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Your online destination for news articles on planets, cosmology, NASA, space missions, and more. You’ll also find information on how to observe upcoming visible sky events such as meteor showers, solar and lunar eclipses, key planetary appearances, comets, and asteroids.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Elon Musk is promising a trip to the Moon next year

Elon Musk has made a very Elon Musk announcement: mentioning, via a Tweet, that SpaceX is going to send two tourists to the Moon and back by the end of next year. That’s pretty ambitious for a company that hasn’t tested its heavy lift ro...
Monday, February 27, 2017

Astronomers find evidence of rocky planets around a dead star and a failed one

A pair of binary “stars,” marked SDSS 1557, have evidence of a rocky planet. They’re calling it a Tatooine system. The truth is weirder than that. Both of the two stars in the system are not quite stars. One is a white dwarf, the ...

Watch the ‘Ring of Fire’ Eclipse

On February 26, 2017, the Moon moved between Earth and the Sun, providing a stunning annular eclipse. An annular eclipse is different from a total solar eclipse in that it leaves a small slice of sunlight visible as the Moon’s outer shadow pass...
Friday, February 24, 2017

Celebrate Supernova 1987A’s 30th birthday with a stellar image set

On the night of February 23, 1987, the first light reached Earth from the death of a massive star in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). For those in the Southern Hemisphere, a new star appeared in the sky and remained visible to the naked eye f...
Thursday, February 23, 2017

Glow-in-the-dark gas lights up the cosmic web

Lyman-alpha emission is a specific wavelength of light given off by neutral hydrogen as it cools after heating that allows astronomers to trace the location of this gas. Lyman-alpha blobs are large structures of gas emitting at this wavelength that a...

Learn the ins-and-outs of gravitational waves in just three minutes

Last year’s discovery of gravitational waves was a monumental discovery in physics. The signals from the merger of two black holes sent ripples not just through space-time, but through the physics community as well. It was one of the final piec...
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This tiny solar system packs in seven Earth-size planets

TRAPPIST-1 has a solar system like no other. The tiny, tiny red dwarf is just barely big enough to be considered a star and is, radius-wise, a hair bigger than Jupiter. When it was announced last May there was some excitement: the system had three Ea...

The Europa mission is heading onto phase B

After successfully completing its Key Decision Point-B review on February 15, NASA’s Europa space exploration mission has been given the green light to move onto its initial design phase at the end of this month. Every NASA mission must pass e...
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The brightest, most distant pulsar has a complex and powerful magnetic field

The supermassive black holes found at the centers of galaxies are known for their extreme X-ray emission. This emission is associated with the massive hot disks of gas and debris that circle these monstrous black holes before it is consumed. Howeve...

This group wants Pluto to be a planet again — and bring hundreds of objects along with it

In 2006, science text books were changed and the hearts of millions broken when the International Astronomical Union decided to give Pluto a new classification: dwarf planet. The logic was to make it fit more with a group of new large objects discove...

This chart puts the moons of the solar system into perspective

Our moon is not the biggest moon in the solar system — not by a long shot. In fact, the Moon is only the fifth biggest satellite in our solar system, wedged right between Io and Europa in size. The real winners are Titan and Ganymede, both of w...
Friday, February 17, 2017

Scientists are months away from peering into black holes for the first time

The Event Horizon Telescope Array is almost certainly one of the most geographically widespread array telescopes ever “built”: spanning four continents, including Antarctica, the array taps into the potential of the Atacama Large Millimet...

Juno will remain in its current orbit around Jupiter

Alas, poor Juno’s polar orbit. We knew it. NASA’s Jupiter orbiter, which arrived at our largest planet in July, has been given new mission parameters: stay in its 53-day orbit instead of burning into a 14-day polar orbit. At perijove, th...
Thursday, February 16, 2017

How researchers use solar pressure to study our own star — and maybe reach interstellar space

Light can exert pressure, a fact the $100 million Breakthrough Starshot project aims to harness for interstellar journeys. Now researchers suggest that sunlight applies pressure on the Sun itself, which could help solve the longstanding mystery of wh...

NASA is enlisting the public to find Planet Nine

Last year, astronomers Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin shocked the astronomy community with the announcement of a possible ninth planet in our solar system. There was just one problem: they hadn’t seen it. Instead, it was inferred from the bi...

Scientists write a hypothetical Europa landing mission report

A recent report highlights the amazing possibilities for a Europa lander in the quest for life on other worlds. There are currently plans in process for a Europa flyby mission to launch in 2020, but a flyby can’t directly test for life. By bei...
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Scientists narrow down list of landing sites for Mars 2020

NASA’s Mars 2020 rover is the next major interplanetary mission that will be sent to the Red Planet to look for signs of past habitability, martian life, and will collect samples to return to Earth. The rover is set to land in February 2021, bu...

High school students identify an ultra-rare star

The stars shining in the night sky might seem steady and reliable, but in truth, they are constantly changing and evolving. Out of the 100 billion or so stars that inhabit the Milky Way, a little more than 400,900 are classified as variable, meaning ...
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