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The Colima Volcano (Volcán de Colima) pictured on March 29, 2015 with lightning arcing through the ash plume. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

The Colima Volcano (Volcán de Colima) pictured on March 29, 2015 with lightning arcing through the ash plume. Credit and copyright: César Cantú.

The Colima volcano in Mexico is active again, and has been spewing out large plumes of ash nearly 3 kilometers into the air. Astrophotographer César Cantú captured this spectacular picture of lightning slicing through the cloud of ash.

How can lightning strike in an ash cloud? Through friction, particles of the ash can charge each other by rubbing against each other during the eruption. When the energy is discharged, it can create lightning bolts.
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Seeking Ceres: Following the Brave New World Through 2015

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A misshapen crescent Ceres as seen from NASA’s Dawn spacecraft. Image credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech/UCLA/DLR/IDA

A little world is making big headlines in 2015. NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around 1 Ceres on March 6th, 2015, gaving us the first stunning images of the ~900 kilometre diameter world. But whether you refer to Ceres as a dwarf planet, minor planet, or the king of the asteroid belt, this corner of the solar system’s terra incognita is finally open for exploration. It has been a long time coming, as Ceres has appeared as little more than a wandering, star-like dot in the telescopes of astronomers for over two centuries since discovery. [click to continue…]

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Carnival of Space #398-399

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Brian Wang at his Next Big Future blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #399
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The phases of a total lunar eclipse. Saturday's eclipse will see the briefest totality in a century. Credit: Keith Burns / NASA

As the Moon slips into Earth’s shadow it will undergo a total eclipse early Saturday morning April 4.  The partial phases will span some 3 1/2 hours, but totality lasts less than five minutes. Credit: Keith Burns / NASA

Get ready for one awesome total lunar eclipse early Saturday morning April 4th. For the third time in less than a year, the Moon dips into Earth’s shadow, its dazzling white globe turning sunset red right before your eyes.  All eclipses are not-to-miss events, but Saturday’s totality will be the shortest in a century. Brief but beautiful – just like life. Read on to find out how to make the most of it. [click to continue…]

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Will Space Play in the 2016 US Election?

It might be only March of 2015, but the race (slog?) is on to be the next president of the United States. Only 589 days to go! It’s a race that some believe will cost the nation upwards of five billion dollars; that’s about 7.5 Mars missions for those of you out there counting. The campaign, though, is more than just a vehiNasa-logocle for terrible campaign ads and embarrassing debate gaffes; it’s also one of the few opportunities for the country to have a discussion about its  national priorities in the coming years. So, what are the chances that the exploration of space will be in that discussion? [click to continue…]

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Astronomy Cast Ep. 372: Millikan Oil Drop


In 1909 Robert Millikan devised an ingenious experiment to figure out the charge of an electron using a drop of oil. Let’s talk about this Nobel Prize winning experiment
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Will the Universe Run Out Of Energy?


It seems like the good times will go on forever, so feel free to keep on wasting energy. But entropy is patient, and eventually, it’ll make sure there’s no usable energy left in the Universe.
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The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen as it launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 43's NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) onboard Friday, March 27 (Saturday, March 28 Kazakh time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.  Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen as it launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 43’s NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) onboard Friday, March 27 (Saturday, March 28 Kazakh time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The first ever ‘One-Year Mission’ to the International Space Station (ISS) started with a bang today, March 27, with the spectacular night time launch of the Russian/American crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 3:42 p.m. EDT Friday (1:42 a.m., March 28 in Baikonur and culminated with a flawless docking this evening.

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka launched aboard a Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft to the International Space Station precisely on time today on the Expedition 43 mission. [click to continue…]

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Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain)
Special Guest: Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti, Lead Investigator for team that may have discovered Dark Matter Galaxy “X”.

Guests:
Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg )
Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com)
Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein)
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Soyuz Spacecraft Rolled Out For Launch of One-Year Crew . The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen after having rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the Soyuz at 3:42 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 27 (March 28, Kazakh time). Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Soyuz Spacecraft Rolled Out For Launch of One-Year Crew
The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen after having rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the Soyuz at 3:42 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 27 (March 28, Kazakh time). Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Watch live on NASA TV link below

At long last, the first ever crew embarking on a 1 year mission to the International Space Station (ISS) – comprising NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko (both veterans) – is slated for blastoff just hours from now aboard a Soyuz capsule from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. [click to continue…]

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