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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, January 22, 2021

The Sky This Week: See January’s Wolf Moon

Friday, January 22 The Red Planet is easy to spot tonight from its perch high in Aries to the south after dark. With a large telescope or video capture capabilities, you may be able to make out features on its 8"-wide disk. The dark Syrtis Major and ...

A magnetar's flare just helped unlock the secrets of these strange stars

Roughly 11.5 million years ago in a galaxy not too far away, a starquake cracked the surface of a small and violent stellar corpse. This rupture caused an enormous flare that sent X-rays and gamma rays racing across the universe. After traveling for ...

Private spaceflight companies soar while SLS remains grounded

The space race truly ignited with the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik, Earth’s first artificial satellite. And a little more than a decade later, the race peaked when the entire world witnessed live views of humans taking their first steps on the...
Thursday, January 21, 2021

Red dwarf starlight used to grow photosynthesizing bacteria

Our nearest astronomical neighbor is Proxima Centauri, a tiny red dwarf star some 4.25 light-years from here. In recent years, Proxima has become the focus of huge attention. In 2016, astronomers discovered it hosted an Earth-sized exoplanet in the h...
Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Dark matter: Taking a closer look at the (un)usual suspects

Over the centuries, our understanding of the cosmos has grown by leaps and bounds. But it wasn’t until relatively recently that astronomers discovered that around 85 percent of the matter in the universe takes on a bizarre, foreign form. And ju...

Exhausted, NASA’s martian mole finally quits digging

Mars is a harsh world compared to Earth — and even robots struggle to thrive there. One such example is the small heat probe that recently ventured to the Red Planet with NASA’s InSight lander. The probe, appropriately dubbed the ‘m...
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Astronomers want to plant telescopes on the Moon

(Inside Science) -- For decades, even before the iconic Hubble telescope took flight, astronomers have been launching spacecraft into orbit in the hopes of avoiding atmospheric effects that blur images taken by telescopes on Earth. But to catch clear...
Monday, January 18, 2021

Astronomers find the youngest, fastest spinning ‘magnetar’ yet

Astronomers discovered the youngest member of a bizarre group of stars, known as magnetars, using NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope in March of 2020. And now, further observations shed even more light on the exotic beast. Magnetars are a sp...

Snapshot: Hubble captures bursts of star formation in the Fireworks Galaxy

Located some 25.2 million light-years away, the face-on spiral galaxy NGC 6946 has been busy lately. In the last hundred years, astronomers have witnessed about 10 supernovae popping off in this galaxy alone, while our own Milky Way experiences just ...
Friday, January 15, 2021

Astronomers edge closer to detecting background “sea” of gravitational waves

Astronomers have found the strongest evidence yet for a predicted-yet-undetected class of gravitational waves created by supermassive black holes in the cores of galaxies. And they think they could have a firm detection within a couple of years. Grav...

The Sky This Week: The Moon meets Mars and Uranus

Friday, January 15 Comet 88P/Howell is slowly fading, but its 11th- to 12th-magnitude glow is within reach of a 6-inch scope under dark skies. Early this evening, you’ll find it among the stars of Aquarius, less than 7° northwest of globula...

Watch: Blue Origin nails the launch (and landing) of New Shepard spacecraft

Out in the deserts of West Texas, Blue Origin — a private aerospace company founded by Jeff Bezos in 2000 — successfully launched and landed their New Shepard rocket on January 14. The company has their sights set on using the reusable ro...
Thursday, January 14, 2021

How black holes morphed from theory to reality

Knowable Magazine · How black holes morphed from theory to reality

Infinity & Beyond — Episode 14: When Venus Turned Inside Out

Years ago, planetary scientists thought of Venus as Earth’s sister planet. Similar in size, both close to the Sun, both rocky bodies, Earth and Venus were practically considered two of a kind. That abruptly changed, however, when astronomers g...

This distant galaxy is signing its own death warrant

As galaxies evolve, they undergo several changes. One of the most significant is the cessation of star formation. Once a galaxy stops creating stars, it becomes old and quiescent, losing the youthful shine that comes with giving birth to new stellar ...
Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Beginning to the End of the Universe: The first stars are born

This story came from our special January issue, "The Beginning and the End of the Universe.” Click here to purchase the full issue. For 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the cosmos was a hot, dense mixture of protons, electrons, other elementa...

Neil Armstrong's bootprint (and other lunar artifacts) are now protected by U.S. law

It’s hard to care about bootprints sunk in soil 238,900 miles away as humanity suffers the combined burden of an unforgiving virus and a political unease. But how humans treat those bootprints and the historic lunar landing sites upon which the...
Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The history of cosmic rays is buried beneath our feet

(Inside Science) -- Scientists have figured out a way to look into our galactic past and the proposed method is literally groundbreaking: It involves digging up salt crystals from miles underground. A paper describing the approach was recently publis...

Far-flung exoplanet resembles long-sought Planet Nine

An exoplanet circling two stars 336 light-years away may provide clues about where a long-sought world may be hiding in our own solar system. This strange exoplanet, HD106906 b, was first discovered in 2013 with the Magellan Telescopes at the Las C...

The Beginning to the End of the Universe: The cosmic dark ages

This story came from our special January issue, "The Beginning and the End of the Universe.” Click here to purchase the full issue. The early universe was a place of extremes. It was inconceivably small and scorching, with all the energy and m...
Monday, January 11, 2021

Perseverance rover: The search for life on Mars begins in February

On 18 February, the Mars2020 mission will touch down in a small crater called Jezero near the Martian equator. The mission includes a rover called Perseverance that will explore the area, analyze rocks and gather samples to be returned to Earth by a ...

The Beginning to the End of the Universe: The emergence of matter

This story came from our special January issue, "The Beginning and the End of the Universe.” Click here to purchase the full issue. Nearly 2,500 years ago, the Greek philosopher Democritus first proposed that objects are made of countless indi...

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