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Atom & Cosmos

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Saturn, as photographed about Cassini

CASSINI'S CURTAIN CALL  In 13 years of orbiting Saturn, the Cassini spacecraft has seen the passing of two seasons: northern winter to spring and spring to summer. In this March 2016 image, Saturn's northern summer solstice is approaching. 

diagram of Sprite

THE ITSY-BITSY SPACECRAFT  Prototypes of tiny spacecraft called Sprites are being tested in low Earth orbit. Similarly tiny probes may someday fly to Alpha Centauri.

2017 total solar eclipse

TOTALLY AMAZING  Keon Gibson, an intern for the National Center for Atmospheric Research, shot the moment of totality through a telescope atop Casper Mountain, Wyo., on August 21. The corona stretches around the moon-blocked sun. The planet Mercury is visible in the bottom left.

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