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How close to finding alien life?

exoplanets-many-habitable-worlds

In recent years, astronomers have become increasingly certain that planets are common in our Milky Way galaxy. And it’s possible that most stars have planets in their habitable zones, an area around stars within which liquid water – and therefore life as we know it – can exist. How many of those worlds are inhabited by simple or complex life forms? And when will we on Earth discover alien life? Follow the links inside to learn more.

Intelligent life in the universe?

Image credit:  JD Hancock

Intelligent life in the universe? Phone home, dammit! Image credit: JD Hancock

If there’s really intelligent life out there, why haven’t they contacted us yet? Here are some possibilities.

A Chinese perspective on summer

Looking for a new perspective on the summer solstice – or some new ways to celebrate? Try these ideas, from Chinese thought.

Summer solstice seen from Stonehenge

EarthSky Facebook friend Buddy Puckhaber of South Carolina took this photo of Stonehenge in the early morning, while visiting.  He said,

EarthSky Facebook friend Buddy Puckhaber of South Carolina took this photo of Stonehenge in the early morning, while visiting. He said, “My wife and I were among the first visitors of the day.” Thank you, Buddy! Used with permission.

Why do people gather at Stonehenge in England on the solstice? Info and photos here.

Venus and Jupiter dance in daylight

Telescopic view of daytime Venus (l) and moon via NASA

Telescopic view of daytime Venus (l) and moon via NASA

Most of us think only of viewing planets at night, but sometimes you can catch them in broad daylight! The next great chance to do that is Saturday, June 20.

Tropical Depression Bill a flood threat

High rainfall totals from Tropical Storm Bill possible across Texas, Oklahoma, and into Missouri in mid-June, 2015. Image via NOAA/WPC

High rainfall totals from Tropical Depression Bill as it moves northward this week. Image via NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center.

Tropical Storm Bill, the second named storm of the 2015 Atlantic hurricane season, made landfall along the Texas coast on Matagorda Island – between Houston and Corpus Christi – on Tuesday at 11:45 a.m. CDT (1645 UTC). Top speeds for sustained winds was 60 mph (100 kph). Bill had formed in the western Gulf of Mexico with 50 mile per hour (80 kph) sustained winds. While most people focus on wind speeds and names of storms, the biggest impact from Bill will likely be the heavy rain and flooding potential. Flash flooding was expected in several spots across Texas Tuesday and the threat is now spreading northwards into Oklahoma, Arkansas and Missouri for Wednesday, June 17, 2015.

Supermassive black hole is serial exploder

Chandra X-Ray Observatory  shows the supermassive black hole at the center of NGC 5813 has erupted multiple times over 50 million years.

Chandra X-Ray Observatory image of the galaxy group NGC 5813.

NASA astronomers using the Chandra X-ray Observatory probe have discovered a unique group of galaxies that appear to have undergone substantial restructuring due to multiple eruptions from a supermassive black hole. The eruptions took place over 50 million years, astronomers say. These eruptive bursts of energy caused shockwaves and pushed surrounding gas in the galaxy cluster away from the black hole’s center, causing visible cavities much like giant bubbles.

Mount Everest shifted 3 centimeters by Nepal earthquake

View larger. | Mountain Everest - known as Qomolangma in China - via Wikipedia.

Mountain Everest – known as Qomolangma in China – via Wikipedia.

Geologists in China announced this week that the deadly magnitude-7.9 earthquake in Nepal on April 25 moved Mount Everest by 3 centimeters to the southwest. The quake – one of two large earthquakes to occur in Nepal this spring – left more than 8,700 people dead. China Daily reported on the findings of these geologists earlier today. China’s National Administration of Surveying, Mapping and Geoinformation published the geologists’ report on Monday.

Real Jurassic Park needs more than dinos

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Yes, cloning long-extinct dinosaurs is impossible. But even if dinosaur genomes were available, the animals couldn’t simply be plopped anywhere.

10 cool things about stars

The sun in extreme ultraviolet, false color green

The sun in extreme ultraviolet, false color green

Here’s a collection of 10 unexpected, intriguing facts about the stars of our universe – including our sun – that you probably didn’t know!