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The sky today is placid and blue - not much to write about. So here are some tidbits from far above the weather.

First, NASA's twin STEREO spacecraft were successfully launched last night from Cape Canaveral, placing two Maryland-built (Johns Hopkins' Applied Physics Lab) experiments into space to- eventually - provide scientists with a stereoscopic view of events on the sun. The "space weather" data they return should give us some deeper insights into the physics of the solar storms that cause not only beautiful auroral displays, but also radio interference, satellite damage and geomagnetic storms on Earth.

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Also, one of NASA's extraordinary twin Mars rovers - Spirit - is marking its 1,000th day on the Red Planet - far longer than anyone expected these craft to survive. To note the occasion, the space agency has posted a very nice panoramic postcard from the Martian surface. You can find it here.

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Finally, astronomers say Comet SWAN, which is currently in the evening sky, has had an outburst of dust and gas that has boosted its visibility from binoculars-or-telescopes-only to naked-eye brightness. I can't vouch for it because I haven't looked in a couple of weeks. (When I tried to find it early this month with binocs, I managed to spot a faint blur that was probably the comet, but it was pretty underwhelming.) Anyway, if you want to try to find it tonight, the forecast for stargazing is terrific. Here's more on the comet's exploits and how to find it.

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