Top Ten astronomy Articles

Here are the top ten articles for the Astronomy Site! These rankings are live and get reset at the beginning of each month, so check back often to see what your fellow visitors are most interested in!

1. Names for Charon
When New Horizons made its historic fly-by of Pluto in 2015, it wasn't only Pluto that was surprising. Pluto's moon Charon also turned out to be complex and interesting. This meant names were needed for Charon's surface features too. A dozen have been approved, and exploration is the big theme.

2. Telescopium and Microscopium
Nicholas-Louis de Lacaille invented over a dozen constellations to fill gaps in the southern sky map. Instead of looking to classical mythology, he celebrated the instruments of the Enlightenment. Two small faint constellations represent extremes of visual aids – the telescope and the microscope.

3. Draco – the Dragon
An enormous dragon circles the northern celestial pole. It's Draco, the constellation that contains a star that was the pole star at the time of the pharaohs, numerous impressive deep sky objects, and dozens of exoplanets.

4. Serpens – a Tour of the Celestial Snake
Snakes were revered in ancient Greece. They represented wisdom, healing and rebirth. The constellation Serpens was included in a 2nd century star catalog, but it's much older than that. Seen through telescopes, it's rich in deep sky objects.

5. Ophiuchus – the Tour
Ophiuchus the Snake Bearer represents the healer Asclepius who was a god of healing in classical times. He was associated with snakes – symbols of wisdom and regeneration – and in the sky he's entwined with Serpens.

6. Octans – the Octant
Octans was one of the southern constellations created by 18th-century French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille. He used them to fill the gaps in the southern sky map, naming them for tools of the arts and sciences of his day. An octant was a navigation device that preceded the sextant.

7. Passport to the Universe – film
Can you imagine a trip from our Solar System into the Virgo Supercluster 60 million light years away? Then whizzing home via a shortcut through a black hole? If not, here's good news: the American Museum of Natural History has not only imagined it, but also imaged it, in Passport to the Universe.

8. Moons – Super, Blue, Black, Blood
Social media and tabloid journalism are full of special names for the Moon and their supposed associated disasters or delights. Have you wondered what a supermoon is? Or a Blue Moon, Black Moon, or Blood Moon? Are they really rare astronomical events and portents of doom?

9. Apollo 11: The Inside Story - book review
The 50th anniversary of the first manned Moon landing was on July 20, 2019, and there were books galore to celebrate it. Apollo 11: The Inside Story tells the fascinating story of how the space race was a battlefront in the Cold War as two competing ideologies vied for supremacy.

10. What Is a Nebula
Nebulae are titanic clouds of gas and dust – celestial gossamer in the spaces between the stars. They're stellar nurseries, stellar graveyards and dark constellations. Some of their mysteries have been penetrated by infrared telescopes, but the cloaking dust still keeps some secrets.

Be sure to visit the Astronomy Archives for all the articles!

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