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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.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Sky This Month: December 2022

This month, all five naked-eye planets are visible in the evening sky soon after sunset. Mars grabs the most attention, reaching its most favorable Northern Hemisphere opposition in years. It’s even occulted by a bright Full Moon for parts of the U.S...

Remembering Arecibo Observatory, two years after its collapse

Early on Dec. 1, 2020, 800 tons of steel collapsed into a yawning, forest-fringed concrete bowl once featured in a James Bond movie. But it took no fevered gunfire between Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean to bring down what had once been the world’s larg...

Spring 2022 featured two stunning eclipses

Spring 2022 was an exciting period for eclipses, both solar and lunar. This comes as no surprise since such eclipses always occur in pairs, two weeks from one another. The spring events opened the 2022 eclipse season and each had their delights &mdas...
Wednesday, November 30, 2022

How Vera Rubin and Nancy Grace Roman transformed astronomy

Changing your name is not a decision to be taken lightly. So when two of the most powerful and revolutionary upcoming astronomical observatories were renamed, people took notice. Say goodbye to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Wide Field ...

Distant suns provide the most precise test of electromagnetism yet

There’s an awkward, irksome problem with our understanding of nature’s laws which physicists have been trying to explain for decades. It’s about electromagnetism, the law of how atoms and light interact, which explains everything fr...

Rising star in astronomy: Kenneth Wong

What fascinated Kenneth Wong about astronomy as an undergraduate was that despite its grand scale, “physics is the same on Earth as it is out there. So a lot of the principles you learn in the classroom, you apply them, and they work on large s...

The launch of Artemis 1 captivated countless space enthusiasts

From Cocoa Beach to the cruise ship mecca of Port Canaveral, from Space View Park in Titusville to Kennedy Space Center itself, more than 100,000 people are estimated to have witnessed the launch of Artemis 1 in person — and millions more tuned...
Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Microbes could potentially survive on Mars for 280 million years

It’s not the freezing cold or lack of water that fundamentally limits life on Mars; it’s the radiation. While many bacteria have no problem reviving themselves after enduring centuries or even millennia as freeze-dried microbial mummies, ...

Citizen scientists are using JWST to study mysterious brown dwarfs

When NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launched on Christmas Day, 2021, it heralded a new era of space observation for astronomers. The powerful telescope’s ability to see further into infrared wavelengths, and with higher resoluti...

WATCH: Starmus VI rocks Armenia

More than a decade ago, two inventive minds teamed up and launched the Starmus Festival, an international celebration of science and music. Its creators, astronomer Garik Israelian and astronomer/musician Brian May, envisioned a week in which anyone ...
Monday, November 28, 2022

We’re a step closer to using Moon dirt for construction in space

NASA has just launched its first rocket in the Artemis program, which will, among other things, take scientific experiments to produce metal on the Moon. In recent years, a number of businesses and organizations have ramped up efforts to establish te...

Ask Astro: Can an observer ever see something fall into a black hole?

Does an object approaching the event horizon of a black hole ever actually breach the event horizon from the point of view of observers far outside of the black hole? Tom Dempsey Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania This is a fantastic question, and the ...
Friday, November 25, 2022

The Sky This Week: Mars makes its close approach

Friday, November 25 Asteroid 4 Vesta is plying the skies of southeastern Aquarius. You’ll find it near the planetary nebula NGC 7293, better known as the Helix Nebula, this evening, when Vesta sits just over 3° north-northeast of the dying ...
Thursday, November 24, 2022

Artemis: Why it may be the last mission for NASA astronauts

Neil Armstrong took his historic “one small step” on the Moon in 1969. And just three years later, the last Apollo astronauts left our celestial neighbour. Since then, hundreds of astronauts have been launched into space but mainly to the Earth-orbit...
Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Observing Basics: How to observe variable stars

Arguably, a hobby’s greatest benefit is derived from its rewards. I’ve been an avid backyard astronomer for 60 years. I still recall the night in 1963 when my high school friend Ray Gerbi showed me Saturn and its rings through his 80x Gil...
Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Strange Universe: Avoiding a galaxy-sized ego

It’s almost a cliché that the astronomy passion produces a sense of grandeur — the joyous experience of being taken outside of oneself. Little discussed is its ability to create the opposite: an inflated feeling of self-worth. Ego ...
Monday, November 21, 2022

Rising star in astronomy: Jedidah Isler

These days, Jedidah Isler doesn’t have much time to research blazars — supermassive black holes devouring material in distant galaxies — though she’s still interested in how they produce their jets. Instead, as the White House...

Ask Astro: How many stars are born each year in the Milky Way?

On average, how many stars are formed each year in the Milky Way? Doug Kaupa Council Bluffs, Iowa There are many ways to estimate the star-formation rate of the Milky Way, ranging from counting young stars directly to measuring the brightness...

Jay Pasachoff, globetrotting solar eclipse expert, dies at age 79

Jay Pasachoff, a solar astronomer who witnessed 74 solar eclipses over the course of his life, died at his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts, on Sunday, Nov. 20. He was 79 years old. Pasachoff was Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy and Director...
Friday, November 18, 2022

The Sky This Week: Orion the Hunter rises

Friday, November 18 The solar system’s second-to-last planet, Uranus, passes close to a star in southern Aries the Ram tonight. At magnitude 5.7, the distant world is easy to pick up with binoculars in the dark evening sky. By 8:30 P.M. local t...

What Earthly objects can be seen from space?

When famed Star Trek actor William Shatner embarked on a space tourism flight last year, the view brought him to tears. He later described crying while looking back at Earth, as well as a profound sense of grief — as if he had just learned about the ...

Ask Astro: What are a supermassive black hole’s jets made of?

What exactly are M87* and other supermassive black holes’ jets made of? William Montgomery Cincinnati, Ohio About a century ago, astronomers first noticed what appeared to be a ray of light shooting away from the center of M87, an elliptic...

Snapshot: King of Monsters takes shape in the Cone Nebula

Reminiscent of the scaly and monstrous form of Godzilla, this image of the starry region surrounding the Cone Nebula was taken as part of the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) celebration of six decades of operation. In the constellation ...

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