A 2013 Perseid. Credit:

A brilliant capture of a 2013 Perseid fireball. Credit: Fred Locklear.

It’s that time of year again, when the most famous of all meteor showers puts on its best display.

Why are the Perseids such an all ‘round favorite of sky watchers?  Well, while it’s true that other annual meteor showers such as the Quadrantids and Geminids can exceed the Perseids in maximum output, the Perseids do have a few key things going for them. [click to continue…]

Annual Atlanta Star Party Coming Soon!

by Susie Murph on July 28, 2014

The 2012 Atlanta Star Party. Credit: Bruce Press

The 2012 Atlanta Star Party. Credit: Bruce Press

If you happen to be attending DragonCon or just live near Atlanta, come and listen to some fantastic speakers and help do astronomy research and education at the Annual Atlanta Star Party!

What: Since 2009, this annual charity event celebrates science and space, and brings people together for a great cause.
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Carnival Of Space #364

by Susie Murph on July 28, 2014

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Joe Latrell at his Photos To Space blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #364
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Artist's conception of NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft above Mercury. Credit: JHUAPL

Artist’s conception of NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft above Mercury. Credit: JHUAPL

Look out below! NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft is at its lowest altitude of any spacecraft above Mercury, and over the next couple of months it’s going to get even lower above the planet.

The spacecraft — whose name stands for MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging — is doing a close shave above the sun’s closest planet to look at the polar ice and its gravity and magnetic fields.

“This dip in altitude is allowing us to see Mercury up close and personal for the first time,” stated Ralph McNutt, the project scientist for MESSENGER at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

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How Do Gravitational Slingshots Work?

by Fraser Cain on July 28, 2014

Have you ever heard that spacecraft can speed themselves up by performing gravitational slingshot maneuvers? What’s involved to get yourself going faster across the Solar System.
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