2020 probably wasn't anybody's favorite year. But there was a lot to celebrate of astronomical interest. It was so hard to choose a top ten, some similar events were grouped together. Asteroids, the Moon, Mars and the Sun all feature, and there were two splendid skywatching events.
New Horizons was nearing Pluto in 2015 and the mission team would need names for the surface features they discovered. So they appealed to the public. The names would
be informal ones, but they hoped the International Astronomical Union (IAU) would make them official.
Valentine's Day is no assurance that love is in the air. Hearts and flowers aren't guaranteed to come your way. You may or may not get one of the billion valentine cards that are sent each year. But heart shapes are everywhere and anyone can admire them. Here is a cosmic selection for everyone.
February second is Groundhog Day, a day that's a mystery to people outside North America. Even in the USA and Canada, it's more a bit of fun than a holiday. Yet however superficial it is now, it's the offshoot of traditions that began in Europe thousands of years ago.
When a rare planetary alignment opened up the outer Solar System, Voyager 1 was sent forth. It observed the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn and their moons. At nearly 4 billion miles from the Sun, the probe turned and took one last picture of home before continuing its journey to the stars.
Most people think of Galileo as the man who is a symbol of the heroic voice of truth against a powerful reactionary Church. However this mythic Galileo is not the one Dava Sobel's book, "Galileo's Daughter", reveals through his faith, his work and his daughter's love.
What's the difference between a meteor, a meteorite and a meteoroid? Is one of them the same as a shooting star? And what about asteroids and planetoids - which one is a minor planet? If any of these terms have puzzled you, here is a guide to help you out.