Jupiter Joins The Zodiacal Light Before Dawn

To calm my mind on Election Day morning, I took off before dawn for Lake Superior. Just a quick hop to a beach 10 minutes from home. There along the silent shore stood a slanted feather of comet dust dotted by the bright planet Jupiter. Winds were light, so Jupiter left a gleam line on…
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Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Space Sure Is Busy — Near-Earth Asteroid Count Tops 15,000

15,000 and counting, baby. That’s the number of known near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), with an average of 30 new discoveries added each week. Astronomers define “near Earth” as objects that come within 121 million miles of the sun at their closest, a distance is equal to 1.3 astronomical units (a.u.). An a.u. equals the distance between the…
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Credit: Bob King

Stand In Awe Before Dawn’s Early Light

What sort of things make for jaw-dropping sky sights? You might answer a total eclipse of the sun or a raging, all-sky aurora. The other morning just before the start of dawn, I stood in awe before a phenomenon consisting of practically nothing at all. A great cone of luminous haze called the zodiacal light…
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Copyright: ESA/Rosetta

Rosetta Bites The Comet Dust / Aurora V3.0

At 5:19 a.m. Central time this morning, the fabulously successful Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/C-G came to an end. At that time, European mission control heard the last signal from the spacecraft before it crashed down on the comet’s surface. Now settled in for a long, long nap — one that will last an eternity…
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Artist's view of the Rosetta spacecraft settling to the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko tomorrow morning when the mission ends. Credit: European Space Agency (ESA)

Rosetta Begins Free Fall To Comet 67P Today, Crash Lands Friday

The end is near! The European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft is set to complete its historic mission in a controlled descent to the surface of Comet 67P early tomorrow morning September 30. Touchdown, or more like crunch-down, should happen within 20 minutes either side of 5:40 a.m. Central Daylight Time (10:40 a.m. Greenwich Time). Because Rosetta and…
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