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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, November 27, 2020

How do we know what's deep inside Earth?

The final frontier isn’t space: It’s Earth itself. We’ve sent people to the Moon, robots to Mars and the New Horizons space probe 3.26 billion miles from Earth to snap photos of Pluto, while just 4,000 miles beneath our feet, unfath...

The Sky This Week: Enjoy a Beaver Moon lunar eclipse

Friday, November 27 Last week, Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, was due north of the planet. Tonight, it is due south. You’ll find Saturn (magnitude 0.6) in the southwest after sunset, alongside blazingly bright Jupiter (magnitude –2.1...
Thursday, November 26, 2020

Ask Astro: Why does the Moon disappear during New Moon?

Q: What happens to the Moon during New Moon? Michael Gardner Dublin, Ireland A:From Earth, we only ever see one side of the Moon. This is because the time it takes the Moon to rotate around its own axis happens to be the same amount of time it ta...
Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Opinion: SpaceX’s Starlink satellites are about to ruin stargazing for everyone

I walk outside my rural Saskatchewan house before dawn and look up, expecting to have my breath taken away by the sheer number of stars overhead. I’m a professional astronomer, but I still appreciate naked-eye stargazing as much as an eager chi...
Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Recapping The Right Stuff: Episodes 3 – 8

As National Geographic's The Right Stuff hurtles to its close of its first season, it amps up the drama between astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn as they vie for the honor of being the first man in space. Of course, what they don’t know is...

Prospects for life on Venus dim in reanalysis of phosphine data

The debate over phosphine on Venus rages on. On September 14, a team of researchers led by Jane Greaves of Cardiff University announced an exciting find in the cloud tops of Venus: traces of a chemical called phosphine at the level of 20 parts per bi...

Hubble spots a cosmic cinnamon bun

By using a little bit of imagination, our universe can resemble almost anything. There’s the Skull Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula, and maybe everyone is a bit hungry this week, but this galaxy looks like a cinnamon roll! UGC 12588 is a faint s...
Monday, November 23, 2020

Sun-like star identified as the potential source of the Wow! Signal

The Big Ear Radio Telescope in Delaware, Ohio, was disassembled in 1998 having operated for over 30 years. It was replaced by a golf course. Big Ear was never the world’s biggest radio telescope, nor its most sensitive. But Big Ear nevertheless...
Sunday, November 22, 2020

Ask Astro: If dark matter is invisible, then how do we detect it?

Q: In your May feature, “Is the Big Bang in Crisis?” dark matter is called invisible. How was the dark matter in the story’s image of the El Gordo galaxy cluster detected and colorized if it is invisible? William P. Gerhold Hewitt,...
Friday, November 20, 2020

The Great Filter: a possible solution to the Fermi Paradox

In 1950, the physicist and Nobel laureate Enrico Fermi famously asked his colleagues: “Where are they?” Fermi had been reflecting upon the vastness of the cosmos, and “they” in his question referred to extraterrestrials. With ...

The Sky This Week: Follow the Moon

Friday, November 20 Shortly after sunset, you can observe the two largest planets in the solar system — Jupiter and Saturn — glowing between the Teapot of Sagittarius and the stars of Capricornus in the southwest. The crescent Moon is nea...

Meet the Magellanic Clouds: Our galaxy’s brightest satellites

I first saw the Magellanic Clouds with my own eyes when I arrived at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) as a postdoctoral researcher in 1998. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (LMC and SMC) — a pair of dwarf galaxy companion...

Magnetic star born from a colossal collision of stellar corpses

When stars collide, the result is often explosive. That’s especially true when those objects are a pair of super dense stellar remnants known as neutron stars. The fireworks show, called a kilonova, unleashes more energy than the Sun will produ...
Thursday, November 19, 2020

Infinity & Beyond — Episode 12: Cosmic Distances

“Space is big,” wrote Douglas Adams, and he wasn’t kidding. Familiar units of distance, like miles and kilometers, quickly become too unwieldy to use in cosmic discussions. After all, we don’t say the Empire State Building str...

Photo Contest: Lost in the Abyss

Astronomers and space enthusiasts alike used to believe that black holes could not be directly observed. Then, in 2017, scientists captured the first image of the shadow of a black hole, marking a monumental moment in astrophysics. The mysterious aur...

Famed Arecibo radio telescope to be decommissioned after cable failures

After fifty-seven years of cutting-edge research, the iconic Arecibo radio telescope has reached the end of the road. Due to two cable failures in the past three months, outside engineering firms have concluded the telescope cannot be repaired &mdash...
Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Collect the cosmos in stamps

Imagine carrying the universe in your pocket before sending it halfway across the world. Of course, you can’t actually carry the entirety of the universe, but you can carry a small, weightless surrogate that’s just as beautiful. These cou...

How old is the oldest stuff in the solar system?

The Earth is old. Real old. Sometimes it is hard to truly grasp just how old it is compared to human lifespans, but if we say time represented in a century is the same as the length of a football field (100 yards/91 meters), then all of Earth's histo...

Gift Ideas for Astronomy Lovers and Stargazers | Christmas and Holiday Gift Guide

This year took many things away from us. But the pandemic didn’t take away our night sky, a quiet and calming constant in our lives. No matter how upside down the world gets, we can always count on the cosmos putting on its nightly show for eve...
Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Ask Astro: How many satellite galaxies does the Milky Way have?

Q: How many satellite galaxies have now been detected that are gravitationally bound to our Milky Way Galaxy? Are we able to detect any around the Andromeda Galaxy? Patrick Clough Wichita, Kansas A: The largest satellite galaxies to our Milky Way a...

The Deep Space Network: How NASA spacecraft make long-distance calls

NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft are still chugging along out of the solar system, despite the fact they were launched more than 43 years ago. And while both robotic explorers have their problems, the Voyagers do still have some functi...
Monday, November 16, 2020

The lonely universe: Is life on Earth just a lucky fluke?

When physicist and author Stephen Webb was a kid in the 1960s, humans were finally reaching beyond Earth. Satellites orbited the planet. Rockets blasted people into space. Astronauts walked on the moon. And in the distance, Mars, with its red soil an...

The new space rush: Avoiding the hidden costs of profiting in space

Some of the greatest journeys of human history are the result of our unquenchable thirst for exploration. Our drive to understand and see the world around us led humanity to rapidly spread from Africa’s Great Rift Valley to all corners of the g...
Sunday, November 15, 2020

'New era' begins with launch of SpaceX and NASA's Crew-1 mission

What seemed impossible not long ago is now on the verge of becoming routine. A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule successfully launched into orbit on Sunday night from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, setting four astronauts on a course for the ...
Saturday, November 14, 2020

Have you got what it takes to become an astronaut in the new era of human spaceflight?

Millions of people watched breathlessly as astronauts for the first time successfully travelled to the International Space Station (ISS) in a privately funded spacecraft, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule, on May 30. The historic...

How do astronauts escape a failed rocket launch?

SpaceX made international headlines this May when their Crew Dragon spacecraft blasted into orbit aboard a Falcon 9 rocket, carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. But what some astute viewers may have noti...
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