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Total Lunar Eclipse: April 15
April 8, 2014 | NASA on

There will be four lunar eclipses between now and September 28, 2015. The first will be a total eclipse on April 15, 2014. It will be visible over much of the United States.

April 15, 2014
October 8, 2014
April 4 2015
September 28, 2015

A Red Mars and a Lunar Eclipse
April 1, 2014 | New Zealand Herald

This week Earth will overtake Mars in its orbit and will be at one of its closest positions to the planet. That will make Mars especially large and red in the night sky. Then, after midnight on April 15th a lunar eclipse will occur. (Details on the lunar eclipse in a Washington Post article.)

NASA: Capturing an Asteroid?
March 27, 2014 | NASA

“NASA is developing an Asteroid Redirect Mission — a first-ever mission to identify, capture and redirect an asteroid to a safe orbit of Earth’s moon for future exploration by astronauts in the 2020s.”

A New Dwarf Planet?
March 27, 2014 | NASA

“Scientists using ground based observatories have discovered an object that is believed to have the most distant orbit found beyond the known edge of our solar system. Named 2012 VP113, the object is possibly a dwarf planet. [...] A dwarf planet is an object in orbit around the sun that is large enough to have its own gravity pull itself into a spherical, or nearly round, shape.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

An Asteroid with Rings??
March 27, 2014 | NASA

“Observations at many sites in South America, including ESO’s La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

One Second After the Big Bang!
March 25, 2014 | National Science Foundation

NSF researchers “announced that their telescope in Antarctica has allowed them to collect what they believe is the first direct evidence for cosmic inflation. Inflation is the cataclysmic event in which, in a fleeting fraction of a second following the Big Bang, the infant universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of the best telescopes.” Quoted from the NSF press release.

Introduction to Meteorites
March 13, 2014 |

Here we have the first in a series of articles by Geoffrey Notkin that provide an introduction to meteorites.

NASA image
Spitzer Discovers a New Supernova
March 6, 2014 | NASA

“The closest supernova of its kind to be observed in the last few decades has sparked a global observing campaign involving legions of instruments on the ground and in space.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Artistic image by NASA
Lunar Impact and Afterglow Visible for 8 Seconds
March 2, 2014 | Nature

The impact of a large object onto the lunar surface in September, 2013 produced a flash and an afterglow that was bright enough to have been seen from Earth with the unaided eye for about eight seconds. The flash was the result of the tremendous impact speed generating enough heat to melt the target and impactor

Debris from a Massive Supernova Explosion
February 27, 2014 | NASA

“This artist’s concept depicts the explosive death of a massive star, followed by the creation of a disk made up of the star’s ashes. [...] Astronomers believe planets might form in this dead star’s disk.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Moving at 2.5 Million MPH
February 25, 2014 | NASA

“The red arc in this infrared image from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope is a giant shock wave, created by a speeding star known as Kappa Cassiopeiae. [...]

It is a massive, hot supergiant moving at around 2.5 million mph [...]. But what really makes the star stand out in this image is the surrounding, streaky red glow of material in its path. Such structures are called bow shocks, and they can often be seen in front of the fastest, most massive stars in the galaxy.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

How Stars Explode
February 23, 2014 | NASA

“One of the biggest mysteries in astronomy, how stars blow up in supernova explosions, finally is being unraveled with the help of NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

First Mission to Land a Probe on a Comet
January 28, 2014 | NASA

“Three NASA science instruments are being prepared for check-out operations aboard the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft, which is set to become the first to orbit a comet and land a probe on its nucleus in November.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

A Star that is Almost Identical to Our Sun
January 19, 2014 | ESO Observatory

A “solar twin” has been discovered in the Messier 67 star cluster by the the HARPs planet hunter.

First Meteor Shower of 2014 Peaks Friday
January 5, 2014 | Christian Science Monitor

The Quadrantid meteor shower is expected to peak on Friday afternoon in the United States, but people in other parts of the world might see 60 to 120 meteors per hour. People in the United States might see a few meteors before sunrise and after sunset.

Related: What Causes a Meteor Shower?

Learn About Exoplanets
December 29, 2013 | MIT on YouTube

This video provides a great introduction to exoplanets.

Aurorae Over Alaska
December 19, 2013 |

The blog has a number of photos of aurorae over Alaska from the Bureau of Land Management.

The Temperature Mystery of Planetary Atmospheres
December 19, 2013 | University of Washington

An atmospheric peculiarity the Earth shares with Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune is likely common to billions of planets, and knowing that may help in the search for potentially habitable worlds.

China Successfully Lands a Moon Rover
December 15, 2013 | CNN

China has landed a spacecraft on the Moon and successfully deployed a six-wheeled lunar rover.

Earth and Moon Seen by Passing Juno Spacecraft
December 15, 2013 | NASA on

“When NASA’s Juno spacecraft flew past Earth on Oct. 9, 2013, it received a boost in speed of more than 8,800 mph (about 7.3 kilometer per second), which set it on course for a July 4, 2016, rendezvous with Jupiter.

One of Juno’s sensors, a special kind of camera optimized to track faint stars, also had a unique view of the Earth-moon system. The result was an intriguing, low-resolution glimpse of what our world would look like to a visitor from afar.” Quoted from the NASA video release.

Ocean Currents and Life Under the Shell of Europa
December 5, 2013 | The University of Texas at Austin

“Researchers have shown that the subsurface ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa may have deep currents and circulation patterns with heat and energy transfers capable of sustaining biological life.” Quoted from The University of Texas at Austin press release.

Related: Life on Europa?

Comet ISON Obituary
December 1, 2013 | NBC News

“I do think that something emerged from the sun, but probably a very small nucleus or ‘rubble pile.’ and I fear that may have now dissolved.” Karl Battams, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory.

NSF Image
IceCube Researchers Detect 28 Neutrinos
November 27, 2013 | National Science Foundation

“Researchers with the IceCube Collaboration have [...] observed 28 very high-energy neutrinos that constitute the first solid evidence for astrophysical neutrinos from cosmic accelerators. [...] IceCube is an [...] astrophysical telescope deployed deep in the Antarctic ice (from 1.4 to 2.4 km depth), but looks over the entire universe, detecting neutrinos coming through the Earth from the Northern skies, as well as from around the Southern skies,” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

GOCE Satellite Falls with No Damage
November 11, 2013 | USA Today

The European Space Agency said that the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) satellite feel out of orbit and re-entered Earth’s atmosphere early Monday morning. No damage has been reported.

Bedrock Map of Vesta Asteroid
November 11, 2013 |

“This colorized map from NASA’s Dawn mission shows the types of rocks and minerals distributed around the surface of the giant asteroid Vesta. In this color scheme, red shows diogenite, a type of mineral thought to be formed through magmatic processes deep in the crust. Green shows howardite, a type of surface rock that is made of broken bits of different materials that are excavated, ejected and mixed by meteor impacts…..” Partial quote from the NASA image description.

An Asteroid with Six Comet-Like Tails
November 11, 2013 | NASA

“This NASA Hubble Space Telescope set of images reveals a never-before-seen set of six comet-like tails radiating from a body in the asteroid belt, designated P/2013 P5.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Radio Bursts From Beyond our Galaxy?
November 10, 2013 | NASA

“Astronomers, including a team member from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have detected the first population of radio bursts known to originate from galaxies beyond our own Milky Way. The sources of the light bursts are unknown, but cataclysmic events, such as merging or exploding stars, are likely the triggers.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Rare New Microbe Found in Two Distant Clean Rooms
November 9, 2013 | NASA

“A rare, recently discovered microbe that survives on very little to eat has been found in two places on Earth: spacecraft clean rooms in Florida and South America. Microbiologists often do thorough surveys of bacteria and other microbes in spacecraft clean rooms. Fewer microbes live there than in almost any other environment on Earth, but the surveys are important for knowing what might hitch a ride into space. If extraterrestrial life is ever found, it would be readily checked against the census of a few hundred types of microbes detected in spacecraft clean rooms.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

GOCE Satellite Expected to Fall this Weekend
November 9, 2013 | New York Times

The European Space Agency’s Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer satellite is expected to fall from orbit this weekend. Space experts believe that 25 to 45 pieces of the craft will survive the fall to earth, with the largest pieces weighing up to 200 pounds. The location of impact is unknown.

India Headed to Mars
November 4, 2013 | Calgary Herald

If all goes according to plans, India will launch a spacecraft to Mars on Tuesday, November 5th. So far there have been 40 attempts to reach Mars by the United States, the Soviet Union, the European Space Agency, Japan and China. Only 23 missions have been successful.

Observing Galaxies 100X Fainter than Ever Seen Before
October 31, 2013 | NASA

“NASA’s Hubble, Spitzer and Chandra space telescopes are teaming up to look deeper into the universe than ever before. With a boost from natural “zoom lenses” found in space, they should be able to uncover galaxies that are as much as 100 times fainter than what these three great observatories typically can see.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Natural Gas Flaring from Space
October 30, 2013 |

We have posted views of Earth from NASA’s Suomi satellite that show night illumination and natural gas flaring for oil industry sites in the Bakken Formation, Eagle Ford Shale, Alaska North Slope, United States Gulf, Mexican Gulf, Venezuela Orinoco Field, Brazil offshore basins, North Sea, North Africa onshore, west Africa offshore, and Persian Gulf.

Coldest Place in the Universe
October 30, 2013 | NASA

“At a cosmologically crisp one degree Kelvin (minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit), the Boomerang nebula is the coldest known object in the universe — colder, in fact, than the faint afterglow of the Big Bang, the explosive event that created the cosmos.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

The Magnetic Storm of Halloween 2003
October 29, 2013 | USGS

“Ten years ago during the Halloween of 2003, while children in costumes paraded door-to-door for treats, the Sun was playing its own tricks with planet Earth.” Quoted from the USGS press release.

Methane and Ethane Lakes on Saturn’s Moon Titan?
October 25, 2013 | NASA

“With the sun now shining down over the north pole of Saturn’s moon Titan, a little luck with the weather, and trajectories that put the spacecraft into optimal viewing positions, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has obtained new pictures of the liquid methane and ethane seas and lakes that reside near Titan’s north pole.” Quoted from the NASA image release.

Image Credit: MPIA/V. Ch. Quetz
Planet without a Star?
October 13, 2013 | University of Hawaii

“An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago—a newborn in planet lifetimes.” Quoted from the University of Hawaii press release.

Searching for Earth’s Twin
September 30, 2013 | National Geographic

MacArthur Fellow, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at MIT is going to spend her “genius grant” on things that will hopefully help her search the skies for Earth’s twin.

Images and Data from an Asteroid Visit
September 29, 2013 | NASA

In 2011 and 2012, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft orbited the giant asteroid Vesta. This was an opportunity for researchers to get close-up observations to compare with the information they obtained from ground and satellite observations. They now have an article titled: “Dawn Reality-Checks Telescope Studies of Asteroids“.

NASA image.
Mars Soil Analysis Reports Several Percent Water
September 29, 2013 | NASA

“The first scoop of soil analyzed by the analytical suite in the belly of NASA’s Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the surface of the planet contain several percent water by weight.”

Quoted from the NASA press release.

Voyager Spacecraft Now in Interstellar Space
September 16, 2013 | NASA

“NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft officially is the first human-made object to venture into interstellar space. The 36-year-old probe is about 12 billion miles (19 billion kilometers) from our sun.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

The Origin of Cosmic Rays?
September 15, 2013 | University of Delaware

“The origin of cosmic rays in the universe has confounded scientists for decades. But a study by researchers using data from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole reveals new information that may help unravel the longstanding mystery of exactly how and where these high-energy particles are produced.” Quoted from the National Science Foundation press release.

Mapping Dark Energy the Southern Sky
September 12, 2013 | Fermillab

“The Dark Energy Survey officially began with a team of physicists and astronomers around the globe using the world’s most powerful digital camera to try to answer some of the universe’s most fundamental questions. The survey team will systematically map one-eighth of the sky in unprecedented detail during the next five years.”

Catching Black Holes on the Fly
September 12, 2013 |

“NASA’s black-hole-hunter spacecraft, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has “bagged” its first 10 supermassive black holes. The mission, which has a mast the length of a school bus, is the first telescope capable of focusing the highest-energy X-ray light into detailed pictures.”

Powerful Jets Blowing Material Out of Galaxy
September 11, 2013 | National Radio Astronomy Observatory

“Astronomers using a worldwide network of radio telescopes have found strong evidence that a powerful jet of material propelled to nearly light speed by a galaxy’s central black hole is blowing massive amounts of gas out of the galaxy.” Quoted from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory press release.

Repurposing Kepler to Find Unusual Planets
September 10, 2013 | National Geographic

The Kepler spacecraft found over 100 exoplanets and thousands of exoplanet candidates in four years of operation. After it began to malfunction researchers may be able to repurpose it to find exoplanets new planets by detecting warped starlight.

Possible Landing Sites for the 2016 Mars Mission
September 4, 2013 | NASA

NASA has narrowed to four the number of potential landing sites for the agency’s next mission to the surface of Mars, a 2016 lander to study the planet’s interior.

Added: USAToday says that they are looking for a “boring site“.

Plankton Bloom in Lake Ontario
September 2, 2013 | NASA Earth Observatory

“This photograph taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station highlights a late summer plankton bloom across much of Lake Ontario, one of North America’s Great Lakes. Microscopic cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, can reach such large concentrations and color the water to such an extent that the change is visible from orbit.” Quoted from the Earth Observatory website.

WISE to Hunt Asteroids Again
August 27, 2013 | NASA

“The WISE spacecraft that discovered and characterized tens of thousands of asteroids throughout the solar system before being placed in hibernation will return to service for three more years starting in September, assisting the agency in its effort to identify the population of potentially hazardous near-Earth objects.” Quoted from the NASA press release.

Voyager Left the Solar System Last Summer?
August 22, 2013 |

Researchers are debating how to determine when a spacecraft leaves a solar system. It could be when the spacecraft detects a change in magnetic field direction or a change in the relative abundance of particles coming from the sun or perhaps neither of these.

Solar Magnetic Field is about to Flip?
August 12, 2013 | Los Angeles Times

It happens about once every eleven years. This video from NASA tells you what to expect.

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