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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, January 21, 2022

Charting the universe in 3D

The universe is filled with galaxies — more than a trillion by some estimates — and we’ve only mapped a fraction of them. But answering some of the most pressing mysteries plaguing astronomers today, such as galaxy formation, dark e...

The Sky This Week: Catch Mars in the morning

Friday, January 21 As the sky grows dark after sunset this evening, look west to catch a glimpse of the large constellation Pegasus, slowly flying toward the horizon in the coming hours. The most recognizable portion of this constellation is the a...
Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Moon’s farside has sticky soil, Yutu-2 finds

The farside of the Moon is a far different place from the nearside. It has a more rugged surface, chock-full of craters. It’s nearly devoid of the smooth, solidified-lava oceans that dot the side that faces us. And it has a different compositio...

Solar filters for observing the Sun

For many, astronomy is a late-night pursuit. We anxiously wait for Sol to set and twilight to fade before we begin to enjoy the sky. But by doing so, we are missing an amazing matinee every day — one performed by the Sun. Our star is the perfec...

Astronomers catch a stellar drive-by

Most stars in the galaxy are spaced pretty widely apart, with light-years between neighboring systems. But stars are all moving in space, meaning sometimes brief, close encounters can occur as one flies particularly close to another. That’s ...
Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Grab-and-go astrophotography

With more of us living in cities and urban environments, the problem of light pollution is all too familiar. Even those lucky enough to live outside large metropolises don’t escape untouched, because the sky near the horizon is often lost to sk...

This new view of the Flame Nebula blazes bright

You might be familiar with the famous Orion Nebula (M42), named for the constellation where it resides. But that bright target isn’t the only treasure hidden within the Hunter. This stunning shot captures the Flame Nebula (NGC 2024) in all its ...
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The case for life on Venus — and the private mission that aims to find it

At first sight, Venus seems an unlikely candidate for life. The temperature at the surface is 887 degrees Fahrenheit (475 degrees Celsius), hot enough to melt lead. The pressure is 90 times higher than on Earth. And the atmosphere is filled with sulf...
Monday, January 17, 2022

Dissecting an ancient computer

Many amateur astronomers know the familiar thrum of small motors guiding an automated telescope under a tranquil night sky. Powered by a computer within a plastic box attached to the scope, this technology allows for the quick and accurate targeting ...

Astronomers find evidence of zodiacal light on other habitable worlds

One of the most coveted sights for skygazers is the zodiacal light, a tall cone of whitish light that climbs the mid-latitude sky before dawn in autumn and at twilight in the spring. The light comes from the Sun glinting off dust particles in the Sol...
Saturday, January 15, 2022

Stardust: The mission that forever changed our understanding of comets

On Feb. 7, 1999, a Delta II rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral, in Florida. Aboard the rocket was NASA’s unmanned Stardust probe. Stardust’s mission was to rendezvous with comet Wild 2. Stardust was designed to be the first spacecraft...
Friday, January 14, 2022

The Sky This Week: The morning star reappears

Friday, January 14 The Moon reaches apogee, the farthest point from Earth in its orbit, at 4:26 A.M. EST. At that time, our satellite will be 252,155 miles (405,804 km) away. With the bright Moon in Taurus tonight, let’s cast our gaze across...

Water vapor found on exoplanet in Neptune Desert

It’s no place you’d want to go to fill up your water bottle or take a swim, but TOI-674b has water vapor. The newly found exoplanet was presented at this week’s series of virtual American Astronomical Society media briefings. (The o...
Thursday, January 13, 2022

The 1,000-light-year-wide cosmic bubble around Earth

Think “bubbles,” and you may think “soap” or “gum.” But not Catherine Zucker, currently a Hubble Fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute and a former researcher with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astro...

How amateur images are helping professional astronomers

From the time Galileo first peered into his telescope until the middle of the 19th century, professional telescopes required the observer to look through an eyepiece. As a result, astronomers manually logged mountains of information and telescopic dr...
Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Researchers find more missing dark matter

The debate over galaxies without dark matter has returned. In 2018 and 2019, a series of studies lead by astronomer Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University made the case that two galaxies — NGC 1052-DF2 and NGC 1052-DF4 — are devoid of dark ...

James Webb Space Telescope successfully unfolds mirrors

NASA has pulled off the most technically audacious part of bringing its newest flagship observatory online: unfolding it. On Saturday, Jan. 8, the operations team for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) announced that the observatory’s primar...
Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Spend some time observing in Auriga

The constellation Auriga (pronounced or-EYE-guh) the Charioteer, a star pattern known by this name for several thousand years, is easy to recognize primarily because of its brightest star, Capella (Alpha [α] Aurigae). This luminary is the sixth...
Monday, January 10, 2022

How Australia's 1922 solar eclipse proved Einstein right

In 1922, Australia was even more remote from the rest of the world than it is today. But when it came to astronomy, that year it was the centre of everyone’s attention. On Sept. 21, the shadow of a total solar eclipse would cross the entire con...
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