Watch a Beautiful Timelapse Captured from Earth Orbit

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst spent nearly six months living and working in orbit aboard the ISS during Expedition 41 in 2014, and during that time he captured some amazing photos of Earth from the windows of the Station. Watch above as aurorae dance and shimmer, stars and satellites wheel overhead, and city lights shine below…

Seven Days Out: ESA’s Historic Landing on a Comet is Just a Week Away

In less than a week, on November 12, 2014, the Philae lander will separate from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft and descend several kilometers down to the dark, dusty and frozen surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Its three spindly legs and rocket-powered harpoon are all that will keep the 100-kilogram spacecraft from crashing or bouncing hopelessly back out…

What’s Ahead for Cassini?

If you’ve been a faithful reader of Lights in the Dark over the past five years you know that I just love Cassini (and you probably do too!) In orbit around Saturn since 2004, Cassini has taken us on an intimate tour of the Saturnian system for a decade now, revealing the incredible beauty of the…

Now You Can Watch Beautiful Live Video of Earth From Space

This is something really special, and everyone should know about it, and so I’m doing my part and sharing it here but please feel free to pass it along yourself as well. We now have publicly-accessible, high-definition video of our planet coming in live from the Space Station, thanks to the High Definition Earth Viewing…

What Is Pluto? A New Video from New Horizons

Is Pluto a planet? A dwarf planet? A Kuiper Belt Object? All — or none — of the above? Pluto has been a topic of scientific fascination since Clyde Tombaugh discovered it in February 1930, and then a topic of controversy after the IAU reclassified it as a dwarf planet in 2006. While conversations continue…

Take a Scenic Flight Through the Universe

I don’t typically post things here about deep-space stuff (just to stay on theme) but this was too cool not to share. It’s a visualization of the Universe made from data acquired by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and shows the locations (and actual images, in most cases) of almost 400,000 galaxies as if we…

There’s a Jade Rabbit on the Moon!

There’s a rabbit on the Moon! A robot rabbit, that is — China’s Yutu rover (named after the mythological jade rabbit pet of the lunar goddess Chang’e) successfully deployed from the Chang’e-3 lander earlier this afternoon, completing the country’s first successful lunar landing and the first soft touchdown on the Moon by any nation since…

What Happened to Mars?

Mars wasn’t always the cold, dry world that it is today — billions of years ago it likely looked a lot more like Earth, with seas and rivers of liquid water on its surface and a thick atmosphere with air and clouds. But something happened over the course of Mars’ history to transform it from…

Alan Friedman on Photographing the Sun

I’ve featured many of Alan Friedman’s amazing photos of the Sun here on Lights in the Dark, starting from the very first one I came across via the venerable Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) in November 2009. I’ve even featured Alan’s work in several articles I’ve written for National Geographic News, Discovery News, and Universe…

This Video of a Sunspot in Motion Will Blow Your Mind

Yesterday, io9.com writer Robert Gonzalez shared a truly incredible image of a sunspot taken by the New Solar Telescope (NST) at Big Bear Solar Observatory in California. The detail of the magnetically-active region and surface of our home star is simply stunning, thanks to the NST’s new Visible Imaging Spectrometer — literally setting a new…

This Day in Space History: One Small Step

Note: Reposted/updated article from 2012. “That’s one small step for a man… one giant leap for mankind.” I’m not sure what else need be said about the significance of what happened on this day in 1969, 44 years ago… it was a shining moment in human history, and will be — should be — remembered…