Deborah Byrd
Animation showing Earth and Mars on opposite sides of the sun.

The sun is between us and Mars now

So we can’t see Mars in our night sky. But, more importantly for NASA, beginning this week, space engineers won’t be able to risk sending commands to our fleet of spacecraft at Mars. What happens instead? Watch this video.

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.

Black hole swallows neutron star, with all appropriate flashy colors and swirly things.

Scientists detect a black hole swallowing a neutron star

On August 14, gravitational wave detectors in the US and Italy sensed ripples in space-time. Data analysis suggests they came from a black hole engulfing a neutron star, 900 million light-years from Earth. If so … it’s a first-ever detection by earthly scientists.

Nieves penitentes and Earth’s shadow

“Nieves penitentes” is Spanish for “penitent-shaped snows.” These ice structures form in extreme conditions of high elevation, high solar radiation, low humidity, and dry winds.

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.

The constellation Ophiuchus above Jupiter.

Ophiuchus is part of the zodiac, too

Poor Ophiuchus. Nobody ever claims him as a “birth sign,” although the sun moves in front of his stars from about November 30 to December 18. Keep the big guy company. Find Ophiuchus in your sky tonight!

It was cold in Australia last weekend

The August 9-12 weather event in Australia was one of the longest cold stretches and greatest snowfall totals so far in this century, according to climate and atmospheric scientists.

Full moon over Carnarvon, Australia

From 1963 until its closure in 1975, the Carnarvon Space Tracking Station supported a range of scientific and exploratory missions as the United States raced to put a man on the moon.

Photos from 2019’s Perseid meteor shower

It’s a very special group of images of this year’s Perseid meteor shower, many taken in bright moonlight. Thanks to all who contributed photos!

Transparent pink and blue blob with black starry sky visible.

Astronomers see a new type of pulsating star

At Palomar Observatory near San Diego, a dedicated telescope spends its nights surveying the heavens. A recent analysis of its data revealed 4 stars that change in brightness, over just minutes.