Find Out How NASA Technology Improves YOUR Life

When someone mentions NASA you may first think about the Apollo Moon missions, space shuttles, rovers on Mars, and breathtaking pictures of the planets and distant stars and galaxies. And while NASA was and is very much responsible for all of these things, some of the most important achievements of NASA aren’t what’s accomplished out in space but how its technological…

Gene Cernan, the “Last Man on the Moon,” Has Died at 82

Sad news today: Eugene A. Cernan, former NASA astronaut and one of the twelve people who walked on the Moon during the Apollo program, died today at the age of 82. “It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father,” Cernan’s family said in a news release…

We Still Don’t Know What Exploded Over Tunguska in 1908

This is an article, now updated, that I originally posted in 2009 during my first year of blogging. Since then more research has been done on the famous 1908 Tunguska Event and we even had a remarkably similar type of thing occur in February 2013 over the Chelyabinsk area, not too far from Tunguska, but…

Planetkiller Presents New Evidence for “Planet X”

A planet-killing astronomer is now attempting to introduce a new world into the Solar System. Self-professed “Pluto killer” Mike Brown — the Caltech professor and astronomer whose discovery of Eris in 2005 prompted the reclassification of what constitutes a full-fledged planet, thus knocking Pluto from the list a year later — is now offering up evidence for the existence of a “real” ninth…

Fireball Explodes Over Russia… Again

Why does Russia seem to get so many bright meteors? Well, at 6.6 million square miles it’s by far the largest country in the world plus, with dashboard-mounted cameras being so commonplace (partly to help combat insurance fraud) mathematically it just makes sense that Russians would end up seeing more meteors, and then be able to…

Visiting the Place Where We Talk to Space

When you’re talking to spacecraft billions of miles away, you need a powerful voice. And when you’re listening for their faint replies from those same staggering distances, you need an even bigger set of ears. Fortunately, NASA’s Deep Space Network has both — and last week I had the chance to see some of them up close…

Rings Discovered Around an Asteroid

We all know that Saturn is encircled by a system of rings, and perhaps you also know about the fainter rings around Uranus, Jupiter, and Neptune. But today, ESO astronomers have revealed a surprising discovery: there are also rings surrounding the asteroid 10199 Chariklo, a small, distant world orbiting the Sun far beyond Saturn. This makes 250-km-wide Chariklo the fifth…

The Brightest Lights: 12 Awesome Space Stories of 2013

What a year for space exploration! With 2013 coming to a close I thought I would look back on some of the biggest news in space that I’ve featured here on Lights in the Dark. Rather than a “top ten” list, as is common with these year-end reviews, I’m going to do more of a…

So… What’s Up With ISON?

Yesterday sure was interesting. As the astronomical world, from scientists to journalists to enthusiasts alike, watched online in near real time as ISON came within its closest pass of the Sun — in literally ever — the comet, having spent the previous several hours brightening steadily, suddenly went dim as it traveled deep into the…

Cassini Snaps a Picture of Earth from 900 Million Miles Away

So did you get out and Wave at Saturn on The Day the Earth Smiled? If you did (and even if you didn’t) here’s how you — and everyone else on Earth — looked to the Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn, 898.4 million miles away.* As Carl Sagan famously said, “That’s here, that’s home,…

Smile, Earth!

Hey everyone! Today, THIS is happening: That’s right — the entire planet will be photographed from Saturn by Cassini, 900 million miles away. So whatever you’re doing at that particular time, take a moment to look up, smile and wave! This will be one for the history books. Read more here.

15-Meter Meteor Explodes Over Russia

Holy Tunguska flashback*! Early this morning a meteor entered the atmosphere above the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, disintegrating at altitude of 50-60 km (18-32 miles) 14-20 km (12-15 miles) and creating an explosion and shockwave that shattered glass and blew in doors across the area, injuring hundreds. The space rock is estimated to have weighed…