The greatest astronomy show on Earth returns to London.
The most complete source of video from the countdown, launch and mission of space shuttle Discovery is available here! Spaceflight Now'sSTS-121 archive includes more than 200 movies you can watch online or download to your computer.
X-ray telescope, gravity wave probes to be led by ESA
The European Space Agency has decided its next two big science missions, each costing more than $1.3 billion, will be a massive X-ray telescope and a long-proposed observatory to confirm the existence of gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity.
Long March rocket blasts off with Chinese lunar rover
A six-wheeled robotic rover named Yutu rode a Long March rocket into space Sunday on China's first lunar landing mission, marking an auspicious start to a four-day journey to the moon.
Scientists baffled by new pictures of Comet ISON
After a multi-million-year plunge from the frozen fringes of the solar system, Comet ISON may have broken apart and evaporated in the fierce heat and crushing gravity of the sun before or during a close flyby Thursday, presumably scotching long-held hopes for a dramatic sky show on Earth over the next few weeks. Or maybe not.
NASA sees watershed cosmic blast in unique detail
On April 27, a blast of light from a dying star in a distant galaxy became the focus of astronomers around the world. The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst and designated GRB 130427A, tops the charts as one of the brightest ever seen.
A chunk of comet ISON takes flight?
Comet ISON's recent outburst and increase in brightness was caused by a chunk of the comet breaking off, new analysis by German astronomers shows. The evidence is in the form of two faint 'wings' that are flanking the comet's coma.
'New' Kepler mission proposed to NASA
Managers in charge of the Kepler telescope have identified a way of salvaging the crippled observatory for a modified, less-sensitive cosmic survey for alien worlds, but NASA may not have the money to pay for the mission.
Comet ISON's outburst visible to the naked eye
Comet ISON has dramatically brightened to naked eye visibility, rising in a short space of time from magnitude +8.5 to fifth magnitude by 14 November. This is a dramatic increase in brightness as ISON races towards its close encounter with the Sun on 28 November.
Catch the Leonids meteor shower this weekend
The Leonids meteor shower is predicted to peak on the night of 17/18 November around 7pm GMT. The Leonids are seen every year between November 15-20 as the Earth passes close to the descending node of the orbit of comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle, the showers parent comet.
Comets in the morning sky
Comet enthusiasts are currently enjoying the spectacle of four bright comets visible in the morning sky. All the talk and speculation for months now has been, and still is, on ISON and how bright it may get, or whether it will survive its perilous encounter with the Sun. But ISON, despite a recent surge in activity and brightness, is currently being upstaged by comet Lovejoy.
Comet ISON brightens; now a binocular object!
Comet 2012 S1 (ISON) appears to be finally getting its act together and looking like a comet should as it heads for a hot date with the Sun on 28 November. ISON is now shining at magnitude +8, making it visible as a soft glow in 10x50 binoculars.
Hubble sees asteroid spouting six comet-like tails
Astronomers viewing our solar system's asteroid belt with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have seen for the first time an asteroid with six comet-like tails of dust radiating from it like spokes on a wheel.
Your guide to observing the Taurid meteor shower
The Taurids meteor shower is active this month with a double radiant and a double peak and although not one of the major showers in the meteor calendar, it's worth observing with rates of perhaps five or ten meteors per hour.
Five Things to See in the November Night Sky
Astronomy Now's Greg Smye-Rumsby brings you this month's night sky highlights.
Eclipse to sweep across Americas, Europe, Africa
You can experience a rare partial solar eclipse in the eastern United States and southern Europe this Sunday, and the eclipse is spectacularly total in Africa.
Kepler telescope finds an impossible world
Astronomers have discovered an impossible world – a rocky exoplanet that orbits its star at distance of less than 1.5 million kilometres and swelters at 2,000 degrees Celsius.
ALMA sees shape of 'coldest place in the Universe'
At a cosmologically crisp one degree Kelvin, the Boomerang Nebula is the coldest known object in the Universe - colder, in fact, than the faint afterglow of the Big Bang, which is the natural background temperature of space.
Astronomers discover most distant known galaxy
A team of astronomers has discovered a galaxy that sets the current distance record for galaxies whose distance has been definitively measured by spectroscopic redshift. The galaxy is seen as it was at a time just 700 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was only about 5 percent of its current age of 13.8 billion years.
Launch of Gaia galaxy probe slips to late December
Concerns over the health of two timing transponders inside Europe's Gaia spacecraft have delayed launch of the $1.2 billion mission to map the positions of a billion stars from Nov. 20 until at least late December, officials said Wednesday.
Comet 2012 X1 (LINEAR) brightens dramatically
In the thick of all the excitement and speculation over ISON comes the news that a run-of-the-mill comet, 2012 X1 (LINEAR), has undergone an outburst that has caused a 100-fold increase in its brightness.
JWST testing dodges threat from government closure
NASA kept a skeleton crew on the job during the partial U.S. government shutdown to watch over a critical component of the James Webb Space Telescope locked inside a cryogenic chamber to test its resiliency to the harsh conditions of space.
A giant misalignment in a multi-planet system
An astronomer using NASA's Kepler telescope has determined a star 3,000 light-years away harbours a bizarre planetary system with massive worlds revolving around their host at chaotic angles, challenging conventional assumptions on the way planets interact as they dance around stars.
Orionids at their peak
The Orionids are probably the best of the crop of autumn meteor showers for the northern hemisphere - now that the Leonids have returned to their 'normal' level of activity - so it's a great shame that this year's show will be severely blighted by the presence of the almost full Moon.
Comet ISON has good odds of enduring Sun encounter
Comet ISON has a good chance of surviving its sizzling encounter with the Sun next month, meaning the much-hyped comet has a shot at putting on a brilliant sky show in the morning sky, according to a new study.
A partial lunar eclipse!
The second lunar eclipse of the year takes place on 18/19 October, again this is a partial penumbral eclipse when the Moon is immersed in the lesser, outer region of the Earth's shadow called the penumbra.
ISON, Mars and Regulus converge in the sky
The planet Mars and comet ISON have been on a converging eastern path in Leo during October and they are at their closest now, with the significant added bonus of Leo's luminary, first magnitude Regulus, in the same neighbourhood in the sky.
Send your name to the stars with New Horizons
When the two Voyager spacecraft launched to the outer planets in 1977 they carried with them two gold plated records attached to their hulls. The records were humanity's way of making a statement to the cosmos, containing sounds of nature, samples of music, images of Earth and greetings in 56 languages. Now a new initiative has been launched, spearheaded by space artist Jon Lomberg, to convince NASA to allow the New Horizons probe to carry a similar message to the stars, as well as the names of 10,000 people.
Juno spacecraft recovers from fault after Earth flyby
Scientists in charge of NASA's Jupiter-bound Juno mission said Friday the speedy spacecraft recovered from a fault that triggered an unexpected safe mode as it zoomed by Earth for a gravity assist flyby Wednesday.
Five Things to See in the October Night Sky
Astronomy Now's Greg Smye-Rumsby brings you this month's night sky highlights.
This autumn is prime time for Jupiter-watching
Jupiter is by far the largest planet in the Solar System and undoubtably the most rewarding planet to observe, image and study for the amateur astronomer.
LADEE arrives at the moon for lunar science mission
One month after a dazzling late-night launch from Virginia sent NASA's LADEE mission into orbit, ground controllers in California are readying the lunar probe for a make-or-break rocket burn Sunday to put the modest spacecraft into orbit around the moon.
ISON makes lackluster showing in Mars flyby
Comet ISON made its closest approach to Mars this week, and scientists in charge of the sharp-eyed camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter say the long-awaited comet did not live up to expectations.
Mars probe reprieved from U.S. government shutdown
Engineers returned to work on NASA's next Mars mission at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday after receiving an emergency exception under federal law to continue launch preparations for a $671 million orbiter to probe the red planet's atmosphere.
Uranus at opposition
Uranus, the seventh planet from the Sun and the third largest, comes to opposition on 3 October among the stars of Pisces.
Budget impasse could threaten MAVEN launch date
Without funding to pay for numerous programs and research, engineers began shutting down work on a $671 million Mars science orbiter at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, halting critical preparations ahead of the mission's narrow interplanetary launch window in November. FULL STORY
Comet ISON shows plenty of promise as it nears Mars
This great new image from British astrophotographer Damian Peach shows Comet C/2012 S1 ISON continuing to race towards the Sun. The glow of the comet's diffuse coma and growing tail are clearly visible as it moves through the star-fields on the border between the constellations Cancer and Leo. FULL STORY
JWST instrument repairs on schedule for next year
The infrared eyes of the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to Hubble, are poised begin a two-year stretch of unprecedented ground testing after the delivery of the observatory's final instrument to NASA, according to mission managers. FULL STORY
Mars rover gives negative result on Mars methane
Contrary to earlier measurements from Earth and orbiting sensors, scientists analyzing data from the Curiosity rover have concluded the Martian atmosphere contains no methane, dashing hopes the red planet may still harbor microbial life.
Mysterious alignment of ghostly stars discovered
Astronomers have used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and ESO's New Technology Telescope to explore more than 100 planetary nebulae in the central bulge of our galaxy. They have found that butterfly-shaped members of this cosmic family tend to be mysteriously aligned - a surprising result given their different histories and varied properties.
Astronomy Photographer of the Year announced
The winners of the 2013 Astronomy Photographer of the Year were announced at the Royal Observatory Greenwich on Wednesday. The top prize of £1,500 went to Australian photographer Mark Gee for his image of the Milky Way arcing above the shoreline of Cape Palliser, New Zealand.
Astronomers map peanut at the heart of our galaxy
Two groups of astronomers have used data from ESO telescopes to make the best three-dimensional map yet of the central parts of the Milky Way.
Voyager 1 goes interstellar
NASA's Voyager 1 probe has finally left the Sun's magnetic environment and entered interstellar space, the mission's lead, Dr Ed Stone of JPL, has announced.
NASA's NuSTAR catching black holes on the fly
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.
Moon mission blasts off, overcomes pointing problem
NASA's latest moon mission, a $280 million project to study the lunar atmosphere, soared to space aboard a Minotaur 5 rocket Friday in a brilliant late-night launch from Virginia that lit up skies all along the U.S. East Coast.
Mars buzzes the Beehive
This month Mars has a very close encounter in the pre-dawn sky with the marvellous Beehive, or Praesepe, open cluster in Cancer, an easy naked eye target.
Neptune at its best
The most distant planet, remote and mysterious Neptune, is at its best, lying well south of the Celestial Equator among the stars of Aquarius.
Launch preparations begin for Gaia galaxy-mapper
Europe's new eye on the galaxy arrived in French Guiana on Friday, beginning three months of flight preparations before liftoff on a Soyuz rocket in November to commence a survey of a billion stars and chart their chaotic motion in the Milky Way galaxy.
WISE approved for three-year asteroid survey
NASA will reactivate a hibernating satellite to scan the inner solar system for nearby asteroids and other objects, including potential destinations for human exploration, the space agency announced Wednesday.
Magnetar harbours hidden magnetic field
Scientists using ESA’s XMM-Newton space telescope have discovered that a curious dead star has been hiding one of the strongest magnetic fields in the Universe all along, despite earlier suggestions of an unusually low magnetic field.
Around the Universe in 90 seconds
Astronomy Now's Greg Smye-Rumsby presents a round up of news including: two Martian moons passing in the night, a bright new nova and mechanical problems ends Kepler's planet finding mission.
NASA seeking new use for crippled Kepler telescope
Engineers have concluded they will be unable to restore NASA's Kepler telescope to full form after two reaction wheel failures - effectively ending the mission's search for Earth-sized planets around other stars - but officials are seeking new ideas to use the craft's 3.1-foot telescope to search for alien worlds, asteroids, comets and supernovas.
Curiosity sees Martian moons passing in the night
Mars' two moons, Phobos and Deimos, pass high above NASA's Curiosity rover in a video taken with the rover's 'Mastcam' instrument. It is the first time that the two moons have been seen eclipsing one another from the surface of the red planet. FULL STORY
Bright nova in Delphinus
A new nova has appeared in the constellation Delphinus. Currently estimated to be at magnitude +6, it is possible that the nova could brighten even further to become visible to the naked eye in dark skies.
NASA's next Mars mission inside 100 days from launch
The team in charge of NASA's $671 million Mars orbiter due for liftoff in November says the project is on schedule and on budget for launch during an immovable 20-day interplanetary window this fall.
It's Perseid time again!
Meteor enthusiasts have the Perseid maximum circled on the calendar well in advance and thousands over the length and breadth of the country will gather in groups to observe the shower's peak, forecast for the evening of 12 August.
Two different gas clouds in the Large Magellanic Cloud
ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured an intriguing star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud - one of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies. This sharp image reveals two distinctive glowing clouds of gas: red-hued NGC 2014, and its blue neighbour NGC 2020. While they are very different, they were both sculpted by powerful stellar winds from extremely hot newborn stars that also radiate into the gas, causing it to glow brightly.
Five things to see in the August night sky
Shooting stars, a galaxy you can see with your own eyes, the most distant planet in our solar system and more. Greg Smye-Rumsby takes us on a tour of the unmissable sights in the August night sky.
Asteroid Juno at opposition
Asteroid Juno comes to opposition on 4 August and will be observable all night among the stars of western Aquarius, right on the border with Aquila and well above the plane of the ecliptic.
NASA's next custom-built Mars orbiter flies to Florida
A NASA spacecraft set to launch to Mars this fall will take a cross-country plane ride Friday in the belly of a U.S. Air Force cargo jet, and our colleagues at Spaceflight Now been invited along for the ride. Follow the journey of MAVEN.
MISSION STATUS CENTER - live updates! MAVEN FACT SHEET - (pdf download)
Hubble sees ISON against a cosmic tapestry
There's a splendid morning sky for night owls and early risers with the great sight of Mars and Jupiter close together among the stars of Gemini. You will need to find a flat east-north-east horizon to enjoy the spectacle as the two are less than ten degrees up at 4 am, about an hour or so before sunrise.
Around the Universe in 90 seconds
A round-up of astronomical news: Cassini snaps an image of its home planet, there's gold in them that neutron stars, and Venus joins Regulus in the evening sky.
Jupiter and Mars in the July morning sky
There's a splendid morning sky for night owls and early risers with the great sight of Mars and Jupiter close together among the stars of Gemini. You will need to find a flat east-north-east horizon to enjoy the spectacle as the two are less than ten degrees up at 4 am, about an hour or so before sunrise.
Earth's gold came from colliding dead stars
We value gold for many reasons: its beauty, its usefulness as jewelry, and its rarity. Gold is rare on Earth in part because it's also rare in the universe. Unlike elements like carbon or iron, it cannot be created within a star. Instead, it must be born in a more cataclysmic event - like one that occurred last month known as a short gamma-ray burst.
New Neptune moon discovered by Hubble
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a new moon orbiting the distant blue-green planet Neptune, the 14th known to be circling the giant planet.
Radio bursts discovered from beyond our galaxy
Astronomers 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.
Hubble finds blue planet
Astronomers making visible-light observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have deduced the actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away.
Theory suggests M31 and Milky Way have history
Our Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy may have experienced a coming together ten billion years ago, leaving behind evidence that can only be explained by an alternative theory of gravity, says a team of scientists including Dr Hongsheng Zhao of the University of St. Andrews.
R2-D2 rovers could defend against Moon dust
Robotic rovers sent to explore the Moon will face a major hazard in the form of electrostatically elevated dust, according to a report being presented Wednesday at the National Astronomy Meeting by Professor Farideh Honary of the University of Lancaster.
NAM 2013: Earth offers signature for exoplanets
Predicting the fate of life on our planet over two billion years into the future could help us search for evidence for primitive life on once-habitable exoplanets around brightening stars, according to new research presented this week at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Scotland.
NAM 2013: Stars could magnetically bully planets
Red dwarf stars may be able to literally bully the magnetic fields of orbiting planets into the ground, according to new research being presented at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting taking place at the University of St Andrews this week.
NAM 2013: Gravitational microlensing and quasars
Stars in faraway galaxies may be magnifying the light of even more distant quasars, providing a serendipitous new technique for mapping these black hole powerhouses. That's the conclusion of new results presented for the first time Monday at the Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting at the University of St Andrews.
Gas giant exoplanets cling close to their parent stars
Finding extrasolar planets has become so commonplace that it seems astronomers merely have to look up and another world is discovered. However, results from Gemini Observatory's recently completed Planet-Finding Campaign - the deepest, most extensive direct imaging survey to date - show the vast outlying orbital space around many types of stars is largely devoid of gas-giant planets, which apparently tend to dwell close to their parent stars.
10,000th near-Earth object discovered in space
More than 10,000 asteroids and comets that can pass near Earth have now been discovered. The 10,000th near-Earth object, asteroid 2013 MZ5, was first detected on the night of June 18.
The fast winds of Venus are getting stronger
The most detailed record of cloud motion in the atmosphere of Venus chronicled by ESA's Venus Express has revealed that the planet's winds have steadily been getting faster over the last six years.
Billion-pixel view of Mars comes from Curiosity rover
A billion-pixel view from the surface of Mars, from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity, offers armchair explorers a way to examine one part of the Red Planet in great detail.
New kind of variable star discovered by astronomers
Astronomers using the Swiss 1.2-metre Euler telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile have found a new type of variable star. The discovery was based on the detection of very tiny changes in brightness of stars in a cluster.
Black hole bonanza turns up in galaxy next door
Using data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have discovered an unprecedented bonanza of black holes in the Andromeda Galaxy, one of the nearest galaxies to the Milky Way.
Black hole goes dormant amidst stellar chaos
Nearly a decade ago, NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory caught signs of what appeared to be a black hole snacking on gas at the middle of the nearby Sculptor galaxy. Now, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, which sees higher-energy X-ray light, has taken a peek and found the black hole asleep.
Swift produces UV maps of the nearest galaxies
Astronomers at NASA and Pennsylvania State University have used NASA's Swift satellite to create the most detailed ultraviolet light surveys ever of the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, the two closest major galaxies.
Healthy Hubble telescope raises hopes of longer life
Four years after a final shuttle servicing mission, the Hubble Space Telescope is operating like a fine watch, with no major technical problems that would prevent it from continuing its trail-blazing observations through the end of the decade – 30 years after launch – project officials say.
Radiation shields, new engines mandatory for Mars
A detector on NASA's Curiosity rover has confirmed previous research findings on the hazards of space radiation on the way to Mars, scientists announced Thursday, and future astronauts making the trip will need protection from the danger.
Asteroid buzzes Earth in range of amateur 'scopes
It's a pretty rare event for astronomers to get a leisurely look over the course of a week at a Near-Earth-Object (NEO) making a close approach to our home planet. NEO 285263 (1998 QE2) buzzes us on the night of 31 May, closing to within 5.8 million kilometres (3.6 million miles) of Earth.
Growing galaxies fed by funnels of fuel
Computer simulations of galaxies growing over billions of years have revealed a likely scenario for how they feed: a cosmic version of swirly straws.
Hubble reveals the Ring Nebula's true shape
The Ring Nebula's distinctive shape makes it a popular illustration for astronomy books. But new observations by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of the glowing gas shroud around an old, dying, sun-like star reveal a new twist.
May's mega-Moon and penumbral eclipse
Favourable circumstances for this month's full moon on 24/25 May result in the spectacular occurrence of a 'supermoon' or mega-Moon. If you can get to a site that has a reasonably flat south-eastern horizon then the rising moon will look unnaturally huge and spectacular!
Don't miss a grouping of planets in the evening sky
A spectacular grouping of Mercury, Venus and Jupiter graces late May's evening sky, with all three visible in the field-of-view of binoculars until the end of May.
Curiosity renews hunt for elusive Mars organics
Back in action after a month out of contact with Earth, NASA's Curiosity rover is renewing its quest to excavate a definitive signal of organic molecules - the building blocks of life - from the red planet's regolith and bedrock after a first taste of Martian soil turned up inconclusive results.
British astronaut assigned to space station mission
The UK's first astronaut to officially represent Queen and country has been assigned to a six month stay aboard the International Space Station. European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Timothy Peake, a former test pilot and major in the British Army Air Corps, was named to the Expedition 46/47 mission, scheduled to fly to the orbiting outpost in 2015.
Kepler's planet-finding mission may be at an end
NASA's planet-hunting Kepler telescope, stationed 40 million miles from Earth, has lost the ability to precisely point toward stars, and scientists fear the mission's quest to identify rocky planets around other stars is over, officials said Wednesday.
A guide to globular clusters
With observing opportunities starting to dwindle as the nights get shorter and lighter, globular clusters make for good targets in the less than ideal observing circumstances, with their generally high-surface brightness. FULL STORY
New study says lunar water came from Earth
Born in fire, but not born dry - the Moon's interior contains substantial water stolen from Earth following the Moon's creation in the molten debris from a cataclysmic collision between Earth and another still-born planet, according to new analysis of lunar rock samples. FULL STORY
Milky Way's central black hole snacks on hot gas
ESA's Herschel space observatory has made detailed observations of surprisingly hot molecular gas that may be orbiting or falling towards the supermassive black hole lurking at the centre of our Milky Way galaxy. FULL STORY
Scientists identify source of background radio emissions
Astronomers have for the first time identified discrete sources that account for nearly all the radio waves coming from distant galaxies, finding that most of the background radio emission comes from galaxies with gorging black holes at their cores. FULL STORY
Pulsar takes tests of general relativity into new territory
Astronomers have used ESO's Very Large Telescope, along with radio telescopes around the world, to find and study a bizarre stellar pair consisting of the most massive neutron star confirmed so far, orbited by a white dwarf star. FULL STORY
Herschel observatory goes dark after four-year mission
The Herschel telescope ended a nearly four-year campaign watching the cosmos Monday, when the telescope lost its sharp infrared vision as the last of a reservoir of liquid helium coolant evaporated into space - an expected ending to Herschel's stellar mission. FULL STORY
Enormous polar storm appears on Saturn
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided scientists the first close-up, visible-light views of a behemoth hurricane swirling around Saturn's north pole. FULL STORY
Herschel links Jupiter's water to comet impact
ESA's Herschel space observatory has solved a long-standing mystery as to the origin of water in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, finding conclusive evidence that it was delivered by the dramatic impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in July 1994. FULL STORY
Partial lunar eclipse favours Southern Hemisphere
A partial lunar eclipse will occur Thursday, with the best visibility of the brief event in western Australia and South Africa. But observers in the United Kingdom and other parts of the Northern Hemisphere could catch a glimpse with a little planning and luck. FULL STORY
Hubble sees Comet ISON
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the best view yet of what astronomers are hoping could become the "comet of the century". The image was taken on April 10, when the comet was slightly closer than Jupiter's orbit at a distance of 386 million miles from the Sun. FULL STORY
War of words over naming of exoplanets
Uwingu, the crowd-sourcing company founded by scientist Alan Stern, has hit back at the International Astronomical Union's claim that only they can give names to astronomical bodies, including exoplanets. FULL STORY
Saturn and its rings reach opposition in April
Saturn is unquestionably the solar system's showpiece planet. The sixth world from the Sun has been known since ancient times but its true majesty was not fully realised until the invention of the telescope. Learn how to observe and image Saturn in April, when the ringed world is on display all night. FULL STORY
Return of the Lyrids
After a seemingly interminable drought, meteor enthusiasts can finally get some action with the return of the Lyrids, active between April 18 and 25 with the peak of maximum activity expected April 22. FULL STORY
Supernova appears in M65
A very young core-collapse supernova burst forth on 21st March in the bright Messier galaxy Messier 65, surprisingly the first supernova to be discovered in that galaxy, raising hopes of a spectacular and pretty rare chance for amateur observers to follow its rise to brightness. FULL STORY
Messier 81 spiral galaxy overhead in April
Ursa Major, the Great Bear, wheels high overhead on April evenings and is ripe for deep-sky enthusiasts to pick some juicy stuff. The great galaxy Messier 81 is probably the best deep-sky object amongst a plethora of possibilities. FULL STORY
Lemmon's green halo set to dazzle Northern Hemisphere
2013 is set to be the year of the comets, with comet Pan-STARRS having already made a decent appearance and set to remain a fading circumpolar object during the spring months into summer, and the very exciting prospect of comet ISON later in the year. Muscling in on the show is comet Lemmon, originally thought likely to be a modest, run-of-the-mill comet on show first in the Southern Hemisphere, it has delighted comet enthusiasts there by becoming far more impressive and it's now set to wow north of the equator. FULL STORY
Hubble breaks record in supernova search
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has found the farthest supernova so far of the type used to measure cosmic distances. Supernova UDS10Wil, nicknamed SN Wilson after American President Woodrow Wilson, exploded more than 10 billion years ago. FULL STORY
Orbiting instrument detects hints of dark matter
The international team running the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on Wednesday announced the first results in its search for dark matter. They report the detection of cosmic rays consistent with annihilation of dark matter particles in space, but not yet sufficiently conclusive to rule out other explanations. FULL STORY
InSight mission to find what lies beneath Martian surface
NASA's next Mars lander will launch in 2016 to take the red planet's pulse and temperature, listening for tremors, measuring underground heat and monitoring the wobble in its rotation to answer fundamental questions about what lies beneath the desert world's rust-colored surface. FULL STORY
Hunting high-mass stars with the Herschel telescope
In this new view of a vast star-forming cloud called W3, ESA's Herschel space observatory tells the story of how massive stars are born. W3 is a giant molecular cloud containing an enormous stellar nursery. FULL STORY
Japan prepares for second asteroid sample return
Japanese engineers hurriedly redesigned the rock-collector and science payloads on the Hayabusa 2 spacecraft set to launch on an asteroid-sampling mission in late 2014, hoping to trump a problem which limited the load of asteroid rock fragments brought home by a preceding mission. FULL STORY
Planck reveals big bang's fireball in hi-def
The cosmic microwave background - the cooling fireball of the big bang - has been observed in greater detail than ever before by the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft. In the process some models of the Universe's birth and subsequent evolution have been refined and its age measured more accurately, but some new mysteries have also revealed themselves. FULL STORY
GRAIL impact craters spotted by lunar orbiter
Scientists using images taken by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have found scars on the moon's surface left by the planned impact of two gravity-mapping satellites in December. FULL STORY
U.S. laboratory produces first plutonium in 25 years
For the first time in 25 years, the United States is producing plutonium fuel to power spacecraft on missions beyond Earth, replenishing a dwindling stockpile to supply NASA's next Mars rover and other proposed probes. FULL STORY
NASA conquers Curiosity computer concerns
Sidelined by computer glitches since late February, NASA's Curiosity rover is on track to resume research on Mars after exiting a science-halting safe mode, officials said Tuesday.
ExoMars agreement signed by ESA and Russia
Ending more than a year of negotiations and formalities, top space officials from Russia and Europe signed an agreement Thursday to partner on a pair of robotic probes to Mars set to launch in 2016 and 2018.
Mars' Mount Sharp seen in Earth's light by Curiosity
A new panorama from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows Mount Sharp in a white-balanced colour adjustment that makes the sky look overly blue but shows the terrain as if under Earth-like lighting. White-balancing helps scientists recognize rock materials based on their experience looking at rocks on Earth.
Largest space telescope to lose infrared vision
The infrared eyes of Europe's Herschel observatory are about to go dark, but the space-based telescope will leave a legacy of data to keep astronomers occupied for years to come.
FULL STORY IMAGES:HIGHLIGHTS FROM HERSCHEL
Comet PanSTARRS to shine this week after sunset
The long-anticipated comet 2011 L4 (PanSTARRS) has finally cleared the horizon and is heading north into UK skies for the rest of this month. Although not quite matching the dazzling predictions of its brightness that were forecast after its discovery, it is still a must-view object.
Infrared survey reveals third-closest star system
A pair of newly-found brown dwarf stars is the third-closest star system to the Sun and the closest star discovered since 1916. The stars lie about 6.5 light years from our solar system.
Mars predicted to get close call from comet in 2014
A newly-discovered comet is predicted to make a close flyby of Mars in October 2014, perhaps zipping just 31,000 miles from the red planet's surface.
A window into Europa's ocean right at the surface
If you could lick the surface of Jupiter's icy moon Europa, you would actually be sampling a bit of the ocean beneath. A new paper details the strongest evidence yet that salty water from the vast liquid ocean beneath Europa's frozen exterior actually makes its way to the surface.
Curiosity rover suffers computer glitch on Mars
The ground team for NASA's Mars rover Curiosity has switched the rover to a redundant onboard computer in response to a memory issue on the computer that had been active.
X-ray telescopes measure black hole's spin rate
Two X-ray space observatories, NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton, have teamed up to measure definitively, for the first time, the spin rate of a black hole with a mass 2 million times that of our sun.
Canadian asteroid-hunting satellite lifts off
A small satellite built in Canada lifted off from India on Monday on a mission to spot asteroids, especially the kind posing a hazard to Earth.
Kepler telescope spots smallest exoplanet yet
NASA's Kepler mission scientists have discovered a new planetary system that is home to the smallest planet yet found around a star similar to our sun.
Cassini sheds light on cosmic particle accelerators
During a chance encounter with what appears to be an unusually strong blast of solar wind at Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft detected particles being accelerated to ultra-high energies. This is similar to the acceleration that takes place around distant supernovas.
Meteor streaks over Russia, injuring hundreds
A meteoric blast over Russia on Friday was the biggest in more than 100 years, according to scientists, releasing 500 kilotons of energy, shattering windows, and injuring more than 1,000 people.
BLAST BIGGEST SINCE TUNGUSKA - with video! METEOR RATTLES RUSSIA - with video!
Asteroid hurtling toward near-miss with Earth
Let's hope for clear skies on Friday night as the Near-Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 makes a really close approach to the Earth, passing at a distance of around 28,000 kilometres, which is just below the ring of Earth's geostationary satellites.
FULL STORY - with video!
Experts: Asteroid flyby no threat to Earth or satellites
Analysts surveying the path of a 150-foot-wide asteroid on course to swing by Earth on Friday say the object poses no threat to any satellites. The flyby is a near-miss in cosmic terms, and it's the closest-ever buzz by Earth of a known asteroid.
Taking a closer look at near-Earth asteroids
On average every year a small asteroid no more than four metres across plunges through Earth's atmosphere to disintegrate. Perhaps a few small chunks of rock reach the ground as meteorites. Scavengers and scientists go hunting for the debris, while everybody else just shrugs - until the day one of that rock's bigger cousins comes calling.
Chandra suggests rare origin for young black hole
New data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory suggest a highly distorted supernova remnant may contain the most recent black hole formed in the Milky Way galaxy. The remnant appears to be the product of a rare explosion in which matter is ejected at high speeds along the poles of a rotating star.
Mercury appears at dusk throughout February
One of February's highlights for observers in tropical and northern latitudes is the year's best evening apparition of fleet-footed Mercury, the innermost planet reaching greatest eastern elongation from the Sun on 16 February.
Reg Turnill, 1915-2013
Reginald Turnill, BBC Aerospace correspondent during the dawn of the space age and the world's oldest working space reporter, has died. He would have been 98 in May.
Curiosity collects powder sample in first drill on Mars
NASA's Curiosity rover used its hammering, rotating drill Friday to extract the first powdery samples from within fine-grained sedimentary bedrock, giving scientists their first chance to analyze material from inside a rock on Mars.
Study finds Earth-like planets common in galaxy
Using publicly available data from NASA's Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away.
Massive stellar winds are made of tiny pieces
ESA's XMM-Newton space observatory has completed the most detailed study ever of the fierce wind from a giant star, showing for the first time that it is not a uniform breeze but is fragmented into hundreds of thousands of pieces.
NASA exercises caution before Curiosity's first drill
Six months after dropping to the surface of Mars suspended under a rocket pack resembling a sci-fi creation, NASA's Curiosity rover is preparing to drill into a slab of rock holding clues of the planet's watery past.
ESA's Herschel resolves sharp view of Andromeda
In this new view of the Andromeda galaxy from ESA's Herschel space observatory, cool lanes of forming stars are revealed in the finest detail yet.
Kepler resumes data collection after safe mode
NASA's Kepler telescope has resumed its quest for planets around other stars after 10 days off to rest the spacecraft's suspect reaction wheels, officials announced Tuesday.
NASA signs on to European dark energy mission
NASA has agreed to provide infrared detectors for the European Space Agency's Euclid dark energy mission, a contribution worth approximately £31 million which buys U.S. scientists membership in a consortium of researchers steering the project's scientific objectives.
Kepler telescope's pointing system under scrutiny
NASA's planet-finding Kepler space telescope has suspended operations this week after a telemetry signature showed rising levels of friction in one of the spinning reaction wheels responsible for pointing the observatory toward its astronomical targets.
Betelgeuse braces for a cosmic collision
Multiple arcs are revealed around Betelgeuse, the nearest red supergiant star to Earth, in this new image from ESA's Herschel space observatory. The star and its arc-shaped shields could collide with an intriguing dusty 'wall' in 5,000 years.
A day in the life of ESA's Venus Express spacecraft
Bright and dark cloud bands wind around the poles of Venus in this beautiful sequence tracked by ESA's Venus Express as it makes a rollercoaster orbit around the planet.
Martian crater may have once held ancient lake
A NASA spacecraft is providing new evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars that adds to an increasingly complex picture of the Red Planet's early evolution.
NASA's GALEX reveals the largest-known spiral galaxy
The spectacular barred spiral galaxy NGC 6872 has ranked among the biggest stellar systems for decades. Now a team of astronomers from the United States, Chile and Brazil has crowned it the largest known spiral, based on archival data from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer mission.
NASA rules out Apophis impact with Earth in 2036
NASA scientists at the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., effectively have ruled out the possibility the asteroid Apophis will impact Earth during a close flyby in 2036. The scientists used updated information obtained by NASA-supported telescopes in 2011 and 2012, as well as new data from the time leading up to Apophis' distant Earth flyby on Jan. 9.
Getting started in astronomy
Getting started in astronomy? The first step in becoming an astronomer is to become familiar with the night sky above. Let's dispel one myth and reassure everyone who is new to astronomy from the beginning: you do not need a telescope to do astronomy!
Herschel refines size estimate of Apophis
ESA's Herschel space observatory made new observations of asteroid Apophis as it approached Earth this weekend. The data shows the asteroid to be bigger than first estimated, and less reflective.
Telescopes find evidence of asteroid belt around Vega
Astronomers have discovered what appears to be a large asteroid belt around the star Vega, the second brightest star in northern night skies. The scientists used data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's Herschel Space Observatory, in which NASA plays an important role.
Scientists losing hope of reviving French telescope
Scientists are losing optimism in the recovery of a French planet-hunting space telescope that suddenly stopped producing science data in November.
NASA's NuSTAR catches black holes in galaxy web
NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, set its X-ray eyes on a spiral galaxy and caught the brilliant glow of two black holes lurking inside.
Quadrantid meteor shower kicks off 2013
The Quadrantid meteor shower kicks off the year in fine fashion although inclement weather can often disappoint keen observers wrapped up warm in the pre-dawn hours.
Scientists seek rock target for Mars rover's drill
At the top of the Curiosity rover's to-do list next year is the first use of its rock-boring drill, allowing scientists to examine samples from inside Martian rocks with the robot's instrument suite.
Hubble eyes spiral galaxy's bright beating heart
The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope provides us this week with a spectacular image of the bright star-forming ring that surrounds the heart of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1097. In this image, the larger-scale structure of the galaxy is barely visible: its comparatively dim spiral arms, which surround its heart in a loose embrace, reach out beyond the edges of this frame.
Cluster satellites reveal swirling solar wind
Using ESA's Cluster quartet of satellites as a space plasma microscope, scientists have zoomed in on the solar wind to reveal the finest detail yet, finding tiny turbulent swirls that could play a big role in heating it.
Possible planets found around nearby Sun-like star
An international team of astronomers using the W. M. Keck Observatory and other telescopes, has discovered that Tau Ceti, one of the closest and most Sun-like stars, may host five planets - with one in the elusive 'Goldilocks Zone.'
Stars reveal the secrets of looking young
Some people are in great shape at the age of 90, while others are decrepit before they're 50. We know that how fast people age is only loosely linked to how old they actually are - and may have more to do with their lifestyle. A new study using both the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory and the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals that the same is true of star clusters.
Nile analogue discovered on Saturn's moon Titan
The international Cassini mission has spotted what appears to be a miniature extraterrestrial version of the Nile River: a river valley on Saturn's moon Titan that stretches more than 400 km from its 'headwaters' to a large sea.
Chinese craft encounters asteroid Toutatis
China's Chang'e 2 probe, repurposed for an extended mission after surveying the moon, flew by asteroid Toutatis last week and returned the first up-close photos of the potato-shaped object.
Twin GRAIL satellites make pinpoint crash into moon
Engineers guided NASA's twin GRAIL lunar gravity probes into a ridge near the moon's north pole Monday, using the mission's final moments for technical experiments and honoring the legacy of late astronaut Sally Ride.
FULL STORY PREVIEW STORY
Geminids meteor shower reaches maximum this week
The Geminids meteor shower is the richest shower of the year and along with the much lesser Ursids nicely rounds off the meteor observing season for 2012.
Opportunity rover beginning study of Martian clays
NASA's Opportunity mission, laboring halfway around Mars from the headline-stealing Curiosity rover, is giving geologists their first up-close glimpse of Martian clays, leftovers from an ancient watery environment on the red planet.
Unusual glowing 'green bean' galaxies found
Nicknamed "green bean galaxies" because of their unusual appearance, newly-discovered galaxies glow in the intense light emitted from the surroundings of monster black holes and are amongst the rarest objects in the Universe.
WISE spies gigantic faraway galaxy cluster
Our solar system, with its colorful collection of planets, asteroids and comets, is a fleck in the grander cosmos. Hundreds of billions of solar systems are thought to reside in our Milky Way galaxy, which is itself just a drop in a sea of galaxies.
Voyager 1 cruising along magnetic highway
The Voyager 1 spacecraft, sailing through the unexplored frontier of the solar system, has detected a new region of space at the enigmatic boundary between the sun's sphere of influence and the interstellar medium, scientists said Monday.
Curiosity detects organics, but where are they from?
NASA's Mars Curiosity rover has used its full array of instruments to analyze Martian soil for the first time, and found a complex chemistry within the Martian soil. Water and sulfur and chlorine-containing substances, among other ingredients, showed up in samples Curiosity's arm delivered to an analytical laboratory inside the rover.
Saturn's polar vortex imaged by Cassini
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has been traveling the Saturnian system in a set of inclined, or tilted, orbits that give mission scientists a vertigo-inducing view of Saturn's polar regions. This perspective has yielded images of roiling storm clouds and a swirling vortex at the center of Saturn's famed north polar hexagon.
FULL STORY - with photos!
NASA seeks ideas to use Hubble-class spy telescopes
NASA is asking scientists to submit ideas on how to use two optical telescopes originally built for the National Reconnaissance Office, the U.S. government's spy satellite agency, in a request for information solicitation released this week.
Jupiter at its best
Jupiter comes to opposition on 3 December and is well placed for some months to come, giving amateur astronomers a great opportunity to observe and image the Solar System's largest planet and undoubtedly the most rewarding and easiest to observe planet.
Record-breaking black hole blast discovered
Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope have discovered a quasar with the most energetic outflow ever seen, at least five times more powerful than any that have been observed to date.
Cassini finds Saturn's moon Tethys a gamer's paradise
You could call this "Pac-Man, the Sequel." Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spotted a second feature shaped like the 1980s video game icon in the Saturn system, this time on the moon Tethys. The feature appears on thermal maps of the moon's temperature.
No sign of an atmosphere around distant Makemake
Scientists have discovered the dwarf planet Makemake, a chilly world lying beyond Pluto, is not surrounded by a significant atmosphere, revealing new insights into the icy bodies populating the edge of the solar system.
Planck spots hot gas linking galaxy cluster pair
ESA's Planck space telescope has made the first conclusive detection of a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters across 10 million light-years of intergalactic space.
Gravitational lensing yields most distant galaxy
By combining the power of NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and one of nature's own natural "zoom lenses" in space, astronomers have set a new record for finding the most distant galaxy seen in the universe.
ESA lunar lander shelved ahead of budget conference
A European robotic lunar lander has been shelved during a budget-setting meeting of senior government ministers which began Tuesday, according to German space officials who said the project will be set aside in favor of launcher development, Earth observation, space station operations, and the joint ExoMars mission with Russia.
Comets crash every 6 seconds around nearby star
Comets are smashing into each other with a collision every six seconds around a star 200 light years away, say astronomers in the United States.
Astronomers catch a rogue planet without a Sun
A possible free-floating exoplanet, drifting through interstellar space without a star of its own to orbit, has been discovered a hundred light years from Earth. If confirmed, it will be the first of its kind to be proven to exist - and there may be billions more like it out there.
New technique brings early dark energy into focus
Scientists are using light from distant quasars to chart the history of dark energy, and they hope to use the new technique to learn how the mysterious force came to dominate the universe.
Mars orbiter camera spots fresh impact crater
A high-resolution telescope mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has uncovered the scarred impact site formed when a rocky bolide struck the Martian surface.
UK government pledges more funding for space
The British government on Friday said it would commit an extra $100 million in annual space expenditures to fund technological development of next-generation communications and weather satellites.
NASA's radiation belt probes named for Van Allen
NASA has renamed two satellites launched in August for James Van Allen, a pioneering astrophysicist who discovered the radiation belts surrounding Earth.
Scientists find super-Earth planet 42 light-years away
Astronomers have discovered a super-Earth planet orbiting a star in our own cosmic neighborhood, and it lies in the Goldilocks zone, where conditions are just right to sustain liquid water and an Earth-like climate.
Comet breakup catches attention of astronomers
The Hergenrother comet is currently traversing the inner-solar system. Amateur and professional astronomers alike have been following the icy-dirt ball over the past several weeks as it has been generating a series of impressive outbursts of cometary-dust material. Now comes word that the comet's nucleus has taken the next step in its relationship with Mother Nature.
Nereidum Montes helps unlock Mars' glacial past
On 6 June, the high-resolution stereo camera on ESA's Mars Express revisited the Argyre basin and aimed at Nereidum Montes, some 380 km northeast of Hooke crater. The stunning rugged terrain of Nereidum Montes marks the far northern extent of Argyre, one of the largest impact basins on Mars.
Fireworks from the Taurids meteor shower
The Taurids meteor shower is active this month with a double radiant and a double peak and although not one of the major showers in the meteor calendar, it's worth observing with rates of perhaps 5-10 meteors per hour amongst all the artificial fireworks on bonfire night and then a week later.
Curiosity sniffs Martian air, but finds no methane
Scientists on Friday reported the Curiosity rover's first whiffs of the Martian atmosphere have turned up no sign of methane, an object of fascination for many scientists due to its ramifications on the search for life on Mars.
Fermi helps calculate number of stars in universe
Astronomers have measured the background light from all the stars in the cosmos and inferred the number of stars created since the dawn of the universe, researchers announced Thursday.
Curiosity takes dazzling self-portrait on Mars
Three months into its mission on Mars, NASA's Curiosity rover has returned a high-resolution self-portrait as the robot conducts scientific research inside Gale Crater.
NASA still awaits delivery of Webb camera, spectrograph
Engineers will start cryogenic testing next year of the James Webb Space Telescope's instrument module, the heart of the observatory's unprecedented imaging capabilities, without two of the mission's core sensors as the units contend with delays, according to scientists.
Rocky planet orbiting one of our stellar neighbours
A rocky exoplanet the size of Earth has been unveiled in the closest star system to the Sun, the Alpha Centauri triple system, just 4.3 light years away. The discovery is being hailed as the greatest since the first exoplanets were discovered 20 years ago.
See the Orionid meteor shower this weekend
The annual Orionid meteor shower peaks over several nights close to October 20-22. The meteors are swift moving and bright events are not uncommon, many leaving persisting ionisation trails that never fail to thrill the lucky observer!
Comet 168P Hergenrother in outburst
Comet 168P/Hergenrother was predicted to be just another run-of-the-mill 14th-15th magnitude comet but has undergone an outburst and recent estimates have it at magnitude 9-10, making it currently the brightest comet in the Northern Hemisphere.
A curious cold layer in the atmosphere of Venus
Venus Express has spied a surprisingly cold region high in the planet's atmosphere that may be frigid enough for carbon dioxide to freeze out as ice or snow.
Jupiter occulted by the Moon down under
Observers in south-western Australia can witness a great astronomical event on the morning of 6 October when Jupiter, Ganymede, Io and Callisto are occulted by the Moon.
New comet might blaze brighter than the full Moon
A new comet has been discovered that is predicted to blaze incredibly brilliantly in the skies during late 2013. With a perihelion passage of less than two million kilometres from the Sun in November 2013, current predictions are of an object that will dazzle the eye at up to magnitude —16. That's far brighter than the full Moon.
Uranus at its best
The seventh planet, mysterious and remote Uranus comes to opposition on 29 September. The ice giant is technically a naked-eye object glowing at magnitude +5.7, but in practice you will want some optical help.
Hubble captures deepest view of universe yet
A stunning new composite photograph from the Hubble Space Telescope, made up of more than 2,000 images shot by multiple cameras over the past 10 years and combined in what amounts to a 23-day time exposure, shows some 5,500 galaxies in tiny field of view, including some dating back to just 450 million years after the big bang birth of the universe, astronomers said Tuesday.
Cassini probe sees Saturn's rings at a new angle
NASA's Cassini spacecraft has taken an angled view toward Saturn, showing the southern reaches of the planet with the rings on a dramatic diagonal.
Astronomers see bright impact on gas giant Jupiter
Amateur astronomers in the United States of America have reported a bright fireball in the Jupiter clouds tops as a result of an apparent impact.
Self portraits by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover
NASA's Curiosity rover has turned one of its cameras to create some stunning self portraits. The Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) which is located at the end of the robot arm captured images beneath the rover's belly of its wheels on the surface and of the rover's camera mast, the closest thing it has to a head.
Moon occults dwarf planet Ceres for North America
Dwarf planet Ceres, the largest body in the Asteroid Belt, is occulted by a 42 percent illuminated Moon in the early hours of 9 September. The vast majority of Canada and the United States will be able to observe this event.
Find Neptune lurking on the fringes of the Solar System
Neptune is an easy object to detect for big, tripod mounted binoculars and small telescopes, shining this month at magnitude +7.8 and giving up a small blue-green disc spanning 2.4 arcseconds.
Hubble sees star clusters on collision course
Astronomers using data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have caught two clusters full of massive stars that may be in the early stages of merging. The clusters are 170,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to our Milky Way.
Extraordinary cluster sets record pace at forming stars
Astronomers have found an extraordinary galaxy cluster, one of the largest objects in the universe, that is breaking several important cosmic records. Observations of the Phoenix cluster with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, the National Science Foundation's South Pole Telescope, and eight other world-class observatories may force astronomers to rethink how these colossal structures and the galaxies that inhabit them evolve.
New system could predict solar flares, give warnings
Researchers may have discovered a new method to predict solar flares more than a day before they occur, providing advance warning to help protect satellites, power grids and astronauts from potentially dangerous radiation.
Eye in the sky! Curiosity spied from orbit
NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on the red planet last week, has been spied by the orbiting Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), sitting on layered bedrock within the enormous Gale Crater.
Asteroid probe loses another pointing system
Engineers working on NASA's Dawn asteroid probe are assessing the status of a reaction wheel – part of a system that helps the spacecraft point precisely – after onboard software powered it off on August 8.
Curiosity running new software, plans road tests
Engineers successfully updated the Curiosity rover's computer software over the weekend and plan initial tests of the mobile science lab's ability to drive across the martian terrain within the next week or so, project officials said Tuesday.
Earth vaporised in the name of science. Don't panic!
What would the atmosphere of an Earth-like planet be like if it was close enough to its parent star to evaporate rock? Astronomers have attempted to answer this question by using computer models to vaporise the Earth.
Blazing a trail with the Perseids meteor shower
The Perseid meteor shower has come to be one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the astronomical year and one of the most reliable to put on a good show. The shower reaches its peak this weekend.
Inferior planets not so inferior in the morning
The bulk of the planetary action this month is concentrated in the morning sky, with the 'so-called' inferior planets Venus and Mercury both on show and both reaching greatest elongation west within a day of each other mid-month.
Curiosity's camera mast erected; checkout continues
The Curiosity Mars rover, stepping through a complex post-landing checklist in near flawless fashion, successfully raised its main camera mast and beamed down razor-sharp navigation camera views of its surroundings in Gale Crater that provide a hint of the spectacular vistas to come when the craft's high-resolution cameras swing into operation, engineers said Wednesday. FULL STORY MISSION STATUS CENTER - live coverage! SFN LAUNCH COVERAGE HDTV VIDEO ARCHIVE
Sir Bernard Lovell, 1913–2012
One of the greatest pioneers of radio astronomy, Sir Bernard Lovell OBE died at his home yesterday at the age of 98. He will be best remembered for founding the world-famous Jodrell Bank radio observatory near Macclesfield in Cheshire, and for building its iconic 76-metre radio dish, named the Lovell Telescope in his honour.
Curiosity rover's descent photographed by orbiter
The nuclear-powered Curiosity Mars rover survived its nail-biting plunge to a pinpoint landing on the floor of Gale Crater in remarkably good shape, engineers said Monday, setting down on a flat, wind-swept plain littered with uniform gravel-like rocks and firm soil.
Curiosity lands on Mars!
After an eight-month voyage across 352 million miles of interplanetary space, the Mars Science Laboratory plunged through the Red Planet's atmosphere and landed Monday, enduring "seven minutes of terror" in an action-packed descent that culminated with a rocket-powered "sky crane" to lower the one-ton nuclear-powered rover to the surface.
FULL STORY IMAGES:PRE-LANDING PHOTO GALLERY PREVIEW STORY
Red is the new Black
The colour of night-time skyglow may be about to undergo a radical change worldwide, according to scientists of the Freie Universität Berlin and the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries. They predict that with increasing use of LED street lamps, the colour of the night sky will become bluer.
Telescope captures sharpest images of corona
A telescope launched July 11 aboard a NASA sounding rocket has captured the highest-resolution images ever taken of the Sun's million-degree atmosphere called the corona. The clarity of the images can help scientists better understand the behavior of the solar atmosphere and its impacts on Earth's space environment.
Venus, Jupiter and the Moon in the morning
Over the next few mornings there is a beautiful sky scene in the pre-dawn eastern sky with blazing Venus and giant Jupiter joined by an old crescent moon against the backdrop of the the great winter constellation of Taurus.
Jupiter and its moons are occulted!
Jupiter and its moons move behind the bright limb of the Moon in the early hours of 15 July, to emerge minutes later from behind the dark limb. A superb photographic opportunity for observers in the UK.
Impossible, record breaking orbits for red dwarfs
The United Kingdom Infrared Telescope has unveiled a puzzling set of binary stars that whiz around each other in time-scales that were thought to be impossible. These unexpected results could mean that its back to the drawing board for understanding red dwarf formation.
Cassini sees the Titanian seasons turn, turn, turn New images from the Cassini spacecraft show a concentration of high-altitude haze and a vortex materializing at the south pole of Titan, signs that the seasons are turning on Saturn's largest moon. FULL STORY
Milky Way rings like a bell after collision
An odd distribution of stars in the Milky Way has led astronomers to believe that our Galaxy is still shuddering after a recent collision. FULL STORY
Hubble sees red giant blow a bubble
A bright star is surrounded by a tenuous shell of gas in this unusual image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. U Camelopardalis, or U Cam for short, is a star nearing the end of its life. FULL STORY
Venus and Jupiter in the morning sky
If you are a morning person or a night owl with a penance for all-night observing then you are in prime position to see the emergence of Venus and Jupiter into the morning eastern sky, heralding the latters exciting 2012 apparition and the formers extended stay in the morning sky, right through the rest of the year.
Saturn makes its moons feel small in new Cassini image
Compared to the gas giant, the two moons shown on either side of Saturn seem particularly small in this Cassini view. Tethysis on the right of the image and smaller Enceladus is on the left.
Pluto makes a good target for larger telescopes
Pluto comes to opposition on 29 June among the stars of Sagittarius and despite its +14 magnitude and current southerly declination it is a good target for imagers and owners of moderate to large telescopes.
Hubble spots rare gravitational arc
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have found a puzzling arc of light behind an extremely massive cluster of galaxies residing 10 billion light-years away. The trouble is, the arc shouldn't exist.
Alien world looms large in neighbour's sky
Two planets that are such close neighbours they loom in one another's skies at less than five times the average Earth-Moon distance threaten to challenge what we know about planet formation and migration.
Hubble Space Telescope views globular cluster M10
NASA has released a spectacular image of the globular cluster M10 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. The observations were carried out as part of a major Hubble survey of globular clusters in the Milky Way.
ESA's Euclid mission cleared to proceed
European scientists on Wednesday approved the development and construction of Euclid, an $800 million space telescope designed to unravel the mysterious forces accelerating the expansion of the universe. FULL STORY
Extremely Little Telescope makes first big discoveries
In the same week that astronomers welcomed the decision to build the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT), the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) is showing what can be done at the other end of the scale. FULL STORY
NASA has a mission for grounded spy telescopes
A National Reconnaissance Office telescope built in secret to collect intelligence for the U.S. government could be the linchpin in NASA's quest to build a satellite to detect extrasolar planets and study the nature of dark energy, the mysterious force driving the expansion of the universe. FULL STORY
The Transit of Venus
A transit of the planet Venus across the solar disc on 5/6 June is overwhelmingly the observing highlight for 2012. Such transits are among the rarest of predictable planetary phenomena or alignments and you'll certainly want to make the most special effort to see this one as you are unlikely to see another. FULL STORY
Partial lunar eclipse 4 June
The transit of Venus is not the only event taking place this month; a partial lunar eclipse takes place on 4 June (UT) and although it lacks the beauty of a copper-coloured moon at a total eclipse, there is still a very real fascination to be had from seeing a large chuck 'bitten out' of the Moon. FULL STORY
Venus heading for its big date with the Sun
Venus is racing towards its big date with the Sun in this movie created with images from the ESA/NASA Soho solar observatory. On June 5/6 Venus will make a rare transit across the face of the Sun as seen from Earth. FULL STORY
Asteroid weighs in prior to spacecraft visit
Scientists have used an innovative technique that combines radar and infrared measurements in order to weigh the asteroid 1999 RQ36, the target for an ambitious NASA mission to return a sample of its regolith. FULL STORY
An interview with Kelvin Long, starship engineer
Kelvin Long is an aerospace engineer and physicist, as well as the founder of Project Icarus - a design study for an interstellar starship - and is Chief Editor of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Astronomy Now spoke to him about his vision for the future. FULL STORY
JWST instrument flies across Atlantic
A sensitive infrared camera designed to detect the first light in the universe flew across the Atlantic Ocean in the belly of a jetliner Tuesday, ready to be integrated in the science module of the James Webb Space Telescope for exhaustive testing. FULL STORY
South Africa and Australia share SKA spoils
The location of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) - a giant collection of radio dishes, arrays and antennae that will combine to form the largest telescope ever built - has surprisingly been awarded to both countries competing to host it, splitting the SKA not only over two countries but two continents. FULL STORY
Moon occults open cluster
This Saturday night the Moon will occult the well-known and bright deep sky object, open cluster M67, in the constellation Cancer. The observing circumstances from the UK are not ideal but it still will be well worth trying to observe the disappearance of as many of the cluster's stars as possible.
Black holes stunt dwarf galaxy growth
Scientists have discovered that black holes may have been sneakily turning up the thermostat in the early Universe, making it difficult for dwarf galaxies to form.
America's annular eclipse
There is a rare treat for US observers on 20 May 2012 when an annular eclipse is visible from parts of seven western US states, with a partial eclipse visible across much of North America, except for areas near and along the Atlantic coast.
Hubble turns Moon into a mirror for Venus transit
This June, many people on Earth will bear witness to the spectacular event that is the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun. The Hubble Space Telescope will be one of the numerous telescopes used to monitor the event - but it will do so using the Moon as a mirror.
Goodbye to Comet Garradd
Comet 2009 P1 (Garradd) has been a very welcome icy visitor from the frozen, far-flung reaches of the Solar System but make sure you observe it soon as May is the last month it will be reasonably placed.
White dwarfs mean double trouble for supernovae
There's more than one way to skin a cat and, now, it seems there's more than one way to create a supernova involving a white dwarf star, according to a new study by a multi-continental team of astronomers. Their results challenge not only traditional theory, but have implications for some of our most profound astronomical investigations - the nature of dark energy and the expansion of the Universe.
Mars rover test-drive in California sand dunes
Using California sand dunes in the Mojave Desert, Mars Science Laboratory team members are practicing how to drive the car-sized Curiosity rover when it arrives on the red planet in August.
Belt Storm Probes arrive at Florida launch site
Twin NASA satellites designed to probe and predict changes in Earth's radiation belts arrived at the Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday, ready to begin several months of testing and assembly before lifting off on an Atlas 5 rocket in August.
Huge sunspot threatens disruption
One of the largest sunspot groups for some time rotated into view on the Sun over the weekend. There is a chance that it will produce X-class flares, the strongest type, which can cause disruption to communications here on Earth and more welcoming, beautiful aurora displays.
Lunar occultation and graze
On the evening of 25 April the crescent moon moves in front of the moderately bright star zeta Tauri (magnitude +2.9). From Greenwich the star is occulted at 9.30pm BST in the deepening twilight with the Moon quite well placed 25 degrees above the western horizon.
Look out for the Lyrids
The spring meteor shower drought is broken with the arrival of the Lyrids, the shower peaking on the night of April 21-22. Lyrids are well-known for producing fast meteors (the incoming meteoroids hit the upper atmosphere at 49 kilometres per second) and the numerous brighter shower members often leave behind lingering ionisation trains; the odd fireball too if we are lucky.
Planets shepherd Fomalhaut's flock
The controversy surrounding the young star, Fomalhaut, has taken an intriguing turn as astronomers who have enlisted the help of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have revealed that planets orbiting the 25 light year distant star are much smaller than once thought.
See the beauty of Saturn
The most beautiful planet in the Solar System comes to opposition on 15 April and is ripe for observation for the whole night during the month. Saturn (magnitude +0.3) lies among the stars of Virgo, a mere five degrees north-east of Spica (alpha Virginis), the pair making a striking sight in the south-eastern sky as soon as it gets dark.
Europe to sign ExoMars plan by year's end
Russia told European Space Agency officials last week it will partner with Europe on the ExoMars orbiter and rover missions after NASA dropped out of the project in February due to budgetary concerns, according to the Russian space agency.
Scientists learning to forecast dust devils on Mars
Knowing exactly when and where to look for dust devils on Mars is still a matter of luck, but scientists are making inroads in forecasting the red planet phenomena, leading to two astonishing images of Martian twisters released in the last month.
Is the Moon bigger tonight?
Knowing exactly when and where to look for dust devils on Mars is still a matter of luck, but scientists are making inroads in forecasting the red planet phenomena, leading to two astonishing images of Martian twisters released in the last month.
Kepler planet-hunting mission extended until 2016
NASA's Kepler telescope will scan the sky searching for planets beyond the solar system through 2016 after the space agency extended the mission on the advice of the astrophysics research community.
Venus buzzes the Pleiades
The current evening apparition of Venus has been truly memorable and, after cosying up to Jupiter and the Moon in recent weeks, the queen of the planets entices the splendid Pleiades open star cluster (M45) into her clutches. READ MORE
Picture tells story of a billion stars
More than one billion stars are seen together in a new image of the Milky Way created by combining over ten thousand smaller images from telescopes in both hemispheres, astronomers revealed this week at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester. READ MORE
Tornado causes a storm on the Sun
A solar twister many times as wide as the Earth has been filmed in action by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). READ MORE
Extrasolar asteroids pollute white dwarf stars
Unexpected elements have been found in the atmospheres of white dwarfs which suggest that the stars may have been eating broken-up asteroids. READ MORE
Sun-plunging comets: sink or skim?
The fate of comets nose-diving towards the Sun and how easily they give up their mass can be predicted according to how deep into the Sun’s atmosphere they plummet, say scientists presenting their research at the National Astronomy Meeting today. READ MORE
Solar storms to get worse as activity drops?
A decline in solar activity over the coming decades may result in choppier space weather with ferocious solar storms becoming more frequent, according to new research presented at the RAS’ National Astronomy Meeting at the University of Manchester this week. READ MORE
The hunt is on for exomoons
The Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler project has identified around 100 potential light curves that could reveal moons orbiting alien worlds already found by the Kepler Space Telescope.
It is difficult enough to predict the weather on planet Earth, but a team of scientists from Exeter University are working on models that predict and interpret weather and climate on extrasolar worlds.
First detection of buckyballs in young stellar systems
Using Spitzer Space Telescope data, astronomers have made the first detection of the C60 fullerene molecule in young stellar objects, and found a further example alongside nano-diamonds in a more evolved star.
Asteroids that travel through the Solar System close to a companion but not as a bound binary pair could still have shared a common origin, perhaps even spinning apart from one single object, report astronomers at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester this week.
Theoretical modelling presented at the National Astronomy Meeting this week finds that the gravitational effects of gas giant Jupiter can influence the orbit of Comet Halley in such a way as to give periodically enhanced meteor displays.
The gas giant Saturn is most famous for the set of dazzling rings that encircle the planet, and new images have revealed that “jets” streaming from its F-ring are caused by collisions of moonlets with the ring.
First evidence of space weathering on Comet Wild 2
The presence of iron in samples collected from Comet Wild 2 by the Stardust mission and returned to Earth in 2006 have been interpreted as evidence for space weathering, giving the comet its rust-red hue.
The Framing Camera aboard NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has been returning some remarkable pictures of Vesta since its arrival at the giant asteroid in July 2011, and some of these were shown at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester this week.
A network of radio telescopes, with the mighty 76-metre dish of Jodrell Bank Observatory’s Lovell Telescope at its hub, has begun a pathfinding survey to measure the star-formation history of the Universe.
Computer simulations suggest that high-energy radiation from baby Sun-like stars carve out gaps in their proto-planetary discs that act as barricades, forcing giant planets to pile up in preferred orbits.
GRAIL lunar gravity mission extended until December
NASA has granted an extension of the GRAIL moon mission until December, allowing scientists to complete a more definitive map of the lunar gravity field from a lower orbit, according to agency officials and researchers.
More than 5,000 star-formation "bubbles" have been identified in the disc of our Milky Way by citizen scientists working through Spitzer Space Telescope data to help decipher the secrets of stellar birth.
Anybody casually glancing up at the western sky shortly after sunset at the moment cannot fail to spot the conjunction of the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, which on Monday are just three degrees apart.
Astronomers using the FourStar camera on the 6.5 metre Magellan Baade Telescope in Chile have identified a mature 10.5 billion light year distant galaxy cluster that had evaded detection by other ground- and space-based observatories.
A phenomenon known as a hot flow anomaly (HFA), which causes a temporary reversal of the solar wind that normally moves past a planet thanks to its protective magnetosphere, has been detected on planet Venus, a surprising find given the planet's lack of magnetic field.
The Sun has come to life again after a relatively quiet February with the appearance of the major sunspot AR1429, which emerged over the Sun’s north-east limb on 2 March and launched a X1-class solar flare this morning (5 March at 04.13 UT).
Researchers analyzing data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft announced Friday the discovery of a tenuous atmosphere around Saturn's moon Dione, a small, colorless world of ice and rock near the giant planet's famous rings.
SETI Live: join in the search for extraterrestrial life
Created as a result of the TED Prize Wish and in collaboration with the Zooniverse, for the first time the public can analyse data collected by the Allen Telescope Array to contribute to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) on other planets.
While primitive humans of the Middle Paleolithic hunted prey and sheltered in caves in Africa, a distant star eighteen times more massive than the Sun, located faraway in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) endured a catastrophic collapse as it reached the end of its life. Some 160,000 years later the light of this supernova finally reached Earth to shine in Southern Hemisphere skies on 24 February 1987.
There was a solar eclipse Tuesday, but it was only visible from space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught spectacular views of the moon passing between the Earth and the sun, appearing to take a bite out of the fiery star.
The supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy may be swallowing large asteroids and comets almost daily, generating bursts of X-ray light visible to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, according to an international team of astronomers.
After floating accusations against U.S. military radars, flawed foreign parts and space radiation, Russian space officials have concluded a software glitch caused the failure of the Phobos-Grunt Mars probe.
NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has detected neutral atoms of hydrogen, helium, oxygen and neon breaching the Solar System’s magnetic barrier and reaching Earth. The new results show that the Local Cloud, which is a thin cloud of dust and gas that the Solar System is passing through, has a shortage of oxygen.
Comet Garradd has a spectacular conjunction with a bright globular cluster in the early hours of the next two mornings when it passes around half a degree from M92, presenting a fine observing and imaging opportunity.
The Universe under one roof. European AstroFest returns to London on February 7 & 8, 2014. The UK's favourite astronomy conference and exhibition. Visit the official website site for more details.
From tiny Mercury to distant Neptune and Pluto, The Planets profiles each of the Solar System's members in depth, featuring the latest imagery from space missions. The tallest mountains, the deepest canyons, the strongest winds, raging atmospheric storms, terrain studded with craters and vast worlds of ice are just some of the sights you'll see on this 100-page tour of the planets. U.K. STORE E.U. STORE U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE
Hubble Reborn Hubble Reborn takes the reader on a journey through the Universe with spectacular full-colour pictures of galaxies, nebulae, planets and stars as seen through Hubble's eyes, along the way telling the dramatic story of the space telescope, including interviews with key scientists and astronauts. U.K. STORE E.U. STORE U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE
Witness the most awesome sights of the Universe as they were meant to be seen in this 100-page extravaganza of planets, galaxies and star-scapes, all in 3D! U.K. STORE E.U. STORE U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE
This special publication features the photography of British astro-imager Nik Szymanek and covers a range of photographic methods from basic to advanced. Beautiful pictures of the night sky can be obtained with a simple camera and tripod before tackling more difficult projects, such as guided astrophotography through the telescope and CCD imaging. U.K. STORE E.U. STORE U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE
Astronomy Now is pleased to announce the publication of Exploring Mars. The very best images of Mars taken by orbiting spacecraft and NASA's Spirit and Opportunity rovers fill up the 98 glossy pages of this special edition! U.K. STORE E.U. STORE U.S. & WORLDWIDE STORE