Public Outreach

Artist’s conception of a Venusian volcano. From

Rivers of molten rock slither across the surface, sulfuric acid rains down, and all beneath an ocean of toxic carbon dioxide. The planet Venus, in contradiction to its namesake, is a hateful place, and though it is now a hellscape, Venus probably started out like Earth. Understanding how these sister planets diverged so radically is one focus of NASA’s recently selected VERITAS mission. As it turns out, Venus’ violent past may be Earth’s future.

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On May 26, most of the Americas and eastern Asia will be treated to a total lunar eclipse. While lunar eclipses are perhaps less spectacular than solar eclipses, they are more common and much easier to view.

I thought it might be helpful to provide a short primer on lunar eclipses in general and how, when, and where to view this one in particular for the Boise metro area. Most of what I say here will be relevant for other regions as well.

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The Zodiacal light, a feature that requires unusually dark skies.

Summer is the prime stargazing season. Venture out under the crystal Moon to watch Scorpius chase Orion from the sky. But if you stay within Boise’s city limits, you may find it harder to see some of your favorites. As Boise grows, so too does its footprint in the sky. However, there are many places in Idaho largely unmarred by the glare of municipal growth.

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