The Space Place
America, and in the broadest sense possible, all of humanity, has lost its first emissary to set foot on another world - Neil Alden Armstrong.
Tonight is a sky watcher's dream starting right at dusk.
Greg Redfern, NASA's ambassador to the solar system
The $2.5 billion, one-ton nuclear powered rover has been flying towards Mars since launching from Earth last November. The 154 million mile journey to date has gone very smoothly but the most treacherous and dangerous part of the mission for Curiosity is yet to come in the last 7 minutes before scheduled touchdown.
Obviously, the 43rd anniversary of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landing on the moon was not mentioned Friday. But to me, it became even more important to remember the Apollo 11 lunar landing because it provided needed contrast to what human beings are capable of.
Voyager - The Interstellar Mission, is designed to find out where the limits of the Sun's influence ends and true interstellar space begins.
Venus last transited the Sun in 2004 and will not do so again until 2117, so it is literally a once- in-a-lifetime event.
The New Moon and the Sun meet today in the sky to create an annular eclipse for some, a partial eclipse for others, and a day to watch online for me and millions more who are not in the path of the Moon's shadow.
On May 20 there will be an annular eclipse of the Sun that will be visible for much of the globe, but not the easternmost U.S. In an annular eclipse the New Moon cannot cover the Sun completely so a "ring" is seen around the Sun.
There are astronomical aspects to the sinking of Titanic that have come forward on the 100th anniversary and they involve the Moon.
The wait is over as the two brightest planets in the sky, Venus and Jupiter, will waltz their way toward one another in the western sky this week. For months the two planetary luminaries have been edging closer and closer together with Venus being the lower and brighter of the two.
Jupiter and the Moon dance tonight after sunset high in the west with Venus and Mercury looking on. This will be a pretty sight to see and enjoy.
The key is to have Venus as far from the Sun and its glare as possible and have a bright blue sky. It also is a big help when you have a celestial beacon nearby such as the Moon to help you spot the second planet from the Sun.
The skies are supposed to be clear Monday, so swing by the George Mason University Observatory for Public Night at 6:45 p.m.
For many years, astronomers thought it to be a good possibility that planets other than those in our own solar system existed around other stars. The problem was that they needed proof to confirm the theory and exoplanet ponderings. It took the decades-long technological evolution of our instruments, telescopes, computers and eventually spacecraft for astronomers to get into the realm of exoplanets.
NASA was busy over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day as its twin lunar spacecraft, GRAIL-A and -B entered lunar orbit after a 3 month, 2.5 million mile journey.
Skywatchers will get a treat on Monday, Dec. 26 right after sunset as the thin crescent Moon and Venus pair up in the west.
I have made some changes to What's Up: The Space Place as well that are in keeping with what WTOP is trying to accomplish for its website readers.
At approximately 7 p.m. EST Thursday, we will know the fate of Comet Lovejoy, a kamikaze comet diving toward the sun at speeds that will reach 1 million miles per hour when it is closest to the sun.
Autumn begins on Sept. 23 at 5:05 a.m. EDT and brings with it longer nights. As the temperatures begin to cool -- hopefully -- this is a good time of year to get out and enjoy the night sky.