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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, May 25, 2018

Spaceflight from exoplanets is more difficult than you might think

The number of extrasolar planets (also known as “exoplanets”) that have been discovered to date is large; currently close to 4,000. These planets are extremely diverse in terms of size and composition, with a large proportion being gas gi...

The sky this week for May 25 to June 3

Friday, May 25 Look high in the northwest after darkness falls this week and you’ll be greeted by the familiar sight of the Big Dipper. The Dipper is the sky’s most conspicuous asterism — a recognizable pattern of stars that doesn&...
Thursday, May 24, 2018

Astronomers take a close look at a distant stellar corpse

Pulsars are the rotating remnants of massive stars, which sweep the cosmos with narrow beams of radiation as they spin. When an observer — in our case, Earth — is in line with these beams, we receive a radio “blip” from the pu...

Astronomy Backstage Pass: Chicago

Have you ever been on the main floor of a museum, observatory, or planetarium and thought, “I wonder what goes on behind those doors?” Well, with the new Astronomy Backstage Pass: Chicago DVD, you can finally get your own private tour thr...

Dino Doomsday Asteroid Baked Earth for 100,000 Years

Some 66 million years ago, a city-sized asteroid set fire to the planet and began what was likely the worst day in history. Decades of research have helped illuminate the actual impact. But scientists are still figuring out what happened over the yea...
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Shedding light on dark galaxies

An undeniably important phase in a galaxy’s life is when it starts to birth hot new stars and illuminate the night sky. But for decades, researchers have struggled to figure out exactly how these stars are born from the gas that lingers between...
Tuesday, May 22, 2018

GRACE-FO Spacecraft Ready to Launch

[Update: May 22, 21:47 CEST — The GRACE-FO satellite duo launched successfully aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.] Twin satellites that will monitor Earth's water cycle are scheduled to launch from Vandenb...
Monday, May 21, 2018

Astronomers discover the first interstellar immigrant nestled in Jupiter’s orbit

Less than a year ago, astronomers discovered ‘Oumuamua, the first known object from another star system to pass through our own. Now, in a new study published today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, astronomers ...
Friday, May 18, 2018

Table for One?

While most science fiction books and movies portray a universe teeming with a plethora of space-faring alien species, the reality may be quite different. Few of us could look up into the night sky and not feel the enormity of the cosmos and the seemi...

Snapshot: Second Gaia release results so far

At noon on April 25, much to the delight of astronomers from around the world, the European Space Agency released one of the largest datasets ever compiled in the history of astronomy. The second release of data from the Gaia satellite – which ...
Thursday, May 17, 2018

The most detailed map of the Orion A molecular cloud to date

Being able to closely observe other celestial residents, both near and far, helps astronomers understand the formation and evolution of our mysterious universe, and it’s no secret that advanced telescopes are largely responsible for the signifi...
Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The first stars formed when the universe was less than 2% its current age

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) is not your standard, run-of-the-mill telescope. Instead, ALMA, which is located in the high-and-dry Atacama Desert of northern Chile, is a radio telescope made up of 66 high-precision antennas ...
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Snapshot: A ‘lost’ asteroid will zip between the Earth and the Moon tonight

First off, remember the simple yet immortal words of Douglas Adams from his book, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — “Don’t panic.” But with that being said, there is an asteroid roughly the size of the Statue of L...
Monday, May 14, 2018

Old Data Reveal New Evidence of Europa Plumes

Scientists re-examining data from an old mission bring new insights to the tantalizing question of whether Jupiter’s moon Europa has the ingredients to support life. The data provide independent evidence that the moon’s subsurface liquid ...
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