A couple of charts from master chart-maker Guy Ottewell, showing Mercury in the sky now and throughout 2021. Plus a word about a lost whale …
New measurements from Parker Solar Probe – the first new direct measurements of Venus’ atmosphere in nearly 30 years – showed an unexpected natural radio signal being emitted by Venus’ ionosphere. The probe made the discovery while using Venus as a “gravity slingshot” to come closer to the sun.
Parker Solar Probe captured this stunning view of Venus' nightside during its flyby on July 11, 2020. Image via NASA/ Johns Hopkins APL/ Naval Research Laboratory/ Guillermo Stenborg and Brendan Gallagher.
Binary stars – a star system consisting of two stars – are extremely useful. They give all the information needed to measure the stars masses’. Here is how.
This picture is an artist's impression showing how the binary star system of Sirius A and its diminutive blue companion, Sirius B, might appear to an interstellar visitor. The large, bluish-white star Sirius A dominates the scene, while Sirius B is the small but very hot and blue white-dwarf star on the right. The two stars revolve around each other every 50 years. White dwarfs are the leftover remnants of stars similar to our Sun. The Sirius system, only 8.6 light-years from Earth, is the fifth closest stellar system known. Sirius B is faint because of its tiny size. Its diameter is only 7,500 miles (about 12 thousand kilometres), slightly smaller than the size of our Earth. The Sirius system is so close to Earth that most of the familiar constellations would have nearly the same appearance as in our own sky. In this rendition, we see in the background the three bright stars that make up the Summer Triangle: Altair, Deneb, and Vega. Altair is the white dot above Sirius A; Deneb is the dot to the upper right; and Vega lies below Sirius B. But there is one unfamiliar addition to the constellations: our own Sun is the second-magnitude star, shown as a small dot just below and to the right of Sirius A. Image via ESA
/ G. Bacon.
Astronomers have identified 5 multi-star systems that have stable habitable zones. This means that any rocky worlds that may exist in those zones could potentially have life.
Artist's concept of a sunrise on a planet with 2 suns, via Shutterstock
On Earth, scientists study rock layers and the fossils embedded in them to learn about ancient life. A new study focused on red Mars – the desert planet – did something similar. It looked at the record of changing habitability preserved in ancient dune fields.
A butte within the Stimson formation as seen vy the Curiosity rover. These rock formations contain preserved remnants of ancient dune fields. Image via NASA/ Imperial College London.
New research suggests that the Mars underground has the right ingredients for present-day microbial life.
Jesse Tarnas from Brown University and a postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, led the new study. Here, he is sampling groundwater 2.4 km underground at the Kidd Creek Mine in Canada. Image via University of Toronto Stable Isotope Laboratory/ Jesse Tarnas.
Spica, the brightest star in Virgo, is a very close, scorching-hot pair of stars, whirling around one another. One may go supernova as it nears the end of its lifetime.
Artist's concept of the 2 large, hot stars in the Spica system via UA Little Rock
The Chinese Tianwen-1 mission’s Zhurong rover will attempt to land on the surface of Mars in mid-May 2021.
Image via Xinhua/ Alamy Stock Photo/ The Conversation https://theconversation.com/the-chinese-mars-lander-how-zhurong-will-attempt-to-touch-down-on-the-red-planet-159827
NASA’s Roman space telescope mission – launching sometime in the mid-2020s – is expected to find at least 100,000 new exoplanets orbiting other stars, say astronomers.
Artist's illustration of an exoplanet transiting in front of its star. The upcoming Roman space telescope mission is expected to find at least 100,000 new such transiting worlds. Image via ESA.