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10 Things: November 23
23 Nov 2015
(Source: NASA)

Ten things you need to know about our solar system this week


1. Dancing with a Star
Our local star, better known as the sun, teems with activity. This month NASA has been tracking regions that burst with magnetic loops. The Solar Dynamics Observatory is one of several space-based assets that keep tabs on the sun daily, watching as charged particles trace the magnetic field, forming bright lines as they emit light in ultraviolet wavelengths.

+ See the latest images of the sun, updated every few minutes
+ Learn more about our friendly neighborhood star

2. Moonshine
On Nov. 23, the Cassini spacecraft will fly near Saturn's icy moon Tethys. Several instruments aboard Cassini will collect data, including an eight-frame color image mosaic. Between Nov. 27 and Dec. 2, Cassini will have very limited communications with Earth, because Cassini will enter solar conjunction, when Cassini and Saturn are on the other side of the Sun from Earth.

+ Ride along with Cassini

3. Thinking Way Outside the Box
The cubical satellites known as CubeSats may be small, but they're having an outsized impact on space exploration. NASA's 2016 CubeSat Launch Initiative Opportunity offers educators and their students a chance to design missions for CubeSats. The proposal deadline is Nov. 24.

+ Apply here

4. An Idyll for Ida
On Nov. 24, the asteroid Ida makes its closest approach to Earth (at a very safe distance). Ida is the first asteroid found to have its own moon, and the second ever visited by a spacecraft. Its close encounter happened in 1993 as Galileo flew by en route to Jupiter.

+ Pay your own visit to Ida

5. A Relatively Important Development
Nov. 25 is the 100th anniversary of the day Albert Einstein first officially presented his idea that time runs more slowly near a strong source of gravity. Einstein's theories have both proven invaluable to solar system exploration, and been proven by it.

+ Here's just one example

6. The Moon Will Occult Aldebaran
That may sound ominous, but all it means is that Earth's moon will pass in front of the giant red star Aldebaran on Nov. 26. Aldebaran is the bright "eye" of the constellation Taurus. The event will only be visible in some parts of North America.

+ Stargazers can find details here

7. One Wild Ride, One Year Later
What a year it's been for the Rosetta mission since the Philae lander came to rest on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November 2014. A steady flow of data from the orbiter, together with several days of information sent from the lander, is providing a detailed picture of this remnant from the creation of the solar system.

+ See a video summary of what we've learned

8. The Planets in the Palm of Your Hand
You can take an interplanetary trip any time. Bookmark this site for starters, then check out the complete list of NASA apps and image sources. There are dozens of resources to explore.

+ Take a look

9. Update from Pluto
The New Horizons team continues its weekly releases of data newly downlinked from beyond Pluto. Even after all the amazing sights so far, there's still much more to come, with more than two thirds of the data collected during the flyby still onboard the spacecraft.

+ Keep up with the latest

10. A Tool Box Full of Stars
Give our Star Took Kit a try. You'll find NASA tools and information for armchair astronomers as well as for solar system and deep sky observers. Check back often as different members of our team populate the toolbox with their favorite tried-and-true resources.

+ Open the took kit

See previous editions of 10 Things.