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5 Sky Events This Week: Full Lunar Eclipse and Lord of the Rings

This is a big week even for the most amateur of sky-watchers, with a rare full lunar eclipse and Mars getting as close as it ever does to Earth. Moon shadow play. The moon will appear to be orange-red late Monday night and early Tuesday morning as it undergoes a total eclipse, the first visible…

Sea Serpent Eats Cosmic Diamond Ring

A  cosmic diamond ring is the best way to describe the haunting beauty of a distant star in its final moments of life. Located some 2,500 light-years from Earth within the belly of a mythical water snake, Abell 33 (also known as PK238+34.1) represents the final remains of a sunlike star that has thrown its…

Watch Mars Invade Our Sky: Biggest and Brightest Since 2007

You may have noticed that fiery-orange-hued, beacon-like star rising in the eastern evening sky—the planet Mars. No better time exists than now to get close and personal with the red planet. On Tuesday, April 8, the dusty, ruddy world reaches what is known as opposition, when the planet and the sun are on opposite sides…

5 Sky Events This Week: Lunar Wall, Mars Up-Close, and a Blue Giant

Fantastic fault lines and planetary close encounters this week offer sky-watchers some impressive cosmic views of the heavens. The lunar wall. The first quarter moon, which comes into view on Monday, April 7, offers the best moment this month to view, in small telescopes, an amazing lunar feature called the lunar wall, or Rupes Recta (sometimes called the…

Global Star Party Kicks Off Astronomy Month

Get up close and personal with the cosmos. The world’s largest event dedicated to sharing the wonders of the universe kicks off an exciting series of events for space geeks throughout April. This year’s Global Astronomy Month (GAM2014) brings together astronomy enthusiasts and organizations worldwide to share the passion for the night sky with everyone,…

4 Sky Events This Week: A Cosmic Kite and the King of Planets

As springtime winds begin to blow, a giant celestial kite sets sail, riding high in the night sky. For sky-watchers, another delightful week is ahead for observing the heavens, with the moon waxing after an early absence and taking a starring role in the celestial encounters ahead. Springtime kite. With the moon missing for most of the…

Powerful Jets From Mars-Bound Comet Spied by Hubble

After lurking in the outer reaches of the solar system for the past one million years, a comet is heading for a close encounter with Mars. The Hubble Space Telescope is keeping tabs on the icy interloper, seen in just-released images. Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring), which now lies some 353 million miles (568 million…

Space Shuttle 747 to Land in Museum

The jumbo jet that first carried a space shuttle coast to coast will land in a museum next month, scheduled to forever bear a copy of its most famous passenger. NASA 905 was the first of two Boeing 747 passenger jets modified by the space agency to wing space shuttles from landing runways back to…

NASA Unveils Stunning New Milky Way Portrait

Talk about an out-of-this-world map! NASA has unveiled a stunning new clickable panoramic portrait of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The zoomable, 360-degree view was constructed from more than two million infrared snapshots taken over the past ten years by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. “If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard…

First Person: What I’m Learning on a Simulated Mars Mission

By Jim Urquhart for National Geographic “Mars has been flown by, orbited, smacked into, radar examined, and rocketed onto, as well as bounced upon, rolled over, shoveled, drilled into, baked, and even blasted. Still to come: Mars being stepped on.”—Buzz Aldrin In a remote stretch of Utah desert, five scientific researchers and one journalist, myself, came together this month…

4 Sky Events This Week: Ghostly Glows and Rocky Worlds

Ethereal apparitions from the dusty inner solar system this week seem certain to delight sky-watchers.  Zodiacal lights. Starting Monday, March 24, and continuing through the week, keen-eyed sky-watchers in the mid-northern latitudes will witness the ghostly glow of the zodiacal lights, which will appear about one to two hours after local dusk in the western sky.…

Watch Asteroid Eclipse Star Tonight

Late tonight, millions living around New York City may witness the best stellar disappearing act ever seen in North America. Lucky sky-watchers with clear skies across parts of the Northeast will observe a bright star momentarily wink out early Thursday morning. Beginning at 2:07 a.m. EDT, the 45-mile-wide (72-kilometer-wide) asteroid named 163 Erigone will slip…

5 Sky Events This Week: Moon Joins God of War While Leo’s Heart Winks Out

Sky-watchers can rejoice at the change of seasons this week, seeing the moon join forces with Mars and Saturn, just as one of the sky’s most brilliant stars is eclipsed. Moon joins Spica. Late at night on Monday, March 17, look for the waning gibbous moon to rise in the eastern sky with two bright celestial…

Catch the Space Station This Week on TV and in the Skies Above

What’s it like to live and work in space? On Friday, March 14, at 8 p.m. EDT you will find out, thanks to an exciting two-hour live National Geographic TV Channel broadcast from the International Space Station (ISS) and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The National Geographic Channel, in partnership with NASA, are…

Biggest Yellow “Hypergiant” Star Spotted

A jumbo star 1,300 times wider than the sun has surprised astronomers, who report it is the biggest yellow “hypergiant” star ever spotted. Dubbed HR 5171, the star is also surprising because a companion star was discovered orbiting it. “The two stars are so close that they touch, and the whole system resembles a gigantic…