September 2022

Southern Constellation Grus from Our Dark Sky

Fomalhaut: Not So Lonely After All

by David Prosper


Fall evenings bring a prominent visitor to southern skies for Northern Hemisphere observers: the bright star Fomalhaut! Sometimes called “The Autumn Star,” Fomalhaut appears unusually distant from other bright stars in its section of sky, leading to its other nickname: “The Loneliest Star.” Since this star appears so low and lonely over the horizon for many observers, is so bright, and often wildly twinkles from atmospheric turbulence, Fomalhaut’s brief but bright seasonal appearance often inspires a few startled UFO reports. While definitely out of this world – Fomalhaut is about 25 light years distant from us – it has been extensively studied and is a fascinating, and very identified, stellar object.

Did the ‘Crater-of-Doom’ Asteroid Have a Little Brother?

By Will Sager

Everybody knows the “Crater of Doom” story because it combines all the elements of a good story: dinosaurs, explosions, fires, and stuff from outer space. If you only recently became sentient, here is a quick recap. One day, about 66 million years ago, the dinosaurs were happily doing whatever dinosaurs do and – ka-blam! – an asteroid of about 10 km in diameter smashed into Earth near Chixulub on the Yucatan peninsula, causing environmental mayhem that wiped out all the non-avian dinosaurs and about 75% of species on the planet. Now there is a new wrinkle to the story. A team of marine geologists report finding another crater that may be the little brother to the Chixulub crater (Nicholson et al., 2022). 


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