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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…

February 9, 2014: Cycling and Climbing Through a Sufferfest, Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury and More

Join radio host Boyd Matson every week for adventure, conservation and green science. This week, they endure a 750-mile climbing and biking Sufferfest, crash during Olympic snowboard halfpipe training leading to a traumatic brain injury, try to save the Great Barrier Reef from dredging, launch the “coolest” space mission ever, chase Shackleton’s legacy across frigid Antarctic waters, enjoy the restorative health benefits of a 30-million person crowd, celebrate with winners’ dominant body language, and investigate 10 deaths high in a Russian mountain pass.

Rosetta Wakes to Chase Comet

After rising from a 31-month electronically induced hibernation this week, the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Rosetta spacecraft is hot on the trail of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Launched in 2004, it has been a long road for Rosetta, which is now cruising about 5.6 million miles (9 million kilometers) from the comet and is closing in fast.…

Weird Newfound Asteroid Sports Six Comet Tails

A newly-discovered asteroid masquerades as a bizarre comet, one that astronomers in a new study are outright calling, “weird and freakish.” First spotted by the Hawaii-based Pan-STARRS sky survey telescope this Spring, the bizarre object caught  astronomers’ attention because of its unusually fuzzy appearance. The Hubble Space Telescope’s high-resolution cameras were trained on it in…

5 Sky Events This Week: Comet Buzzes Mars, False Dawn, Green Giant

As the calendar turns to a new month, sky-watchers get a chance to see not only a sprinkling of shooting stars and some ghostly glows, but also a distant gas giant in its best appearance of 2013. Comet buzzes Mars. In the predawn skies on Tuesday, October 1, famed Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) will be barnstorming…

Watch: Sun-Diving Comet and Solar Explosion

A tiny comet’s spectacular death dive into the sun has been captured by cameras aboard NASA’s SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory)  sun-monitoring satellite this week. In the early hours of Tuesday, August 20, a comet estimated to be only a few tens of meters across made the kamikaze dive and did not seem to survive…

Comet ISON: Pop or Fizzle?

Will the much talked about comet ISON, discovered by Russian amateur  astronomers last year, turn out to be what some are calling the ‘comet of the century’ ? Not likely, says one researcher who has just concluded a preliminary study using the latest observations of the icy interloper. (Related: “New Comet Discovered.”) Astronomer Ignacio Ferrin,…

6 Sky Events this Week: Pinwheel Galaxy Points to Comet, Moon Glides By Neptune

Heading towards the end of July, a comet poses for a deep-sky photo op, while planets parade from dusk to dawn, and some shooting stars whet skywatchers appetite. Venus and the Lion’s Heart.  About a half hour after sunset on Monday, June 22, look for Venus very close to the bright star Regulus—the lead member…

Watch Comet Glide by Galaxy this Week

Over the course of the next few nights this week two cosmic superstars will appear to glide by each other in our Earthly skies. Skywatchers are reporting already seeing comet Pan-STARRS approaching the iconic Andromeda Galaxy (M31).  The two objects will appear to be at their closest on the night of April 3rd and 4th…

New Timelapse Video: Comet Dances with Auroras

An amazing astronomy video is making the rounds on the web this week showing comet PanSTARRS joined by a magnificent display of northern lights. Veteran astrophotographer Babak Tafreshi has trained his camera lens on a unique convergence of two cosmic events: the display of the icy visitor nearly 200 million of kilometers distant and the…

Comet Video from Far-side of the Sun

Skywatchers  are still looking up at comet Pan-STARRS, visible in the low western horizon after sunset, but so is NASA’s solar monitoring spacecraft STEREO-B. From its cosmic perch, on the far-side of the Sun, the on-board space telescope snapped hundreds of images of the comet as it rounded the Sun from March 9th to March 16th.…

Ancient Americans Weren’t Wiped out by a Comet?

Like the undead monsters in a Hollywood movie, some science theories just keep coming back to life. That’s been the case with solving the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance 13,000 years ago of the Clovis – a Paleo-Indian North American culture.  A popular theory keeps getting resurrected which fingers a comet impact in the Great…

A Commanding View of a Comet

A time-lapse movie taken from the International Space Station shows a brightening view of Earth’s horizon at dawn on December 21. It features an orbital view of lightning storms, stars, airglow… and the dramatic appearance of “sungrazer” Comet Lovejoy as it rises above the atmosphere! Incredible!

What Would Happen if Comet Hartley 2 Hit Earth?

News reports on comets have been dominated the past few days by NASA’s flyby yesterday morning of the comet 103P/Hartley 2 and the subsequent close-up pictures. Before the NASA craft got cozy, the comet made its closest approach by Earth on October 20, coming a mere 11 million miles (17.7 million kilometers) from our planet.…

Exploding Clays Drive Geminids Sky Show?

Often in science, things get presented as facts, rules, and definitive statements. But part of the joy of science is that “facts” can be in flux, and rules are made to be broken. The Geminid meteor shower, which peaks each year in December, is one such rule-breaker. Unlike every other known meteor shower, the Geminids…