Today in science: Asaph Hall finds Mars moon Phobos

On this date in 1877, American astronomer Asaph Hall discovered the first small moon known to be orbiting Mars. Scientists now think this moon – called Phobos – is the latest incarnation of a cyclic ring-moon formation process that goes back billions of years.

This day in 2013: The Day the Earth Smiled

Today is the anniversary of The Day the Earth Smiled, the 3rd-ever image of Earth from the outer solar system, taken by the great Cassini spacecraft on July 19, 2013.

Many Yuri’s Night celebrations are this weekend

Yuri Gagarin was a Russian pilot who became the first human to travel to space, in 1961. His fascinating story -plus links to Yuri’s Night celebrations that you can join online – here.

John Glenn was the 1st American to orbit Earth

On February 20, 1962, John Glenn became the 1st American to orbit Earth and the first American space hero.

Happy birthday, Nicolaus Copernicus

In 1543, Copernicus tried to show the world that medieval beliefs of an enclosed, Earth-centered universe were wrong. Instead, he said, Earth revolves around the sun. His work set off what’s known today as the Copernican Revolution.

Today in science: Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto

On this date 90 years ago, Clyde Tombaugh was searching for a 9th planet when he discovered Pluto. In doing so, he unknowingly opened the door to the vast “3rd zone” of our solar system, known today as the Kuiper Belt.

Today is Chuck Yeager’s 97th birthday

Chuck Yeager, first pilot to break the sound barrier, personified what it meant to have “the right stuff.”

Day of remembrance: Space Shuttle Challenger disaster

After 24 successful missions, shuttle launches seemed routine. That’s why those watching the launch of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986, started out excited, but soon were in a state of disbelief. Then NASA confirmed the worst.

A crescent image of Uranus and Voyager 2 leaves the planet.

Today in science: Voyager 2 met Uranus

Voyager 2 swept closest to Uranus on this day 34 years ago. During its visit, the spacecraft sent data that revealed 2 new planetary rings, 10 new moons, radiation belts, and a very unusual magnetic field.

Edmond Halley’s magnificent prediction

Born on today’s date in the year 1656, English astronomer and mathematician Edmond Halley was the first to predict the return of a comet. Today, Halley’s Comet – the most famous of all comets – bears his name.

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.

Today in science: 1st planet orbiting a sunlike star

On October 6, 1995, astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz announced the momentous discovery of the 1st planet in orbit around a distant sunlike star. 51 Pegasi b has about half the mass of Jupiter. It orbits a star not unlike our sun.

Man in white coat doing something to large metal ball with antennas.

Today in science: Launch of Sputnik

Sputnik’s unassuming beep ushered in the Space Age. Hear it here.

Today in science: Happy birthday Albert J. Myer

As you check your local weather forecast today, give a nod to Albert J. Myer, born on this date in 1828, who helped to establish the US National Weather Service.

Golden ball of Saturn, surrounded by nearly edgewise rings, and a little dot of a moon.

40 years ago today: Pioneer 11 swept past Saturn

Pioneer 11 was the first spacecraft ever to encounter Saturn. A true pioneer, it paved the way for 2 more sophisticated missions – the 2 Voyagers in 1980 and ’81 – and Cassini from 2004 to 2017.

July 20, 1969: 1st footsteps on moon

This week is the 50th anniversary of humanity’s historic first steps on the moon. The story in pictures, here.

Pluto in natural color.

Today in 2015: New Horizons at Pluto

The small, fast-moving New Horizons spacecraft is likely to be the only Pluto mission in the lifetimes of many of us. It changed forever the way we on Earth perceive this outermost world and its moons.

Today in science: 1st Telstar launch

Telstar was the 1st satellite to relay television signals between Europe and North America. It launched on this date … and helped change the world.  

Today in 2003: Opportunity blasts off to Mars

NASA’s Opportunity rover spent some 15 years exploring Mars. It surpassed all expectations for its endurance and longevity, to become one of the most successful planetary missions. Then it went silent.

Black silhouette of new moon, surrounded by solar corona, during a total solar eclipse.

Today in science: Einstein’s triumph

May 29, 2019, is the 100th anniversary of a total solar eclipse, during which Sir Arthur Eddington observed the bending of light around the sun, thereby proving Einstein’s general relativity theory and catapulting Einstein into rock star fame.