Comet Meets Moon and Morning Star : A crescent Moon and brilliant Venus met in predawn skies on December 7, a beautiful conjunction of planet Earths two brightest celestial beacons after the Sun. Harder to see but also on the scene was Comet Catalina . The fainter comet clearly sporting two tails, lunar night side, bright sunlit lunar crescent, and brilliant morning star, are all recorded here by combining short and long exposures of the same field of view. Pointing down and right, Catalinas dust tail tends to trail behind the comets orbit. Its ion tail, angled toward the top left of the frame, is blowing away from the Sun. Discovered in 2013, the new visitor from the Oort cloud was closest to the Sun on November 15 and is now outbound, headed for its closest approach to Earth in mid-January. via NASA


Apollo Astronaut Edgar Mitchell Dies at Age 85

Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, lunar module pilot on Apollo 14, passed away Thursday in West Palm Beach, Fla., on the eve of the 45th anniversary of his lunar landing. Mitchell was the sixth man to walk on the Moon.

“To me, that (spaceflight) was the culmination of my being, and what can I learn from this? What is it we are learning? That’s important, because I think what we’re trying to do is discover ourselves and our place in the cosmos, and we don’t know. We’re still looking for that.” - Edgar Mitchell in 1997 interview for NASA’s oral history program. 

Source: NASA


hubble’s panorama of the carina nebula, some 7500 light years away from earth, and about fifty light years in length here. stars old and new illuminate clouds of cosmic dust and gas, like the clumping hydrogen from which they were born.
the top star seen at the bisection of the first two panels, part of the eta carinae binary star system (most stars are in binary systems), is estimated to be more than a hundred times the mass of the sun - large enough to go supernoava in about a million years.
it also produces four million times as much light as the sun, and was once the second brightest star in the night sky. but surrounding dust and gas has dimmed our view of the star, though it’s still visible in the night sky to all but those in the most light polluted cities.
he fifth panel shows ‘the mystic mountain,’ where nascent stars in the cloud are spewing hot ionized gas and dust at 850,000 miles an hour . eventually, the ultraviolet radiation from these stars will blow away the dust, leaving visible the stars, like the cluster seen at the top of the panel, which were formed only half a million years ago.
NASA is keeping 4 people in a tiny cabin for a month, because science
The path to space is pretty cramped.
By Fiona MacDonald

The US space agency has just announced that it’ll be sticking four volunteers inside a tiny house for 30 days, as part of an experiment to test how isolation and “close quarters” affect people’s behaviour. Once inside, the volunteers can’t leave the cabin, and will only be able to regularly communicate with each other and NASA mission control (that means no Internet).

It sounds pretty uncomfortable, but if we want to make it further into space - all the way to Mars, for example - people are going to have to live in cramped spaces for months at a time with very little contact with the outside world, and scientists need to be able to predict the effects - including every little thing that could go wrong.

The compact, three-storey house that the volunteers will be living in is called the Human Research Exploration Analog (HERA), and it’s what NASA is calling a “science-making house”. That means there are lots of little experiments on board to keep the team occupied, like plants to grow and tiny shrimp to take care of.