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…

Voyager 1: It’s Officially Out

“We made it! 35 years and 13 billion miles.” Those were the words of project scientist Ed Stone today during a NASA news conference about the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which, after traveling the far reaches of our Solar System for decades on end, has finally passed the physical boundaries of the heliosphere and entered interstellar…

Research Reveals Rain Shadows from Saturn’s Rings

A rain of ionized water molecules falls into Saturn’s upper atmosphere from its rings, researchers from England’s University of Leicester have found. Using images from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft and more recent near-infrared observations from the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, it has been found that dark bands seen across Saturn are actually the “rain shadows” of…

Voyager’s Grand Tour: a Webcomic

Do you like space exploration? Do you like comics? Then this is for you. “Voyager” is a webcomic by LA-based artist Jed McGowan about the Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched from Kennedy Space Center on September 5, 1977. Over the next three years it flew by Jupiter and Saturn, taking unprecedented photos of the giant planets…

Blue Marble, Pale Blue Dot…whatever you call it, it’s Home

35 years ago today, September 18, 1977, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft turned its camera homeward just about two weeks after its launch, capturing the image above from a distance of 7.25 million miles (11.66 million km). It was the first time an image of its kind had ever been taken, showing the entire Earth and Moon together…

Voyager’s Visit to Uranus

Voyager 2 may have been the second of NASA’s twin exploration spacecraft but it launched first, 35 years ago today on August 20, 1977. 8 1/2 years later it became the first (and last!) spacecraft to visit the gas giant Uranus, the third largest planet in the Solar System.

The Curious Central Peaks of Iapetus

The curious, 20-km tall central ridge of Iapetus, a.k.a. the Voyager Mountains Saturn’s 914-mile (1471-km) -wide Iapetus (pronounced eye-AH-pe-tus) has a particularly curious feature: a chain of 20-kilometer (12-mile) high mountains encircling the moon’s equator. On the anti-Saturnian side of Iapetus, the ridge appears to break up, forming distinct, partially bright mountains. The Voyager I…

A Backwards Moon

At 1,680 miles across, the frigid and wrinkled Triton is distant Neptune’s largest moon. It orbits the planet backwards – that is, in the opposite direction that Neptune rotates – and is the only moon one of only two moons in our solar system to do so. This leads many astronomers to believe that Triton is…

Jupiter: Guardian of the Solar System

Can’t see the video below? Click here. Here’s a great presentation made for the NOAA and NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center about the giant planet Jupiter, part of the Science of a Sphere series. It shows the size and power of the huge gas planet and how it dominates its region of the solar system. Indeed,…