The 2015 Year in Space Calendars Are Here!

What brings you an entire sidereal year of awesome space news and pictures, each and every day? (Besides me, of course?) That’s right: The Year in Space calendar! Produced by Starry Messenger Press in conjunction with The Planetary Society, the 2015 Year in Space calendar is (like its predecessors) a gorgeous 16″ x 22″ (40.5 cm…

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…

John Lennon Memorialized with a Crater on Mercury

33 years after his death, John Lennon’s name has been officially given to a crater on Mercury. Imagine that. The 95 km (59 mile) wide Lennon crater is one of ten newly named craters on the planet, joining 114 other craters named since NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft’s first Mercury flyby in January 2008.

The Other Side of ISON: Here’s the Comet as Seen from Mercury

While many skywatchers, scientists, and astronomy enthusiasts around the world wait to see if comet ISON survives its perihelion — that is, its closest pass by the Sun — on Nov. 28, the MESSENGER spacecraft has captured an image of the incoming comet from its position in orbit around Mercury! The image above, shared today…

The 2014 Year in Space Calendars are Here!

And you will want one! (Trust me on this.) Produced by Starry Messenger Press in conjunction with The Planetary Society, the 2014 Year in Space calendar is (like its 2013 version) a gorgeous 16″ x 22″ (40.5 cm x 56 cm) work of art filled with over 120 images of space exploration and hundreds upon…

Evidence of Ancient Aliens? Nah, It’s Just Pareidolia (Again)

You’ve heard of the Man in the Moon and the Face on Mars, now meet the Mercury Man! This image, obtained by the MESSENGER spacecraft in July 2011, shows a portion of the floor of Caloris basin — the remnants of an enormous impact that occurred on Mercury nearly 4 billion years ago. Rising from…

Mercury’s Cratered Crescent (in Color!)

Every now and then a new gem of a color-composite appears in the Flickr photostream of Gordan Ugarkovic, and this one is the latest to materialize. This is a view of Mercury as seen by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft during a flyby in October 2008. The image is a composite of twenty separate frames acquired with MESSENGER’s…

Hidden Ice Found on Mercury!

Who says Mercury’s too hot to be really cool? Even three times closer to the Sun than we are, lacking atmosphere and with scorching daytime temperatures of 425 ºC (800 ºF), Mercury still has places more than cold enough to hide ice. This is the most recent announcement from the MESSENGER mission team: (very nearly) confirmed…

Mercury’s Sufferingly Sulf’rous Surface

Named for the 17th-century Venetian composer, the southern half of Mercury’s Vivaldi basin is seen in this image acquired on August 26 by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft. The 213-km (132-mile) -wide crater’s smooth floor is contrasted by the incredibly rugged terrain beyond its outermost ring — a result of the ejected material that was flung out…

Rhapsody on an Impact Event: Mercury’s Rachmaninoff Crater

Rachmaninoff is a spectacular double-ring basin on Mercury, and this color view is one of the highest resolution color image sets acquired of the basin’s floor. Visible around the edges of the frame is a circle of mountains that make up Rachmaninoff’s peak ring structure. The color of the basin’s floor inside the peak-ring differs…

Goodbye, Earth!

If you haven’t seen this before, you’re probably not alone. It’s a video made from a series of several hundred images acquired by NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft as it swung past Earth, departing forever on its journey to Mercury on August 2, 2005 — just a day shy of one year after its launch. Many blogs…