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.
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.
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.
No one alive had seen Venus transit when the 2004 one occurred. And if you missed that and the 2012 transit, there isn't another until 2117. However Mercury also transits the Sun – and these transits happen more often. But what's a transit and what do we learn from it?
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.
White dwarfs are the corpses of medium-sized stars that have run out of fuel. They typically have the mass of the Sun, while being about the size of the Earth. It's no wonder that early twentieth century astronomers were dumbfounded by them.
From ancient times to the present, fifteen Solar System objects have been called planets. But there are only eight planets now. Find out what happened to the other seven and how the planets got their names.
Christmas is a special day with a magic of its own. A Christmas eclipse is a great treat and centuries ago a long-awaited comet finally showed up on Christmas day. On the other hand, imagine spending the holidays a quarter of a million miles from home, as the crew of Apollo 8 did.
One of the greatest astronomers of all time was a Danish nobleman with a metal nose, who was also a publisher, an alchemist and the Imperial Mathematician. His astronomical observations were the key to the modern view of the Solar System.
NASA's New Horizons has been to visit Pluto, and we will be learning new things about it for years to come. Meanwhile here's a profile of dwarf planet 134340 Pluto, largest object in the Kuiper Belt and former planet.