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Large 2015 Gulf of Mexico dead zone

Spatial extent of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone in 2015. Image Credit: N. Rabalais and R. E. Turner via NOAA.

Spatial extent of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone in 2015. Image Credit: N. Rabalais and R. E. Turner via NOAA.

Data from this year’s survey indicate that the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico is above average in size, likely because of heavy rains in June.

Young moon and Mercury from Zimbabwe

Because Peter Lowenstein lives in the Southern Hemisphere, he was fortunate enough to see the young waxing crescent moon and the planet Mercury in the western sky after sunset on August 16, 2015. In fact, the Southern Hemisphere will be enjoying Mercury’s best evening apparition of the year in August and September 2015. At temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, Mercury will set after nightfall for the next four weeks!

How to spot the International Space Station

ISS crossing the sky in a long-exposure photograph by Antonín Hušek?.

ISS crossing the sky in a long-exposure photograph by Antonín Hušek?.

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. Here’s how you can spot the ISS in your night sky.

No double moon in 2015, or ever

This image is circulating on Facebook, with the claim that Mars will appear as big and bright as a full moon on August 27, 2013.  It's a hoax.  Don't believe it.  Mars never appears as large as a full moon in Earth's sky.

This image sometimes circulates on Facebook, with the claim that Mars will appear as big and bright as a full moon on August 27, 2014. It’s a hoax. Don’t believe it. Mars never appears as large as a full moon in Earth’s sky.

The famous double moon hoax appears to be gearing up again. We hear that the word spread on Facebook that there would be a double moon. Will this hoax ever die? It’s now 12 years old. Still, clearly, not everyone knows it’s a hoax.

Three planets and star, from Zimbabwe

View larger. Indeed, Peter Lowenstein in Zimbabwe caught the planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter at dusk on August 7, 2015. Venus is off by herself to the left. The triangle of lights to the right: Regulus (brightest star in te constellation Virgo) at top, Jupiter at bottom and Mercury in between. Thank you Peter!

View larger. Indeed, Peter Lowenstein in Zimbabwe caught the planets Mercury, Venus and Jupiter at dusk on August 7, 2015. Venus is off by herself to the left. The triangle of lights to the right: Regulus (brightest star in the constellation Leo) at top, Jupiter at bottom and Mercury in between. Thank you Peter!

Inside, we show you six of Peter’s wonderful photos of the western sky after sunset on August 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, 2015. Notice how fast Mercury is soaring upward by the day, and how quickly Venus and Jupiter are sinking! Click here to see Peter’s youtube animation of the planets from August 3 to 8!

How far is Betelgeuse?

 Betelgeuse imaged in ultraviolet light by the Hubble Space Telescope and subsequently enhanced by NASA. The bright white spot is likely one of this star's poles. Image via NASA/ESA.

Betelgeuse imaged in ultraviolet light by the Hubble Space Telescope. Image via NASA/ESA.

Finding star distances isn’t easy. Here’s how it’s done, and why astronomers recently modified the distance estimate to the famous star Betelgeuse.

Venus, Jupiter, Regulus from Zimbabwe

View larger. | Venus (brightest), Jupiter (next brightest) and Mercury low in the twilight on August 3, 2015.  Photo by Peter Lowenstein in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Venus (brightest), the star Regulus and Jupiter (below Regulus) low in the twilight on August 3, 2015. Photo by Peter Lowenstein in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

Peter Lowenstein in Zimbabwe – who has contributed many amazing photos to EarthSky – offers what might be your final glimpse of the planets Venus and Jupiter after sunset.

Breakthrough Listen not all about aliens

Searching for alien acquaintances. Image credit: Lewis Francis/wikimedia

Searching for alien acquaintances. Image credit: Lewis Francis/wikimedia

New SETI project will scan the skies for signs of alien communications, but might also unveil other secrets about the universe.

What the Philae comet lander found

A photograph of the surface of Comet 67P at Agilkia, Philae's intended landing site, from a height of just nine meters, taken with the ROLIS camera. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

A photograph of the surface of Comet 67P at Agilkia, Philae’s intended landing site, from a height of just nine meters, taken with the ROLIS camera. Image credit: ESA/Rosetta/Philae/ROLIS/DLR

The data suggest that the organic compounds that eventually translated into organisms here on Earth existed in the early solar system, says scientist.

Seeing the star with nearest rocky planet

Color image of star HD219134 by Efraín Morales of the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe

Color image of star HD219134 by Efraín Morales of the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe

A week ago, astronomers announced that NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope had confirmed the nearest known rocky exoplanet, orbiting the star HD219134, about 21 light-years away. Finder charts show the star in your night sky. Plus … a gif image showing the star’s proper motion, captured by an amateur astronomer.