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 →

NASA’s Favorite Photos of 2016 There are a group of unsung heroes at NASA, the people who travel the world to capture key events in our exploration of space. They share their images with all of us, but most of the time, it’s not just the pictures of launches, landings, and crucial mission events that they capture. They also show us behind-the-scenes events that otherwise might go unnoticed, and they also capture the true personalities of the people behind the missions and events. From exciting beginnings of rocket launches and rocket tests to the sad losses of space exploration icons, these photographers are there takeRead More →

How Do Wind Turbines Work? Perhaps you’ve seen them while driving through the countryside. Or maybe you saw them just off the coast, looming large on the horizon with their spinning blades. Then again, you may have seen them on someone’s roof, or as part of a small-scale urban operation. Regardless of the location, wind turbines and wind power are becoming an increasingly common feature in the modern world. Much of this has to do with the threat of Climate Change, air pollution, and the desire to wean humanity off its dependence on fossil fuels. And when it comes to alternative and renewable energy, windRead More →

Iridium Satellites Fueled and Tucked In For SpaceX Falcon 9 ‘Return to Flight’ Blastoff The first ten IridiumNEXT satellites are stacked and encapsulated in the Falcon 9 fairing for launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Ca., in early 2017. Credit: Iridium Technicians have fueled, stacked and tucked the first ten advanced IridiumNEXT mobile voice and data relay satellites inside the nose cone of a Falcon 9 rocket designated as SpaceX’s ‘Return to Flight’ launcher – potentially as early as next week – from their west coast launch pad on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. “Milestone Alert: The first ten #IridiumNEXT satellites are stacked andRead More →

NASA’s NEOWISE Missions Spots New Comets NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) accomplished much during its first mission, which ran from December of 2009 to September of 2010. During the many months that it was active, the orbital telescope conducted an all-sky astronomical survey in the infrared band and discovered thousands of minor planets and numerous star clusters. The extension of its mission, NEOWISE, has brought new life to the telescope as a comet and asteroid hunter. And since its re-activation in December of 2013, the orbiting telescope has spotted hundreds of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) and thousands of Main Belt asteroids. Most recently, itRead More →

Weekly Space Hangout – December 30, 2016: Nancy Atkinson’s “Incredible Stories from Space” Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guest: This week’s guest is Nancy Atkinson, an editor and writer for Universe Today, and is the author of a book about NASA’s robotic space missions, “Incredible Stories From Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She was the editor in chief for Space Lifestyle Magazine and also has had articles published on Wired.com, Space.com, NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine, Space Times magazine, and several newspapers in the Midwest. She has been involved with several space-related podcasts, including Astronomy Cast, 365 Days ofRead More →

Opportunity Celebrates Christmas/New Year on Mars Marching to Ancient Water Carved Gully NASA’s Opportunity rover scans around and across to vast Endeavour crater on Dec. 19, 2016, as she climbs steep slopes on the way to reach a water carved gully along the eroded craters western rim. Note rover wheel tracks at center. This navcam camera photo mosaic was assembled from raw images taken on Sol 4587 (19 Dec. 2016) and colorized. Credit: NASA/JPL/Cornell/Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/Marco Di Lorenzo On the brink of 4600 Sols of a profoundly impactful life, NASA’s long lived Opportunity rover celebrates the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season on Mars marching relentlessly towards anRead More →

What Are Fossil Fuels? The term “fossil fuels” is thrown about quite a lot these days. More often than not, it comes up in the context of environmental issues, Climate Change, or the so-called “energy crisis”. In addition to be a major source of pollution, humanity’s dependence on fossil fuels has led to a fair bit of anxiety in recent decades, and fueled demands for alternatives. But just what are fossil fuels? While most people tend to think of gasoline and oil when they hear these words, it actually applies to many different kinds of energy sources that are derived from decomposed organic material. HowRead More →

NASA Might Build an Ice House on Mars At first glance, a new concept for a NASA habitat on Mars looks like a cross between Mark Watney’s inflatable potato farm from “The Martian” and the home of Luke’s Uncle Owen on Tatooine from “Star Wars.” The key to the new design relies on something that may or may not be abundant on Mars: underground water or ice. The “Mars Ice Home” is a large inflatable dome that is surrounded by a shell of water ice. NASA said the design is just one of many potential concepts for creating a sustainable home for future Martian explorers.Read More →

What is Alternative Energy? In recent years, alternative energy has been the subject of intense interest and debate. Thanks to the threat of Climate Change, and the fact that average global temperatures continue to rise year after year, the drive to find forms of energy that will reduce humanity’s reliance on fossil fuels, coal, and other polluting methods has naturally intensified. While most concepts for alternative energy are not new, it has only been in the past few decades that the issue has become pressing. And thanks to improvements in technology and production, the costs of most forms of alternative energy has been dropping whileRead More →