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This date in science: First view of Earth from the moon

Photograph courtesy NASA/Lunar Orbiter 1 This photo reveals the first view of Earth from the moon, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on August 23, 1966. Shot from a distance of about 236,000 miles (380,000 kilometers), this image shows half of Earth, from Istanbul to Cape Town and areas east, shrouded in night.

First view of Earth from the moon, courtesy NASA/Lunar Orbiter 1.

August 23, 1966. This photo reveals the first view of Earth from the moon, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on August 23, 1966. It’s shot from a distance of about 236,000 miles (380,000 kilometers) and shows half of Earth, from Istanbul to Cape Town and areas east, shrouded in night. NASA restored this photo in 2008, using photographic techniques not available in the 1960s. See the restored photo inside.

Aurora and reflection

Photo © 2014 Tor-Ivar Næss

Photo © 2014 Tor-Ivar Næss

The aurora borealis moves slowly above Norway’s Lyngen Alps on a beautiful November night.

Look toward Milky Way center. Moon and planets before dawn

Saturday morning's moon and planets.  Giuseppe Pappa wrote,

Saturday morning’s moon and planets. Giuseppe Pappa wrote, “I woke up early this morning again to see this spectacular conjunctions. I hope you like it. Image taken from Aci Castello,Sicily,Italy 3.30 UTC, 23-8-2014.”

Photo above shows Saturday morning’s moon. Will you see the moon Sunday morning? It’ll be tough, but you might. In the meantime, no evening moon means a great time to look toward our Milky Way galaxy’s center.

Born between November 29 and December 18? Here’s your constellation

Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer via Wikimedia Commons.

Ophiuchus the Serpent Bearer via Wikimedia Commons.

Astrological signs versus astronomical constellations, how to locate Ophiuchus, some deep-sky treasures it contains, plus charts and more.

Your toothpaste’s fluorine was formed in a star

Next time you’re brushing you teeth, think on this: Research suggests that the fluorine in your toothpaste was formed billions of years ago in now dead stars.

A trip down Canada’s Iceberg Alley

Photo credit: Ben Orlove

Photo credit: Bonnie J. McCay

It’s been a banner year for iceberg sighting in Iceberg Alley, the area off northeastern Newfoundland where the Titanic struck an iceberg and went down in April, 1912.

New Voyager map reveals Neptune’s strange moon Triton

When the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune in the summer of 1989. it captured images of Neptune's large moon Triton.  Now space scientists have released this new map of Triton, based on those 1989 images.  Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lunar & Planetary Institute

When the Voyager 2 spacecraft flew by Neptune in the summer of 1989. it captured images of Neptune’s large moon Triton. Now space scientists have released this new map of Triton, based on those 1989 images. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lunar & Planetary Institute

In 1989, the Voyager 2 spacecraft provided the first close-up view of the planet Neptune and its large moon Triton. This week, NASA scientists released this best-ever global color map of Triton, made with those early Voyager 2 images. The map gives us a glimpse of an otherwise unseen world.

This date in science: Definitive discovery of Neptune’s rings

Neptune's rings via Voyager 2.

Neptune has a faint, continuous ring system. This Voyager 2 image is shown at increased brightness, to bring out fainter features.

August 22, 1989. When NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft skimmed past the planet Neptune on this date, it discovered a faint but continuous ring system encircling the planet. Scientists had suspected there were rings around Neptune some years earlier. After all, Uranus had rings, discovered in 1977. And, watching from Earth in 1984, astronomers were able to see extra blinks before and after Neptune passed in front of a distant star. Still, Voyager 2 made the definitive discovery of Neptune’s rings a few days before it swept closest to the planet.

Waning moon, Venus and Jupiter spectacular at dawn August 23

2014-aug-22-jupiter-venus-moon-night-sky-chart

Think photo opportunity at dawn on August 23, 2014 as the waning crescent moon swings close to the brilliant planets Venus and Jupiter. Darkness will be ebbing to morning twilight. You’ll need an unobstructed eastern horizon, and you’ll want to look low in the sky some 75 to 60 minutes before sunrise. This gorgeous celestial trio – the moon, Jupiter and Venus – is so very bright that some sharp-eyed people might even see the brilliant threesome after sunup.

Researchers find life beneath half a mile of Antarctic ice

In a finding that could have implications in the search for life beyond Earth, researchers from an expedition called WISSARD confirmed this week that the waters and sediments of a lake that lies 800 meters (2,600 feet) beneath the surface of the West Antarctic ice sheet support “viable microbial ecosystems.”