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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.
Astronomers surprised by proposed grounding of SOFIA
NASA's proposed budget for 2015 would slash funding for a U.S.-German airborne infrared observatory unless international partners or other institutions supply money to keep the sophisticated astronomy platform in the sky.
Cassini mission completes 100th fly of Titan
NASA's Cassini spacecraft, in the final months of its first decade spiraling around Saturn, zipped past the moon Titan on Thursday for the 100th time, continuing an unbroken string of flybys of one of the most Earth-like worlds in the known universe.
ExoMars rover on track despite funding gap
The lead builder of Europe's ExoMars rover, the British division of Airbus Defence and Space, has started procuring critical components for the Mars mission as the European Space Agency culls the continent to close a funding gap.
Astronomers spot record-breaking lunar impact
A meteorite with the mass of a small car crashed into the Moon last September, according to Spanish astronomers. The impact, the biggest seen to date, produced a bright flash and would have been easy to spot from the Earth.
Europe to build planet-hunting observatory
The European Space Agency has selected an observatory for launch in the next decade to stare at up to a million nearby stars for signs of habitable worlds and probe their size, mass and composition.
Scientists reveal the anatomy of an asteroid
ESO's New Technology Telescope has been used to find the first evidence that asteroids can have a highly varied internal structure. By making exquisitely precise measurements astronomers have found that different parts of the asteroid Itokawa have different densities.
Mars rover sees Earth as brilliant evening star
Reminiscent of the iconic pale blue dot photograph from the Voyager 1 space probe, the Curiosity Mars rover has sent home another cosmic postcard showing the Earth hanging over the rugged Martian horizon as an evening star.
Space telescopes help study burned-out galaxies
Astronomers using NASA's Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes, and Europe's Herschel Space Observatory, have pieced together the evolutionary sequence of compact elliptical galaxies that erupted and burned out early in the history of the universe.
Exoplanet probe leads pack of ESA mission candidates
A space-based observatory to hunt for habitable planets around other stars is the leading candidate to win the financial backing of the European Space Agency later this month.
ESA says Rosetta in good shape after snooze
A first look at the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft after its reactivation last week shows the probe endured an unprecedented power-saving hibernation with few problems, giving engineers confidence the mission can continue the final leg of its decade-long pursuit of a little-known comet thought to harbor the building blocks of life.
NASA moon probe captures fleeting view of sister craft
Coupling a fortuitous orbital alignment with meticulous planning, a camera aboard NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter caught a smeared glimpse of another moon probe in an image released Wednesday.
Bright, young supernova outburst in Messier 82
In what could be one of the observing highlights of 2014, a very young, bright supernova has been discovered in the popular, nearby and well-placed galaxy Messier 82 in Ursa Major.
Rosetta's comet chase is on
Fresh out of an unprecedented power-saving sleep mode, Europe's comet-chasing Rosetta spacecraft awakened and phoned home Monday on the way to an enigmatic ball of rock and ice for a daring close-up inspection later this year.
FULL STORY MISSION STATUS CENTER
European Space Agency's Gaia mission settles in at L2
The star-surveying Gaia observatory completed a tricky manoeuvre Tuesday to park itself nearly a million miles from Earth, arriving at a remote operating post to begin scanning the galaxy to plot the locations and motions of a billion stars.
Curiosity rover spotted in imagery from Mars orbiter
A high-resolution camera mounted on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has collected imagery showing the Curiosity rover's trek across Gale Crater toward a three-mile-high mountain.
A Jovian spectacular!
Jupiter, the king of the planets comes to opposition, opposite the Sun in the sky, on 5 January to present close to the very best possible observing opportunity the gas giant ever can.
Revered Spirit rover landed on Mars a decade ago
Ten years ago Friday, the Spirit rover made an airbag-cushioned landing on Mars to begin a six-year exploration of Gusev Crater, outlasting even the most enthusiastic of prognostications from the mission's engineering and science teams.
Quadrantids begin the 2014 meteor shower calendar
The Quadrantids is the first meteor shower of the year and kicks things off in fine fashion on the night of January 3/4, although inclement weather can often disappoint keen observers wrapped up warm in the long January night.
Asteroid hunter returns first images since reactivation
NASA's Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, a spacecraft that made the most comprehensive survey to date of asteroids and comets, has returned its first set of test images in preparation for a renewed mission.
'Discovery machine' soars to map the Milky Way
The sharp-sighted Gaia observatory, carrying the largest camera ever flown in space, rocketed into a predawn sky from French Guiana on Thursday to survey a billion stars and reveal the structure of the Milky Way in finer detail than any mission before.
China's lunar rover seen in images from the moon
China's robotic lunar lander sent back its first sharp images on Sunday, showing the six-wheeled Yutu rover a day after driving off its landing platform to begin a three-month sojourn across the moon's barren soils.
China successfully lands robotic rover on the moon
A Chinese robotic rover landed on the moon Saturday, becoming China's first outpost on another world after a rocket-powered descent to an unexplored barren volcanic plain.
Geminids meteor shower bursts forth
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 2013.
Hubble traces subtle signals of water hazy worlds
Using the powerful eye of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, two teams of scientists have found faint signatures of water in the atmospheres of five distant planets.
Supernova holds clues to determining age of binary
Data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed faint remnants of a supernova explosion and helped researchers determine Circinus X-1 -- an X-ray binary -- is the youngest of this class of astronomical objects found to date.
X-ray telescope, gravity wave probe 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.
A comet meets a globular cluster
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.
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