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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.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Sky This Week from August 23 to September 1

Friday, August 23 Observers of the outer solar system can now get a good view of Uranus during the late evening hours. The ice giant planet rises shortly after 10 p.m. local daylight time and climbs 20° high in the east by midnight. It reaches it...

Life on alien worlds could be more diverse than on Earth

Earth is the only place in the universe where we know life exists. But with billions of other star systems out there, it might not be the best place for life. In a new study, astronomers modeled the potential for life on other watery planets and foun...
Thursday, August 22, 2019

The latest photos of Hayabusa2's mission to asteroid Ryugu

The solar system is a crowded place. Earth may be the only planet with humans on it, but many worlds are home to robots — rovers and landers and orbiters, gathering data for astronomers. Asteroid (162173) Ryugu joined them last summer, and has ...

ISS gets a new docking port for future spaceships

Commercial crew vehicles now have a second parking spot at the International Space Station (ISS). Two NASA astronauts successfully installed a new docking adapter Wednesday for incoming SpaceX and Boeing vehicles that may arrive with crew as early as...
Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Why do we still believe in 'lunacy' during a Full Moon?

It’s sometimes called the “Transylvania effect.” In the dark sky, the clouds shift, revealing the Full Moon’s eerie silver gleam, and the people on Earth below go mad. It’s a story that gets repeated by doctors, teachers...

8 new repeating fast radio bursts offer new opportunities for insights

Fast radio bursts are one of the most puzzling phenomena in astrophysics. But a new discovery of eight new sources for them might help scientists figure out what’s causing these intense outbursts of energy coming from distant galaxies. The new...

3 Earth-sized exoplanets found just 12 light-years away

There is a triplet of Earth-sized planet candidates orbiting a star just 12 light-years away, a new study has found. And one appears to be in the habitable zone. All three candidates are thought to be at least 1.4 to 1.8 times the mass of Earth, and ...
Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A brief history of Saturn's amazing rings

Many dream of what they would do had they a time machine. Some would travel 100 million years back in time, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Not many, though, would think of taking a telescope with them, and if, having done so, observe Saturn and its...

Second giant planet found around nearby star Beta Pictoris

The Beta Pictoris system swirls with activity — a dusty disk of debris, comets falling toward the central star, and at least one giant planet. And now, astronomers have uncovered evidence for yet another planetary Goliath, some nine times the m...

Astronomy magazine’s Space & Beyond subscription box

I was 14 years old when I first saw Saturn through a telescope, its rings glowing a vibrant yellow-orange. In that moment, the seemingly two-dimensional landscape of Earth’s surface was irreversibly transformed. From then on, I was hooked on th...
Monday, August 19, 2019

Exoplanet's vaporized atmosphere reveals rare look at its rocky surface

Rocky planets just a little larger than Earth are some of the best targets for finding life in our local cosmic neighborhood. They’re abundant. But it’s not just the size that has to match Earth. Our planet wouldn’t be the life-shel...
Friday, August 16, 2019

Spitzer spots a sideways galaxy in infrared

The force seems to be strong in this galaxy far, far away. NGC 5866 sits 44 million lightyears from Earth, and, from our vantage point, looks uncannily like a Star Wars-worthy lightsaber. NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope recently captured the pic...

The Sky This Week from August 16 to 25

Friday, August 16 Asteroid 15 Eunomia reached opposition and peak visibility just four days ago, and the view tonight is essentially the same. The main-belt object traverses the sky from dusk to dawn and climbs halfway to the zenith in the southern...

A massive star completely destroyed by a supernova is puzzling scientists

In November of 2016, the sharp-eyed Gaia spacecraft spied a supernova that exploded some billion light-years from Earth. Astronomers followed up with more telescopes, and quickly realized that this supernova – dubbed SN2016iet – was an od...
Thursday, August 15, 2019

Jupiter may have been hit by a massive proto-planet long ago

In 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter with the goal of peering through Jupiter’s dense clouds to reveal the giant planet’s inner secrets. Along with the stunning pictures Juno has sent back, it’s also used its ins...

The windswept craters of Mars' Terra Cimmeria

The ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft recently revealed the bleak yet beautiful terrain of Terra Cimmeria in Mars southern highlands. The stunning new views highlight valleys carved by liquid water that once flowed across the surface, windswept dun...

ExoMars fails another parachute test, threatening 2020 mission

ExoMars is a planned mission to Mars set to launch in the summer of 2020. But a recent series of parachute test failures may threaten that launch date. ExoMars is being built by a joint operation between the European and Russian space agencies (ESA a...

New date for 'Late Heavy Bombardment' may change life's timeline on Earth

The solar system once experienced a meteor shower of epic proportions: Asteroids whizzed around the inner planets, crashing down in a rain of fire that left their surfaces scarred for billions of years. Astronomers typically call this period the Late...
Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Supernova dust found hidden in antarctic snow

Antarctica is one of the most pristine places on the planet. Thanks to its generally inhospitable nature, as well as its natural isolation, it’s a good place for astronomers to search for meteorites and other materials that fall from the sky. T...
Monday, August 12, 2019

Perseid meteor watch: Summer's prolific light show takes a hit

A bright Moon seriously hinders the Perseid meteor shower this year. The shower’s peak occurs the morning of August 13, just two days before Full Moon. On the 13th, the Moon sets around 4 a.m. local daylight time, and the first hints of twiligh...

The origin of life: Not as coincidental as once thought?

(Inside Science) -- Experts believe the building blocks of life first bumped into each other about 3.5 billion years ago. This serendipitous collision somehow helped form the first rudimentary cell -- and the first life on Earth. At least, that's bee...

Hubble captures dance of two merging galaxies

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope caught two galaxies merging in a dance-like fashion. The pair, dubbed UGC 2369, have been pulled together by gravity for quite some time now. And this pull creates the woven fabric of the blues and browns seen in t...

Astronomers catch a pulsar 'glitching,' offering insights into the strange stars

When a massive star dies, it leaves behind a dense core called a neutron star. Many of these exotic suns spin rapidly, sending out beams of radiation like lighthouses, and these are called pulsars. They can rotate thousands of times a second, and spi...
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