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Astronomy, December 25th, 2009
By: Charles Rector | Newsletter | 5:16pm, December 30, 2009
Astronomy Newsletter
December 25, 2009
News: This week's astronomy headlines

NASA/Tom Tschida

Airborne telescope will unlock secrets of the cosmos
The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy jet flew for 2 minutes with the telescope's doors fully opened. Read more.

Help us plan the April 2010 issue of Astronomy magazine by voting on one of the two potential covers. Pick your favorite cover and tell us what you like about it. Your input is greatly appreciated.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/DLR

Glint of sunlight confirms liquid in northern lake district of Titan
Scientists have theorized for 20 years that Titan's cold surface hosts seas or lakes of liquid hydrocarbons. Read more.

NASA/CXC/UCSC/L. Lopez et al.
Supernova explosions stay in shape
This discovery shows that the remnants retain information about how the star exploded even though hundreds or thousands of years have passed. Read more.

Hubble finds smallest Kuiper Belt object ever seen
This is the first observational evidence for a population of comet-sized bodies in the Kuiper Belt that are being ground down through collisions. Read more.

David A. Aguilar, CfA

Astronomers find super-Earth using amateur, off-the-shelf technology
The newfound world, GJ 1214b, is about 6.5 times as massive as Earth. Read more.

 Sponsored by 1-800 Destiny

Manufacturers of Curved Vane Telescope Spiders and accessories
Our spiders have been installed in small home scopes to large professional-grade telescopes. Our designs are proven, and stable; our selection is diverse enough to fit almost any application. or call
 Inside Astronomy's January 2010 issue

The January Astronomy magazine is on newsstands now. This issue explains how cosmologists are working to better understand the universe's large-scale structures, reveals possible candidates for what the Star of Bethlehem could have been, provides 40 winter deep-sky objects to target, and more. The issue also includes the four-page supplement, "2010 Guide to the Night Sky."

Get a sneak peek inside the issue here.

Watch Editor David J. Eicher's inside look at the January 2010 issue.

We've also updated the latest Web extras that complement January's stories. Subscribers:

  • Fly through the nearby universe

  • Peruse a gallery of some of winter's best targets

  • Read user reports on screw-in solar filters

  • And more!

  • Not a subscriber? Subscribe today to take advantage of all Astronomy and have to offer.
     Free Gift Guide

    Before you put together your wish list, be sure to download your free gift guide. The Astronony Advertiser's Gift Guide is full of great products and services. With a photo, brief description, and clickable link, searching for information is easy and fun. To get your copy, simply click here.
     Get more from


    *Observe easy-to-find objects in the 2009-2010 winter sky
    Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Richard Talcott explains how you can see a meteor shower, several bright planets, notable constellations, and bright deep-sky objects this winter. Watch the video.

    *This video is available to registered members of Registration is FREE, so sign up today at!

    More videos:
    Winter observing targets for small telescopes, with Astronomy Senior Editor Michael E. Bakich
    Winter observing targets for large telescopes, with Astronomy Editor David J. Eicher

    Not a subscriber? Subscribe today to watch all's subscriber videos.

    Watch more videos from Astronomy magazine.
     Don't miss this special issue

    Observing tools: This week's sky, StarDome, podcast

    December sky highlights
    Astronomy: Roen Kelly
    Jupiter and Mars draw the top headlines in December's evening sky. But while Jupiter is nearing the end of its current evening visibility, Mars is just beginning. Mercury joins the action right after sunset starting the second week of the month.

    At the other end of the night, Saturn returns nicely in the morning sky. Its nearly edge-on rings are starting to widen slowly. To cap all this planetary excitement, two fine meteor showers and a partial eclipse of the Moon add to the festive season as 2009 draws to a close.

    Astronomy magazine subscribers have access to the full version of The Sky this Month at Magazine subscribers also have access to advanced features with StarDome PLUS.

    To find out when more observable objects will appear in your sky, visit's sky events calendar.

    Each week, Astronomy magazine Senior Editor Michael Bakich, a master at explaining how to observe, posts a podcast about three objects or events you can see in the sky.

    Targets for December 25, 2009-January 1, 2010
    Naked eye: Hind's Crimson Star
    Small telescope: Pirate Moon Cluster
    Large telescope: Embryo Nebula

    Listen to podcast.

    This week's podcast is sponsored by Celestron.

    The weekly podcast is available to registered members of Registration is FREE, so sign up at to make sure you don't miss an episode!
     Don't miss out on Astronomy's 2010 calendar!

    Community: Blogs, reader gallery, forums, polls

    Tony Hallas brings everything you ever wanted to know about imaging
    Posted by Michael E. Bakich, Senior Editor
    California amateur astronomer Tony Hallas is one of the top celestial photographers on Earth. Starting with Astronomy's September 2010 issue, he'll share his expertise with our readers in a monthly column called "Astroimaging with Tony Hallas." Read more.

    Read all of the editors' blog posts here.

    Michael Deger took this image of the Helix Nebula from Munich, Germany.

    Picture of the day:
    Jellyfish Nebula
    Justin Yaros took this image from Palos Verdes Peninsula, California.
    Ralf Vandebergh captured this image August 27, 2009.

    Check out all our galleries:
  • Observing: Observing reports

  • Observing equipment: Telescopes

  • Observing Equipment: Accessories

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