Venus and Jupiter are Close : On June 30, Venus and Jupiter were close in western skies at dusk. Near the culmination of this year’s gorgeous conjunction, the two bright evening planets are captured in the same telescopic field of view in this image taken after sunset from Bejing, China. As the two bright planets set together in the west, a nearly Full Moon rose above the horizon to the south and east. Imaged that night with the same telescope and camera, the rising Moon from the opposite part of the sky is compared with the planetary conjunction for scale in the digitally composited image. The full lunar disk covers an angle of about ½ degree on the sky. Visible as well in binoculars and small telescopes are Venus’ crescent and Jupiter’s four Galilean moons. Of course, Venus and Jupiter are still close. via NASA

NGC 1333: Stellar Sparklers That Last

 While fireworks only last a short time here on Earth, a bundle of cosmic sparklers in a nearby cluster of stars will be going off for a very long time. NGC 1333 is a star cluster populated with many young stars that are less than 2 million years old, a blink of an eye in astronomical terms for stars like the Sun expected to burn for billions of years.

This new composite image combines X-rays from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory (pink) with infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (red) as well as optical data from the Digitized Sky Survey and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory Mayall 4-meter telescope on Kitt Peak (red, green, blue). The Chandra data reveal 95 young stars glowing in X-ray light, 41 of which had not been identified previously using infrared observations with Spitzer because they lacked infrared emission from a surrounding disk.


Voyager 1 is a NASA/JPL probe launched on September 5, 1977. Impressively enough, Voyager 1 is still sending us data, though its cameras were shut down long ago to conserve juice. Scientists never expected Voyager to be such a champ in that aspect, though they anticipate it will be out of fuel soon, likely around 2025. On August 25, 2012, it entered the official realm of interstellar space, something humans have never accomplished before. June of 2012 is when scientists realized that voyager had finally reached the heliopause, the point in space where the sun’s winds stop against the “interstellar medium”.

Above are some images captured by this incredible machine as it reached the outer planets.
New Horizons color images reveal two distinct faces of Pluto

New color images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft show two very different faces of the mysterious dwarf planet, one with a series of intriguing spots along the equator that are evenly spaced. Each of the spots is about 300 miles (480 kilometers) in diameter, with a surface area that’s roughly the size of the state of Missouri.

Scientists have yet to see anything quite like the dark spots; their presence has piqued the interest of the New Horizons science team, due to the remarkable consistency in their spacing and size. While the origin of the spots is a mystery for now, the answer may be revealed as the spacecraft continues its approach to the mysterious dwarf planet. “It’s a real puzzle—we don’t know what the spots are, and we can’t wait to find out,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder. “Also puzzling is the longstanding and dramatic difference in the colors and appearance of Pluto compared to its darker and grayer moon Charon.”

New Horizons team members combined black-and-white images of Pluto and Charon from the spacecraft’s Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) with lower-resolution color data from the Ralph instrument to produce these views. We see the planet and its largest moon in approximately true color, that is, the way they would appear if you were riding on the New Horizons spacecraft. About half of Pluto is imaged, which means features shown near the bottom of the dwarf planet are at approximately at the equatorial line.

Continue Reading.

NASA Has Given The “Go” For A Highly Anticipated Mission To Europa

A mission to Europa is now under development after NASA gave the green light to a mission concept which would send a spacecraft to conduct flybys of Jupiter’s icy moon sometime in the 2020s to assess the world’s potential habitability. The mission concept passed its first major review by the agency, allowing the mission concept to enter the formulation stage of development.

Read more:

NASA missions monitor a waking black hole

Greenbelt MD (SPX) Jul 01, 2015
NASA’s Swift satellite detected a rising tide of high-energy X-rays from the constellation Cygnus on June 15, just before 2:32 p.m. EDT. About 10 minutes later, the Japanese experiment on the International Space Station called the Monitor of All-sky X-ray Image (MAXI) also picked up the flare. The outburst came from V404 Cygni, a binary system located about 8,000 light-years away that cont
Full article