SPACE NEWS: Astronomers have found a new exoworld, less than twice the size of Earth, which orbits the sunlike star Kepler-160, just over 3,000light-years from our solar system. The planet’s distance from its star appears similar to that of Earth’s distance from our sun.

That would mean it receives about the same amount of energy from its star as Earth does from our sun. This would make it the most similar to the Earth-sun system of any exoplanetary system discovered so far, almost a mirror image.

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JUPITER AND PLUTO: The year 2020 is exceptional for Jupiter and Pluto. These two worlds are having a triple conjunction this year. They’ll come together, move apart, and come together again three times in 2020. The first conjunction took place on April 5.

The second one will come on June 30, and the final one on November 12. Because all of these Jupiter-Pluto conjunctions happen when these two planets are in our night sky (as opposed to being lost in the sun’s glare), this year’s Jupiter-Pluto alignment may be the best for centuries to come.

Two planets are said to be in conjunction whenever they reside north and south of one another on the sky’s dome. Conjunctions of Jupiter and Pluto recur in periods of 12 to 13 years.

Far and away, 2020 presents the best alignment of Jupiter and Pluto in the 21st century (2001 to 2100).

This year, very bright Jupiter and very faint Pluto will remain near each other throughout the year, closely aligned in front of the constellation Sagittarius. Pluto requires a telescope to be seen. No telescope? Try NASA’s Night Sky Network at: https://nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov/event-list.cfm to find star parties and/or astronomy clubs near you.

Where are these worlds now? Both rise into the southeast sky around nightfall or early evening in late June/early July 2020.

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