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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.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Deep-sky observing from Costa Rica

If you’re an observer of the skies, you undoubtedly have fond memories of gazing up at Orion and taking in that misty “star” in the middle of the Hunter’s sword. Viewed in a telescope, the Orion Nebula (M42) is a gray-green wo...

Salty lakes found beneath Mars' surface

Two years ago, planetary scientists were abuzz with the potential discovery of a subsurface lake on Mars — buried deep beneath layers of ice and dust at the planet's south pole. Now, new research adds more weight to that possibility, suggesting...

5 NASA Spacecraft That Are Leaving Our Solar System for Good

For millennia, humans have gazed up at the stars and wondered what it would be like to journey to them. And while sending astronauts beyond the solar system remains a distant dream, humanity has already launched five robotic probes that are on paths ...
Friday, September 25, 2020

The Sky This Week: Solar system bonanza

Friday, September 25 The Moon passes 1.6° south of Jupiter at 3 A.M. EDT this morning; our satellite then passes 2° south of Saturn at 5 P.M. EDT. You can still see the Moon near the two giant planets after dark this evening. Look south to f...
Thursday, September 24, 2020

Astronomers find evidence of an extragalactic exoplanet

Since the first detection of the first exoplanet in 1992, astronomers have found thousands of others. Indeed, they estimate that the Milky Way is home to 40 billion worlds. So it’s easy to imagine that planets must be common in other galaxies,...

Infinity & Beyond — Episode 8: Black holes 101

Black holes have long served as fodder for science fiction — and for good reason. These unimaginably dense objects contain so much matter trapped in such a small volume that their gravity is strong enough to prevent even light from escaping the...
Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The most extreme stars in the universe

The Sun is a pretty boring star. Still burning through the hydrogen in its core, our middle-aged Sun is comfortable at its current, relatively petite size. And though it will stay this way for about 5 billion years more, our star will eventually run ...
Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Queen guitarist Brian May and David Eicher launch unique astronomy book

In an unprecedented event Wednesday, September 23, Brian May and David Eicher will hold an online book launch for their latest work, Cosmic Clouds 3-D, along with master astroimager J-P Metsävainio. Tomorrow’s live virtual event begins at ...

The top astronomy photographs of 2020

The Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition recognizes the most stunning images produced each year by professional and amateur astroimagers across the globe. This competition, now in its twelfth year, attracted more than 5,0...
Monday, September 21, 2020

Total solar eclipse 2020: A shadow crosses South America

On December 14, celestial drama once again unfolds as the Sun and Moon line up with Earth to produce the greatest of nature’s spectacles: a total solar eclipse. Although total solar eclipses occur more often than total lunar ones, more peopl...

Warning: Objects in the cosmos are larger than they appear

In about 4 billion years, the Andromeda Galaxy will collide with our galaxy, the Milky Way, unleashing a brilliant burst of star formation. This is not exactly breaking news (assuming anything that will happen billions of years in the future could be...
Friday, September 18, 2020

The Sky This Week: View Venus, Vesta, and Ceres

Friday, September 18 Observers with medium to large telescopes will want to point at magnitude 4 Saturn this evening. Several of the ringed planet’s moons are lined up nicely tonight: Tethys and Enceladus sit east of Saturn, while Mimas, Dione,...

The curious question of life on Venus

Life has altered our planet to such an extent that its effects are visible from space. And not just from low Earth orbit. The signature of life is visible light years from here, thousands of billions of kilometers away. If intelligent civilizations h...

The Benld meteorite: An ordinary space rock that slammed into a car

Edward McCain of Benld, Illinois, drove a decade-old Pontiac coupe that he kept safely stored in his garage, which was a small wooden building with a tar paper roof. Well-worn ruts in the dirt floor marked the exact spot where he parked his car every...
Thursday, September 17, 2020

How we’ll find life in the universe

Many of science’s greatest mysteries surround questions of how much life is in the universe and what forms it might take. And, given the popularity of sci-fi movies depicting alien creatures, interest is clearly not limited to researchers alone...

Microbes could survive on planets with all hydrogen atmospheres

(Inside Science) -- Microbes can survive and grow in 100 percent hydrogen atmospheres, suggesting life could potentially evolve on a much broader range of alien worlds than is often considered, a new study finds. Hydrogen is the most common element i...

Astronomers spy phosphine on Venus, a potential sign of life

Move over Mars and make room for Venus: Our inner neighbor has just vaulted into one of the most contentious debates in astrobiology. On Monday, an international team of astronomers presented evidence that the cloud tops of Venus contain traces of ph...
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

New planet found orbiting a dead star

(Inside Science) -- For the first time, an intact world may have been discovered around a white dwarf, suggesting that even after typical stars die, they may still host planets, a new study finds. White dwarfs are the cooling Earth-size cores of d...

Asterisms: Hunt the night sky's faux constellations

The Big Dipper is probably the Northern Hemisphere’s best-known constellation, right? Wrong. The Big Dipper isn’t a constellation at all, but an asterism. An asterism is an unofficial group of stars recognized by (generally amateur) astro...
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Bobcat fire threatens historic Mount Wilson Observatory

On Monday, September 14, one of California’s numerous wildfires, the Bobcat fire, marched toward the Mount Wilson Observatory, which is located in the San Gabriel Mountains northeast of Los Angeles, California. With the fire climbing upslope to...
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Observing the night sky is a fun and easy activity that anyone can do, but getting started can be daunting for beginners.
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