Astronomers spy a Milky Way look-alike 12 billion light-years away

This distant galaxy – SPT0418-47 – surprised astronomers by being organized enough to have a spinning disk and a galactic bulge, early in the history of our universe.

Picture of damage to Arecibo Telescope in August, 2020.

Arecibo Observatory damaged by broken lashing cable

The new damage to Arecibo, caused by the heavy cable, happened while repairs from 2017’s Hurricane Maria were still ongoing.

Surprising number of exoplanets could host life

A new study suggests that distant stars in our Milky Way galaxy might be orbited by as many as 7 Earth-like planets, in the absence of a gas giant planet like Jupiter.

A shiny green ball on a black background.

Images show Martian night sky pulsing with ultraviolet light

Vast areas of Mars’ nightside atmosphere glow and pulsate with ultraviolet light, according to images from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft.

A deep, giant cloud disruption found on Venus

Researchers have discovered a giant atmospheric wave-like phenomenon in Venus’ lower atmosphere, unlike anything else seen in the solar system. Evidence shows it has existed since at least 1983, but went completely undetected until now.

Large blue spiral with white center and a smaller reddish disk, and white square and lines, on black background.

A surprising spiral around a planet factory

A new image of the planet-forming disk around the young star RU Lup reveals a beautiful and unexpected massive spiral of gas, reminiscent of a spiral galaxy.

A ball of stars: globular cluster M13

What is a globular cluster?

Unlike the open star clusters – containing sibling stars, scattered through the disk of our galaxy and presumably other galaxies – globular clusters are big, symmetrical and old, like an earthly city’s oldest and most staid citizens.

Mars big as the moon on August 27?

We can’t believe it. One of the most popular articles at EarthSky this week is the one asking, will Mars be as big as the moon on August 27? Short answer … no. This hoax has been circulating since 2003.

Meandering channel shapes on brown and grey terrain, with white highlights.

Could ice sheets, not rivers, have formed the channels on Mars?

New research suggests that many of Mars’ ancient channels, thought to have been carved by flowing surface water, were formed instead by meltwater beneath glacial ice sheets.

Perseverance rover parachute test, seen from below.

Mars landings: ‘7 minutes of terror’

To celebrate the 8-year anniversary of Curiosity rover’s arrival on Mars, here’s a video on the final 7 minutes of its chilling descent on August 5-6, 2012.

Full-globe, very detailed view of Mars from orbit.

Is there life below the Martian surface?

Galactic cosmic rays are high energy particles from explosive events like supernovae, zinging through our solar system, constantly bombarding both Earth and Mars. A researcher suggests they supply enough energy to make subsurface life on Mars possible.

Satellite orbiting reddish Mars.

Can other gases help explain Mars methane mystery?

The European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter has unexpectedly detected carbon dioxide and ozone in Mars’ atmosphere where the elusive methane should be, researchers in the UK and Russia have announced. The two gases may be hindering the probe’s methane detections.

Successful splashdown for SpaceX Crew Dragon in Gulf of Mexico

The SpaceX Crew Dragon splashdown into the Gulf of Mexico today was the first splashdown in 45 years.

Two balls illuminate from the bottom.

Return of an extremely elongated cloud on Mars

A mysteriously long, thin cloud has again appeared over the Arsia Mons volcano on Mars.

Grayish sphere with curved white grid lines, on black background.

Juno’s new images reveal Ganymede’s north pole

These are the first spacecraft images yet acquired of the north pole of Ganymede, largest moon of the giant planet Jupiter. NASA’s Juno spacecraft – now orbiting Jupiter – obtained them.

The year's third and final conjunction of Jupiter and Pluto takes place on December 12, 2020.

Jupiter gives us Pluto in 2020

Call it serendipity or synergy – or what you like – the spectacular alignment of the king planet Jupiter with the dwarf planet Pluto doesn’t get much better than in 2020.

Spacecraft launch.

Blast off! Perseverance, newest Mars rover, launched as planned

It was a picture-perfect launch this morning for the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover, with good weather and no major hitches. The rover lifted off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Telescopes on ground with bright curved light trails in the sky.

How astronomers rediscovered a ‘lost world’

And why this rediscovery of a lost world – called NGTS-11b – bodes well for finding habitable exoplanets.

Towering plumes of gas and dust with stars in background.

The awesome beauty of the Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula – aka Messier 16 or M16 – is home to several well-known cosmic structures, including the stunning Pillars of Creation and Stellar Spire.

A long exposure photo of a star field. The asteroid, which is moving in front of the stars, appears as a dot. An arrow points to it.

Small asteroid passed extremely close July 28

The Mt. Lemmon survey discovered the asteroid on July 26. It was labeled near-Earth asteroid 2020 OY4. The asteroid then passed at about 11% of the moon’s distance early in the day on July 28. The Virtual Telescope Project in Rome captured its image.