"The Chemistry of the Solar System" by Compound Interest's Andy Brunning

“Atmospheres of the Solar System” by Compound Interest’s Andy Brunning

Here on Earth we enjoy the nitrogen-oxygen atmosphere we’ve all come to know and love with each of the approximately 24,000 breaths we take each day (not to mention the surprisingly comfortable 14.7 pounds per square inch of pressure it exerts on our bodies every moment.) But every breath we take would be impossible (or at least quickly prove to be deadly) on any of the other planets in our Solar System due to their specific compositions. The infographic above, created by UK chemistry teacher Andy Brunning for his blog Compound Interest, breaks down — graphically, that is; not chemically — the makeup of atmospheres for each of the planets. Very cool!

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Comet Jacques and IC 405, better known as the Flaming Star Nebula, align to create a temporary question mark in the sky this morning July 26. Credit: Rolando Ligustri

Comet Jacques and IC 405, better known as the Flaming Star Nebula, align to create a temporary ‘question mark’ in the sky this morning July 26. Credit: Rolando Ligustri

What an awesome photo! Italian amateur astronomer Rolando Ligustri nailed it earlier today using a remote telescope in New Mexico and wide-field 4-inch (106 mm) refractor. Currently the brightest comet in the sky at magnitude 6.5, C/2014 E2 Jacques has been slowly climbing out of morning twilight into a darker sky over the last two weeks. This morning it passed the Flaming Star Nebula in the constellation Auriga. Together, nebula and pigtailed visitor conspired to ask a question of the sky in a rare display of celestial punctuation. [click to continue…]

The sunshield test unit on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is unfurled for the first time.  Credit: NASA

The sunshield test unit on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope is unfurled for the first time. Credit: NASA

GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER, MD – The huge Sunshield test unit for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been successfully unfurled for the first time in a key milestone ahead of the launch scheduled for October 2018.

Engineers stacked and expanded the tennis-court sized Sunshield test unit last week inside the cleanroom at a Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California.

NASA reports that the operation proceeded [click to continue…]

NASA Preps for Nail-biting Comet Flyby of Mars

by Bob King on July 26, 2014

This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). The comet's trail of dust particles shed by the nucleus might be wide enough to reach Mars or might also miss it. Credit: NASA/JPL

Simulation depicts comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring during its close Mars flyby on Oct. 19. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 miles (132,000 kilometers). The comet’s trail of dust particles shed by the nucleus might be wide enough to reach the planet. Click to see the interactive, animated view. Credit: Solarsystemscope.com

As Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring inches closer to the Red Planet, NASA’s taking steps to protect its fleet of orbiting Mars spacecraft. On October 19, the comet’s icy nucleus will miss the planet by just 82,000 miles (132,000 km). That’s 17 times closer than the closest recorded Earth-approaching comet, Lexell’s Comet in 1770.  [click to continue…]

Having Fun with the Equation of Time

by David Dickinson on July 25, 2014

An analemma of the Sun, taken from Budapest, Hungary over a one year span. (Courtesy of György Soponyai, used with permission).

An analemma of the Sun, taken from Budapest, Hungary over a one year span. (Courtesy of György Soponyai, used with permission).

If you’re like us, you might’ve looked at a globe of the Earth in elementary school long before the days of Google Earth and wondered just what that strange looking figure eight thing on its side was.

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