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Occator Crater on Ceres

Solar System

Asteroid Ceres Was Radioactive — and That Could Explain a Lot

Radioactive heating in this asteroid's early days may have destabilized the small world, creating asymmetric surface features.

Perseid 2021

Meteors

Perseids Are Coming, Full Moon or Not

Don't use a full Moon pass to skip this year's Perseid meteor shower. Right here, right now, we're going to help you make the most of it.

artist's illustration of sun with glint

Solar System

Caught in a Solar Storm on the Way to Mars

A chance alignment between Earth and a Mars-bound spacecraft has given us a rare glimpse at the motions of high-energy particles from the Sun.

Jupiter in infrared

Solar System

Why Are Jupiter's Rings So Thin?

Why does the biggest planet in the solar system have such flimsy rings? New research shows Jupiter's moons may be to blame.

four overlapping jupiters showing dark orange marks on the bottom

Solar System

When Planets Collect Comets

What kind of planets are likely to ensnare comets coming in from the icy outer reaches of a planetary system?

Iapetus transit single

Planets

See a Rare Transit of Iapetus on July 17–18

It's tiny. It's challenging. But you won't get the chance to see Iapetus transit the globe of Saturn again until 2037!

A diamond-shaped grey asteroid with ridges, holes, and craters in it, against a black background

Solar System

Asteroid Bennu Almost Swallowed Spacecraft Whole

Scientists knew the asteroid Bennu was likely a rubble pile rather than solid rock, but OSIRIS-REX's recent visit surprised them in showing just how loosely the asteroid really is.

Titan and Tethys

Explore the Night with Bob King

Titan Occults a Bright Star, Mira Awakens, and Comet PanSTARRS Shines

Pick one or see them all. July offers a potpourri of celestial events for both naked-eye observers and telescope users that include a rare occultation by Saturn's moon Titan, a bright comet, and Mira at maximum.

Dawn planet line

Explore the Night with Bob King

Solar System Gets its Ducks in a Row

We'll have not one but many opportunities to enjoy a rare lineup of the bright planets over the next few weeks. Amazingly, they'll be aligned in order of their distance from the Sun.

Percy

Astronomy in Space with David Dickinson

Perseverance Watches Wild Winds on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover is recording the windy weather in Jezero Crater, chronicling its role in making the Red Planet dusty.

Tau Herculid fireball

Explore the Night with Bob King

Tau Herculid Meteors Surprise and Delight

We touch on the highlights of the memorable Tau Herculid meteor shower and also report on the recent outburst of the recurrent nova U Scorpii.

rainbow with black lines marking where different atoms have absorbed wavelengths of light

Solar System

Mystery of the Sun's Chemical Makeup Lingers

Astronomers think they might have a solution to the conundrum of the Sun's chemical composition.

Outer Planets

People, Places, and Events

Piano Concerto on the Planets Premieres

A piano concerto based on the solar system’s planets just had its world premiere. And you can hear a sampling of the music right here!

solar flare

Solar System

The Sun Is Waking Up — Right On Schedule

The Sun is ramping up activity, but contrary to some reports, this solar cycle is still consistent with scientists' predictions.

Mars InSight

Spacecraft and Space Missions

NASA's Insight Lander Detects Monster Marsquake

NASA’s Mars Insight lander witnessed the largest quake detected on another world at just the right time — as the lander begins to run low on power.

Solar Orbiter images of Sun

Solar System

Spotting Dots on the Sun

You’ve heard of sunspots, but how about Sun dots? A recent solar mission has snapped photos of tiny, bright dots on the Sun, and astronomers are contemplating their cause.

Theia Impact

Solar System

Where Did Earth’s Trojans Go? Ask the Moon

Why doesn't Earth have Trojan asteroids of its own? Large impacts in the early years of the solar system may be to blame.

Meteoroids deliver organics

Astrobiology

Scientists Wonder: Is the Origin of Life Extraterrestrial?

A new analysis method has revealed DNA building blocks in meteorites, suggesting that these prebiotic molecules might have formed during the solar system's earliest years.

Naked eye sunspots

Explore the Night with Bob King

How to Observe and Measure Naked-eye Sunspots

As Solar Cycle 25 ticks up, naked-eye sunspots are becoming more frequent. They're not only fun to observe, but with this simple method you can determine just how big they are. We also have news on a bright supernova!

Osiris-APEX

Solar System

New Target for Asteroid Probe: “Potentially Hazardous” Apophis

Once the primary mission of NASA's OSIRIS-REx is complete, the spacecraft will head toward a new destination: near-Earth asteroid Apophis.

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