Star Light, Star Bright...

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On Aardvarchaeology, Martin Rundkvist tells us that the Geminid meteor shower is peaking tonight, so if you've got any wishes on the back burner, now's your chance to make them. Of course these shooting "stars" are really bits of extinct comet 3200 Phaethon's "sandy exhaust trail" burning up in the atmosphere—if you prefer some main sequence hydrogen-fusing affairs, head over to Greg Laden's Blog to learn about Alcor and Mizar. This binary star system in the constellation Ursa Major has been known since antiquity, but—surprise!—Mizar is actually four stars, and Alcor is now known to be two, meaning that there are a total of six stars linked together in an "orgy of gravitational interaction." If that's still not big enough for you, revisit the galactic potpourri of Hubble's Ultra Deep Field on Starts With A Bang!, where Ethan Siegel explains the optical implications of imaging from infrared wavelengths. And in another post, Siegel recommends we get our hands dirty at Galaxy Zoo, a website where anyone can help astronomers classify galactic collisions by matching up real images from a telescope to computer simulations.

Links below the fold.

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