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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, April 16, 2021

The Sky This Week: The Lyrid meteor shower peaks

Friday, April 16 Tonight after sunset, look west to spot Taurus the Bull slowly sinking toward the horizon. Mars and the Moon straddle the space between the Bull’s two horns, marked by the stars Alheka (left) and Elnath (right). The Moon sits 5...
Thursday, April 15, 2021

What would happen if Earth stopped spinning?

In the 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still, an extraterrestrial named Klaatu and his robot companion Gort stop nearly all of the electronics on Earth simultaneously, using their advanced alien technology. Cars, factories, television sets and more...

Infinity & Beyond — Episode 18: The Cosmic Microwave Background

A glow undetectable to the human eye permeates the universe. This light is the remnant signature of the cosmic beginning — a dense, hot fireball that burst forth and created all mass, energy, and time. The primordial cosmic microwave background...
Wednesday, April 14, 2021

There might be remnants of an ancient planet buried inside Earth

Researchers are fairly certain that we gained our favorite satellite, the Moon, after a planet, Theia, collided with the proto-Earth 4.5 billion years ago. What’s not certain are the details surrounding Theia’s fate. Was it a hit-and-run,...

Watch: Blue Origin successfully launches and lands another New Shepard rocket

Blue Origin, a private spaceflight company founded by billionaire Jeff Bezos, carried out another successful test of their New Shepard rocket today, taking off without a hitch from the sands of Texas at 12:50 P.M. EST on Wednesday, April 14. After it...
Tuesday, April 13, 2021

How do scientists build the best diet for astronauts?

Food is key to our daily functions by fueling our activity and fortifying our bodies and minds. Most of us with access to various food sources, meanwhile, don’t need to worry about meal prepping quite as much as NASA. In space, where astronauts...
Monday, April 12, 2021

"Let's go!" — Remembering Yuri Gagarin's first spaceflight, 60 years later

Last month, three smartly dressed spacemen took time from their training to pause for a moment of reflection. As their greatcoats held back the chill of an early Moscow spring, they laid a splash of red blooms at a grave embedded in the brickwork of ...

40 years since the first space shuttle mission, STS-1

In April 1981, John Young — America’s premier astronaut and one of only 12 people to ever walk on the Moon — was training with co-pilot Bob Crippen for STS-1, the maiden voyage of space shuttle Columbia. Though eager, Young harbored...
Friday, April 9, 2021

The Sky This Week: The Moon meets Uranus

Friday, April 9 Asteroid 4 Vesta is making a tight turn in the constellation Leo this month. Tonight, Vesta sits 1° east of the magnitude 5.5 star 51 Leonis, about halfway on a line drawn between brighter Zosma and Algieba. The asteroid is magnitude ...

25 facts you should know about the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024

As I write this article, I realize North America’s next total solar eclipse is still three years away. But it’s going to be so huge that I thought I’d share some of the most important details with our readership, the general public,...
Thursday, April 8, 2021

First look at the 2024 total solar eclipse

On August 21, 2017, millions who live in or traveled to the United States witnessed a spectacular event — the first total solar eclipse in the continental U.S. in 38 years. The narrow path of totality on American soil started in Oregon and ende...

Snapshot: Chandra discovers X-rays from Uranus

Located in the outer reaches of the solar system, Uranus is a strange planet. Only one spacecraft — Voyager 2 — has ever visited, so astronomers know relatively little about the distant world. Already the odd one out by spinning on its si...
Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Snapshot: Hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris sneezes like Betelgeuse

The red hypergiant star VY Canis Majoris, 4,000 light-years distant, is in a turbulent phase near the end of its life. Wracked by pulsations, it is expelling mass in a series of dusty knots and arcs. And thanks to the high resolution of the Hubble im...

Who has the right of way in space? So far, it’s NASA

In January of 2020, two decommissioned satellites orbiting Earth made a really close pass. Traveling towards each other with a combined speed of 33,000 mph (53,000 kph) the two barely missed each other, coming within 210 feet (65 meters) between them...
Tuesday, April 6, 2021

A starry sense of wonder can combat fears and doubts about science

When I was eight years old, a mundane school assignment changed my life. In my class at Lomond Elementary in Shaker Heights, Ohio, I had to write a school report about one of the planets. To ensure variety, the teacher picked a planet for each studen...

InSight tracks down the origin of two big marsquakes

NASA’s InSight lander has been on the Red Planet for more than 830 martian days, known as sols. That’s a little more than one martian year, or just over two Earth years. In that time, its Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS...
Monday, April 5, 2021

Inside Ingenuity: The thrill of engineering Mars first helicopter

Every child grows up looking at the stars. After that, we follow a billion different paths through life. Some people push their sense of wonder into the background, focusing on pragmatic concerns. Some hold onto it as their constant life companion. A...

Blue Moon: Will Jeff Bezos' lunar lander return astronauts to the Moon?

In just a few short years, a spacecraft that looks something like a flying water tower will land at the lunar south pole, carrying astronauts back to the Moon's surface for the first time since NASA’s Apollo program. That’s only if things...

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