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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, November 13, 2018

The Small Magellanic Cloud is running out of gas — fast

Just as each successive smartphone companies release includes a higher-resolution camera for sharper, more detailed photos, each new instrument astronomers build reveals the universe in ever-finer detail. In this case, that new instrument is the Comm...

Experience the sound of a martian sunrise

What does a martian sunrise sound like? Now you can find out, as researchers have “sonified” (or turned into sound) an image of the Opportunity rover’s 5,000th sunrise on Mars. The data have been used to create a unique, two-minute ...
Monday, November 12, 2018

A tale of two asteroids: The Phaethon-Pallas connection

Nataša Todorović, a research associate at the Astronomical Observatory Belgrade, Serbia, uses mathematics to study the complex dance between and among asteroids and planets. And now, she’s uncovered a fascinating connection between 2 Pal...

Some of Earth’s water came from a stream of hydrogen long ago

Forming an Ocean When you look out at the ocean, it’s difficult to imagine the swaying body of water being any other way. But, says a team of researchers, some of the H2O that covers much of our planet’s surface was once something very di...

A ‘dark matter hurricane’ is storming past Earth

There’s a “dark matter hurricane” blowing through our corner of the Milky Way galaxy. Right this second, it’s passing over Earth. And this fast-moving stream could reveal major details about dark matter, a new study finds. Th...

Are the laws of the universe fine-tuned for life?

Humans have often looked at the night sky and wondered if there’s anyone else out there. But stare into that darkness long enough, and many wonder instead: how did we get here? What were the odds, in a universe so enormous and chaotic, that hum...
Friday, November 9, 2018

The sky this week for November 9 to November 18

Friday, November 9 Uranus reached opposition and peak visibility near the end of October, and it remains a tempting target all this week. The outer planet appears in the eastern sky after darkness falls and climbs highest in the south around 10:30 p...
Thursday, November 8, 2018

Dust grains in microgravity show a surprising amount of order

Dust is omnipresent throughout homes and offices around the world. But now, scientists are intentionally bringing the mildly inconvenient nuisance all the way up to the International Space Station to study how dust grains arrange themselves in a micr...

What do we know about 'Oumuamua?

On October 19, 2017, astronomers first saw an object from another solar system traveling through our own. Zipping into our solar system from above, the interloper, now known as 1I/2017 U1 (‘Oumuamua), swung around the Sun and shot away again, n...

Comet tails can be shaped by the Sun's magnetic field

It turns out that the sun’s magnetic field can shape and push the dust of a comet’s tail, according to a revelation made possible by one young scientist’s innovative new image-processing technique. Comet Dust In 2007, scientists w...
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Astronomers spot one of the oldest stars in the entire universe

One of the oldest stars in the universe is quietly hiding out in the Milky Way some 2,000 light-years from Earth. According to a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, the tiny, 13.5-billion-year-old red dwarf contains barely any heavy ...

Tonight's New Moon makes way for M34

11/7/2018New Moon occurs at 11:02 a.m. EST. At its new phase, the Moon crosses the sky with the Sun and so remains hidden in our star’s glare. With the Moon out of the night sky, it’s a perfect time to explore some deep-sky objects. One...

Ultra-hot metals swirl around this highly magnetic white dwarf

Some 1,200 light-years from Earth, an international team of astronomers has discovered an ultra-hot magnetosphere, or magnetic field, surrounding a star that was once much like the Sun. The star, dubbed GALEXJ014636.8+323615, is a white dwarf, the d...
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Interstellar visitor 'Oumuamua is probably not an alien solar sail

‘Oumuamua — a curious, cigar-shaped rock — was the first interstellar space rock ever discovered in our solar system, though scientists debate whether it should be classified as an asteroid or comet. Now, a new study suggests that t...

Infrared laser technology could attract aliens, but probably won’t

If extraterrestrial life exists in our neck of the Milky Way, how would we make our presence known to one another? Could we just shoot a massive, unmistakable signal out into space? As it turns out, this wild-sounding idea could actually be carried ...

NASA's InSight mission picks perfectly dull landing site

On November 26, NASA’s InSight spacecraft will touch down on an exceedingly featureless patch on the Martian surface. According to the InSight team, this plain, boring spot couldn’t be more perfect. The InSight lander aims to study and e...

Catch a glimpse of Mercury just after sunset

Mercury reaches greatest eastern elongation today - the point where it's farthest from Sun in Earth's sky - and climbs highest in the southwestern sky after sunset. Although the innermost planet stands 23° east of the Sun, it barely scrapes the...
Monday, November 5, 2018

The question "Why is the Sun so hot?" still stumps scientists

The fact that the Sun is hot should not be news to a single person. The Sun’s surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which seems toasty enough. But surrounding the Sun is an atmosphere of sorts called the corona. This envelope of superheat...

Temporary lakes once filled and refilled across Mars’ surface

Today, water on Mars is locked in ice deposits or held in deep underground lakes. But water once flowed across the planet’s surface, and researchers have found further evidence of its presence on the Red Planet. A new study reveals that the He...

IAU vote recommends changing the name of Hubble’s law

The Hubble law has a new suggested name, as members of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) have voted to recommend that the law now be known as the Hubble-Lemaître law. The Hubble law, as it is typically known, describes the effect in w...
Friday, November 2, 2018

OSIRIS-REx gets its first close-up photos of asteroid Bennu

At long last, NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft has delivered an up close and personal view of asteroid Bennu. This composite image was created from eight shot...

Organic carbon on Mars come from natural “batteries”

For years, astronomers have wondered where the Red Planet got its organic carbon compounds, which are associated with life as we know it on Earth. Organic carbon often comes from biological sources on Earth, but researchers have been working to figur...

Saturn’s moon Dione has mysterious stripes all across its surface

Saturn’s moon Dione appears to be getting its tiger on. The world is decorated with long, bright stripes, according to a new study, something astronomers say is unlike anything else they’ve seen in the solar system. After first noticing ...

Saturn shines brightly tonight

Saturn remains a tempting target in the early evening sky tonight. The ringed planet stands about 20° above the southwestern horizon an hour after sunset and remains on view until 9 p.m. local daylight time. Shining at magnitude 0.6, Saturn a...

Sky This Week for November 2 to November 11

Friday, November 2 A lone bright star now hangs low in the south at midevening. First-magnitude Fomalhaut — often called “the Solitary One” — belongs to the constellation Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish. From mid-northern l...
Thursday, November 1, 2018

Dusk for Dawn: NASA’s mission to Vesta and Ceres has ended

Eleven years ago, NASA launched the Dawn spacecraft toward our main asteroid belt, bound for its two largest rocky worlds. In 2011, Dawn arrived at Vesta, then made its way to Ceres in 2015. After becoming the first spacecraft to orbit two worlds bey...

Time-lapse reveals supernova 1987A's changing shape over decades

A time-lapse created by astronomer Yvette Cendes shows the shockwave of Supernova 1987A expanding outward and crashing into debris. Yvette Cendes, Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Toronto Astronomers have been captiv...

Winter is coming, sayeth Orion the Hunter

The night sky’s most conspicuous harbinger of winter now rises in the east around 11 p.m. local daylight time. The constellation Orion the Hunter appears on its side as it rises, with ruddy Betelgeuse to the left of the three-star belt and b...
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How a catastrophic cosmic collision changed the Milky Way forever

Our galaxy, perhaps like many in the universe, is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster. A new study makes a compelling case that a central structure in the Milky Way is actually composed mostly of stars born in another galaxy, brought to us by a l...

Scientists finally confirm the Milky Way has a supermassive black hole

Scientists have finally confirmed that the massive object at the heart of our galaxy is, in fact, a supermassive black hole. Researchers used the European Southern Observatory’s sensitive GRAVITY instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to...

The Moon's terminator is on full display tonight

Last Quarter Moon occurs at 12:40 p.m. EDT tonight. By the time the Moon rises in North America shortly after midnight local daylight time, its phase will have waned to approximately 43 percent lit. Earth’s satellite currently sits near the b...

Trojan bound: NASA gives Lucy spacecraft the green light

From Ryugu to Bennu, asteroid exploration has been all the rage among astronomers lately. And now, we’re one step closer to exploring some of the most mysterious asteroids in the solar system. On October 30, NASA announced that they’ve b...
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