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College of Arts and Sciences Astronomy

Dr. Universe: Why does the moon have phases?

Dr. UniverseWhen astronomers looked at the night sky long ago, they also wondered about questions just like this one. You know, I was also curious about why the moon looks so different at different times of the month.

I visited with my friend Jose Vazquez, an astronomer at WSU Vancouver, to learn more about it. He said that the way the moon looks to us has to do with two other objects in » More …

Dr. Universe: What are shooting stars made of?

Dr. UniverseIf you are anything like me, you probably like watching for shooting stars in the night sky. A shooting star, or a meteor, is usually a small rock that falls into Earth’s atmosphere.

When I went to visit my friend Michael Allen, a senior instructor of astronomy and physics at WSU, he told me a lot of shooting stars are no bigger than a pencil eraser.

“The earth is going to pass a random pebble once in a while and that will make a streak in the sky,” he said. » More …

Mysteries from the moon’s past

The MoonWhile the moon is uninhabitable today, there could have been life on its surface in the distant past.

In fact, there may have been two early windows of habitability for Earth’s moon, according to a study online in the journal Astrobiology by Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University astrobiologist. » More …