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Red Dwarf feeding material.

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Red Dwarf.
Red Dwarf feeding material to a White Dwarf.

Spaceships Made from Plastic?

Wait, don't throw that garbage bag away. It might come in handy if you wanted to build a spaceship. At least, that's what NASA scientists working on new spacecraft materials are proposing. They've invented a new polyethylene-based material called RXF1 that's even stronger and lighter than aluminum. A plastic material like this is actually surprisingly protective against solar flares and cosmic rays since it doesn't produce "secondary radiation", like aluminum.

Astronomers Look for Help with Cataclysmic Star.

Amateur Astronomers are helping unravel mysteries about about a strange Binary star system. Even though space and ground-based observatories will be observing the cataclysmic variable star AE Aqr, Astronomers are calling on amateurs to make additional observations as well. AE Aqr consists of a Red Dwarf feeding material to a White Dwarf companion star. Instead of striking the white dwarf, this material is flung out of the system by the star's intense magnetic field. Amateurs are being asked to observe this object every night until September 3.

Saturn's Moon Pan.

If you look closely, you can just see Saturn's Moon Pan, making its way in between a gap in the planet's majestic rings. Pan is only 26 km (16 miles) across, and it lives inside the Encke Gap. It's also possible to see the subtle F ring in the upper right-hand corner of the photo. Cassini took this image on August 13, 2005 when it was approximately 2.3 million km (1.5 million miles) above Saturn.

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon Reunited Again.

Once again, the sky is getting ready to put on a beautiful show - one that doesn't require particularly dark skies, a telescope, or lots of time to enjoy. Three of the brightest objects in the sky: Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon will gather close together over the next two weeks. Jupiter and Venus will reach their closest point on September 1, but on September 6, all three will be relatively clustered together. All you have to do to enjoy this spectacle is look to the West after sunset.

Earth's Core Rotates Faster Than Its Crust.

According to new research from geologists, the Earth's core rotates just a little bit faster - about 1 degree per year - than the crust of the planet. The scientists took advantage of historical records for "Earthquake twins" near the South Sandwich Islands. These are quakes that occurred in virtually the same spot with the same magnitude, but were years apart. As the seismic waves passed through the Earth, they were bent as they passed through the Earth's iron core. The shape of this bending has changed over time, indicating the core's faster rotation.

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