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The zodiacal light, seen from the moon

Zodiacal light seen from the moon by NASA's LADEE spacecraft, which crashed into the moon on April 17.  Image via NASA Ames and Emily Lakdawalla.

Zodiacal light seen from the moon by NASA’s LADEE spacecraft, which crashed into the moon on April 17. Image via NASA Ames and Emily Lakdawalla.

NASA’s robotic moon explorer, LADEE, crashed into the back side of the moon, as planned, on April 17, 2014. Just five days earlier, it captured this amazing imagery of the zodiacal light as seen from the moon’s vicinity. Looks a bit like twilight, doesn’t it? But remember, although twilight here on Earth is an atmospheric phenomenon, this is the moon, and the moon has no air.

Is spacetime like a liquid?

Image credit: SISSA Medialab

Image credit: Jason Ralston

What if spacetime were a kind of fluid? This is the question tackled by theoretical physicists working on quantum gravity by creating models attempting to reconcile gravity and quantum mechanics. Some of these models predict that spacetime at the Planck scale is no longer continuous – as held by classical physics – but discrete in nature, like the solids or fluids we come into contact with every day, which can be seen as made up of atoms and molecules.

EarthSky’s meteor shower guide for 2014

Mike O'Neal posted this on the EarthSky Facebook page today (April 22).  He wrote, 'Had mostly cloudy sky, but did see some beautiful ones between the breaks.'

Mike O’Neal posted this shot of a Lyrid meteor on the EarthSky Facebook page at last year’s shower, on April 22, 2013. He wrote, ‘Had mostly cloudy sky, but did see some beautiful ones between the breaks.’

The Lyrid shower has mostly passed, but you might still see some stray meteors. Try watching from midnight to dawn on the mornings of April 24-26, 2014. Here’s the good news. The moon is waning and appearing in the sky for fewer hours of the night. So although meteor rates will be way down in contrast to earlier this week, you’ll have a better shot at seeing faint meteors in moonless sky.

Everything you need to know: Eta Aquarid meteor shower

Photo by Justin Ng

Eta Aquarid meteor in the 2013 shower over Mount Bromo, an active volcano in Indonesia. Photo by Justin Ng in Singapore.

A meteor shower is coming up in early May 2014 that should make our friends in the Southern Hemisphere very happy. The Eta Aquarid shower, which peaks before dawn May 5-7, is a fine one to view from tropical and southerly latitudes. At mid-northern latitudes, these meteors don’t fall so abundantly, though mid-northern meteor watchers will catch some, too, and might be lucky enough to catch an earthgrazer – a bright, long-lasting meteor that travels horizontally across the sky – before dawn. Because the Eta Aquarids are mainly a predawn shower, the waxing moon in early May will have set before the Eta Aquarid meteors start to streak the nighttime sky. Follow the links inside to learn more about the Eta Aquarid meteor shower.

Star of the week: Spica is a whirling double star

Daniel McVey captured this image of planet Mars and star Spica on March 26, 2014.

Daniel McVey captured this image of planet Mars and star Spica on March 26, 2014.

Spica looks like one star, but it is at least two stars, both larger and hotter than our sun, orbiting only 18 million kilometers (11 million miles) apart. That’s in contrast to 150 million kilometers for Earth’s distance from our sun. Their mutual gravity distorts each star into an egg shape, with the pointed ends facing each other as they whirl around, completing a single orbit in only four days. Follow the links inside to learn more about Spica, brightest star in the constellation Virgo the Maiden, near Mars in 2014.

An ancient sea god under the Milky Way

This is Manann Mclir, the mythical Celtic god of the sea overlooking Lough Foyle in Northern Ireland.  The Milky Way galaxy is rising above the statue's arms in all its glory.  Glenn Miles Photography posted this one at EarthSky Facebook, in celebration of International Dark Sky Week, April 20-26, 2014.  Visit Glenn Miles Photography.

View on Facebook. | A statue of Manann Mclir, the mythical Celtic god of the sea overlooks Lough Foyle, an estuary of the River Foyle in Ulster in Northern Ireland. The Milky Way galaxy is rising above the statue’s arms. According to legend in Northern Ireland, Manann Mclir is the Irish equivalent of the Roman sea god Neptune (or Greek Poseidon). It’s said his spirit is released in fierce storms. Glenn Miles Photography posted this photo at EarthSky Facebook, in celebration of International Dark Sky Week, April 20-26, 2014. Visit Glenn Miles Photography.

A mythical Celtic god of the sea and the edgewise view into our own Milky Way galaxy, as captured by Glenn Miles Photography in Northern Ireland.

Star-hop from Leo to the Coma star cluster

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Our chart at the top of this post shows the constellation Leo the Lion and the Coma star cluster at roughly 9 p.m. local time (10 p.m. local daylight saving time). You can see Leo from the suburbs, but you’ll need a dark sky to find the cluster. In mid-evening now, as seen from mid-northern latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, the constellation of the Lion will be high in the southern sky. In ancient times, the Coma star cluster represented the Lion’s tufted tail.

A dance of supermassive black holes

An international research team has discovered a pair of supermassive black holes in orbit around one another, according to an announcement today (April 22, 2014) from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany. This is the first time a pair of orbiting, supermassive black holes has been found in an ordinary galaxy. In the past they were found only in so-called active galaxies.

How to spot the International Space Station

A composite photograph of the International Space Station from Earth. Image Credit: Dave Walker.

A composite photograph of the International Space Station from Earth. Image Credit: Dave Walker.

Every so often, the International Space Station (ISS) becomes visible in your night sky. It’ll look like a bright star moving quickly above the horizon. The ISS is so bright, it can even been seen from the center of a city. Then, just as suddenly as it appeared, it disappears. Here’s how you can spot the ISS in your night sky.

Whoa! 26 atom-bomb-scale asteroid impacts since 2000

At a press conference today (April 22) at the Museum of Flight, three prominent astronauts supporting the B612 Foundation presented a visualization of new data showing evidence for 26 atom-bomb-scale asteroid impacts since 2000. The evidence comes from recently released data from the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, which operates a network of sensors that monitors Earth around the clock listening for the infrasound signature of nuclear detonations.