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EarthSky News with Deborah Byrd

EarthSky News with Deborah Byrd for January 25, 2016. Constellation David Bowie? Are the aliens extinct? Plus …the most powerful supernova discovered in human history. And how to see the moon sweeping past the planets before dawn.

Zoom to super luminous Milky Way stars

New Hubble Space Telescope video zooms in on Trumpler 14, a young cluster of hot, massive and bright stars in the Milky Way galaxy.

Magnitude-7.1 earthquake in Alaska

January 24, 2016 6.8-magnitude earthquake in southern Alaska.  Image via USGS.

January 24, 2016 6.8-magnitude earthquake in southern Alaska. Image via USGS.

The U.S. Geological survey reported a powerful earthquake southwest of Anchorage, Alaska, which struck around 1:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning. It is being variously reported as a 7.1-magnitude and a 6.8-magnitude; USGS is saying 7.1 at this time. There were no immediate reports of injuries, although the quake did reportedly knock items off shelves and walls, and rattle nerves.

Are the aliens extinct?

Artist's concept via Shutterstock

So long, aliens? Artist’s concept via Shutterstock.

Astrobiologists from the Australian National University announced this week that – if life did indeed arise on other planets in our galaxy – it would likely have become extinct very quickly.

The science of freezing rain

Freezing rain in Kentucky. Image Credit: NWS/NOAA

Why is it raining when temperatures are below freezing?

The phenomenon of freezing rain: What causes the dangerous winter weather element that can paralyze cities.

2015 hottest year on record, by far

This visualization illustrates Earth’s long-term warming trend, showing temperature changes from 1880 to 2015 as a rolling five-year average. Orange colors represent temperatures that are warmer than the 1951-80 baseline average, and blues represent temperatures cooler than the baseline.

“What we have seen this past year will likely be routine in about 15 years, although regionally the details will vary considerably,” says climate expert Kevin Trenberth.

EarthSky News with Deborah Byrd

Deborah explains how to pick out the five planets in a starry sky before dawn. Plus, she explains just what it was that astronomers announced this week, regarding the discovery of a 9th major planet in our solar system. EarthSky News: All the news you can fit into outer space LIVE on Slooh.com Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. ET (1530 UTC). Or watch right here!

Solid evidence for a 9th planet, say Caltech astronomers

Caltech announced today (January 20, 2016) that its astronomers now have solid theoretical evidence for a giant planet – a 9th major planet in our solar system – moving in what they called a “bizarre, highly elongated orbit” in the outer solar system. They’ve nicknamed it Planet 9 and hope other astronomers will search for it.

Constellation named for David Bowie?

The website StardustForBowie.com says this image depicts a new constellation, named for the late, beloved rock musician.

This cosmic tribute forms the iconic lightning bolt face painting that Bowie wore for the album cover ‘Aladdin Sane.’ Is it a constellation? Image via StardustForBowie

MIRA Public Observatory and Studio Brussels say they have ‘registered a constellation’ named for the late, beloved rock musician. Hmm, says astronomer Guy Ottewell.

Milky Way’s second-largest black hole?

Artist’s impression of the clouds scattered by an intermediate mass black hole. Image credit: Tomoharu Oka (Keio University)

Artist’s concept of an intermediate mass black hole, with a disk around it, scattering gas clouds near the center of our Milky Way. Image via Tomoharu Oka (Keio University)

Astronomers in Japan have detected signs of the first-ever intermediate mass black hole in our Milky Way galaxy. They started with detailed observations of an enigmatic gas cloud, orbiting only 200 light-years – a hop and a skip on galactic distance scales – from the center of the Milky Way. They say the gas cloud might have been flung about by an intermediate mass black hole with a mass of 100 thousand times the mass of our sun.