Asteroid discovered just before it impacted earth's atmosphere

Over the weekend, Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey spotted a near-earth asteroid just a few hours before its impact trajectory took it right into our atmosphere. Luckily, it burned up before impact. Read the rest

Last night was Manhattanhenge: It. Was. Glorious.

I'm obsessed with Manhattanhenge, the two nights a year when the sunset aligns with the prevailing east-west streets of the New York City grid, a phenomenon that Neil deGrasse Tyson named in 1992. Read the rest

4K tour of the Moon

NASA posted this high-definition tour of the Moon, a perfectly serene antidote to the noise here on Earth.

Take a virtual tour of the Moon in all-new 4K resolution, thanks to data provided by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. As the visualization moves around the near side, far side, north and south poles, we highlight interesting features, sites, and information gathered on the lunar terrain. Music Provided By Killer Tracks: "Never Looking Back" - Frederick Wiedmann. "Flying over Turmoil" - Benjamin Krause & Scott Goodman. This video is public domain and along with other supporting visualizations can be downloaded from the Scientific Visualization Studio at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4619 Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/David Ladd

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Hypnotic animation of how a star-forming galaxy forms

IllustrisTNG, a next-gen simulator for cosmological events, created this beautiful animation of a "late-type" star-forming galaxy. It's fascinating to watch how mind-boggling mass and energy on a mind-boggling time scale looks familiar to observable phenomena on earth. Read the rest

Stunning image of airglow bands around the Milky Way

Xiaohan Wang was driving near Keluke Lake in Qinghai Province in China, but stopped to snap this lovely image of airglow bands framing the Milky Way. Read the rest

Incredible overview of making mirrors for the world's largest telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope is a marvel of engineering, and Dr. Patrick McCarthy explains the years-long process to make an optic mirror that costs over $20 million. Read the rest

Watch a powerful new simulator depict how galaxies form

Illustris TNG is a theoretical astrophysics project that created the most detailed simulation of the universe to date, and it turns out that black holes influence the distribution of dark matter. Read the rest

Mysterious extraterrestrial minerals discovered in the Sahara

Libyan desert glass is a material of unknown origin scattered across a large swath of the Sahara. Among it, scientists found Hypatia stones, a strange phosphorous-nickel alloy recently determined to be extra-terrestrial. Read the rest

Cool collaborative student animation of Sagan's "The Pale Blue Dot" speech

The Pale Blue Dot was made as a tribute to Carl Sagan "as the final project for the Animation 01 course at Ringling College of Art and Design." Read the rest

The size of the solar system if Earth were the volume of a basketball

Using a Google Maps overlay, Solar System Maps shows how large the solar system would be if Earth or other celestial bodies were much smaller than the are. Here's "Earth the size of a basketball," centered on SFO. The outermost ring is Pluto's orbit.

If Jupiter were the size of a tennis ball, Pluto's orbit could still encompass the British Library, the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament.

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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a brief history

Is there anybody out there? If we don't listen for the answer, we certainly won't hear it. Over at the Planetary Society, Jason Davis posted an excellent survey of the past, present, and future of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. It begins in 1959 with Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison's historic paper "Searching for Interstellar Communications" and Frank Drake's Project Ozma, the first scientific SETI search:

One year later, the National Academy of Sciences hosted an invitation-only meeting at Green Bank to discuss how to go about conducting further SETI research. The eclectic, interdisciplinary group included Drake, Cocconi, Morrison, the biochemist Melvin Calvin (who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry during the meeting), Bernard Oliver, who was the vice president of research and development at Hewlett-Packard, the young Carl Sagan, and the scientist John Lilly, who had recently published a controversial book arguing dolphins were an intelligent species.

With a nod to Lilly's book, the participants dubbed themselves "The Order of the Dolphin." One product of the meeting was the Drake equation, which attempts to predict the number of advanced civilizations in the Milky Way able to contact Earth. The equation includes variables such as average star formation rate, the number of habitable planets per star, and the number of planets where intelligent life could evolve.

For the rest of the 1960s, SETI research remained mostly dormant, aside from a few searches in the Soviet Union. Starting in 1971, two Project Ozma follow-ups named Ozpa and Ozma II used bigger dishes and listened to more stars.

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Building a scale model of our solar system in the desert is an eye-opening exercise

You are no doubt aware that models of our solar system are not to scale. These guys went to Black Rock Desert to create a scale model of our solar system, starting with an Earth the size of a marble. This required seven miles of empty desert to add the other planets (not including Pluto). There's an awful lot of space between these little spheres.

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Relaxing video on awe-inspiring stellar nebulae

Teun van der Zalm developed an algorithm for creating nebulae in games, VR, and film. This showcase of the results, set to a lovely free track by Lee Rosevere, hints at the beauty that emerges from math. Read the rest

Pluto's equator is covered in skyscraper-sized methane ice blades

As NASA continues to examine the treasure trove of data from the New Horizons project, one interesting phenomenon at Pluto's equator has been identified as massive ice blades made of methane. Read the rest

Breathtaking winners of Astronomy Photography competition

My god, it's full of stars. Artem Mironov's photo of the Rho Ophiuchi Cloud Complex won the Royal Museums Greenwich's 2017 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. He captured this glorious image at Hakos Farm in Windhoek, Namibia. Below: Oleg Bryzgalov's image of the M63 star streams and Sunflower Galaxy, taken at Rozhen Observatory, Smolyan Province, Bulgaria, won in the Galaxies category; Alexandra Hart won the "Our Sun" category for her photo of Mercury's transit across the Sun as seen from Preston, Lancashire, UK; and Jason Green was rated the "Best Newcomer" for his image of the Cone Nebula (NGC 2264) taken from Frenegal de la Sierra, Badajoz, Spain.

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A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars: a child's garden of infinity

In A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, Seth Fishman and illustrator Isabel Greenberg (previously) present a the astounding, nearly incomprehensible size of the universe in a picture book that even the very youngest readers will delight in; when I blurbed it, I wrote "Dazzling: the astounding, mind-boggling scale of the magnificent universe and our humbling and miraculous place in it, rendered in pictures and words that the youngest readers will understand."

QVC host and guest debate whether Earth's moon is a planet or a star

“No, I don’t like that at all. I don’t even know what that means”

Bo Gardiner:

Not sure what [Isaacs] Mizrahi's excuse is, but you gotta love his "let a man set this silly woman straight" tone with his own silliness. As for [Shawn] Killinger, an avid Christian, perhaps she got her science from Genesis in Sunday school.

Check out the model's reaction at 0:39! I like to imagine she models to put herself through an astrophysics Ph.D.

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