Haumea is a dwarf planet in the Kuiper Belt, a region of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune. It's a bizarre little object whose discovery was controversial, has the shortest day of any known large body, and is one of family of objects produced by a massive collision in the early Solar System.
Barely visible to the unaided eye, Messier 8 (M8) – the Lagoon Nebula – lies about five thousand light years away in the constellation Sagittarius. It's over a hundred light years across, an enormous turbulent stellar nursery.
Imagine the scene: a starry night in mid-December. As your eyes begin to adjust to the darkness, you start to see movement in the sky. At some point you definitely see a shooting star – properly called a meteor. Welcome to what many people think is the year's best meteor shower, the Geminids.
If you're dreaming of a white Christmas, the cosmos may have something of interest. How about deep snow on one of Saturn's moons, a gigantic Christmas tree whose lights are baby stars, a snowman on an asteroid, or an Einstein ring?
In the north of England in the early 17th century, there was an amazing circle of astronomers. They were well ahead of their time, and included the first two people ever to observe a transit of Venus. What ended this brief flowering? Peter Aughton tells the story.
There's a glow on the northern horizon. The Sun set hours ago and there are no city lights there. You could be seeing nature's great polar light show - an aurora. It's most likely if you're fairly far north or south, but a solar storm may include mid-latitudes too.