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What is the Biggest Planet in the Solar System?

Jupiter and Io

Which is the biggest planet in the Solar System? It’s Jupiter! Credit: NASA

Ever since the invention of the telescope four hundred years ago, astronomers have been fascinated by the gas giant of Jupiter. Between it’s constant, swirling clouds, its many, many moons, and its Giant Red Spot, there are many things about this planet that are both delightful and fascinating.

But perhaps the most impressive feature about Jupiter is its sheer size. In terms of mass, volume, and surface area, Jupiter is the biggest planet in our Solar System by a wide margin. But just what makes Jupiter so massive, and what else do we know about it?

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Rendering of the ULA Vulcan rocket blasting off.  United Launch Alliance (ULA) next generation rocket is set to make its debut flight in 2019.  Credit: ULA

Rendering of the ULA Vulcan rocket blasting off. United Launch Alliance (ULA) next generation rocket is set to make its debut flight in 2019 powered by revolutionary new American-made first stage engines. Credit: ULA

Fierce commercial and international political pressures have forced the rapid development of the new Vulcan launcher family recently announced by rocket maker United Launch Alliance (ULA). Vulcan’s “genesis” and development was borne of multiple unrelenting forces on ULA and is now absolutely essential and critical for its “transformation and survival in a competitive environment” moving forward, according to Dr. George Sowers, ULA Vice President for Advanced Concepts and Technology, in an exclusive interview with Universe Today.

“To be successful and survive ULA needs to transform to be more of a competitive company in a competitive environment,” Dr. Sowers told Universe Today in a wide ranging interview regarding the rationale and goals of the Vulcan rocket. [click to continue…]


Astronomy Cast Ep. 382: Degenerate Matter

In some of the most extreme objects in the Universe, white dwarfs and neutron stars, matter gets strange, transforming into a material that physicists call “degenerate matter”. Let’s learn what it is, how it forms.

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Carnival of Space #411

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

Carnival of Space. Image by Jason Major.

This week’s Carnival of Space is hosted by Gadi Eidelheit at his The Venus Transit blog.

Click here to read Carnival of Space #411.
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“Oh Pluto” Will Tug at Your Heartstrings

I’m as guilty as anyone for anthropomorphizing Pluto — as well as spacecraft like New Horizons, which is currently preparing to fly by the dwarf planet. But since spacecraft are really just extensions of ourselves, perhaps I can be forgiven for my non-scientific projections.

But now I know I’m among friends.
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About Time: Is the June 30th Leap Second the Last?

Out with the old... changing out the historic coundown clock at the Kennedy Space Center, perhaps an easier 'time change' than the insertion of the leap second. Image credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

Out with the old… changing out the historic coundown clock at the Kennedy Space Center, perhaps an easier ‘time change’ than the insertion of the leap second. Image credit: NASA/Frankie Martin

The month of June 2015 is just a tad longer than usual… but not for the reason you’ve been told.

Chances are, you’ll soon be hearing that we’re tacking on an extra second to the very end of June 30th, though the reason why is a bit more complex than the explanation you’ll be hearing. [click to continue…]


What Are The Biggest Mysteries in Astronomy?


Watch this video HERE at our Patreon page!

Black Holes? Dark Energy? Dark Matter? Alien Life? What are the biggest mysteries that still exist out there for us to figure out?
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Moonrises, sunsets, aurorae and of course, our beautiful planet Earth star in this latest timelapse compiled from imagery taken by astronauts on board the International Space Station. “Orbit 3″ was put together by Phil Selmes using ISS footage captured during ISS Expeditions 42 and 43 between January through May 2015.

“I hadn’t planned on making another ISS time lapse video but I have been so awestruck by some of the recent footage I couldn’t help myself,” Selmes told Universe Today. “I think the point of difference for this video is that it not only draws on very recent footage but it includes many views not seen in other time lapse videos, for example some of the full screen “fisheye views” have not been featured too heavily nor have some of the shots looking through the ISS side viewing windows.”
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Book Review: Human Migration to Space

migration to space

Have you wondered just how likely some of those futuristic science fiction movies might be? Can you imagine armies of drones or a cyborg/human? What do they have to do with today’s space endeavours? Well, actually lots, according to Elizabeth Song Lockard as she writes in her thesis / book “Human Migration to Space – Alternative Technological Approaches for Long-Term Adaptation to Extraterrestrial Environments”. In it, the presumption is that traveling and living in space is possible, indeed necessary. But if we become successful, we may no longer be the same humans that we are today.
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During the summer solstice Nordkapp, Norway, the sun never sets. For this reason it’s called the midnight sun. (Image Credit: Yan Zhang via Wikipedia Commons)

June 21st is an important day this year. Not only is it the summer solstice (that is to say, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere), but it is also one of the longest days ever in the history of the Earth. Not only is it one of the longest days ever, but it’s Father’s day!

My dad inspired me to become a scientist and astronomer. He is one of the most curious people I know; in fact, I guarantee that he will be one of the first people to read this article. Back when I lived in a suburb of Seattle filled with light pollution, he would enthusiastically break out his refracting telescope. From the end of our driveway, pointing away from that damn streetlight that would never turn off, we’d gaze upon Saturn and Jupiter.
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