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  • Tune in to hear how the year’s finest conjunction is happening. You don’t need a telescope, a star chart, or even need to know a single star or constellation. Two of the brightest objects in the sky will move closer and closer together, a sight you don’t want to miss.
  • Comet ZTF has gotten a lot of media headlines, talking about the great green comet. But the word in astronomy circles is very different. So if you haven’t seen it, and I’m willing to bet that you haven’t, don’t feel bad. In truth, the comet only looks green in long exposure astrophotography. If you managed to find it in the night sky through binoculars, which is pretty hard even for backyard astronomers, it looks like a faint, gray, fuzzy ball with no tail. And a comet with no tail is hardly spectacular as a visual object.
  • On Feb. 5, the full moon will hang high in the sky. Tune in as we explore the spheres of the universe; the sun, the moon and the stars. Their divine shape dazzled ancient cultures – a belief we still preserve in customs today.
  • This week we’ll study seven basic facts about the universe like how Aristarchus, 18 centuries before Copernicus, declared the earth orbits around the sun.
  • Our current, bright sun makes winters more moderate than they’d otherwise be. In the southern hemisphere, enjoying summer right now, the added boost of having this 7% greater Sun intensity should theoretically make seasons more extreme than ours, with hotter highs and colder lows. It doesn’t happen only because they have far more ocean acreage, and water moderates temperatures so that our planet’s two hemispheres, remarkably, balance out.
  • Dec. 26 around 5 p.m. you’ll see a lovely, low crescent Moon meeting a moderately bright star in the southwest, which is the planet Saturn. Then Dec. 29 look high up to see the half Moon floating right next to the night’s most brilliant star, which is the planet Jupiter. They’ll be out until midnight, with an eye-catching loveliness that has no controversy at all.
  • The public is obsessed with planets beyond our solar system. One team announced finding a planet orbiting the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, with the putative planet orbiting Alpha’s companion, the much smaller and dimmer star known as Proxima. Its nearness at only 4.2 light-years has generated excited talk about sending a space probe.
  • For the next month, Mars hovers at its closest to us, which it briefly does only every two years. Its closest approach happens the first day of December. But since Mars doesn’t change much from night to night, there’s no need to wait. You can go out the next clear evening. Mars is that super bright star low in the east at 7 p.m., with even brighter Jupiter far to its right. If you have a telescope also check out Saturn, the lowest star in the west.
  • In our hyperbole-minded culture, it's easy to exaggerate. But one planet never disappoints. Through any telescope with more than 30x, Saturn elicits gasps. Oddly enough, photos of the ringed world do not pack the same visceral punch. You have to see it for yourself.
  • Pluto stood at opposition last week, meaning it’s now at its brightest of the year.But that's not good enough. It's so dim, even large backyard telescopes show it as a faint speck lost among the zillions of other dots in Sagittarius. At magnitude 14.3, Pluto is 600 times fainter than the dimmest naked-eye stars.