There has been a lot of excitement this month about the supernova in the distant galaxy M82. It is the closest supernova in many years, despite the fact that it’s some 11-12 million light-years away. On a January or February evening, come to know the red star Betelgeuse in the constellation Orion. It’s not only one of Orion’s brightest stars. It’s also a star that astronomers know will one day explode as a supernova. And it’s only 430 light-years away! Follow the links inside to learn more about Betelgeuse and its explosive destiny.
Star travel is a cherished dream among space fans, but the question is … how to get there? Travel by light sails is perhaps the most romantic notion for star travel, relying on thin, lightweight reflective sails, powered by the sun or other stars. You start slow, but accelerate up to very fast speeds. Okay, maybe we’re not ready for star travel anytime soon, but maybe travel between planets in our own solar system? That may be closer to the goal of the Planetary Society, which announced this week (January 26, 2015) that the first of its LightSail spacecraft will embark on a May, 2015 test flight.
Discovered in 2010, two vast and mysterious Fermi bubbles radiate outward tens of thousands of light-years from our Milky Way galaxy’s core. Click inside for an update on the bubbles from the three astrophysicists who found them.
Astronomers have found the first-ever ringed planet beyond our solar system. Called J1407b, the super-world has a disc of halos 200 times bigger than Saturn’s. Click inside for details on this discovery, plus … how it might look in our sky.
Dreaming the night away while waiting for the clouds to clear.
Tonight – January 29, 2015 – cast your mind outward in space toward the Pioneer 10 spacecraft, one of the most distant spacecraft from Earth at this time. Pioneer 10 was launched from Earth on March 3, 1972. It was the most distant human-made object from Earth until Voyager 1 overtook it – at 69 Earth-sun distance units, or astronomical units – in 1998. On January 29, 2015, both the moon and Pioneer 10 reside in the direction of the constellation Taurus the Bull. You can’t see it (and it can’t see Earth), but you can imagine it tonight.
Two astronaut photos, one from 2015 and one from 1966, show the southern peninsula of India by night and by day. See the daytime view inside.
NASA and NOAA’s Suomi NPP and the GOES-East satellites captured this amazing nighttime view of this week’s snowstorm in the U.S. Northeast. The image shows this blizzard near peak intensity, moving over the New York and Boston metropolitan areas at 06:45 UTC (1:45 a.m. EST) on January 27.
Tonight – January 28, 2015 – as night begins, the waxing gibbous moon, star Aldebaran and Pleiades star cluster are found high in the sky. Aldebaran shines as the brightest star near the moon, though the moonlit glare might make it difficult to see the tiny, dipper-shaped Pleiades cluster tonight. If you can’t see them, break out the binoculars!
Eleven years on Mars for the rover Opportunity! And the robotic rover is still working. The rover’s work on Mars was initially planned for three months. It marked the 11th anniversary of its own January 25, 2004 landing on Mars with a new panorama, gained from one of the highest elevations reached so far. See the whole image, and see it large … inside!