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Last week, we told you about NASA's Dawn spacecraft, which was just about to make its historic first orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres.

Well, I'm happy to report that as of early morning on March 6th, in the U.S, it arrived. The little probe that could has been captured by Ceres's gravitational pull, and is getting itself positioned to start making observations of the biggest object between Mars and Jupiter.

A routine communications check was scheduled right around the time Dawn was supposed to enter orbit, and the signal reported that all was going according to flight plan.

But it'll be a while, like a month, until we hear any real news about the dwarf planet, because Dawn is on its far side right now. So from the probe's perspective, the Sun is only illuminating a thin crescent, which makes it hard to see.

So we have to wait for the probe to get on our side before we can learn more. For now, Dawn is busy getting itself in position, swooping around Ceres to an orbit 75,000 kilometers high, and then spiraling down to a 13,500 kilometer orbit next month.

The next set of pictures is expected to arrive in early April, when Dawn will be 33,000 kilometers away from Ceres. Those images will have nearly ten times the resolution of Hubble's best photos, even though only seventeen percent of the planet's disk will be visible.

But as Dawn comes around to the near side of Ceres, more of the disk will start to show up in pictures, and the more intense scientific observations will begin around April 23rd.

Meanwhile, it's time for a changing of the guard on the International Space Station. By the time you see this, Expedition 42 will likely have ended, with the return of three crew members: Aleksandr Samokutyaev, Elena Serova, and Barry Wilmore.

The three have been on board the ISS since Expedition 41started last September, and they stayed through Expedition 42working on the scientific experiments and station maintenance that were part of the mission's goals.

The other three members of the crew, Samantha Cristoforetti, Anton Shkaplerov, and Terry Virts, will stay behind to be a part of Expedition 43which will officially begin as soon as this latest crew returns home. 

Expedition 42 focused on a wide variety of science, from finding out whether microgravity has epigenetic effects on roundworms (the results are still pending) to measuring the distribution of particles like dust and smoke in Earth's atmosphere. Wilmore and Virts also completed three spacewalks in the last few weeks to prepare the station to handle new transport ships that will be sent up from private spaceflight companies. The rest of the new crew is scheduled to launch on March 27th.

Expedition 43 will only be a couple months long, ending this May. But that will mark the start of what NASA is calling the "one year mission," with astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko staying aboard the station for a full year to help work out some of the challenges involved in future deep space missions.

And as for the rest of us stuck here on Earth, there's still plenty going on: namely the total solar eclipse that's coming up on March 20th, the first since 2012. The Moon will pass in front of the Sun at exactly the right distance from Earth to block out the Sun completely. And you'll get to see it... if it's a clear day and you happen to live in the Faroe Islands or Svalbard, Norway. This is one of those eclipses that happens near the North Pole, so there aren't very many populated areas that'll get to witness the event.

In fact, as the Moon moves in front of the Sun, its full shadow, or umbra, will pass right over the polar ice cap. Of course you could always join one of the special solar eclipse cruises that have been set up to go out into the Norwegian Sea, but if you're willing to settle for a partial eclipse, you have a lot more wiggle room. The partial eclipse will be visible throughout all of Europe, the western part of Asia, and the northern half of Africa. But the only part of North America that will be able to see it is the very northeastern-most slice around Newfoundland and Labrador. The first areas to see the partial eclipse will spot it at 7:41 AM local time in western Africa, and the eclipse will end for the eastern-most viewing locations in mid-Russia, Mongolia, and northern China around four hours later. The total eclipse, on the other hand, will first be visible at 9:09 AM off the Faroe Islands, and the very last glimpse will be right near the North Pole at 10:22.

If you're going to miss out, don't worry. The next total solar eclipse is only a year away in March 2016, and it will be visible from southeast Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. And fear not, American continents: a total eclipse will be sweeping straight through the United States in August of 2017, and the partial eclipse will be visible throughout North America and the northern half of South America. So mark your calendars.

And in the meantime thanks for joining me for SciShow Space News. If you want to keep exploring the universe with us, just go to youtube.com/SciShowSpace  and subscribe.

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