Where's Tyche, the 10th 9th planet? Getting the full story. John Matese and Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette recently made the news when they announced the possible discovery of a gas giant planet they named Tyche in the Oort Cloud, at the extreme edge of the Solar System (previously). Now ars electronica breaks down the evidence behind the announcement, what can be done to confirm or disprove its existence & how long it could take.
People have been upset about Pluto's demotion for some time now. (While classical music fans have just had a love/hate relationship with this whole process.) But astronomical hate mail has never been as cute as the missives Neil deGrasse Tyson has received over the years from tots upset at poor Pluto's ouster.
NASA's MESSENGER team (previously: 1, 2, 3), with help from the U.S. Geological Survey, released yesterday the first global map of the planet Mercury. [more inside]
Go buy a helmet because Astronomers calculate there is a tiny chance that Mars or Venus could collide with Earth. [more inside]
Blood Falls - The iron rich red liquid gushing from a buried Antarctica lake shows how life may have existed on a snowball Earth, or on Europa.
Tonight NASA is scheduled to launch the Kepler Mission (named after planetary legislator Johannes Kepler) with the goal of finding Earth size planets in orbit around stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the sky. Over the next 3 and a half years it will maintain a nearly unblinking gaze on the approximately 100 thousand stars in the region. NASA expects it to find about 50 Earth size planets, as well as hundreds that are larger. You can watch the launch live on NASA TV. [more inside]
See Saturn this Saturday April 12 is the second annual International Sidewalk Astronomy Night, a worldwide event coordinated by the Sidewalk Astronomers. The group, founded in 1968 by John Dobson (subject of this documentary), is dedicated to a sort of guerrilla astronomy -- experienced stargeeks bringing their really good telescopes out to places where people are. So even on your way to the bars, the shows, and the honky-tonk you can see stuff like this and this - like these people did.
Titan find - The hydrocarbon lakes on Saturn’s moon may contain hundreds of times more liquid hydrocarbons than all of Earths known oil and natural gas reserves.
Mercury Messenger, a NASA probe, just performed a fly-by of Mercury at a height of 200 kilometers. It's the first spacecraft to visit Mercury since 1975.
NASA proposes using a Stirling cooler (essentially a Stirling engine in reverse) to keep a probe cool on the surface of Venus, which has had a tendency to melt or smash previous probes. The cooler would maintain a 25cm sphere within the probe at 200°C -- 100°C above the boiling point of water but sufficiently cool for a high-temperature microcontroller to operate. The waste heat radiators on the exterior of the sphere would reach the temperature of 500°C, 40°C above the the normal Venusian surface temperature.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the five planets visible to the naked eye, can all be seen simultaneously after sunset over the next few weeks. Viewing details. The next opportunity will be in 2036.
This guy can build an orrery for you. Or you can make your own armillary sphere. These two devices are quite possibly the most elegant and beautiful scientific instruments ever created.
Is there Life on Mars? As NASA announce a nuclear-powered Mars and beyond project, British scientists are looking forward to the launch of the Beagle 2 which will search for signs of life on the Red Planet. Is this the return of the Space Race in a new form? And will they find any sign of life?
Another massive celestial object, with a companion star in tow, has been discovered hurtling through the Milky Way. Unlike similar discoveries confirming the bow shock theory of stellar dynamics, this week's phenomenon is considerably older, as it's an aftereffect of the galactic core's formation. The French and Argentine astromoners making the discovery believe what they've witnessed may be a black hole, though theoretically, the collasped matter may be a gravistar.
Next Thursday, NASA will announce the discovery of huge water ice oceans on Mars. Lying less than a metre beneath the surface south of 60° latitude, the water ice reservoirs if melted would form an ocean 500m deep covering the entire planet. NASA insiders believe these findings could result in a manned landing within 20 years.
I saw all five of the visible planets in our solar system tonight! And so can you, if you have clear skies and go outside between 8:45 and 9 p.m. your time this week. Disclaimer - my naked eyes weren't good enough to see Mercury but I could see it with binoculars.
Hey, Baby -- did you feel that? The sun, someday, will envelope the Earth and all life as we know it will die. Can we prevent this? Some wacky scientists think that the best thing to do would be to up and move the whole damn planet.
The Big Re-run? "In the first millionth of a second after the universe’s beginning, the entire cosmos consisted of this ultradense, ultrahot brew, scientists say." And now scientists are trying to re-enact the Big Bang. Too big of a task to take on?
We are not alone.... a new planet outside of our solar system was found today. It's only a matter of time before the little green men come down to greet us.
The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia gives detailed information on all the planets scientists have found outside the solar system. Nerd chic.