacecraft has landed safely on the Moon. Within hours, the Chinese spacecraft Chang’e 3 had deployed an instrumented rover. > read more

Putting Exoplanets on the Scale

December 19, 2013                                                                | Astronomers have come up with a new technique for measuring an alien planet’s mass, and therefore its composition and potential habitability, even when standard methods don’t work. > read more

The Crab’s Surprise Molecule

December 16, 2013                                                                | Astronomers have identified a molecule containing the noble gas argon in the Crab Nebula. It’s the first such molecule detected in space and confirms predictions of where a certain argon isotope is created in the cosmos. > read more

Observing

Venus on May 31, 2012

See Venus’s Thin Crescent

December 17, 2013                                                                | Venus usually appears pretty boring through a telescope. But from mid-December to mid-February it’s a spectacularly long, thin crescent. > read more

Tour December’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

December 1, 2013                                                                  | December’s crystal-clear skies offer Venus low in the west after sunset, a “tower of brilliance” (including Jupiter) rising in the east, and the prospect of a nice showing by Comet ISON in the predawn sky early in the month. > read more

Community

Comet ISON on Nov. 15, 2013

Damian Peach / SkyandTelescope.com

S&T‘s Comet ISON Photo Contest

December 6, 2013                                                                | The “comet of the century” famously lost its battle against the Sun, but our photo contest carries on with a chance to win some hefty prizes. And there’s only about 1 week to the deadline! > read more

Advanced Imaging Conference 2013 Videos

December 20, 2013                                                                | Watch senior editor Dennis di Cicco’s interviews with vendors at the October 2013 Advanced Imaging Conference. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Pre-dawn view, looking southwest

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

December 20, 2013                                                                  | As the solstice passes, the Great Square turns on end and a Christmas-ornament star emerges through bare trees. > read more

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