Up close with comets
March 8th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

Rare naked-eye comet now visible

By Amanda Barnett, CNN

A rare treat for sky watchers is hovering overhead.

Comet Pan-STARRS is now visible on the western horizon in the Northern Hemisphere and viewers in the United States may be able to see it with the naked eye.

The comet has been visible through telescopes in the Southern Hemisphere for a while and amateur photographers are now posting sightings online from the Northern Hemisphere.

Scientists estimate that naked-eye comets happen only once every five to 10 years, according to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Filed under: In Space
Science Seat: How to make a planet
An artist's conception of a disk of dust and gas surrounding a young star. Such disks are the birthplaces of planets.
March 8th, 2013
07:30 AM ET

Science Seat: How to make a planet

By Nana Karikari-apau, CNN

Editor's note: The Science Seat is a feature in which CNN Light Years sits down with movers and shakers from different areas of scientific exploration. This is the fifth installment.

Sarah Dodson-Robinson is an assistant professor in the astronomy department at the University of Texas at Austin. She is a member of the American Astronomical Society and recently won the organization's Annie Jump Cannon Award for her work exploring how planets form.

Dodson-Robinson says she enjoys discovering new things and coming up with new pieces of knowledge, no matter how small. She describes it as a “wonderful feeling.”

CNN Light Years recently chatted with Dodson-Robinson about her research. Here is an edited transcript:

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Filed under: In Space • Science Seat
Global Warming is epic, long-term study says
A scientist looks at an ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide coring site.
March 8th, 2013
05:29 AM ET

Global Warming is epic, long-term study says

Global warming has propelled Earth's climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest - in just one century.

A heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years, said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.

Things are poised to get much worse.

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