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Watch Red Fireworks at the Edge of Space

Sky watchers should keep their eyes peeled for “sprites” atop thunderstorms this summer.

First Cloud Map of a Planet Beyond our Solar System

After cataloging nearly a thousand worlds beyond our solar system, astronomers can now for the first time forecast cloudy skies on a distant exoplanet. While the above image may not resemble a weather map, it shows a first look at clouds on a hot, Jupiter-like world dubbed Kepler 7b, which resides nearly 1000 light years…

Cloud-watching in Patagonia

A peek into the clouds of Aysén.

Cloud Enthusiasts Lobby for Recognition of New Cloud Type

Oh, to be counted among the nimbus and the stratus! That’s what the fans of the undulatus aspertus want. The undulatus cloud, which resembles agitated waves, was first discovered in 1951, but has not yet been declared an official cloud type. Now members of the Cloud Appreciation Society are developing an app that they hope will help their beloved cloud the earn the recognition it deserves.

Pitcairn Islands Expedition: Top Sunset & Cloud Photos

Many nights on the Pitcairn Islands expedition you’d find the team watching the sunset. Amid the oos and ahhs you’d hear numerous cameras clicking away as various team members tried to capture brief moments in the ever-changing show.

Moon Used to Peek Inside Jupiter’s “Missing” Belt

Last May amateur astronomers alerted the world to the fact that the gas giant planet Jupiter had lost a belt. Normally the stormy world is encircled by two dark, rusty bands of clouds created by fast-moving jet streams. The features are easy to spot with a backyard telescope (and even easier with pro ‘scopes, such…

AuroraMAX: Live Video of Auroras, Direct From Canada

By Andrew Fazekas for Breaking Orbit For folks in the Northern Hemisphere, fall is the best time to see the magical displays of the aurora borealis, when nights can be set ablaze with colors as curtains of ghostly glows dance across the sky. (See new aurora pictures from an early September solar storm.) But unless…

Night Sky Over Iguaçu Falls

Fans of NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day might have noticed Friday’s installment: a stunning shot of the southern sky over Iguaçu Falls, as seen from deep in the Brazilian side of the national park surrounding the falls. —Picture copyright Babak Tafreshi (TWAN) But really, you have to see it on a much more cosmic…

Martian “Weather Satellite” Has Dust in its Eye

Any allergy sufferer will tell you that dust can be a killer. But those dust bunnies under the couch have nothing on the planet-wide storms that periodically engulf Mars in late spring and early summer. —Image courtesy NASA, J. Ball (Cornell), M. Wolff (SSI), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA) Such storms are kind of…

Saturn’s Moon Titan, ANWR of the Future

There’s so many reasons Titan is just darn cool. Discovered in 1655, the Saturn moon is the second biggest moon in our solar system (beat out only by Jupiter‘s Ganymede). It’s also the only moon known to have a planet-like atmosphere, complete with clouds, a cool fact that unfortunately meant its surface long remained a…

Venus Is Boiling, Odd Dark Spots Suggest

Unless you live underground or in a very cloudy part of the world, it was pretty hard to miss the crazy conjunction of Venus and Jupiter Monday night that, when joined by the crescent moon, smiled on one side of Earth while frowning on the other. But as millions of skywatchers reveled in that display,…

And the Winner Is …

Jamieanne Hassler of Indianapolis! This self-described cupcake addict baked up an amazingly creative version of Jupiter that, well, takes the cake in our Planetology cupcake contest. It really has been Jupiter’s lucky week so far: a new orbiter, an intriguing new study of its core, and now a sweet homage in the form of a…

NASA to Send Snarky High-School Girl to Jupiter

Okay, not really, but I couldn’t resist. In reality, the agency has approved a new spacecraft dubbed Juno that will launch in 2011, making it into an elliptical polar orbit around Jupiter by 2016. The mission isn’t named for the teenage darling of independent film, but for the Roman goddess who was the jealous sister-wife…

Venus Express Maps a Mighty Wind

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, should we space-loving chicks be annoyed that the red planet gets so much more money and attention than its “feminine” counterpart? Yeah, Mars is cool and all, what with its tantalizing geologic features and strong potential as a relatively recent host for liquid water. By…