Hubble Space Telescope Got the GOODS! Astronomy 

Hubble Space Telescope Got the GOODS!

By Steven Spence The Hubble Space Telescope has been conducting a deep-sky survey called “Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey North,” or GOODS North. The GOODS data has enabled astronomers to extend their view of galaxies back 150 million years further than any previously identified galaxy. The distant galaxy GN-Z11 was in the first generation of galaxies to form in the universe. Scientists estimate that it formed only 400 million years after the Big Bang. In fact, GN-Z11 formed at a time when the universe was mostly clouds of cold hydrogen…

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This artist's conception shows a blazar -- the core of an active galaxy powered by a supermassive black hole. The VERITAS array has detected gamma rays from a blazar known as PKS 1441+25. Researchers found that the source of the gamma rays was within the relativistic jet but surprisingly far from the galaxy's black hole. The emitting region is about five light-years away. Courtesy of M. Weiss/CfA Astronomy 

Gamma Rays from a Galaxy Far, Far Away

After traveling for about half the age of the universe, a flood of powerful gamma rays from a distant galaxy slammed into Earth’s atmosphere in April 2015. The gamma rays met our atmosphere and formed a cascade of light that fell onto the waiting mirrors of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) in Arizona. The resulting data have given astronomers a unique look into that faraway galaxy and the black hole engine at its heart. What Are Gamma Rays? Gamma rays are photons of light with very…

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Humans to Mars by 2030 Astronomy 

We May Send Humans to Mars by 2030

Our partners at ResearchGate recently spoke with Alfonso Davila from SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, about what draws us to explore the red planet and beyond. Interested in Mars? Don’t miss this other article about the Martian atmosphere.  ResearchGate: What motivates you to explore living conditions – and possible life – on Mars? Davila: The motivation is twofold. On the one hand there is this nagging drive to understand life at the most fundamental levels (the “what is life?” question), and on the other hand there is this obsessive curiosity about the possibility of life elsewhere…

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Comet Lovejoy C/2014 Q2, photographed on 22 Feb. 2015 by Fabrice Noel Astronomy 

Comet Lovejoy Delivers Free Alcohol

By Kate Stone Comet Lovejoy recently released large amounts of alcohol and sugar into space, according to new observations by an international team. This is the first time we have found ethyl alcohol, the same type in alcoholic beverages, in a comet. The finding adds to the evidence that comets could have been a source of the complex organic molecules necessary for the emergence of life. Cocktails in Space “We found that comet Lovejoy was releasing as much alcohol as in at least 500 bottles of wine every second during…

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Spectacular view of the Perseid Meteor Shower over the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (Image credit ESO) Astronomy Citizen Science 

Perseid Meteor Shower 2015 and More

By Steve Beyer August’s main sky event promises to be our annual encounter with the tenuous trail of debris left in solar orbit by comet 109/P Swift-Tuttle. As Earth plows through this veil of mostly small grains and dust, we can see comet fragments appear as swift light traces of Perseid meteors. View the Perseid Meteor Shower 2015 The Perseid Meteor Shower is the night of August 12th and 13th. It peaks for viewers in the eastern United States during predawn hours of Thursday August 13 and the show should be better…

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A copy of the U.S. Customs form filled out by Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins after their return to Earth on July 24, 1969. (Courtesy of NASA/U.S. Customs and Border Patrol) Astronomy 

Apollo 11 Astronauts’ Customs Form

Customs declaration forms are familiar documents to international travelers. But what about space travelers? When the Apollo 11 astronauts splashed down in the Pacific Ocean after visiting the moon over 40 years ago, they had to go through customs, too. About the Apollo 11 Astronauts’ Customs Form This historic customs form is signed by all three Apollo 11 astronauts: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. They declared their cargo of moon rocks and moon dust, and listed their travel route as starting at Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral) in…

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Pluto Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI Astronomy 

New Horizon’s Pluto Flyby

NASA’s spacecraft New Horizons entered its closest approach with Pluto yesterday, as part of its nine-year mission to study the last of the nine “classical” planets in our solar system. Later today, we will receive the first “phone home” communication from the spacecraft. Here on Earth, scientists are eagerly awaiting today’s transmission from New Horizons. One of them is Noemi Pinilla-Alonso, an astrophysicist at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and formerly of NASA. Our friends at ResearchGate recently chatted with Pinilla-Alonso about her hopes and plans for the long-awaited data.…

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leap second Astronomy Videos 

NASA Explains Why Today Gets an Extra Second

  By Elizabeth Zubritsky, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center The day will officially be a bit longer than usual on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, because an extra second, or “leap” second, will be added. “Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing down a bit, so leap seconds are a way to account for that,” said Daniel MacMillan of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. How Long is a Day, Really? Strictly speaking, a day lasts 86,400 seconds. That is the case, according to the time standard that people use in…

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stargazing Astronomy Videos 

Stargazing Across Time: Shelf Life Episode 5

 Stargazing For eons, humanity has been fascinated by the stars. From sundials to telescopes, episode five of the Shelf Life series showcases not only the tools that have been used to observe the sky throughout history but also the stargazing technology of the future. Even though the tools currently in use for observing space are more powerful than ever before, there is still room for improvement. Scientists are working on space-based and land-based telescopes that will capture images of the universe in unparalleled detail. One new device in the planning stages…

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Partial Solar Eclipse March 2015 (Steven Spence) Astronomy Environment Science & Art 

Solar Eclipse from Stuttgart, Germany

  On March 20, 2015, people across Europe, northern and eastern Asia, and northern and western Africa were treated to the best view of a partial solar eclipse. Steven Spence, a member of EH Science’s Contributors Community, was fortunate to witness this special celestial event, and today he shares with us his experience of photographing it. Don’t miss Steven’s other photos, including Winter Bees, First Visitors. Where I live in Germany we were lucky with the weather and had clear skies for the partial solar eclipse, and I found a…

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