Carnival of Space #491 This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Stefan Lamoureaux at the Links Through Space blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #491. And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to carnivalofspace@gmail.com, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really want to helpRead More →

Messier 31 – The Andromeda Galaxy Welcome back to Messier Monday! In our ongoing tribute to the great Tammy Plotner, we take a look at the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as Messier 31. Enjoy! During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky. Having originally mistaken them for comets, he began compiling a list of them so that others would not make the same mistake he did. In time, this list (known as the Messier Catalog) would come to include 100 of the most fabulous objects in the night sky. One of these objectsRead More →

Exploding Binary Stars Will Light Up the Sky in 2022 Stellar collisions are an amazingly rare thing. According to our best estimates, such events only occur in our galaxy (within globular clusters) once every 10,000 years. It’s only been recently, thanks to ongoing improvements in instrumentation and technology, that astronomers have been able to observe such mergers taking place. As of yet, no one has ever witnessed this phenomena in action – but that may be about to change! According to study from a team of researchers from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a binary star system that will likely merge and explode inRead More →

Poor Weather Pushes SpaceX Return Debut with Revolutionary Iridium Relay Sats to Jan. 14 Mission patch for Iridium-1 mission showing launch of the first 10 Iridium NEXT voice and data relay satellites on SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, for Iridium Communications, and planned landing of the first stage on a droneship in the Pacific Ocean. Credit: SpaceX/Iridium In the face of unrelenting days of very poor weather and a range conflict with another very critical rocket launch, SpaceX is pushing back the return debut of their private Falcon 9 rocket carrying a revolutionary fleet of voice and data commercial communications relayRead More →

FAA Accepts Accident Report, Grants SpaceX License for Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ SpaceX Falcon 9 poised for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, in this file photo ahead of Jason-3 launch for NASA on Jan. 17, 2016. Credit: SpaceX The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today “accepted the investigation report” regarding the results of SpaceX’s investigation into the cause of the company’s catastrophic Sept. 1, 2016 launch pad explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket in Florida, and simultaneously “granted a license” for the ‘Return to Flight’ blastoff of the private rocket from California as soon as next week – the FAA confirmed todayRead More →

Hubble Spots Possible Exocomets in Nearby Star System The Hubble Space Telescope is a workhorse which, despite its advanced years, keeps on producing valuable scientific data. In addition to determining the rate at which the Universe is expanding, spotting very distant galaxies, and probing the early history of the Universe, it has also observed some truly interesting things happening in nearby star systems. For example, Hubble recently spotted some unusual activity in HD 172555, a star system located about 95 light-years from Earth. Here, Hubble obtained spectral information that indicated the presence of comets that appeared to be falling into the star. This could proveRead More →

Martian Spacecraft Spies Earth and the Moon The incredible HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter turned its eyes away from its usual target – Mars’ surface – and for calibration purposes only, took some amazing images of Earth and our Moon. Combined to create one image, this is a marvelous view of our home from about 127 million miles (205 million kilometers) away. Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for HiRISE said the image is constructed from the best photo of Earth and the best photo of the Moon from four sets of images. Interestingly, this combined view retains the correct positions and sizes ofRead More →

Weekly Space Hangout – January 6, 2017: Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guests: This week’s guest is Abigail “Astronaut Abby” Harrison. Abigail is the founder of The Mars Generation nonprofit. Currently a sophomore at Wellesley College in Massachusetts majoring in Astrobiology and Russian. Harrison is positioned to enter a PhD program upon graduation and continue her pursuit of becoming a scientist, astronaut and member of the first human crew to land on Mars in the 2030’s. Hundreds of thousands of supporters from around the world follow her journey to becoming an astronaut via the blog Harrison authors at AstronautAbby.org. The MarsRead More →

Could Garnet Planets be Habitable? The hunt for exoplanet has revealed some very interesting things about our Universe. In addition to the many gas giants and “Super-Jupiters” discovered by mission like Kepler, there have also been the many exoplanet candidate that comparable in size and structure to Earth. But while these bodies may be terrestrial (i.e. composed of minerals and rocky material) this does not mean that they are “Earth-like”. For example, what kind of minerals go into a rocky planet? And what could these particular compositions mean for the planet’s geological activity, which is intrinsic to planetary evolution? According to new study produced byRead More →

NASA Orders Additional Astronaut Taxi Flights from Boeing and SpaceX to the ISS Boeing and SpaceX commercial crew vehicles ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) in this artists concept. Credit: NASA In a significant step towards restoring America’s indigenous human spaceflight capability and fostering the new era of commercial space fight, NASA has awarded a slew of additional astronaut taxi flights from Boeing and SpaceX to carry crews to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA’s new announcement entails awarding an additional four crew rotation missions each to commercial partners, Boeing and SpaceX, on top of the two demonstration fights previously awarded to eachRead More →

Chandra Spots Two Cosmic Heavy-Hitters at Once This week, the 229th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) kicked off in Grapevine, Texas. Between Monday and Friday (January 3rd to January 7th), attendees will be hearing presentations by researchers and scientists from several different fields as they share the latest discoveries in astronomy and Earth science. One of the highlights so far this week was a presentation from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, which took place on the morning of Wednesday, January 5th. In the course of the presentation, an international research team showed some stunning images of two of the most powerful cosmic forces seenRead More →

Carnival of Space #490 It’s that time again! This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Pamela Hoffman at the Everyday Spacer blog. Click here to read Carnival of Space #490. And if you’re interested in looking back, here’s an archive to all the past Carnivals of Space. If you’ve got a space-related blog, you should really join the carnival. Just email an entry to carnivalofspace@gmail.com, and the next host will link to it. It will help get awareness out there about your writing, help you meet others in the space community – and community is what blogging is all about. And if you really want toRead More →

NASA Announces Missions to Explore Early Solar System It’s a New Year, with new challenges and new opportunities! And NASA, looking to kick things off, has announced the two new missions that will be launching in the coming decade. These robotic missions, named Lucy and Psyche, are intended to help us understand the history of the early Solar System, and will deploy starting in 2021 and 2023, respectively. While Lucy’s mission is to explore one of Jupiter’s Trojan asteroids, Psyche will explore a metal asteroid known as 16 Psyche. And between the two of them, it is hoped that they will answer some enduring questions aboutRead More →

Source of Mysterious ‘Fast’ Radio Signals Pinpointed, But What Is It? For about 10 years, radio astronomers have been detecting mysterious milliseconds-long blasts of radio waves, called “fast radio bursts” (FRB). While only 18 of these events have been detected so far, one FRB has been particularly intriguing as the signal has been sporadically repeating. First detected in November 2012, astronomers didn’t know if FRB 121102 originated from within the Milky Way galaxy or from across the Universe. A concentrated search by multiple observatories around the world has now determined that the signals are coming from a dim dwarf galaxy about 2.5 billion light yearsRead More →

What is the Closest Galaxy to the Milky Way? Scientists have known for some time that the Milky Way Galaxy is not alone in the Universe. In addition to our galaxy being part of the Local Group – a collection of 54 galaxies and dwarf galaxies – we are also part of the larger formation known as the Virgo Supercluster. So you could say the Milky Way has a lot of neighbors. Of these, most people consider the Andromeda Galaxy to be our closest galactic cohabitant. But in truth, Andromeda is the closest spiral galaxy, and not the closest galaxy by a long shot. ThisRead More →

What is an Ice Age? Scientists have known for some time that the Earth goes through cycles of climatic change. Owing to changes in Earth’s orbit, geological factors, and/or changes in Solar output, Earth occasionally experiences significant reductions in its surface and atmospheric temperatures. This results in long-term periods of glaciation, or what is more colloquially known as an “ice age”. These periods are characterized by the growth and expansion of ice sheets across the Earth’s surface, which occurs every few million years. By definition we are still in the last great ice age – which began during the late Pliocene epoch (ca. 2.58 millionRead More →

SpaceX Finds Failure Cause, Announces Sunday Jan. 8 as Target for Falcon 9 Flight Resumption Upgraded SpaceX Falcon 9 blasts off with Thaicom-8 communications satellite on May 27, 2016 from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL. 1st stage booster landed safely at sea minutes later. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com After an intensive four month investigation into why a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded without warning on the launch pad last September, the company today announced the failures likely cause as well as plans of a rapid resumption of flights as soon as next Sunday, Jan. 8, from their California launch complexRead More →

Messier 30 – The NGC 7099 Globular Cluster Welcome back to Messier Monday! In our ongoing tribute to the great Tammy Plotner, we take a look at the globular cluster known as Messier 30. Enjoy! During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noted the presence of several “nebulous objects” in the night sky. Having originally mistaken them for comets, he began compiling a list of them so that others would not make the same mistake he did. In time, this list (known as the Messier Catalog) would come to include 100 of the most fabulous objects in the night sky. One of theseRead More →

Start the Year With Spark: See the Quadrantid Meteor Shower The Quadrantid meteor shower, named for the obsolete constellation Quadran Muralis, will appear to stream from a point in the sky called the radiant (yellow star), located below the end of the Big Dipper’s handle and across from the bright, orange-red star Arcturus. The map shows the sky around 4 a.m. local time Tuesday, Jan. 3. The shower will be best between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., the start of dawn. Map: Bob King, Source: Stellarium If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to spend more time under the stars in 2017, you’ll have motivationRead More →

Our Free Book: 101 Astronomical Events in 2017 101 Astronomical Events in 2017 Let’s forget all about 2016, and instead look forward to the amazing 2017 we all know we’re going to have. And to help you celebrate this amazing year in space, we’re pleased to publish an entire book on what you can observe in the upcoming year: 101 Astronomical Events in 2017. This totally free ebook was written by our own David Dickinson and contains all the predictable events coming up: the occultations, the eclipses, the meteor showers, the equinoxes, the super-moons and mini-moons. Every significant event coming up in 2017. In addition,Read More →