Astronomy magazine editors share their unique insight from behind the scenes of the science, hobby, and magazine.
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The Adler Planetarium's latest Kavli Fulldome lecture explores our planetary experiment

Posted 20 hours ago by Alison Klesman
We are all living in a giant science experiment — an experiment with no control group, which has never been performed before, and will never be performed again in exactly the same way. Our “planetary experiment” is taking place right here, every day, on Earth, and we have the ability to affect its outcome. In fact, part of that outcome has already been determined by those who have come before us, and we hold in our hands the power to impact the future of generations of humans...
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Mark your calendars: June 23 is the 9th Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall

Posted 21 hours ago by Amber Jorgenson
Can you think of a better way to celebrate the summer solstice than by hanging out with astronomers and taking a guided tour of our magnificent solar system? Didn't think so.The longest day of the year will be commemorated with the 9th Annual Astronomy Festival on the National Mall (AFNM) on Saturday, June 23, 2018, from 6 to 11 pm.. The Washington D.C. event invites patrons to take in views of the city's historic monuments, and with the help of advanced telescopes and expert astronomers, in-dep...
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Guest Blog: Revisiting the definition of a planet

Posted 4 days ago by Alison Klesman
This guest blog was written by Laurel Kornfeld in response to an opinion piece recently published on Forbes.com. You can read Laurel's additional guest blog on our site,"The case for planet Pluto," here.  Ethan Siegel’s May 8, 2018 article, “You Won’t Like the Consequences of Making Pluto a Planet Again” is rife with misconceptions about the geophysical planet definition supported by Alan Stern and David Grinspoon in their May 7 Washington Post article. ...
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A new nebula (halo) around IC 2220

Posted 12 days ago by Michael Bakich
One of our readers, Josep Drudis, who also is an avid astroimager, just sent me this report of a discovery he made. Nice work, Josep!   IC 2220 is usually known as the Toby Jug Nebula. This is, apparently, due to its resemblance to a specific kind of jug that depicts characters. Nobody knows whether “Toby” had a special face shape that inspired the astronomers who named it. The red-orange IC 2220 is, strange as it may sound, a reflection nebula. There are few known red-orange...
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Look to the Universe this May 16, the International Day of Light

Posted 13 days ago by Alison Klesman
Next week, the world will celebrate the first ever International Day of Light. A global initiative established by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, (UNESCO), the Day of Light is meant to turn our attention toward light and its role in our lives, from science and education to art, medicine, communications, and more. The inaugural celebration will take place in Paris and the opening ceremony will feature something special: a performance by soprano Katerina Mi...
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The Adler Planetarium honors Rosaly Lopes

Posted 19 days ago by Alison Klesman
Planetary science is the study of planets, satellites, and other small bodies in our solar system; and, in recent decades, those in other solar systems as well. Planetary scientists have the unique ability to send probes to better study or even physically touch their targets, while astronomers and astrophysicists are limited to peering at faraway objects they will never reach. Planetary science and planetary geology can be done right at home, here on Earth, by studying our own planet, as well ...
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One Strange Rock: Jerry Linenger shares a comet and a new perspective on Earth

Posted one month ago by Alison Klesman
Our planet sure has taken a beating to get here, and it’s still not easy to maintain an environment ideal for life. Massive, planet-changing collisions have rocked our world, while manmade chemicals have threatened the tenuous layer of molecules responsible for protecting our cells from the damaging UV rays thrown out by our parent star. Throughout it all, our planet has persevered, creating a place we can safely call home. Tonight, National Geographic will premiere the third episode of...
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Green Bank Observatory's PING summer camp is now accepting applications

Posted one month ago by Alison Klesman
Summer camp is a great way to make friends, enjoy the outdoors… and take part in amazing STEM activities at the Green Bank Observatory. That’s right — applications are currently being accepted now through May 16 for the Physics Inspiring the Next Generation! PING Camp 2018, which takes place July 15-21, 2018. Students who are currently 8th graders (rising 9th graders) are invited to apply for this unique experience, which aims to improve diversity in the STEM fields: scienc...
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The Great American Eclipse in Motion

Posted one month ago by Jake Parks
During last year's total solar eclipse (also known as the Great American Eclipse), Matt Francis captured a series of wide- and narrow-angle images that he later spent dozens of hours balancing and merging into a single image. Shortly after, he learned of a software program that allows you to add motion to an otherwise still photograph. Using the program, he was able to produce this animated image that simulates the movement of the Sun's corona during the total solar eclipse. // Matt Francis Gue...
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National Geographic's One Strange Rock will change your view of Earth forever

Posted one month ago by Alison Klesman
One of the hottest topics in astronomy today is the search for and study of exoplanets. Since the confirmation in 1992 that our solar system is not unique in the universe, astronomers have striven to find more exotic, more difficult-to-see, and, simply put, more exoplanets. This search is extremely important, because it helps us answer the question of how we got here — how our solar system formed, how our planets were born, and how they have evolved (and will evolve) over time. But amid...
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Send your letters to Lovell through the Adler Planetarium

Posted 2 months ago by Alison Klesman
When Apollo 13 came out on video — yep, I own it on actual VHS — I parked myself in front of the TV and watched it several (like... in the vicinity of 10) times over the course of the next few weeks. I had just started high school, and was in a phase that included learning everything I possibly could about our space program. I wanted to be an engineer or an astronaut; I went on to attend NASA’s Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama, twice over the next four years, and too...
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Guest Blog: Chilean skies through the camera lens

Posted 2 months ago by Alison Klesman
By Matthew Dieterich www.MDieterichPhoto.com Instagram: @mattdieterichphotography Click on the links in the text for extra images and larger versions of those shown here.  I have been passionate about astronomy and night sky photography since 2006. Over those 12 years, I became fascinated with the most advanced telescopes in the world. During that time I found education and outreach to be an excellent medium for me to share my passion for astrophotography with the general public....
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A closer look at the TRAPPIST-1 system

Posted 2 months ago by Jake Parks
The planets around TRAPPIST-1 are being bombarded by tremendously strong stellar winds. This partially strips them of their atmospheres and poses a real threat to any potential life within the system. Guest blog by Sharmila Kuthunur The discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system has brought to light a new avenue for discovering Earth-like planets — and maybe even life — around otherwise unexplored ultracool dwarf stars. The existence of life around these stars, however, depends greatly on...
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CuriosityStream honors Hawking by sharing his series with all viewers

Posted 2 months ago by Alison Klesman
Not long ago, I was given the opportunity to preview and review CuriosityStream’s Stephen Hawking's Favorite Places 2. This whimsical-yet-scientifically-based adventure through the solar system and beyond took viewers along for the ride as Hawking, in his spaceship of the same name, explored Earth and its place in the cosmos — and ended on a cliffhanger. Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places is one of Hawking’s last works; in honor of his life and legacy, CuriosityStr...
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Go figure: Nature's numbers are the keys to the cosmos

Posted 2 months ago by Jake Parks
Guest blog by Ben Palmer Life is defined by numeric order. Our days, numbered by digits; our interactions, governed by probabilities; our universe, described by calculations. Am I making a Nostradamus-style prediction? Think again! Everywhere you look, the cosmos is alive with numbers. This very second, space is expanding, stars are dying, planets are orbiting, and you and I are breathing. All of these are behaviors that can be described by thousands of equations and a googol of numbers. Are t...
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Guest Blog: Inspiring the Next Generation of Astronomers Through Story

Posted 2 months ago by Alison Klesman
By Amy Jackson What do a princess, a teapot, a swan and a scorpion have in common? They happen to be more related than you think! Turn on your imagination and read on. My name is Amy Jackson. I am the author of a new children’s book called Cassandra and the Night Sky, written to inspire our youngest learners to go outside at night, look up and wonder.   Curiosity and wonder Before we lived in busy cities with our sky aglow by bright lights, we lived a more primitive life en...
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Another astronomy Christmas?

Posted 2 months ago by Michael Bakich
If you didn’t get the telescope, eyepiece, camera, or other astronomical accessory you went to sleep dreaming about on Christmas Eve, you now have another chance. On Saturday, March 24, 2018, the Sheboygan Astronomical Society is hosting its eleventh annual Swap-n-Sell. This year’s event, like the previous ones, will take place at the Aviation Heritage Center of the Sheboygan Airport in Wisconsin from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. For those of you who own a GPS or like to use Google Maps or MapQ...
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Guest Blog: The Amazing ALMA Observatory

Posted 2 months ago by Alison Klesman
By Rich Lohman As an amateur astronomer with my own small observatory, I know some of the conditions that make for good astronomical viewing. But until I traveled to Chile with the National Science Foundation-sponsored Astronomy in Chile Educator Ambassador Program in June of 2017, I didn’t appreciate the full extent of the planning that goes into locating and designing a high-quality observatory. Ingredients for a world-class observatory The Atacama Large Millimeter/ submil...
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SpaceX Tesla Roadster spotted from Earth

Posted 2 months ago by Jake Parks
At 3:45 p.m. EST on February 6, the spaceflight company SpaceX made history by successfully launching the most powerful privately developed rocket ever built — the Falcon Heavy. (The Saturn V, which catapulted the Apollo missions to the Moon, was the most powerful rocket of all time.) At 230 feet (70 meters) tall, the Falcon Heavy is capable of ferrying a payload of nearly 141,000 pounds (64 metric tons) into low-Earth orbit. This is roughly twice the payload that any other competing roc...
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How I Became a Freelance Photographer

Posted 3 months ago by Jake Parks
Meet Marcus Cote, a 19-year-old freelance photographer with a knack for capturing captivating launch photos from Florida's Space Coast. Guest blog by Marcus Cote One of the hardest aspects of photography is finding inspiration. Technical know-how can be learned and mastered over time, and equipment can be acquired through hard work and short-term savings; however, finding the creative drive and motivation to turn ideas into pictures is not as easy. I am Marcus Cote, a 19-year-old fr...
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Wow! Opportunity rover reaches 5,000 days on Mars

Posted 3 months ago by Michael Bakich
I just received this note from Karly Pitman, Executive Director of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado: On Friday, February 16, 2018, NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, will be conducting its 5000th martian day of operating on the Red Planet. NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover program landed Opportunity and her twin rover, Spirit, on the martian surface in January 2004.  Though a wheel failure caused Spirit to become mired in a sand trap and cease operations i...
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The Great Galactic Mashup: What can we expect?

Posted 3 months ago by Jake Parks
Spoiler alert! The Milky Way and the Andromeda galaxy will collide in four billion years. But alas, the Sun will be a red giant and neither Earth nor the solar system will be here to witness the collision. Guest blog by Sharmila Kuthunur It’s rare to find neighbors that don’t meet up every once in a while. So is the case with two of the largest galaxies in the Local Group — the Milky Way and Andromeda. But unlike antisocial neighbors, these two galaxies have a plan to get toge...
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Do magnetic fields really care about what's in a planet's core?

Posted 3 months ago by Jake Parks
Guest blog by Sharmila Kuthunur. Although the geodynamo residing in Earth’s core is critical to maintaining our protective magnetic field, the composition of the core itself seems to have little to do with the structure and alignment of the field. Earth’s rotation, on the other hand, plays a surprisingly important role. The very existence of a magnetic field depends on there being enough energy to drive the dynamo, which in Earth’s case comes from the convection currents th...
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Moonshots collects NASA photos snapped with Hasselblad cameras

Posted 3 months ago by Alison Klesman
Moonshots: 50 Years of NASA Space Exploration Seen through Hasselblad Cameras by Piers Bizony is a stunningly beautiful and insightful book that brings the story of America’s journey into space to life. And with each passing year, its message will only grow more poignant. “Time is doing what it always does: separating us from the tangibility of events,” the introduction reads — and it’s true, especially for those who, like me, were born into a world where man had...
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Celebrate this month's "Super Blue Blood" Moon with a virtual race

Posted 4 months ago by Alison Klesman
If one of your New Year’s resolutions this year was to get active but you’re still struggling for motivation, you’re in luck — the Virtual Running Club, in partnership with Celestron, is offering the 2018 Inaugural Moonlight Virtual 5K/10K. And the reward for completing the race is a super-cool “Super Moon” medal to commemorate the Blue, Blood, and Super Moon of January 31, 2018. What is a virtual race? It’s a race that you can run at any time and at ...
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CES goes out with a bang

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
This week, I’m at CES (the gathering formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), which is taking place in the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. Today was my third day, one I’ll call “the last hurrah.” It was also the final day of CES. I headed to the convention center early because I wanted to at least stop by and see some of the manufacturers whose products Astronomy’s readers use. First up was Canon. To this day, in excess of 90 percent of the DSLR ima...
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So much to see at CES

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
This week, I’m at CES (the gathering formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show), which is taking place in the massive Las Vegas Convention Center. Today was my second day, one I’ll call “return of the tourist.” Yesterday was full of eye-opening sights, but I spent the early part of the day (before the power went out) only in the South Hall one of three giant venues side by side at the Convention Center. Today was filled with meetings in all three giant halls, but ...
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The 231st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society: Day 3

Posted 4 months ago by Alison Klesman
Thursday morning at the AAS pulled space telescopes into the spotlight with a morning press conference highlighting the work our instruments in space have helped astronomers to complete. Keith Gendreau of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center spoke about the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) aboard the International Space station, and how its data is working to provide a completely independent method for navigating deep space using the pulses received from millisecond pulsa...
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CES equals OMG!!!

Posted 4 months ago by Michael Bakich
I thought I was used to big conventions. After all, this summer will be my seventh trip to San Diego Comic-Con — the biggest and best pop-culture convention on the planet. More than 160,000 people attend it. Enter a new reality. This week, I’m at CES (the gathering formerly known as the Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas. I gotta tell you, CES is like ten Comic-Cons smashed together, shaken violently, and emptied into a venue larger than some asteroids. Today was my first day,...
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The 231st Meeting of the American Astronomical Society: Day 2

Posted 4 months ago by Alison Klesman
It’s Wednesday at the AAS! This morning, I got a fascinating look deeper into the nature and environment of the mysterious fast radio burst FRB121102 — the only known repeating fast radio burst to date. I also had a chance to speak with a team member working with the Thirty Meter Telescope to hear more about the challenges this project has faced, and those it has yet to overcome. Studying an FRB and its homeFast Radio Bursts, or FRBs, are brief, bright flashes of radio energy from...

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