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Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Our solar system is huge, so let us break it down for you. Here are 5 things to know this week: 

1. Make a Wish

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

The annual Leonids meteor shower is not known for a high number of “shooting stars” (expect as many as 15 an hour), but they’re usually bright and colorful. They’re fast, too: Leonids travel at speeds of 71 km (44 miles) per second, which makes them some of the fastest. This year the Leonids shower will peak around midnight on Nov. 17-18. The crescent moon will set before midnight, leaving dark skies for watching. Get more viewing tips HERE.

2. Back to the Beginning

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Our Dawn mission to the dwarf planet Ceres is really a journey to the beginning of the solar system, since Ceres acts as a kind of time capsule from the formation of the asteroid belt. If you’ll be in the Washington DC area on Nov. 19, you can catch a presentation by Lucy McFadden, a co-investigator on the Dawn mission, who will discuss what we’ve discovered so far at this tiny but captivating world. Find out how to attend HERE. 

3. Keep Your Eye on This Spot

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

The Juno spacecraft is on target for a July 2016 arrival at the giant planet Jupiter. But right now, your help is needed. Members of the Juno team are calling all amateur astronomers to upload their telescopic images and data of Jupiter. This will help the team plan their observations. Join in HERE.

4. The Ice Volcanoes of Pluto

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

The more data from July’s Pluto flyby that comes down from the New Horizons spacecraft, the more interesting Pluto becomes. The latest finding? Possible ice volcanoes. Using images of Pluto’s surface to make 3-D topographic maps, scientists discovered that some mountains on Pluto, such as the informally named Piccard Mons and Wright Mons, had structures that suggested they could be cryovolcanoes that may have been active in the recent geological past.

5. Hidden Storm

Solar System: 5 Things To Know This Week

Cameras aboard the Cassini spacecraft have been tracking an impressive cloud hovering over the south pole of Saturn’s moon Titan. But that cloud has turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg. A much more massive ice cloud system has been found lower in the stratosphere, peaking at an altitude of about 124 miles (200 kilometers).

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