As light pollution around the world increases, we are losing our access to the night sky. Thankfully, dark sky preserves and parks do exactly what their names suggest – preserve the night sky as our ancestors knew it. And recently, the Wai-iti Recreational Reserve and Tunnicliff Forest has been accredited, offering stargazers in New Zealand unprecedented views of the heavens above.Continue reading “New Zealand just got its first International Dark Sky Park”
Look up! A rare naked-eye comet, C/2020 F3 (NEOWISE), is now visible to the unaided eye. But act fast – this celestial treat won’t last long.Continue reading “Finally! We’ve got a comet that’s visible to the unaided eye. Comet C/2020 F3 NEOWISE”
About 370,000 years after the Big Bang, the Universe experienced a period that cosmologists refer to as the “Cosmic Dark Ages.” During this period, the Universe was obscured by a hot dense plasma that obscured all visible light, making it invisible to astronomers. As the first stars and galaxies formed over the next few hundred millions of years, the radiation they emitted ionized this plasma, making the Universe transparent.
One of the biggest cosmological mysteries right now is when “cosmic reionization” began. To find out, astronomers have been looking deeper into the cosmos (and farther back in time) to spot the first visible galaxies. Thanks to new research by a team of astronomers from University College London (UCL), a luminous galaxy has been observed that was reionizing the intergalactic medium 13 billion years ago.Continue reading “A Giant Galaxy Seen Lighting Up the Universe Shortly After the Big Bang”
In January 2019, China landed its Chang’e 4 mission on the Moon’s far side. The Yutu-2 rover got busy exploring its surroundings. It’s still going, even though the rover’s nominal operating mission was only three months.
Among the mission’s findings was a strange material described as “gel-like.” Now an analysis of the material has revealed that it’s just rock: impact melt breccia.Continue reading “That Strange Gel-Like Material Discovered by China’s Lunar Rover? It’s Just Rock”
Earth is a radiation cocoon. Inside that cocoon, the atmosphere and the magnetosphere keep us mostly safe from the Sun’s radiaition. Some ultraviolet light gets through, and can damage us. But reasonable precautions like simply minimizing exposure can keep the Sun’s radiation at bay.
But space is a different matter altogether. Among the many hazards it poses to astronauts, ever-present radiation is one that needs a solution.
Now a team of researchers have developed a new biomaterial to protect astronauts.Continue reading “Scientists Have Developed a Way to Make Human Skin More Protected from Space Radiation”
It’s a captivating idea: build an interstellar ark, fill it with people, flora, and fauna of every kind, and set your course for a distant star! The concept is not only science fiction gold, its been the subject of many scientific studies and proposals. By building a ship that can accommodate multiple generations of human beings (aka. a Generation Ship), humans could colonize the known Universe.
But of course, there are downsides to this imaginative proposal. During such a long voyage, multiple generations of people will be born and raised inside a closed environment. This could lead to all kinds of biological issues or mutations that we simply can’t foresee. But according to a new study by a team of linguistics professors, there’s something else that will be subject to mutation during such a voyage – language itself!Continue reading “Languages Will Change Significantly on Interstellar Flights”
You’ve gotta hand it to NASA, and to the German Aerospace Center (DLR.) They’ve been struggling for over a year to get the InSight Lander’s Mole working. There’ve been setbacks, then progress, then more setbacks, as they try to get the Mole deep enough to do its job.
Now the Mole is finally buried completely in the Martian surface, but it might still be stuck.Continue reading “Although InSight’s Mole is Completely Buried, it Might be Stuck Again”
The oldest stars in the Universe are cloaked in darkness. Their redshift is so high, we can only wonder about them. The James Webb Space Telescope will be our most effective telescope for observing the very early Universe, and should observe out to z = 15. But even it has limitations.
To observe the Universe’s very first stars, we need a bigger telescope. The Ultimately Large Telescope.Continue reading “What Telescope Will Be Needed to See the First Stars in the Universe? The Ultimately Large Telescope”
Neutrinos are puzzling things. They’re tiny particles, almost massless, with no electrical charge. They’re notoriously difficult to detect, too, and scientists have gone to great lengths to detect them. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, for instance, tries to detect neutrinos with strings of detectors buried down to a depth of 2450 meters (8000 ft.) in the dark Antarctic ice.
How’s that for commitment.Continue reading “Detecting the Neutrinos From a Supernova That’s About to Explode”
Missing the planets in the first half of 2020? That’s all about to change, as the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn reach opposition in rapid succession this month, heralding a return to the dusk sky.Continue reading “Dawn Patrol: Jupiter and Saturn at Opposition 2020”