It’s a big galaxy out there. Even the most skeptical scientist has to accept that if a civilisation like our own exists, then there’s a good chance we’re not the only one to have ever done so. When most people think about SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intellgence), they imagine someone like Ellie Arroway searching the skies for radio transmissions. But what about looking in other ways? Perhaps a highly advanced alien civilisation might build structures large enough for us to see.
Read the rest of Hunting for Alien Megastructures (930 words)
Is it just us, or has there been a lot — a LOT — of talk about getting humans to Mars lately?
Read the rest of What path will lead American humans to Mars? (625 words)
Images are starting to come in of the bright planetary conjunction in the western sky at dusk! Jupiter, Venus and Mercury are snuggling up together, and we’ve got a wonderful weekend coming up with alignments including three separate conjunctions and ever-changing triangular arrangements as the nights go by. Mercury and Venus pair up on Friday; Mercury and Jupiter on Sunday and Venus and Jupiter on Monday. See our preview article for more detailed info on how to see the planetary trio each night, and there are more images below:
Read the rest of Astrophotos: Triple Planetary Conjunction (116 words)
On May 23, NASA hosted a Google+ Hangout from the Johnson Space Center with three recently returned International Space Station Astronauts. NASA astronauts Kevin Ford, Tom Marshburn and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield answered questions about daily living in a weightless environment, all the scientific research they did, the spacewalk conducted by Marshburn, how they hope they helped the people of Earth “fall in love with their planet,” and what it is like to return back to Earth after 5-6 months in space.
Below are two more astronaut videos. The first is a post landing interview with the very popular Chris Hadfield, and the second is a video with several ESA astronauts — including Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano who is heading for the ISS next week — talking about living and working in space.
Read the rest of Hanging Out with Astronauts (56 words)
“Hubble: Galaxies Across Space and Time” is an award-winning IMAX Super Short film. In less than 3 minutes you can explore 10 billion years of cosmic history as you fly through one of Hubble’s iconic images, the Hubble Deep Field. These galaxies were photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope as part of the Great Observatory Origins Deep Survey (GOODS) project. Hubble scientists and imaging specialists worked for months to extract individual galaxy images, placing them in a 3-D model according to their approximate true distances.
Read the rest of New IMAX Super Short: Galaxies Across Space and Time (55 words)
A new satellite map from Google and Digital Globe shows just-released satellite imagery of the damage from the tornado that struck the area of Moore, Oklahoma on May 20, 2013. It’s been called one of the most powerful and destructive tornadoes ever recorded — determined to be an EF5 tornado, the strongest rating for a tornado — and the destruction is heartbreaking. In the screenshot above, you can see how some houses were left undamaged, while others were completely destroyed.
Click on the image above to have access to an interactive map that shows hi-resolution views of the damage, providing details of where the buildings and houses once were. NPR put this map together, using satellite data from Digital Globe, along with property data from City of Oklahoma City, City of Moore, and Cleveland County. Satellite data like this are helping to assist the recovery and rescue teams on the ground.
Read the rest of Astonishing Hi-Resolution Satellite Views of the Destruction from the Moore, Oklahoma Tornado (163 words)
Sometimes the popular names given to an astronomical object hit the mark of describing its features. Other times…. not so much. Case in point, the Ring Nebula. While the distinctive loop shape and colorful beauty have made it one of the most famous celestial discs, it is not really a classic “ring.” And this recent image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows an amazing new level of detail in this iconic nebula.
“The nebula is not like a bagel, but rather, it’s like a jelly doughnut, because it’s filled with material in the middle,” said C. Robert O’Dell of Vanderbilt University, who led a research team that used Hubble and several ground-based telescopes to obtain the best view yet of the Ring nebula. The images show a more complex structure than astronomers once thought and have allowed them to construct the most precise 3-D model of the nebula.
Read the rest of The Ring Nebula is Really a Football-Shaped Jelly Donut (671 words)
The Pavlof Volcano began erupting on May 13, 2013, shooting lava into the air and spewing an ash cloud 20,000 feet (6,000 meters) high. This image from the International Space Station was taken on May 18, and provides a unique oblique (sideways) glance at the action. When the photograph was taken, the space station was about 475 miles south-southeast of the volcano (49.1° North latitude, 157.4° West longitude). The volcanic plume extended southeastward over the North Pacific Ocean.
NASA says the oblique perspective reveals the three dimensional structure of the ash plume, which is usually not visible from the top-down views of most remote sensing satellites.
Read the rest of Awesome View of the Active Pavlov Volcano, as Seen from the Space Station (92 words)
It’s been about three months since that infamous meteor broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia. In that time, there’s been a lot of conversation about how we can better protect ourselves against these space rocks with a potentially fatal (from humanity’s perspective) gravitational attraction to Earth.
This week, the European Space Agency officially inaugurated a “NEO Coordination Centre” that is intended to be asteroid warning central in the European Union. It will be the hub for early warnings on near-Earth objects (hence the ‘NEO’ in the name) under ESA’s space situational awareness program.
ESA estimates that of the 600,000 asteroids and comets that orbit the Sun, about 10,000 of them are NEOs. (They define NEOs as asteroids or comets with sizes of several feet up to several tens of miles.)
Read the rest of With Russian Meteor Fresh In Everyone’s Memory, ESA Opens An Asteroid Monitoring Center (329 words)
This Saturday will mark 15 years that the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) first opened its eyes on the Universe, and ESO is celebrating its first-light anniversary with a beautiful and intriguing new image of the stellar nursery IC 2944, full of bright young stars and ink-black clouds of cold interstellar dust.
This is the clearest ground-based image yet of IC 2944, located 6,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Centaurus.
Read the rest of An Amazing Anniversary Image from the VLT (285 words)
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