September’s birthstone is the sapphire

Sapphires are typically blue stones, with the color caused by small amounts of titanium and iron in the crystal structure. But if the crystal contains different impurities, you might also see sapphires in gray, yellow, pale pink, orange, green, violet or brown.

Name NASA’s next Mars rover

The Mars 2020 rover, scheduled for launch next July, doesn’t have a name yet. A NASA contest invites U.S. students grades K–12 to suggest names for the rover.

Three scientists in a control room, peering at a computer screen.

Arecibo gets $19M grant to find and study NEOs

NEOs are near-Earth objects, asteroids and small comets that sweep near Earth and have the potential to cause harm. Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico has, since the 1990s, been finding about 60 to 120 of these objects every year.

Why the Amazon is burning: 4 reasons

Nearly 40,000 fires are burning in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, the latest outbreak in an overactive fire season. Don’t blame dry weather, say environmentalists. These Amazonian wildfires are a human-made disaster.

How many supermoons in 2019?

We had 3 full supermoons (close full moons) earlier this year. Now we’re having 3 new supermoons (close new moons). The dates are August 1 and 30, plus September 28. The August 30 supermoon will be the closest of this year.

Would you have believed the Great Moon Hoax?

It sounds preposterous today. But – beginning on today’s date in 1835 – a newspaper claimed a famous astronomer had found life on the moon, including bat-men and unicorns. The Great Moon Hoax was widely read and believed.

How did Pluto become a dwarf planet?

It’s been 13 years since astronomers announced Pluto would no longer be considered a major planet in our solar system. When it happened, in 2006, the decision caused a shock wave around the world.

In 1966, 1st photo of Earth from the moon

NASA released this 1st moon photo of Earth on August 23, 1966, via its spacecraft Lunar Orbiter 1. Years later, it used digital technology to restore the photo and reveal more detail.

Night sky behind Arecibo radio telescope steering mechanism.

Arecibo Observatory gets $12.3 million grant

Arecibo in Puerto Rico was completed in 1963. In recent years, it has weathered multiple hurricanes. The emergency supplemental funds – supported by the U.S. Congress – represent an investment in the future of this large, famous and much-loved radio dish.

Barren, rocky landscape with snow patches. Blue sky.

Astronomy ambassadors to Chile: ALMA radio telescope

Learn what it would be like to travel to Chile – sometimes called astronomy’s world capital – in this final report from Robert Pettengill with the Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program. Thank you for your dispatches, Rob!