It’s been 20 years since the Day of 6 Billion

Our global human population was estimated to reach 6 billion on today’s date in 1999. Eleven years later, in 2011, Earth had gained another billion people. Today – October 12, 2019 – it stands at about 7.7 billion, according to United Nations estimates.

"Poster" for International Observe the Moon NIght 2019, showing the moon above Rome's skyline.

International Observe the Moon Night is October 5

International Observe the Moon Night is a worldwide celebration of lunar science and exploration, celestial observation, and our cultural and personal connections to the moon. In 2019, it comes on October 5. Here’s how to join in.

Researchers to spend a year trapped in Arctic ice

In October 2019, the research icebreaker Polarstern will drop anchor at an ice floe in the northern Laptev Sea, to spend a year investigating Earth’s Arctic.

A polar bear walking across sea ice.

What climate change in the Arctic means for the rest of us

Air temperatures in the Arctic are increasing at least twice as fast as the global average. What worries climate scientists about the Arctic summer of 2019? And why does it matter for the rest of the world?

IAU names the 2nd interstellar visitor

The first known interstellar visitor received the official name ‘Oumuamua, meaning ‘scout.’ This one has a less romantic name and one that sets a standard for future discoveries: 2I/Borisov.

Drought reveals a lost Spanish Stonehenge

Thanks to 2019’s record drought in Europe, a 7,000-year-old circle of 150 upright stones is back on dry land in western Spain, after 50 years underwater.

An astronomer contemplates the equinox

You can think of the equinox not as a whole day, but as a point along Earth’s orbit. Want to understand that better? Guy Ottewell offers some insights.

A beach covered with plastic trash

Plastic pollution has entered fossil record, says study

A new study has found that plastic pollution is being deposited into the fossil record, with deposits increasing exponentially since 1945.

Schoolchildren holding letters spelling PANDIA

New names for 5 Jupiter moons

The naming suggestions in a contest – which ran from last February to April – ranged from the scholarly to the silly, these scientists said. We think you’ll like the winners.

A blocky asteroid, shaped somewhat like a spinning top.

What asteroid Ryugu told us

The Hayabusa2 mission has confirmed that – if asteroid Ryugu or a similar asteroid were to come dangerously close to Earth – we’d need to take care in trying to divert it, lest it break up into fragments that might then impact Earth.