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New Horizons spots Pluto’s small moons

19 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Exactly 85 years after Clyde Tombaugh’s historic discovery of Pluto, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft set to encounter the icy dwarf planet this summer is providing its first views of the small moons orbiting Pluto.

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Sun’s close encounter with Scholz’s Star

18 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Astronomers using large telescopes in South Africa and Chile identify the closest known flyby of a star to our Solar System: a low-mass star system nicknamed “Scholz’s Star” that passed through the Oort Cloud 70,000 years ago.

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Dawn captures sharper images of Ceres

17 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Now less than three weeks away from its historic rendezvous with dwarf planet Ceres, the latest images from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft show a myriad of craters and mysterious bright spots on the tiny world.

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Photos from Rosetta’s Valentine’s Day comet close-up

17 February 2015 Stephen Clark

Europe’s Rosetta spacecraft — six months into its research mission at comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko — made its closest flyby of the comet’s boulder-strewn nucleus Saturday, capturing new photos and measurements to help scientists unravel how the duck-shaped body is evolving on its orbit around the sun.

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ALMA sees super stellar nurseries at heart of starburst galaxy

16 February 2015 Astronomy Now

Starburst galaxies transmute gas into new stars up to 1,000 times faster than typical spiral galaxies like the Milky Way. To try and understand why, an international team of astronomers used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimetre Array (ALMA) to dissect a cluster of star-forming clouds at the heart of NGC 253 — one of the nearest starburst galaxies.

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The day it rained fire over Chelyabinsk

15 February 2015 Keith Cooper

Two years ago, on February 15th, the morning routine of the Chelyabinsk region in Russia was shattered by the arrival of a 20-metre-wide meteoroid that dramatically fragmented in the atmosphere. The ensuing shockwave shattered windows, damaged buildings and 1,491 people received injuries. What have we learned since 2013?