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News

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, April 21, 2017

Palomar Observatory spots a gravitationally lensed supernova

Gravitational lensing is a phenomenon that bends and magnifies light from distant objects, allowing astronomers to essentially see behind objects in the nearby universe. The effect occurs when a massive object — usually a galaxy or a galaxy clu...

What Earth looks like from other planets

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft is on the final chapter of its almost 20-year-long mission, scheduled to end September 15, 2017. While Cassini was passing by Saturn on April 12, 2017, it took one last image of Earth from Saturn, 870 million miles (1....

Inside the plan to send two Cassini clones to Neptune and Pluto

In 1991, Alan Stern, Jonathan Lunine, and David Morrison presented a proposal to NASA to venture forth into unexplored territory. If they’d had their way, NASA would have sent probes to Neptune and Pluto. Their concept called for the crafts to...
Thursday, April 20, 2017

27 best Hubble images on its 27th birthday

This article originally appeared in our April 2015 issue. The calendar says a quarter-century has passed since the space shuttle Discovery lifted its cargo of dreams into low Earth orbit. Elevated above the distorting effects of our planet’s t...

The largest SETI initiative ever is reviewing 11 promising signals that probably aren’t aliens

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has been going for nearly 60 years now, and there have been plenty of false alarms in that time and nothing substantial. Now, a giant SETI initiative is looking into its initial round of data to fol...
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Finding the Milky Way’s hydrogen halo

Our galaxy is missing matter — baryonic matter, to be specific. Baryonic matter consists of baryons: particles such as protons and neutrons. It’s the everyday matter around you and makes up every element on the periodic table. Astronomers...

This potentially balmy super-Earth makes for a tempting case study in habitability

A new, nearby exoplanet could be just the boilerplate needed to find out if life could exist in untold numbers of star systems. The planet, LHS 1140b, is 39 light years away. It orbits a small M-dwarf star every 24 days. The planet itself is 1.4 tim...

The beating heart of NGC 4696 can send out galaxy-sized shockwaves

The Centaurus galaxy cluster is home to hundreds of galaxies. Within its center sits NGC 4696, a large elliptical galaxy at a distance of about 145 million light-years from Earth. Like most galaxies, NGC 4696 contains a central supermassive black hol...

Dark skies could make for a spectacular Lyrid meteor shower

The annual Lyrid meteor shower peaks the night of April 21/22. Although the Lyrids don’t get as much recognition as many summer and autumn meteor showers do, it often puts on nice display. In a good year, observers using just their naked eye ca...
Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Should we reconsider our view on Neptune’s largest moon?

Before it was eclipsed by Jupiter and Saturn’s ice-rich moons, Neptune’s largest moon Triton made a play to be recognized as one of the most interesting satellites in the solar system. But new research reveals Triton as a potential water-...

Landslides may show Ceres’ ice covered hills

Ceres has been an interesting crash course in dwarf planet weirdness for a while now, with data on ice, salt, water, bright spots, and more slowly trickling out of the Dawn spacecraft. Now a study led by Georgia Institute of Technology and published ...
Monday, April 17, 2017

Miniverse will take you on a road trip through the solar system.

Given that there’s the entire universe to contend with, the solar system seems pretty tiny by comparison. But even though it’s but a small piece of the cosmos, our solar system still contains some vast distances. It might be hard to imagi...

NASA offers first live 360 stream of rocket launch

Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft will launch on Tuesday, April 18 during a 30-minute window that starts at 11:11 a.m. EDT. Not only is NASA, in coordination with United Launch Alliance and Orbital ATK, offering a live stream of the rocket launch...
Friday, April 14, 2017

Astronomers are closing in on exoplanetary rings

Planetary rings abound in our solar system — every outer planet possesses rings, from Jupiter through Neptune. But only one extrasolar planet, J1407b, has a confirmed system of rings (largely because the rings are so large, extending out to the...
Thursday, April 13, 2017

Can you imagine the sky in five million years?

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to stare up at the sky millions of years from today? Would things look exactly the same, or would the sky be totally unrecognizable? Wonder no longer — the European Space Agency (ESA) has just releas...

Enceladus’ sea floor has hydrothermal vents like ours

In 1977, a group of marine researchers discovered something they’d only before theorized: cracks in the ocean floor releasing heat, warming up (and often boiling) the ocean around it. They also found mollusks in them, and subsequent vents have ...
Wednesday, April 12, 2017

These are the strangest oceans in our galaxy

We’ve found liquid water in lots of places in our solar system, but astronomers say there may be even stranger oceans out there, from charged plasma to sticky, gooey tar. Some of the oceans on this list are still completely hypothetical, but t...

A faint, distant object is found at the outskirts of the Kuiper Belt

Astronomers revealed more information about the very distant solar system object 2014 UZ224, aka DeeDee. DeeDee is a trans-Neptunian object (TNO) that was first discovered by a team of astronomers led by David Gerdes, a scientist at the University o...
Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Horizons enters hibernation

After getting halfway to its next target, New Horizons entered a well-deserved hibernation on April 7. New Horizons was launched in January 2006 and headed to explore Pluto. Between the last hibernation and entering its current hibernation, New Horiz...
Monday, April 10, 2017

Hubble captures auroras on Uranus

Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope show two different observations about Uranus: one photo shows the ring and the other shows auroras. Auroras are light shows caused by electrically charged particles getting caught up in strong magnetic fiel...

Asteroid will get close to Earth next week

Astronomers will get an exciting viewing opportunity next week when an asteroid gets close to Earth. On April 19, asteroid 2014 JO25 will come about 1.1 million miles (1.8 million kilometers) away at its closest point. NASA said it will be a close a...
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