Spot The Apollo 17 Landing Site And Learn Why Hubble Can’t See The Landers

45 years ago next month, Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt took three separate hikes and car rides on the lunar surface in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, a low spot tucked between the mountains that rim the southeastern “shore” of the Sea of Serenity. You can take a pair of binoculars, or better, a…
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What Does A Comet Smell Like?

We rarely use our sense of smell in astronomy except for the occasional run-in with a skunk during late night sky sweeping. We can’t smell the irony-dusty air on Mars, the pungent ammonia clouds that swaddle Jupiter or the reeking sulfur plumes of Io’s many active volcanoes. Our noses are helpless. I love hunting for…
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NASA Tests Supersonic Parachute For Mars 2020 Rover Landing

Landing on Mars is difficult and not always successful. A fair number of missions to the Martian surface have failed, even some launched by the U.S. But we’ve been on something of a roll since 2003 with four consecutive successes: the Spirit, Opportunity, Phoenix and Curiosity all landed safe and sound. Tingly-good animation of Curiosity…
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A Beguiling Crescent-Planet Rendezvous / My New Book

Will we ever get bored of looking at crescent moons? No way. There can never be too many. Lots of times, crescents meet planets and booya, we get a pretty pairing called a conjunction. That happens tonight when the 2-day-old moon joins Saturn and Mercury low in the southwestern sky at dusk. The moon will…
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Interstellar Interloper 1I/’Oumuamua Gone Forever

Back in October, astronomers discovered the first known interstellar object passing through our solar system. Interstellar meaning that it came from another planet around another star and was somehow ejected into space.Here in our neck of the woods that likely happened when Jupiter and Saturn migrated across the solar system some half-billion years after its formation, scattering…
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