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Aldebaran about to be occulted by the waning gibbous Moon in daylight, Oct. 2, 2015

This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, May 17 – 26

This week the Moon occults Beta Virginis, then Antares. The last star of the Summer Triangle finally rises before bedtime. On the other side of the sky, the Arch of Spring sinks low.

Cometary Globule

Stellar Science

Cosmic "Hand" Reaches for the Stars

This oddly shaped cloud of dusty gas is shaped by the winds and radiation from nearby stars.

Lavaworld

Exoplanets

Planet Candidate Could Be Incandescent with Lava Flows

A new planet candidate discovered in data from NASA's TESS mission could be an extreme lavaworld, pushed and pulled by the gravity of its own star and two other close-in planets.

Trumpler 22 star cluster

Southern Stargazing with Jonathan Nally

Explore the Star Clusters of Centaurus

This large constellation abounds in deep-sky delights, including many fine open star clusters.

Sheets of aurorae

Astronomy & Observing News

See Photos of the Widespread Aurorae Last Weekend

An extreme (G5) geomagnetic storm hit Earth last weekend, delighting viewers as far south as Florida with green and red curtains of light.

Aurora prequel

Explore the Night with Bob King

Severe Geogmagnetic Storm Has Arrived! Auroral Blast Expected Friday Night

A severe geomagnetic storm has just hit Earth — which means we could see auroras tonight! Here's what you'll need to know.

Moon, Capella, and Beta Tauri at dusk, May 10, 2024

Celestial News & Events

This Week's Sky at a Glance, May 10 – 19

The waxing Moon this week travels eastward from the horns of Taurus past the heads of Gemini, the Beehive in Cancer, then the forefoot of Leo on its way to occulting Beta Virginis.

bizarre loops of light created by black hole's gravity

The Black Hole Files with Camille Carlisle

Video: Plunge into a Black Hole

A new visualization from NASA takes the viewer on a one-way journey into a black hole.

Comet C/2023 A3 early May

Explore the Night with Bob King

Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS Brightens, Grows a Tail

Are you excited about Comet Tsuchinshan-ATLAS's prospects for a bright appearance this autumn? Guess what? It's already gorgeous.

illustration of black hole with bright white accretion disk around it; a spiral in the disk goes off to the right. The disk and spiral are redder as they go farther from black hole

Stellar Science

Is This Gamma-Ray Burst a Shredded Star in Disguise?

Is GRB 191019A a typical burst of gamma rays from a dying star, an anomalously long burst from colliding objects, or something else entirely?

Waning Moon passing Saturn and Mars in the dawn, May 4-5, 2024

Celestial News & Events

This Week's Sky at a Glance, May 3 – 12

This week in the moonless dark, the Summer Triangle appears over the eastern treetops star by star. Leo walks down toward the west. And the Sombrero Galaxy positions itself ideally on the south meridian for your telescope.

Lead

Space Missions

China's Chang'e 6 Mission Heads to the Moon

China’s ambitious Chang’e 6 mission will attempt to return a sample from the lunar farside.

Alkaid in Ursa Major

Night Sky Sights

Meet Alkaid, the Big Dipper’s Handle

Alkaid is the end star of the Big Dipper's handle, a bright-blue example of a nearby B-type star.

Eta Aquariids from Australia

Explore the Night with Bob King

Ready the Hot Cocoa and Recliner — Here Comes the Eta Aquariid Meteor Shower!

You might be tempted to sleep through this annual shower but then you'd miss seeing some of the fastest meteors around. Not to mention their parent is the most famous comet of all.

Big Dipper and Ursa Major

Sky Tour Astronomy Podcast

May Podcast: Big Dipper Shows the Way

High above you on May evenings is an one obvious star pattern that just about everyone knows: the Big Dipper. This “Swiss Army Knife of the sky” can help you find many other key springtime stars and constellations. Just download or stream this month’s Sky Tour podcast.

Stellar Science

What Happens After a Supernova Blows? Watch and Find Out

New time-lapse videos from the Chandra X-ray Observatory show the Crab Nebula and the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant over more than 20 years.

Pluto full disk high resolution

Solar System

A Cosmic Arrow Pierced Pluto's Heart — Is It Still There Beneath the Surface?

A giant impact likely formed Pluto's heart-shaped basin, Sputnik Planitia. A big chunk of the impactor’s core might still be buried under the ice.

Mars and Saturn low in the dawn around April 27, 2024

This Week's Sky At a Glance

This Week's Sky at a Glance, April 26 – May 5

All the planets now huddle around our line of sight toward the Sun. However, these moonless evenings present us the Spring Triangle, the Great Diamond with a sugar sprinkle on its edge, and the Pointers aligned vertically.

Asteroid

Solar System

Earth’s Mini-Moon Linked to Farside Lunar Crater

Researchers might have located the birthplace of 469219 Kamo‘oalewa, a small asteroid that has been described as Earth’s “mini-moon.”

NGC 2547 open star cluster

Night Sky Sights

Sail into the Southern Skies with Vela

The large constellation Vela contains many hidden treasures.

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