(including reports © NASA and © Spaceweather.com
and information from the Royal Astronomical Society)


Updated:  25 May 2016



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International Space Station news and views  

Click   here  to see the current position of the International Space Station (ISS) and the view from the spacecraft. The lower part of the webpage shows the ground track across the globe.  Click on  SNAPSHOT  when you are in an area of interest. You can navigate using the arrows in the upper-left corner. Also, you can zoom in using the vertical bar with the + and - signs.      (Contributed by Tim)


See the International Space Station passing overhead (from the Sunshine Coast, Queensland):  

Wednesday, 4 March, 2015:    
The ISS will appear above the west-north-western horizon at 7:21 pm - maximum elevation will be 46 degrees above the northern horizon - and will disappear into the Earth's shadow south-south-east of the zenith; visible for 6 minutes.

Thursday, 26 March, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-western horizon at 7:17 pm - maximum elevation will be 64 degrees above the western horizon - and will disappear in the north-north-west; visible for 3 minutes.

Friday, 27 March, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-south-western horizon at 6:24 pm - maximum elevation will be 47 degrees above the southern horizon - and will disappear in the east-north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Sunday, 29 March, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the western horizon at 6:14 pm - maximum elevation will be 50 degrees above the north-western horizon - and will disappear in the north-north-east; visible for 4 minutes.

Monday, 4 May, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 6:34 pm - maximum elevation will be 70 degrees above the northern horizon - and will disappear in the north-east; visible for 3 minutes.

Thursday, 7 May, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-north-western horizon at 5:31 pm - maximum elevation will be 82 degrees above the north-eastern horizon (almost overhead) - and will disappear in the south-east; visible for 3 minutes.

Thursday, 28 May, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-western horizon at 6:09 pm - maximum elevation will be 68 degrees - and will disappear in the north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Friday, 3 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 6:45 pm - maximum elevation will be 52 degrees - and will disappear in the north; visible for 2 minutes.

Monday, 6 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 5:42 pm - maximum elevation will be 73 degrees - and will disappear in the south-east; visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, 25 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-south-western horizon at 6:37 pm - maximum elevation will be 43 degrees - and will disappear in the south; visible for 2 minutes.

Monday, 27 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the west-south-western horizon at 6:27 pm - maximum elevation will be 41 degrees - and will disappear in the north-north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 28 July, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the south-western horizon at 5:34 pm - maximum elevation will be 72 degrees - and will disappear in the north-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 1 September, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the west-north-western horizon at 7:08 pm - maximum elevation will be 44 degrees - and will disappear in the west-south-west; visible for 3 minutes.

Wednesday, 2 September, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-north-western horizon at 6:16 pm - maximum elevation will be 61 degrees - and will disappear in the south-east; visible for 6 minutes.

Friday, 30 October, 2015:     The ISS will appear above the north-western horizon at 7:32 pm - maximum elevation will be 59 degrees - and will disappear in the south-south-east; visible for 5 minutes.

Saturday, 31 October, 2015:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-north-western horizon at 6:40 pm - maximum elevation will be 51 degrees - and will disappear when 11º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 2 November, 2015:     The ISS will appear 10º above the west-north-western horizon at 6:29 pm - maximum elevation will be 45 degrees - and will disappear when 12º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Saturday, 21 November, 2015:     The ISS will appear 29º above the south-western horizon at 7:32 pm - maximum elevation will be 77º - and will disappear when 37º above the north-north-eastern horizon; visible for 3 minutes.

Sunday, 27 December, 2015:     The ISS will appear 10º above the north-western horizon at 8:26 pm - maximum elevation will be 54º - and will disappear when 10º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 28 December, 2015:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-north-western horizon at 7:33 pm - maximum elevation will be 54º - and will disappear when 11º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 30 December, 2015:     The ISS will appear 10º above the west-north-western horizon at 7:23 pm - maximum elevation will be 43º - and will disappear when 11º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 18 January, 2016:     The ISS will appear 29º above the south-western horizon at 8:28 pm - maximum elevation will be 57º - and will disappear when 57º above the west-south-western horizon; visible for 1 minute.

Tuesday, 19 January, 2016:     The ISS will appear 15º above the south-south-western horizon at 7:33 pm - maximum elevation will be 43º - and will disappear when 20º above the east-north-eastern horizon; visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, 27 February, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-western horizon at 7:38 pm - maximum elevation will be 70º - and will disappear when 28º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 5 minutes.

Sunday, 28 February, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-north-western horizon at 6:45 pm - maximum elevation will be 43º - and will disappear when 10º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Tuesday, 1 March, 2016:     The ISS will appear 10º above the west-north-western horizon at 6:37 pm - maximum elevation will be 50º - and will disappear when 10º above the south-south-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.

Monday, 21 March, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the south-south-western horizon at 7:02 pm - maximum elevation will be 60º - and will disappear when 48º above the eastern horizon; visible for 4 minutes.

Saturday, 30 April, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the north-western horizon at 6:21 pm - maximum elevation will be 74º - and will disappear when 41º above the south-eastern horizon; visible for 4 minutes.

Sunday, 22 May, 2016:     The ISS will appear 11º above the south-western horizon at 6:29 pm - maximum elevation will be 60º - and will disappear when 60º above the south-south-western horizon; visible for 3 minutes.

Wednesday, 25 May, 2016:     The ISS will appear 10º above the south-western horizon at 5:29 pm - maximum elevation will be 79º - and will disappear when 10º above the north-eastern horizon; visible for 6 minutes.


Interesting research news (latest news first):

The Australian National University has joined the Giant Magellan Telescope international consortium of research organisations. The GMT is likely to be one of the first of a small number of next-generation Extremely Large Telescopes that are expected to be built in the next 20 years. The telescope's conceptual design anticipates a moving mass of 1000 tonnes and a cylindrical observatory 65 metres high. It will be built by the participating organisations at a site in northern Chile. The primary mirror will have seven circular segments each 8.4 metres across, six of these surrounding the centrally located seventh. The total light-gathering power will be nearly seven times that of the Gemini telescopes, which are the largest ones to which Australian astronomers currently have access, and the images obtained should be ten times clearer than those taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT is expected to see first light in 2016.  GMT Home page     ANU's involvement


NASA's powerful infrared Spitzer Space Telescope has taken an image that rivals the Hubble Space Telescope's 'Pillars of Creation' photograph taken ten years ago of part of the Eagle Nebula. Dubbed the 'Mountains of Creation', it shows huge clouds of matter undergoing intense star formation in the region W5 in Cassiopeia. These clouds, which are ten times bigger than the Pillars, are illuminated in the infrared band, but appear as dark clouds in visible light images.  Full story


The Hubble Space Telescope has found a disc of blue stars orbiting around a supermassive black hole at the centre of the Andromeda Galaxy, M31. The disc is only one light year across, and contains 400 hot young stars orbiting the black hole at speeds up to 1000 kilometres per second. As the cores of galaxies typically contain old red Population I stars, this is quite an enigma.  Full story


The MAGIC Telescope is the largest and most advanced single instrument yet built to observe very-high-energy cosmic rays from the ground. Its parabolic mirror is made up of about a thousand 50 cm X 50 cm aluminium mirror panels, giving a total area equivalent to a single 15 metre diameter mirror. MAGIC is an acronym for 'Major Atmospheric Gamma Imaging Cherenkov'.   Full story


The White House has forced NASA to cancel the fourth shuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. It is now expected that the HST will be allowed to burn up during re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere sometime during this decade. The Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter had also been a victim of budgetary cuts and is to be postponed indefinitely.  Full story


The Swift Gamma-ray Observatory observed its first gamma-ray burst on January 17, two months after launch.  Full story


Earth's most extensive global topographic map has just been completed by NASA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The final section to be done included Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific islands. The resolution of the publicly available data is 90 metres at the Equator.  Full story


ESA's Smart-1 spacecraft reached its final operational orbit around the Moon in late February. The mission has been extended until August 2006.  Full story


Black holes use their intense gravitational fields to draw in nearby matter, which gives out tremendous amounts of radiation as it approaches the event horizon. The process has been found to be anything but smooth, however.  Full story


The European Southern Observatory now has the world's largest interferometer. It is the world's most advanced optical instrument, and consists of four Unit Telescopes with main mirrors of 8.2m diameter and four movable 1.8m diameter Auxiliary Telescopes. The telescopes can work together, to form a giant ‘interferometer’, the ESO Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI). It will allow astronomers to see details up to 25 times clearer than with the individual telescopes.  Full story


The Chandra X-ray Observatory has discovered two huge clouds of warm-hot intergalactic matter (WHIM) around our galaxy. This may be some of the missing 'dark matter' of the universe. The clouds have a temperature of about 1 million degrees K, and contain ions of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and neon.  Full story


Images from space of the December 26, 2004 tsunami are available  here,  here  and  here.


The Rosetta space vehicle launched last March by the European Space Agency (ESA) will have four planetary intercepts before it heads off to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko, which it will reach in 2014.  Full story


The newly-discovered planetoid Sedna, 1700 km across, is the reddest object in the Solar System except for Mars. It is the furthest object in the Solar System except for comets, and takes 10 500 years to circle the Sun once. Should we call it a planet or is it too small?  More information about Sedna


The ESA solar spacecraft Ulysses has passed through two, and possibly three comet tails.  Full story


The Chandra X-ray Observatory has made the first clear detection of x-rays from Saturn, and has also revealed new information about the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.   Full story


NASA's Genesis spacecraft completed its collection of solar wind particles last April and is now on its way back to Earth. The samples were placed into a sealed container which will be released into our atmosphere on September 8, hopefully parachuting to Earth over Utah. Helicopter pilots are being trained to snag the return capsule in mid-air.   Full story


The Hubble Space Telescope has provided the deepest portrait of the visible universe ever taken, with a photograph whose exposure was one million seconds long (over 11.5 days!). It shows the faintest and most distant galaxies (in time as well as distance), some of the faintest possibly being the first galaxies to emerge after the 'big bang'. Hubble's Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) is in the southern constellation Fornax. In ground-based images, the region of the HUDF is largely empty, but the Hubble Telescope has revealed 10 000 galaxies there, in an area of sky only one hundredth the area of the Full Moon.  Full story



Latest Astronomical Headlines from the IAU (International Astronomical Union):      Click  here.











    SPACE                                   SPACE WEATHER                          UNIVERSE TODAY                                    NASA     



Dateline -  21 May 2016 -  7 pm Sky Show

Tonight, the full Moon gets together with Mars and Saturn to form a bright triangle in the constellation Scorpius. If we include the red supergiant star Antares just to the right, the triangle becomes a quadrilateral. The beautiful encounter is visible around the world, and happens just one week before Mars makes its closest approach to Earth in more than a decade.  Click  here  for observing tips and more information.  If you have a low eastern horizon, you can see this event from about 6:25 pm, and then watch the International Space Station pass high in the south at about 6:30 pm (see above).


Dateline -  20 May 2016 -  New ringed exoplanet discovered

A planet with a ring system like Saturn (but 200 times larger) was reported in the January 2016 Scientific American. 1SWASP J140747.93-394542.6 (often abbreviated to 1SWASP J140747 or J1407) is a star similar to our Sun located in the constellation of Centaurus at a distance of about 420 light-years from Earth. A very young star, its age is estimated to be 16 million years,and its mass is about 90% that of the Sun. The star has an apparent magnitude of 12.3 and requires a telescope to be seen. The star's name comes from the SuperWASP (Wide Angle Search for Planets) program and the star's Right Ascension and Declination coordinates.  Click  here  for the full story.    (Contributed by Tim) 


Dateline -  18 May 2016 -  NASA'S giant space balloon visible from Australia

On May 17, NASA successfully launched a gigantic helium balloon from Wanaka, New Zealand, on a 100+ day mission to the stratosphere. The 19 million cubic foot behemoth is now floating over the Great Australian Bight, as part of its mission to circumnavigate the southern hemisphere.  Sky watchers near the flight path can see the "space balloon" with the unaided eye and track it with backyard telescopes.  Click  here  to find out where it is and watch it. r observing tips and more information about the balloon's fascinating payload.


Dateline -  5 May 2016 -  "Cosmic Eye" video

"Cosmic Eye" is a three-minute video that zooms from a woman's face out to one billion light-years from Earth, and then back to subatomic particles. It was put together by Danail Obreschkow, an astrophysicist at the University of Western Australia.  Click here to watch it.     (Contributed by Jenny)


Dateline -  2 May 2016 -  Negative magnetic fields spark aurorae

For the past three days Earth has been passing through a region of interplanetary space filled with negative-polarity magnetic fields. This has caused intermittent geomagnetic storms and beautiful auroras around both poles. Click  here  for pictures and more information about this phenomenon.


Dateline -  2 May 2016 -  'Space lightning' sighted over the Caribbean

The Sprite season is definitely underway. Only a few days after a widespread display appeared over Texas, more sprites have popped up near Puerto Rico. This time the exotic forms of upper atmospheric electricity were sighted dancing above the sea instead of land.  Learn more about land and sea sprites  here ..


Dateline -  27 April 2016 - Cassini explores the depths of a methane sea on Titan

A pioneering oceanographic study of one of Saturn's moon's seas gives a clearer picture of its composition and topography. Click  here  for full story.    (Contributed by Tim)

Dateline -  21 April 2016 -  Lyrid meteors versus the Full Moon

The Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower.  Unfortunately, the shower's peak coincides with tonight's Full Moon.  Will we see any Lyrids through the glare?  It's possible. NASA cameras have captured a number of Lyrid fireballs over the USA, easy to see in bright moonlight.  Click  here  for more information.

Dateline -  18 April 2016 -  Big sunspot erupts

Surprise! Quiet sunspot AR2529 isn't so quiet, after all. The heart-shaped active region erupted on April 18 (10:39 am our time), producing a strong M6.7-class solar flare and shortwave radio blackouts around the Pacific.   Click  here  for more information.


Dateline -  10 April 2016 -  Giant spot on the Sun

The Sun's headlong plunge into solar minimum has been interrupted by the surprise emergence of a big sunspot. Wide enough to swallow Earth with room to spare, AR2529 doubled in size over the weekend. The behemoth is now being photographed by amateur astronomers around the world and closely monitored by NASA spacecraft.  Click  here  for more information.

Dateline -  1 April 2016 -  A 360-degree panorama of the Martian landscape from the rover Curiosity

This panorama is interactive - using the arrows at upper left, you can pan around the spectacular landscape with its rocks, sand dunes and Mount Sharp in the background, or tilt down to examine the rover itself. It's like standing on Mars on top of Curiosity, and looking around. Click  here  for the view.    (Contributed by Sean)


Dateline -  25 March 2016 -  Hole in the Sun's atmosphere

A canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere has opened up and it is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Estimated time of arrival: March 27-28.  Arctic sky watchers should be alert for a springtime display of auroras.  Click  here  for more information.


Dateline -  25 March 2016 -  New radar images of Earth-buzzing comet

Earlier this week, comet fragment P/2016 BA14 made an unusually-close approach to Earth. Using a radar in the Mojave Desert, NASA researchers pinged the comet as it passed by, revealing an icy nucleus that looks like a brick - or a pear - depending on your point of view. See for yourself  on today's edition of  Spaceweather .


Dateline -  17 March 2016 -  Green comet approaches Earth

There's no danger of a collision.  However, a small green comet named 252P/LINEAR is about to make one of the closest approaches to Earth of any comet in modern times, passing just 5.4 million kilometres from our planet on March 21. Also, the comet appears to have company - a possible fragment of 252P/LINEAR will fly past just one day later. A weak meteor shower could follow the double flyby near the end of March.  This comet is well-placed for Australian observers, being currently in the far-southern sky. Tonight it will be less than a handspan above the South Celestial Pole at 7 pm and will be visible all night. If you can't find it because of bright moonlight, note where it should be with respect to the constellations and then wait for the Moon to set at 1 am. By that time the comet will have rotated to be at about the same altitude above the southern horizon as the Pole itself, but nearly a handspan to its right. Located in the constellation Mensa, it is estimated to be magnitude 6 in brightness, and therefore should be visible through binoculars or a small telescope.

The comet is moving rapidly across the sky, and will be very close to the South Celestial Pole on Sunday, March 20. By Tuesday, March 22, it will be just underneath the star Atria in Triangulum Australe, and the best viewing time will be after 11 pm. By March 25, 252P/LINEAR will be in the tail of Scorpius, and best seen after midnight. By March 29, it will be about a third of a handspan below Saturn, heading north. Bright moonlight will interfere with all observations. Click  here  for more information.


Dateline -  9 March 2016 -  Photographs of yesterday's total eclipse of the Sun

Yesterday, the New Moon blocked out the Sun, producing a magnificent total eclipse over Indonesia and the northern Pacific Ocean.  Click  here  for some photographs of the eclipse from unique vantage points - including the window of an Alaskan Airlines flight that diverted into the path of totality.  Also notable are satellite movies of the Moon's cool shadow sweeping across the Pacific.

full coverage.
Dateline -  29 February 2016 -  Spherical camera at the edge of space

On February 27, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched a space weather balloon to monitor increasing levels of cosmic rays in the stratosphere.  The payload carried something new: a spherical camera.  Click  here  to view the first interactive 3D images of the edge of space.


Dateline -  27 February 2016 -  How the rover Spirit travelled to Mars and landed safely

This is a very cool video!!  Click here .    (Contributed by Tim)


Dateline -  16 February 2016 -  Geomagnetic storm in progress

Earth is entering a stream of high-speed solar wind, and this will cause G1-class geomagnetic storms on February 18. This is not the CME that has been expected for the last couple of days. Instead, the solar wind is flowing from a coronal hole on the Sun.  Click  here  for photos and more information.


Dateline -  27 January 2016 -  Mars rover Opportunity celebrates 12 years exploring Mars

NASA's Mars rover, Opportunity just celebrated its 12th anniversary on Mars—a mission that was originally meant to last just 90 days. Although recently eclipsed in the news by its bigger brother Curiosity, Opportunity is still going strong and making valuable scientific discoveries. Launched into space in 2003, Opportunity bounced to a hole-in-one landing in a small crater on Mars' Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004. It has since spent 4270 Martian days, or sols, on the surface, slowly moving from target to target, exploring craters, meteorites, unusual rock formations, and finding evidence of past water activity. Over the past 144 months, Opportunity has taken more than 200 000 images, and driven a total of 26.50 miles (42.65 kilometres) across Mars — not bad for a mission designed to last only three months.   more.    (Contributed by Mark) 


Dateline -  27 January 2016 -  Cosmic rays in the atmosphere

Newly-released measurements by high-altitude balloons show that cosmic rays in Earth's atmosphere are intensifying.  The ongoing increase, which has been tracked since early 2015, will likely accelerate in the months and years ahead as the solar cycle swings away from Solar Max. This result is of interest to everyone from mountain climbers and air travellers to operators of high-altitude drones. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.


Dateline -  27 January 2016 -  A morning sky show

The five brightest planets in the solar system have lined up in the morning sky for a naked-eye display of rare beauty.  Towards the end of January and through February, there will be a grand alignment of all the naked-eye planets in the pre-dawn sky. To a person observing them at 4 am, the five planets are all strung out like beads on a string. Firstly, the largest and second-brightest planet, Jupiter is high in the sky, about a handspan north-west of the zenith (the point in the sky directly overhead). Two and a half handspans to its right (east) and past the star Spica, we can see the Moon near Last Quarter. Half a handspan further east, is the red planet Mars. One and a half handspans further east is the cream-coloured ringed planet, Saturn. About the same distance further east is Venus, much brighter than any of the others. Less than half a handspan further east is Mercury. Pluto is right next to Mercury in our view from Earth, but is too faint to see without a telescope. During the month, the planets will maintain their relationships with each other, but as seen from Earth they will become more strung out as the weeks go by.

The Moon of course moves faster around the sky as we see it, and will be close to Jupiter on January 28. During the following week it will hop from planet to planet, being close to Mercury on February 7. This process will repeat between February 24 and March 8. Visit  Spaceweather  for dates and sky maps..


Dateline -  20 January 2016 - A new ninth planet beyond Pluto ? 

Today, planetary scientists from Caltech announced intriguing new evidence for a Neptune-sized planet orbiting the sun beyond Pluto.  The planet itself has not yet been seen, but its gravitational influence on other objects in the outer solar system may lead to its discovery. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.


Dateline -  17 January 2016 - Comet Catalina approaches Earth 

Tomorrow morning, Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10) is making its closest approach to Earth, only 108 million kilometres away. The beautiful green comet is only barely visible to the unaided eye, but it is an easy target for backyard telescopes and digital cameras as it passes through the tail of the Great Bear (Ursa Major). It is poorly placed for observers in southern Queensland, being at a maximum elevation above the northern horizon of less than seven degrees at 5:11 am. Unfortunately, at that time the Sun is just on the point of rising. To see the comet, you need a completely dark sky, so you will need to look for it with binoculars at least an hour before sunrise. At 4 am the comet will be only 4.5 degrees above the horizon, and about ten degrees east of due north. As it is moving to the north, the comet will be below the horizon for local observers within a few days. It will pass by Polaris (the northern Pole Star) at the end of this month, and will then head through the constellations of Camelopardalis (the Giraffe) in February, and Perseus in March. It will be close to the bright star Capella on May 28, when it will be at magnitude 14. Comet Catalina is making a one-time visit to the inner Solar System, and will never return. Visit  Spaceweather  for photos and finder charts.


Dateline -  3 January 2016 - Quadrantids meteor shower 

Earth is about to pass through a narrow stream of debris from shattered comet 2003 EH1, source of the annual Quadrantids meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Monday morning, January 5 at about 6 pm. The timing favours observers in North America who could see dozens of meteors per hour flowing from a radiant near the North Star. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.


Dateline -  3 January 2016 - Geomagnetic storm possible on January 3-5 

NOAA analysts say a CME (coronal mass ejection) is heading toward Earth and could deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field during the next 24 hours. The impact is expected to spark minor to moderate geomagnetic storms on January 3 to 5.  Aurora alerts are available from Spaceweather .


Dateline -  23 December 2015 -  New sunspot is growing rapidly

A new sunspot (AR2473) is growing rapidly south of the sun's equator, more than quadrupling in size in the past 24 hours. Crackling with M-class solar flares, the sunspot has already caused several minor shortwave radio blackouts, mainly in the Earth's southern hemisphere. More flares and radio blackouts are in the offing as the growing sunspot turns toward Earth. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information


Dateline -  13 December 2015 -  Geminid Meteor Shower peaks

The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks tonight, December 14-15, as Earth passes through a stream of gravelly debris from 'rock comet'  3200 Phaethon. Dark-sky observers in both hemispheres could see as many as 120 meteors per hour during the dark hours between local midnight and sunrise on December 15. Last night, December 13-14, NASA's all-sky meteor network detected 15 Geminid fireballs over the USA. That number will surely increase tonight when the shower peaks. Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.


Dateline -  13 December 2015 -  Magnetic storm on a comet

Earth isn't the only place with geomagnetic storms. Comets can have them, too. Such a storm appears to be underway in the sinuous blue ion tail of Comet Catalina (C/2013 US10).  Observers with backyard telescopes are monitoring the event with photos highlighted  here .


Dateline -  9 December 2015 -  Follow the last Moon men of Apollo 17 on their incredible journey

The longest, and last Apollo moon mission took off on its incredible journey nearly 43 years ago, and you can follow every minute of it, see rarely displayed photos, and hear the raw audios on a remarkable website. Click  here  to access an introductory page, where a  remarkable real-time interactive website on Apollo 17  can be found.


Dateline -  2 December 2015 -  Interplanetary spacecraft to buzz Earth today 

Japan's Hayabasa 2 spacecraft, on a six year mission to catch and sample an asteroid, will fly past Earth on December 3. Earth's gravity will slingshot the spacecraft toward its target, the asteroid 162173 Ryugu, which Hayabasa 2 is expected to reach in July 2018. After the spacecraft reaches Ryugu, it will orbit the asteroid for a year and a half. During that time, Hayabasa 2 will deploy four landers and drop a copper impactor to blow a hole in the asteroid's surface. Hayabasa 2 itself will briefly touch down on the asteroid at least once to collect samples excavated by the impactor. In December 2019, the spacecraft will leave the asteroid and use its ion engines to return to Earth, carrying precious samples of Ryugu. Ambitious? Yes. But if Hayabasa 2 completes even a fraction if its mission, it will be a success.

The spacecraft is small (mass: 590 kg, dimensions: 2 x 1.6 x 1.25 metres), so when it flies by Earth it will not be visible to the unaided eye. Its brightness estimates at closest approach vary from magnitude 11 to 13.


Dateline -  19 November 2015 -  The Space Doctor's Big Idea 

Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is 100 years old this year. If you don't know what it's about (and how it helps your mobile phone to know where it is), click  here  and let the Space Doctor explain it to you in everyday language.   (Contributed by Sean)


Dateline -  5 November 2015 -  Incoming coronal mass ejection from Sun 

Sunspot AR2443 erupted yesterday, producing a CME that could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on November 7. G1-class geomagnetic storms and high-latitude aurorae are possible when the CME arrives this weekend.  Visit  Spaceweather  for more information.


Dateline -  5 November 2015 -  Taurid fireballs 

The annual Taurid meteor shower is underway - and it is unusually good.  Observers around the world are reporting bright fireballs in the night sky as Earth ploughs through a swarm of gravelly debris from parent Comet Encke.  Forecasters say the display could continue until November 11.  Visit  Spaceweather  for a photograph.

Dateline -  1 November 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm warning 

A high-speed stream of solar wind is about to hit Earth's magnetic field, prompting NOAA forecasters to estimate an 85% to 90% chance of geomagnetic storms on November 2-3.  This is the same 800 km/s stream that lashed Earth's magnetic field in early October, sparking strong geomagnetic storms and bright aurorae over northern-tier US states.  Visit  Spaceweather  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  1 November 2015 -  Taurid fireballs

The annual Taurid meteor shower is underway and it is lighting up the midnight sky with bright fireballs. Taurid meteoroids are gravelly pieces of debris from Comet Encke that strike our planet's atmosphere at 70,000 mph.  They pose no danger to people on the ground as they disintegrate entirely high above Earth's surface every few hours.  If forecasters are correct, the display could continue until Nov. 10th.  Tune into  Space Weather Radio  for live radar echoes.


Dateline -  31 October 2015 -  Hubble peels back the layers of a warm Neptune-sized exoplanet 

Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have discovered an immense cloud of hydrogen evaporating from a Neptune-sized planet named GJ 436b. The planet’s atmosphere is evaporating because of extreme irradiation from its parent star.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  31 October 2015 -  Using a tablet computer in space 

The Fine Motor Skills experiment on the station is looking at how long-duration microgravity effects fine motor task performance.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  29 October 2015 -  Halloween fireballs 

This weekend, Earth could run into a stream of gravelly debris from Comet Encke, source of the annual Taurid meteor shower.  The last time this happened, ten years ago in October 2005, the encounter sparked a two-week display of bright meteors called the 'Halloween fireballs'.  Will it happen again in 2015?  Visit  Spaceweather  for more information and observing tips.


Dateline -  29 October 2015 -  A band of special, young stars has been discovered near the heart of the Milky Way 

The remarkable discovery suggests that some unknown force is breathing new life into our galaxy’s centre.   (Contributed by Lee)     Full story


Dateline -  29 October 2015 -  Cassini has a successful close encounter with Enceladus 

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft has made a successful plunge through a plume spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus, coming as close as 49 kilometres above its surface.     Full story and simulation


Dateline -  27 October 2015 -  Cassini has a close encounter with Enceladus 

NASA's Cassini Spacecraft is about to make a daring plunge through a plume spewing from Saturn's moon Enceladus.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  25 October 2015 -  Doomed comets discovered 

The ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has discovered more than 3000 doomed comets that have passed close to the sun.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  24 October 2015 -  Bright conjunction of planets just before dawn 

Look east before sunrise in late October for a beautiful conjunction of bright planets.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  20 October 2015 -  Meteors from Halley's Comet 

Earth is passing through a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak tonight, October 21-22, with as many as 20 meteors per hour. No matter where you live, the best time to look is during the dark hours before sunrise on Thursday the 22nd.  Click  here  for sky maps and more information.


Dateline -  16 October 2015 -  Did cosmic rays kill the Martians ? 

A senior space weather analyst has calculated the odds that astronauts in the hit film 'The Martian' could have survived solar flares and cosmic rays during their travels to Mars. Learn more about the science behind the blockbuster on today's edition of  Spaceweather .  


Dateline -  16 October 2015 -  Huge eruption on the Sun

Earlier today, a massive and beautiful plume of plasma erupted near the sun's southeastern limb. The event could herald the approach of an active sunspot and an increase in solar activity this weekend.  Click  here  for an update.


Dateline -  14 October 2015 -  Hole in the Sun's atmosphere 

A gigantic hole in the sun's atmosphere has opened up and it is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Because this 'coronal hole' is unusually wide, Earth could be inside the emerging solar wind stream for days. Minor geomagnetic storms are already in progress around the Arctic Circle.  Click  here  for more information.


Dateline -  9 October 2015 -  Blue skies on Pluto, green skies on Earth 

Earth isn't the only planet with blue skies. Pluto has them, too. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has just beamed back the first colour images of Pluto's atmosphere, and they look a lot like home. Click  here  for the full story.

This week, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle have seen some of the most intense green aurorae of the current solar cycle. Usually, such displays are caused by CMEs.  Not this time, though. The reason for the outbreak is explained on today's edition of  Spaceweather .


Dateline -  8 October 2015 -  Occultation of Venus tomorrow morning 

In the pre-dawn hours of October 9, the waning crescent Moon will occult the planet Venus. The Moon will have a phase of 15% and will rise at 2:59 am. Venus will have an angular diameter of 30 arcseconds, a phase of 40% and will rise at  3:02 am. They will be only half-a-degree apart when they rise. The Moon will gradually approach Venus, and the occultation will begin at 4:21:34 am. It will take about 46 seconds for Venus to be fully covered by the Moon's bright limb. For the next 1 hour and 25 minutes, Venus will be out of sight behind the Moon. At 5:47:07 am Venus will reappear above the dark limb. It will take 55 seconds to reappear. This will be a spectacular event to observe with binoculars, or ideally with a small telescope tracking on Venus, but will be difficult for naked-eye observers as the Sun will have risen at 5:20 am, 28 minutes before the reappearance of Venus.   (Timings contributed by Oakleigh).


Dateline -  7 October 2015 -  URBAN AURORAE

Last night, October 6, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle witnessed an outburst of aurorae so bright that they rivalled city lights. This could herald an even stronger display on October 7 and 8 when a "co-rotating interaction region" followed by a solar wind stream is expected to hit Earth's magnetic field.  Click  here  for more information.


Dateline -  4 October 2015 -  'WATER-BASED LAVA' ON PLUTO'S MOON?

New images just received from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft reveal a giant canyon on Pluto's moon Charon, as well as evidence that parts of Charon may have been resurfaced by strange 'water-based lavas'.  Click  here  for the full story.


Dateline -  1 October 2015 -  Daytime meteor shower

As October begins, a radar in Canada is detecting echoes from a fairly strong meteor shower.  The source appears to be debris from asteroid 2005 UD.  Don't bother looking for these meteors because they are streaking across the daytime sky, overwhelmed by the glare of the sun.  You can, however, hear their radar echoes.  Click  here  for live audio and more information.


Dateline -  29 September 2015 -  High solar activity

Big sunspot AR2422 is crackling with M-class solar flares and has an unstable magnetic field that harbours energy for even stronger eruptions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 25% chance of powerful X-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. Click  here  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  26 September 2015 -  Total lunar eclipse of supermoon visible in the Americas, Africa, Europe and western Asia (but not Australia or the western Pacific)

This weekend's full Moon is a 'supermoon', the biggest and brightest of the year, and it is about to be eclipsed. On Sunday evening, September 27, sky watchers on the other side of the world from Australia will see the Full Moon glide into the shadow of Earth, becoming a beautiful shade of red in the process. The same eclipse will be visible from South America, Europe, Africa and parts of Asia during the early hours of September 28. It will not be visible from Australia or any place in the western Pacific. The Coca-Cola Space Science Centre is broadcasting the event live  here .

For more information about the eclipse, and a big sunspot facing Earth this weekend, click  here .  The next total eclipses of the Moon visible from the Sunshine Coast will occur on 31 January 2018,  28 July 2018,  and 26 May 2021.  We will have to wait until  22 July 2028 to see a total eclipse of the Sun in Australia, but solar eclipse paths are very narrow and observers will have to travel to the path which will pass close to Wyndham in Western Australia, Davenport in the Northern Territory, Thargomindah and Hungerford in Queensland, Burke, Dubbo and Sydney in New South Wales, and Milford Sound and Queenstown in New Zealand. When the centre of the eclipse path passes directly over the University of Sydney at Ultimo, the path will be 200 kilometres wide. Only inside this path will totality be experienced.


Dateline -  21 September 2015 -  The search to create dark matter is on

Scientists believe they may soon be able to make dark matter (the invisible material that comprises most of the mass of the universe) inside the world’s most powerful atom-smasher, the Large Hadron Collider at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), near Geneva. The collider recently reopened with double the power it employed during its successful hunt for the Higgs boson. Since matter and energy are interchangeable, at these massive energies new particles can be created. More power means a greater chance of creating more massive particles – possibly dark ones. It also creates more interactions so if the creation of dark matter is extremely rare, the chances of picking it up are greater. Click  here  for more.    (Contributed by Tim) 


Dateline -  16 September 2015 -  Double solar eclipse

NASA's MMS spacecraft are flying around Earth in a precise formation made possible by an out-of-this-world system of GPS navigators.     Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  14 September 2015 -  Double solar eclipse

Yesterday, a NASA spacecraft witnessed a rare double eclipse. The Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed Earth and the Moon passing in front of the Sun at the same time. You can see the photos in today's edition of  Spaceweather.com .


Dateline -  11 September 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm from Sun hits Earth

A stream of solar wind hit the Earth's magnetic field on September 11, sparking one of the strongest geomagnetic storms of the year and auroras in multiple US states. This continues a trend of relatively high geomagnetic activity that began on September 7. High-latitude sky watchers could see more auroras tonight.  Click  here  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  2 September 2015 -  155th Anniversary of the Carrington Event

Today is the anniversary of an historic solar storm, the Carrington Event. On September 2, 1859, a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck Earth's magnetic field with such power that telegraph stations caught fire and people in Cuba read their morning newspapers by the red light of the aurora borealis. If a similar storm struck our planet today, it might cause trillions of dollars of damage to society's high-tech infrastructure. Could the Carrington Event happen again? It almost did just a few years ago. Extreme solar storms - past, present and future - are highlighted on today's edition of  Spaceweather.com .


Dateline -  27 and 28 August 2015 -  Re Stephen Hawking's latest thoughts on Black Holes

Hawking is trying to discover what happens to the physical information about material passing through the event horizon of a black hole, and whether black holes provide portals to alternative universes.  This leads to the question, "What if the Big Bang was simply our entry point from another universe?"  Click  here  for more.      (Contributed by Lee)

This idea centres on how matter and energy falling into a black hole could in theory come out of a 'white hole' in another universe. In such a situation, both the black hole and the white hole are mouths of an Einstein-Rosen bridge, popularly known as a wormhole.  With that in mind, theoretical physicist Nikodem Poplawski at Indiana University conjectures that when a black hole forms from the collapse of a dying star, a universe is born at the same time from the white hole on the other side of the wormhole. Click  here  for more along these lines.     (Contributed by Matt)

Hawking's talking (I guess) about a rotating Kerr black hole with a ring-shaped singularity, which since the '60s has been the basis for ideas like white holes, worm holes, closed time-like curves, and kind-of-sort-of-maybe-hand-wave-y other universes. If black holes can be portals, do they generate the other universes, or just punch through somehow? If they generate a universe, what happens to the inhabitants of that universe once the black hole in this universe eventually evaporates due to Hawking radiation, or loses angular momentum via the ergosphere, or gains a chunk of mass, or ... ?    Maybe you start to get weird physics problems that need answers like dark matter...      (Contributed by Sean)


Dateline -  20 August 2015 -  More strange lightning jets photographed from the International Space Station

This month, astronauts onboard the International Space Station have witnessed exotic forms of lightning that reach up from thunderclouds near Earth's surface all the way to the edge of space. Their photographs of "sprites" and "trolls" dancing over Mexico are a must-see. These forms can been seen from Earth's surface, too. Observing tips and more information are available  here .


Dateline -  14 August 2015 -  Gigantic jets of lightning appear over Hurricane Hilda

A rare form of upward lightning that reaches almost to the edge of space has been observed shooting up from Hurricane Hilda as the storm approaches Hawaii. Click  here  to see the video and learn more about these 'gigantic jets'.


Dateline -  14 August 2015 -  Inferior conjunction of Venus

The planet Venus is turning into a wafer-thin crescent as it passes almost directly between the Earth and Sun tomorrow morning, Sunday, August 16. Photos and observing tips are available  here .


Dateline -  11 August 2015 -  Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night

This week, Earth passes through a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Forecasters say the show could be especially good because the Moon is nearly new when the shower peaks on August 12 and 13.    Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  5 August 2015 -  Perseid Meteor Shower underway

One meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other - and it's underway now. Earth is entering a stream of debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. NASA all-sky cameras are detecting an increasing number of Perseid fireballs as the shower's peak approaches on August 12-13. Click  here  for updates and more information.


Dateline -  27 July 2015 -  A "Blue Moon" next Friday night

The second Full Moon of July is just around the corner. According to modern folklore, it is a "Blue Moon."    Full story     Sciencecast  Video


Dateline -  25 July 2015 -  Improved image of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby


Dateline -  16 July 2015 -  First close-up of Pluto from the New Horizons spacecraft flyby

The 70 metre antenna of the Canberra Deep Space Complex at Tidbinbilla has been working all last night, recording the faint signals coming from the New Horizons spacecraft. Taking about 4.5 hours to cross the 4.88 billion kilometres distance from Pluto to Earth, the signals contain the first close-up images of Pluto and its companion Charon. Click here for the latest images. Is Mickey Mouse's dog Pluto on Pluto ? Click here to find out.


Dateline -  14 July 2015 -  Pluto from New Horizons


Dateline -  13 July 2015 -  Weather report for Pluto during the New Horizons flyby tomorrow

The above times are Australian Eastern Standard Time.

As NASA's New Horizons spacecraft prepares to buzz Pluto on July 14, space weather forecasters have released long distance predictions for the distant dwarf planet. A region of merged CMEs could be on the verge of hitting Pluto and compressing its atmosphere, but this is expected to happen well after the flyby. Meanwhile, New Horizons has just taken its best picture of the side of Pluto which will not be visible during the flyby. It will be decades before we get another look at this side of Pluto, which is dotted with mysterious dark spots.  Click here for more information.

Dateline -  10 July 2015 -  Coffee in space

Advances in the understanding of how fluids behave in low gravity is a key to an excellent cup of coffee in space.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  26 June 2015 -  Handprints on Hubble

As the Hubble Space Telescope celebrates its 25th anniversary, scientists are reflecting on the key role astronauts played in allowing the telescope to continue making great discoveries.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  22 June 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm warning

A CME (coronal mass ejection from the Sun) is heading directly for Earth, and it is expected to sweep up one or more lesser CMEs before it reaches our planet tonight and tomorrow. The combined impact is likely to spark polar geomagnetic storms and high-latitude aurorae.  Click  here  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  11 June 2015 -  Solar aurora watch

On June 18, the Sun produced its biggest flare in nearly two months. The M3-class explosion caused a brief low-frequency radio blackout over North America and hurled a CME into space. A glancing blow from the CME is likely on June 21 , possibly sparking a geomagnetic storm and solstice aurorae. Click  here  for updates.


Dateline -  11 June 2015 -  Sunset planets

When sun goes down tonight, step outside and look west. Venus, Jupiter and the crescent Moon are having a lovely conjunction in the sunset sky. Click  here  for photos


Dateline -  11 June 2015 -  Venus and Jupiter on show

Venus and Jupiter are converging for a must-see close encounter at the end of June. It could be the best backyard sky show of 2015.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  4 June 2015 -  Arietids meteor swarm has started

The Earth is entering a stream of debris from an unknown comet, and this is causing one of the most intense meteor showers of the year. Ironically, most sky watchers won't notice it, because the shower peaks in broad daylight. We only know it's happening right now because a radar in Canada is picking up echoes from meteoroids streaking through the blue sky overhead. Astronomers call these meteors 'Arietids' as they appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Aries, not far from the June Sun.

Visual observers may be able to see a handful of Arietids in the hour or so before sunrise over the next week when the shower is at its peak. These will all be  'Earthgrazers' - that is, meteors which enter at shallow (<10o) angles and streak across very long arcs in the sky. This phenomenon is a result of the radiant never getting much above the horizon before the rising sun renders the meteors invisible to the eye.

The shower is unique in that it has a very broad peak lasting almost five days. The best time to watch will be any day during the early morning hours of June 6 – June 12. For observing tips on how you might be able to see earthgrazing Arietids just before sunrise in the mornings ahead, click  here .


Dateline -  22 May 2015 -  Noctilucent clouds observed over the Arctic

NASA's AIM spacecraft has spotted a luminous patch of electric-blue drifting across the Arctic Circle. The sighting marks the beginning of the 2015 season for northern-hemisphere noctilucent clouds (NLCs). Long ago, NLCs were a polar phenomenon confined mainly to the Arctic. In recent years, however, they have intensified and spread, with sightings as far south as Utah and Colorado in the United States.  Click  here  to learn more about these exotic clouds and how northern hemisphere observers might see them this summer.


Dateline -  19 May 2015 -  Geomagnetic storm in progress

A moderate (G2-class) geomagnetic storm is underway today as Earth enters an unsettled stream of solar wind. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras, especially during the hours around local midnight. Click  here  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  15 May 2015 -  The first marathon on Mars has been completed

On Earth, a fast runner takes a few hours to complete a marathon. On Mars, the first marathon has taken eleven years to complete. NASA's Opportunity rover crossed the finish line of the first "Martian Marathon" earlier this year.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  13 May 2015 -  The mystery of Earth's companion 1991 VG

About 20 years ago, a mysterious object made a close approach to Earth. Was it a natural object  such as a near-Earth asteroid, a man-made object such as an expended rocket stage from the Apollo Project, or even an alien probe to examine the Earth? It will be back in two years' time. Click   here  for a full report.      (Contributed by Mark)


Dateline -  11 May 2015 -  Aurorae on Mars

NASA's MAVEN spacecraft (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) has detected widespread aurorae on Mars.    Full story


Dateline -  6 May 2015 -  Powerful X2-Flare on the Sun

Emerging sunspot AR2339 unleashed an intense X2-class solar flare on May 5 at approximately 22:11 UT. Radiation from the flare caused strong radio blackouts on the Pacific side of Earth, interfering with communications at frequencies below ~20 MHz. The blast also hurled a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) into space, but not towards Earth. This event could herald a sustained period of high solar activity, as AR2339 appears to be large and explosive. It seems that the quiet phase the Sun has experienced recently (see Dateline 30 April below) has ended. Click  here  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  MESSENGER spacecraft uncovers secrets on Mercury

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft crashed into Mercury on April 30, ending a years-long mission that made many unexpected discoveries about the innermost planet. Click  here  for some of MESSENGER's most surprising finds.


Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  New Horizons spacecraft detects surface features on Pluto, including a possible polar cap

Click  here  for a full report.


Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  Sun enters a quiet phase

Everyone knows that high solar activity has a profound effect on the space around Earth. Less well known is that "low" solar activity can be equally transformative. This week, the sun is plunging into a quiet state with almost no sunspots and a vanishing chance of flares. Click  here  to find out what this means.


Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  Volcanic ash cloud heads east

A 10 000 kilometre-long plume of sulphurous gas from Chile's Calbuco volcano is now crossing the Atlantic Ocean en route to Africa. Will it reach Australia? Click  here  for more.


Dateline -  30 April 2015 -  Microbes sent to the threshold of space

On April 28, microbes sent to the edge of space to test their response to cosmic radiation crash-landed in the California desert - and it did not go well for the microbes. Click  here  for more.


Dateline -  29 April 2015 -  Sahara dust feeds Amazon rain forest

The Amazon rainforest and the Sahara desert seem utterly different. Yet NASA satellites have discovered a surprising connection that intimately links these two disparate parts of our planet.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  23 April 2015 -  Volcanic lightning in Chile

The Calbuco volcano in southern Chile erupted yesterday. Two blasts in 24 hours on April 22 sent plumes of ash and sulphurous gas shooting at least 10 kilometres high. One of the eruptions occurred at night and put on a spectacular display of rare and mysterious volcanic lightning.  Click  here  for a picture of the lightning and a discussion of its underlying physics.


Dateline -  22 April 2015 -  John Harrison's Clock B is in the Guiness Book of World Records

250 years ago, John Harrison of the famous 'Longitude' story designed a pendulum clock that he claimed to be accurate to one second in 100 days. Now, in the 21st century, it has been built and tests at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich have shown it to be even more accurate, to five-eighths of a second in 100 days.    Full story      (Contributed by Matt)


Dateline -  21 April 2015 -  Want to name a landform on Pluto ?

When NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by Pluto this July, its high-resolution cameras will spot many new landforms on the dwarf planet's unexplored surface. They are all going to need names,and NASA is offering you the opportunity to help.    Full story


Dateline -  20 April 2015 -  Lyrids meteor shower

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras this week when a solar wind stream and a faint CME are expected to hit Earth's magnetic field in quick succession. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% to 65% chance of polar geomagnetic storms on April 21-22.

At the same time, Earth will be passing through a stream of debris from Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. Sky watchers are already seeing a smattering of late-night fireballs as Earth approaches the diffuse core of the debris stream. Meteor rates are expected to peak on April 22-23 with as many as 20 Lyrids per hour. Click  here  for observing tips and suggestions.


Dateline -  9 April 2015 -  Yellow balls in space

Citizen scientists scanning images from a NASA observatory have found "yellow balls" in space that may hold important clues to the mysteries of starbirth.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  3 April 2015 -  Total lunar eclipse on April 4

Sky watchers in the western Pacific can see a brief but beautiful lunar eclipse on Saturday night, April 4. The Moon will turn red, and possibly turquoise, too, as the lunar disc passes through the shadow of our planet. Totality will be brief, so it is important to be outside at the right moment, say 10 pm Eastern Standard Time in Queensland. Click  here  for viewing times and more information from Spaceweather, and  here  for information specific to eastern Australia.


Dateline -  19 March 2015 -  Total solar eclipse in the Arctic

On March 20, the first day of northern spring, Arctic sky watchers could witness something rare and wonderful: Northern Lights during a total eclipse of the sun. Earth's magnetic field is reverberating from a CME strike on March 17 that sparked the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle. Days after the impact, aurorae are still dancing around the Arctic Circle. Those aurorae could emerge in broad daylight this Friday when the new Moon passes in front of the Arctic sun, producing a total eclipse visible from Svalbard, the Faroe Islands, and many ships at sea. Click  here  for a preview and updates during the eclipse.


Dateline -  17 March 2015 -  Severe geomagnetic storm

A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit the Earth's magnetic field during the early hours of March 17, triggering a magnetic disturbance that has escalated into the strongest geomagnetic storm of the current solar cycle (Kp=8). In the United States, during the hours before sunrise on St Patrick's Day, bright green skies appeared over multiple US states including Wisconsin, Washington, Minnesota, and the Dakotas. Aurorae were also seen in New Zealand, Tasmania and Victoria, and in New South Wales as far north as Goulburn. Please check  here  for pictures and updates on the progress of the storm.


Dateline -  7 March 2015 -  Active Sunspot

A sunspot has emerged near the sun's southeastern limb, and it is crackling with strong flares. The most powerful so far, an M9-class explosion on March 7, produced a moderately-strong radio blackout over the Pacific side of Earth. Click  here  for images and updates.


Dateline -  6 March 2015 -  Exploding star hints at how dark matter warps light in space

An exploding star has been seen by astronomers four separate times as a result of dark matter affecting the image, an Australian researcher has revealed. A team of international scientists studying space using the Hubble Telescope found a supernova explosion appeared multiple times in different places due to the impact of gravitation on light. Team member Brad Tucker from the Australian National University in Canberra said a cluster of galaxies and dark matter in front of the explosion had warped the way it looked. "So if you actually look at how the light has changed over time in each of those four images, it is exactly the same origin, so it has to be the same event," he said.  Read the full story  here .      (Contributed by Susheela)


Dateline -  5 March 2015 -  The first ever photograph of light existing as both a wave and particle at the same time

Scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have captured on camera the first photograph of light behaving in the form of a wave and also as a particle simultaneously. This historic breakthrough shows incontrovertibly that light is both a wave and a particle at the same time.  Read the full story and watch the video  here .      (Contributed by Sean)


Dateline -  1 March 2015 -  Peculiar noctilucent clouds over Antarctica

The strange behaviour of noctilucent clouds over Antarctica in recent months has researchers on the trail of new teleconnections in Earth's atmosphere, which can alter weather and climate on a global scale.  Click  here  for the full story.


Dateline -  24 February 2015 -  Chinese rocket's spectacular re-entry

On the night of February 23-24, observers across the western half of North America witnessed a spectacular cluster of bright lights in the sky. It was the re-entry and disintegration of a Chinese rocket body. Coincidentally, a geomagnetic storm was in progress at the time and more than one photographer caught the rocket's debris cutting across curtains of Northern Lights.  Click  here  for photos and more information.


Dateline -  20 February 2015 -  Unusual comet has a close encounter with the Sun

Astronomers are scratching their heads over an unusual comet that is passing by the sun. The icy visitor to the inner solar system does not belong to any known family of sungrazing comets, and it appeared to be doomed as it made its plunge toward the Sun on February 19. Instead of disintegrating, however, the comet has emerged apparently intact, and could become a target for telescopes on Earth when it emerges from the Sun's glare in the weeks ahead. Images and updates may be found  here .


Dateline -  12 February 2015 -  Deep Space Climate Observatory launched

For years, space weather forecasters have worried about the aging ACE spacecraft, which provides early warnings of CMEs and other solar storms bearing down on Earth. Launched in 1997, ACE could fail at any moment, leaving us blind to incoming storms. On February 11, NOAA, NASA and the US Air Force launched a replacement - the Deep Space Climate Observatory. Read all about it  here  .


Dateline -  4 February 2015 -  Close encounter with Jupiter as it reaches opposition on February 7

This weekend, Jupiter is at its biggest, brightest, and closest to Earth for all of 2015.    Full story


Dateline -  30 January 2015 -  The strange ways fluids slosh on the International Space Station

Researchers are using a pair of robots to examine the strange way fluids slosh and bubble on the International Space Station.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  21 January 2015 -  Close approach of asteroid next week

Early next week, a large asteroid named 2004 BL86 will fly past the Earth-Moon system. There's no danger of a collision, but NASA radars will be monitoring the mountain-sized space rock as it passes by only 1.2 million kilometres (745 000 miles) away. Amateur astronomers can watch the flyby, too. Glowing like a 9th magnitude star, 2004 BL86 will be an easy target for backyard telescopes on the nights of closest approach, January 26-28. Click  here  for observing tips and more information.


Dateline -  9 January 2015 -  Magnetic storm on Comet Lovejoy ?

Everyone knows about geomagnetic storms on Earth, but did you know that comets can have them, too? Right now, a type of magnetic storm may be in progress in the tail of bright Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2), causing 'plasma blobs' and 'disconnection events' visible in amateur telescopes. Click  here  for images and more information.


Dateline -  7 January 2015 -  New image of the 'Pillars of Creation'

Recently, the Hubble Space Telescope revisited the famous 'Pillars of Creation' (the nebula + star cluster M16), providing astronomers with a sharper and wider view of the iconic star forming region. The image hints that the Pillars of Creation might also be 'pillars of destruction'.    Full story


Dateline -  7 January 2015 -  Unexpected geomagnetic storm

A surprise geomagnetic storm erupted during the early hours of January 7, sparking bright aurorae around both of Earth's poles. The storm may have been sparked by the arrival of a CME originally expected to miss our planet.  Click  here  for images and more information.


Dateline -  31 December 2014 -  A new explanation for terrestrial gamma-ray flashes

New research shows that terrestrial gamma-ray flashes arise from an unexpected diversity of thunderstorms storms and may be more common than previously thought.    Full story


Dateline -  31 December 2014 -  Good news on forests and carbon dioxide

A new NASA-led study shows that tropical forests may be absorbing far more carbon dioxide than many scientists thought, in response to rising atmospheric levels of the greenhouse gas.    Full story


Dateline -  31 December 2014 -  New Comet Lovejoy is visible to the unaided eye

Last night, the writer was easily able to view Comet Lovejoy with the unaided eye as described in the report datelined 29 December below. It was quite spectacular in 7x50 binoculars, and is presently located in the constellation Lepus. Readers are encouraged to look for it, as it has been a while since we had a bright comet. The best time will be after the gibbous Moon has set, at about 1:30 am tonight. The comet will be to the left of the constellation Orion, 13 degrees to the south (left) of the bright star Rigel. Close to the third magnitude orange star Epsilon Leporis, Comet Lovejoy will be about 45 degrees above the western horizon at that time.    More     This ephemeris will give its daily position in Right Ascension and Declination.


Dateline -  30 December 2014 -  Dawn spacecraft begins approach to dwarf planet Ceres

NASA's ion-propelled Dawn spacecraft has begun its approach to Ceres, a Tasmania-sized dwarf planet never before visited by a spacecraft. Dawn is expected to enter orbit around Ceres in March, 2015.    Full story


Dateline -  29 December 2014 -  New Comet discovered by Brisbane amateur astronomer is brightening

The 'Christmas Comet' C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) continues to brighten, and now observers around the world are reporting seeing it with the unaided eye from dark-sky sites. Comet Lovejoy is a fine target for backyard telescopes, as is shown  here .  Its position just after midnight on January 1, 2015 will be in the constellation Lepus the Hare, just south of Orion's feet, between the third-magnitude stars Epsilon Leporis and Mu Leporis. The comet will proceed during January in a north-westerly direction through Eridanus, heading towards Aries. It will cross the celestial equator and enter Taurus on January 9, when it will be close to perihelion and at its brightest. It is at present shining at about magnitude 5, brighter than predicted. This should make it an easy target with binoculars or small telescope, and it might possibly be visible with the unaided eye from dark sites well away from city lights.    Ephemeris


Dateline -  20 December 2014 -  Massive X-flare on the Sun yesterday

Solar activity is high. A pair of large sunspots is crossing the centre of the solar disc, and both are crackling with flares. The strongest so far, an X1.8-class flare on December 20, caused a strong High Frequency radio blackout over the South Pacific and might have hurled a CME (coronal mass ejection) toward Earth.  Click  here  for more information and updates.


Dateline -  19 December 2014 -  Rosetta to swoop down on comet in February

The European Space Agency’s orbiting Rosetta spacecraft is expected to come to within 6.5 kilometres of the surface of comet 67P/ChuryumovGerasimenko in February 2015. The low flyby will be an opportunity for Rosetta to obtain imagery with a resolution of better than 10 centimetres per pixel.    Full story


Dateline -  19 December 2014 -  Southern Hemisphere carbon emissions rising

The first global maps of atmospheric carbon dioxide from NASA's new Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 mission show elevated carbon dioxide concentrations across the Southern Hemisphere from springtime biomass burning and hint at potential surprises to come.    Full story


Dateline -  19 December 2014 -  New evidence for a water reservoir on Mars

NASA and an international team of planetary scientists have found evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct and global reservoir of water or ice near its surface.    Full story


Dateline -  16 December 2014 - Voyager 1 spacecraft buffeted by waves from Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the Sun

Since 2012, NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has experienced three 'tsunami waves' in interstellar space. The most recent, which reached the spacecraft earlier this year, is still propagating outward according to new data.    Full story


Dateline -  14 December 2014 - The theory that comets brought water to Earth not supported by Rosetta data

A popular theory holds that ocean water was brought to Earth by the ancient impacts of comets and asteroids. However, new data from the European Space Agency’s Rosetta spacecraft indicate that terrestrial water did not come from comets like 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.    Full story


Dateline -  12 December 2014 - Earth encounters debris from a rocky comet

Earth is passing through a stream of debris from 'rock comet' 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. Forecasters expect as many as 120 meteors per hour when the shower peaks on December 14.    Full story     Video     More


Dateline - 7 December 2014 -  New Horizons  wakes up on Pluto's doorstep

After a voyage of nearly nine years and three billion miles the farthest any space mission has ever travelled to reach its primary target NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft came out of hibernation on December 6 for its long-awaited encounter with the Pluto system in a year's time.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 6 December 2014 -  Astronauts face a growing peril from space radiation

According to a new study just published in the research journal Space Weather, astronauts face a growing peril from space radiation. Rising fluxes of cosmic rays inside the solar system place increasingly strict limits on the amount of time explorers can safely travel through interplanetary space.  Click  here  for more information and links to the complete study.


Dateline - 4 December 2014 -  Japan launches asteroid mission

On December 3, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) successfully launched its Hayabusa2 mission to rendezvous with an asteroid, land a small probe plus three mini rovers on its surface, and then return samples to Earth. NASA and JAXA are cooperating on the science of the mission.     Full story


Dateline - 1 December 2014 -  Geminid meteor shower arrives early

Earth is entering a stream of debris from 'rock comet' 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. The shower is not expected to peak until December 14, but NASA meteor cameras are detecting Geminid fireballs over the USA two weeks early. Click  here  for images and updates.


Dateline - 24 November 2014 -  Volcanoes on the Moon

The Moon might not be as dead as it looks. Researchers using NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter have found signs of geologically-recent volcanic eruptions dotting the lunar landscape.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 12 November 2014 -  Philae spacecraft makes historic landing on comet

Rosetta mission’s safe landing gives scientists their first chance to ride a comet and study up close what happens as it gets closer to the Sun.  Click  here  for first news report.


Dateline - 12 November 2014 -  An image of the birth of a new planetary system

Scientists at the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) in northern Chile have released an image which shows the tell-tale signs of the formation of a new planetary system out of a disc of gas and dust surrounding a new star, HL Tauri.   Click  here  for more information.     (Contributed by Richard)


Dateline - 7 November 2014 -  Martian meteor shower

NASA and European spacecraft have detected evidence of a spectacular meteor shower on Mars caused by the close approach of Comet Siding Spring last month. If a human had been standing on the Red Planet at the time, they might have seen thousands of meteors per hour followed by a widespread yellow afterglow that lasted for days.  Click  here  for more information.


Dateline - 6 November 2014 -  A new theory about galaxies

Findings from a NASA rocket are redefining what scientists think of as galaxies. Galaxies may not have a set boundary of stars, but instead stretch out to great distances, forming a vast, interconnected sea of stars.    Full story


Dateline - 3 November 2014 -  How do you land on a comet?

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is about to attempt something "ridiculously difficult" - landing a probe on the surface of a speeding comet.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 30 October 2014 -  Size of the ozone hole

The Antarctic ozone hole reached its annual peak size on September 11, according to scientists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The size of this year’s hole was 24.1 million square kilometres (9.3 million square miles) an area roughly the size of North America.    Full story


Dateline - 19 October 2014 -  X-Flare on Sun

Solar activity increased sharply on October 19 when huge sunspot AR2192 unleashed an X1-class solar flare. The blast produced an HF radio blackout on the dayside of Earth and it likely hurled a CME into space. Check  here  for pictures of the flare and more information about possible Earth-effects.


Dateline - 17 October 2014 -  Orionid meteor shower encounters the Earth this week

Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, parent of the annual Orionid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on Tuesday, October 21 and Wednesday, October 22.    Full story


Dateline - 17 October 2014 -  Solar eclipse next week, but not visible from Australia

On October 23, the Moon will pass in front of the sun, off-centre, producing a partial solar eclipse visible in most of the United States. The maximum phase of the eclipse will only be visible near the North Pole. No part of the eclipse will be seen from the southern hemisphere.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 17 October 2014 -  Large sunspot appears

A large and active sunspot is emerging over the sun's southeastern limb. Only two to three days ago, this active region unleashed multiple flares and hurled a massive CME over the edge of the sun. If these eruptions continue apace, solar activity could sharply increase in the days ahead as the sunspot turns to face Earth. Click  here  for photos and updates.


Dateline - 16 October 2014 -  Comet Siding Spring due to arrive at Mars

This weekend, Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) will make a historically close approach to Mars. Satellites and Mars Rovers will get an eye-full as the green comet passes less than 140 000 kilometres above the Red Planet's surface. No one knows what will happen. Possible side-effects of the flyby include a Martian meteor shower and aurorae. More information and amateur images of the comet approaching Mars may be found  here .

NASA has arranged for its three Mars orbiters (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Mars Odyssey and MAVEN) to be located behind Mars during the close flyby of Comet Siding Spring next Monday (AEST), to protect them from comet dust. The comet's nucleus is expected to shed material hurtling at about 56 kilometres per second, relative to Mars and Mars-orbiting spacecraft. NASA's aim is to protect its Mars orbiters, while preserving opportunities to gather valuable scientific data.    More 


Dateline - 10 October 2014 -  First light for MAVEN

NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN Mission (MAVEN) is a  space probe designed to study the Martian atmosphere while orbiting Mars. Mission goals include determining how the Martian atmosphere and water, presumed to have once been present on Mars in large quantities as on Earth, were lost over time. MAVEN has reached Mars and it is beaming back "First Light" images of the Red Planet's upper atmosphere. The data could help researchers understand what transformed Mars from a hospitable planet billions of years ago into a desiccated wasteland today.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 9 October 2014 -  NASA spacecraft and Mars Rovers prepare to observe a close comet

NASA spacecraft and rovers are gearing up to observe a once-in-a-lifetime flyby of Mars by Comet C/2013 A1, also known as Comet Siding Spring, on Sunday, October 19. The comet will pass within about 139 500 kilometres (87 000 miles) of the Red Planet - less than half the distance between Earth and our Moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth.    Full story     Video

Chart Copyright NASA, 2014


Dateline - 3 October 2014 -  Stratosphere affected by solar storm

Stratospheric radiation levels are returning to normal, according to a Space Weather Buoy launched on September 28 by students in California. This follows a mid-September drop in ionising radiation caused, ironically, by a strong solar storm and CME strike. Data and a discussion of the phenomena associated with this event may be found  here .

Dateline - 24 September 2014 -  A giant among Earth's satellites

The launch of ISS-RapidScat onboard SpaceX-4 has kickstarted a new era for the International Space Station as a giant Earth-observing satellite.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 22 September 2014 -  NASA's MAVEN spacecraft reaches Mars

On Sunday, September 21, NASA's MAVEN spacecraft successfully entered Mars orbit where it now will prepare to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere as never done before.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 11 September 2014 -  Jellyfish flames on the ISS

Astronauts onboard the International Space Station (ISS) report seeing flames that behave like jellyfish. Today's story features must-see video of the microgravity phenomenon.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 10 September 2014 -  Powerful X-Flare on Sun aimed at Earth

The active sunspot AR2158 erupted on September 10, producing a strong X1.6-class solar flare. Because the sunspot is directly facing Earth, this is a geo-effective event. HF radio blackouts and other communications disturbances have already been observed on the day-lit side of Earth. Click  here  for more information and updates about the possibility of an Earth-directed CME and geomagnetic storms in the days ahead.


Dateline - 4 September 2014 -  Asteroid close encounter on Monday morning

On Monday, 8 September, a house-sized asteroid named '2014 RC' will fly through the Earth-Moon system approximately 40 000 kilometres from our planet. At closest approach, the space rock will be almost as close as some of our geosynchronous satellites. It will be at its closest at 4:18 am, when it will be above New Zealand.  At magnitude 11.5 it will be a faint telescopic object, speeding through the constellation of Pisces. Click  here  for more information.


Dateline - 4 September 2014 -  Our Galaxy's position in the local supercluster of galaxies

For the first time, scientists have pinpointed where our Galaxy stands amongst thousands of other galaxies in our home supercluster. The new map shows beautiful feathery strings linked together with the Milky Way galaxy placed on the edge of the newly named Laniakea supercluster, home to 100 000 other galaxies. The relationship with the Great Attractor is also shown in a video attachment.     Full story     (Contributed by Tim)


Dateline - 31 August 2014 -  Radical new theory could kill the multiverse hypothesis

Some physicists are saying that perhaps the fundamental description of the universe does not include the concepts of 'mass' and 'length', implying that at its core, nature lacks a sense of scale.     Full story     (Contributed by Sean)


Dateline - 26 August 2014 -  Is the Earth inside a supernova remnant ?

A NASA sounding rocket has confirmed that the solar system is inside an ancient supernova remnant. Life on Earth survived despite the nearby blasts.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 26 August 2014 -  Candidate comet landing sites identified

The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission has chosen five candidate landing sites on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for its Philae lander. Philae's descent to the comet's nucleus, scheduled for this November, will be the first such landing ever attempted.      Full story


Dateline - 25 August 2014 -  New Horizons crosses the orbit of Neptune

NASA’s Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft traversed the orbit of Neptune today, exactly 25 years after Voyager 2's encounter with Neptune on August 25, 1989. This is New Horizons' last major crossing en route to becoming the first probe to make a close encounter with distant Pluto on July 14, 2015.     Full story


Dateline - 24 August 2014 -  Magnificent solar flare

A visually beautiful solar flare erupted from the east limb of the Sun today. Extreme UV radiation briefly ionised the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere; otherwise, our planet was not in the line of fire. The responsible sunspot will turn toward Earth in the days ahead, boosting chances for geoeffective solar activity as the week unfolds.  Click  here  for photos and more information.


Dateline - 18 August 2014 -  Advances in measuring the size of exoplanets

Astronomers are not only discovering planets around distant suns, they are also starting to measure those worlds with astonishing precision. The diameter of a super-Earth named 'Kepler 93 b' is now known to within an accuracy of 1%.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 12 August 2014 -  Comet heads for Mars

Comet Siding Spring is about to fly historically close to Mars. The encounter could spark Martian auroras, a meteor shower, and other unpredictable effects. Whatever happens, NASA's fleet of Mars satellites will have a ringside seat.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 6 August 2014 -  Rosetta spacecraft has arrived at Comet

Today, after a decade-long journey chasing its target, the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe became the first spacecraft to rendezvous with a comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.     Full story


Dateline - 6 August 2014 -  Historic Comet rendezvous today

The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft has reached Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and is preparing to go into orbit around the comet's core. This is an historic event. After Rosetta goes into orbit, it will accompany the comet around the Sun, observing its activity from point-blank range. Moreover, in November, Rosetta will drop a lander onto the comet's strange surface.  Click  here  for more information and links to a live webcast of today's rendezvous.


Dateline - 4 August 2014 -  Meteor activity intensifies

Meteor activity is increasing as Earth plunges deeper into the debris stream of Comet Swift-Tuttle, source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Last night alone, NASA cameras recorded more than a dozen Perseid fireballs along with one sporadic bolide (exploding meteor) that might have dropped pieces of itself over the southeastern USA.  Click  here  for video and observing tips.


Dateline - 2 August 2014 -  Amazing new photo of ESA's Rosetta comet

As the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft closes to within 1000 kilometres of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, the Rosetta science team has released a new image and temperature measurements of the comet's core. The temperature data show that 67P is too hot to be covered in ice and must instead have a dark, dusty crust.     Full story



Dateline - 29 July 2014 -  ATV Georges Lemaître heads for the International Space Station

 The European Space Agency's last Automated Transfer Vehicle, ATV Georges Lemaître, was launched to the International Space Station from Europe's Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana on the morning of 30 July (Australian Eastern Standard Time). Named after the priest who first thought of the Big Bang Theory, its job is to provision the ISS.  Click  here  for details of the mission.  


Dateline - 28 July 2014 -  Another milestone for Mars rover Opportunity

NASA's Opportunity Mars rover, which landed on the Red Planet in 2004, now holds the off-Earth driving record of 25+ miles or 40 kilometres, and is not far from completing a full extraterrestrial marathon.     Full story


Dateline - 27 July 2014 -  Fireballs kick off annual Perseid meteor shower

Fireballs detected last weekend by NASA meteor cameras have indicated the start of the annual Perseid meteor shower. The shower's peak isn't due until August 13, but now might be the best time to look. Find out why  here .


Dateline - 24 July 2014 -  Space probe approaches comet

As the European Space Agency's Rosetta probe approaches Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for an August rendezvous, the comet's core is coming into sharper focus. Today ESA released a new set of images and a must-see 3D model.     Full story


Dateline - 24 July 2014 -  Mysterious X-ray signal from deep space

A mysterious X-ray signal from the Perseus cluster of galaxies, which researchers say cannot be explained by known physics, could be a key clue to the nature of Dark Matter.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 17 July 2014 -  ABC program tonight, Catalyst, 8 pm

It's about the meteorite that hit Russia last year and due to the time of day and the Russians' high use of dash cams, scientists were able to track it and study it.


Dateline - 17 July 2014 -  A great clip from Carl Sagan of 'Cosmos' fame

Video     (Contributed by Tim)


Dateline - 16 July 2014 -  Dark matter and dark energy - 'Stalking the Shadow Universe'

It has long been theorised that dark matter provides the scaffolding for stars and galaxies. Now, scientists are using computer simulations to show us the universe we can’t see.  (Contributed by Mark)     Video 


Dateline - 14 July 2014 -  Everything you need to know about dark matter



Dateline - 14 July 2014 -  New Horizons spacecraft only a year away from Pluto

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is only a year away from its rendezvous with Pluto. Researchers are buzzing with anticipation as NASA prepares to encounter a new world for the first time in decades.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 10 July 2014 -  Three 'Supermoons' in a row

The winter of 2014 will be bathed in moonlight as three perigee 'supermoons' occur in consecutive months: July 12, August 10, and September 10.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 2 July 2014 -  Saturn's moon Titan has a very salty ocean

Scientists analysing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have found evidence of an ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, which might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea.       Full story


Dateline - 2 July 2014 -  NASA launches new Carbon Observatory

NASA has successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2). OCO-2 will soon begin a minimum two-year mission to locate Earth's sources and sinks of atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our planet.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 25 June 2014 -  Sprites over the USA

This week, backyard photographers have been observing gigantic red sprites flickering over the USA. These electrical discharges, which occur high above thunderclouds, resemble enormous jellyfish and their glow can often be seen hundreds of miles away. A specimen highlighted on today's edition of Space Weather would dwarf Mount Everest. For more information and observing tips click  here .


Dateline - 24 June 2014 -  Carbon emitters will be watched from space

NASA is about to launch a satellite dedicated to the study of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) will map global CO2 sources and sinks, and help researchers predict the future of climate change.      Full story     Video


Dateline - 18 June 2014 -  Lasers from space

In early June, a laser beam lanced out of the night sky over California, heralding a breakthrough in space communications.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 18 June 2014 -  Live video feed from the International Space Station

Have you ever wished you could enjoy the astronauts' view of Earth from the Space Station? Now, you can. Just click  here , crank it up to its highest resolution, and watch Earth spin by. It's mesmerizing. The Station moves, Earth spins, clouds shift, and Station's orbit drifts westward over time.     (Contributed by Andrew)


Dateline - 18 June 2014 -  Watch a star explode

The death of star V838 Monocretis has been captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.  It was not a nova or supernova, but something completely different. Click here to see it erupt.     (Contributed by Sean)


Dateline - 10 June 2014 -  The Solar Maximum has arrived

NASA and NOAA agree: Solar Max has arrived, but this 'mini Max' is not like any other solar maximum of the Space Age.      Full story     Video


Dateline - 3 June 2014 -  Space probe to land on comet

Later this year, Europe's Rosetta probe will orbit and land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. New images of the comet show that it will be a lively place when Rosetta arrives.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 30 May 2014 -  The race to find absolute zero at the turn of the 20th century

This is a very interesting article on the work by Lord Kelvin and others to find the coldest temperature possible.  (contributed by Sean)     Full article


Dateline - 28 May 2014 -  CSIRO's budget cut by Abbott government - Mopra Radio Telescope closes down

Alarm bells rang in scientific institutions around Australia last year when the Abbott government was elected. Abbott has always had a low opinion of the value of science and scientists, especially regarding climate change, but he revealed his priorties by appointing a Minister for Sport and failing to appoint a Minister for Science - the first such omission since 1931. Now Hockey's razor gang has slashed the CSIRO's budget. One of the first casualties is the Mopra Radio Telescope near the Siding Spring Observatory.    Full story     More


Dateline - 15 May 2014 -  Jupiter's Great Red Spot is shrinking

New observations from the Hubble Space Telescope confirm that Jupiter's Great Red Spot is shrinking. The behemoth storm, larger than the Earth, is now at its smallest size ever measured.     Full story


Dateline - 13 May 2014 -  Global warming is melting Antarctic ice, and nothing can stop it

A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in irreversible decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea.     Full story     Video


Dateline - 9 May 2014 -  Astronomers create the first realistic virtual universe

This is a sophisticated computer program to simulate the evolution of the universe in high fidelity. It includes both normal matter and dark matter.  Click  here  to watch it.    (Contributed by Sean)  


Dateline - 3 May 2014 -  Meteor Watch

Earth is entering a stream of debris from Halley's Comet, source of the annual Eta Aquarid meteor shower. Forecasters expect the shower to peak on the night of May 5-6 with as many as 60 meteors per hour in the southern hemisphere and half that number in the north.  Click  here  for more information and observing tips.


Dateline - 25 April 2014 -  A cold, close neighbour of the Sun

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered a dim, star-like body that surprisingly is as frosty as Earth's North Pole. This 'brown dwarf' is only 7.2 light years away, making it one of the sun's nearest neighbours.    Full story


Dateline - 22 April 2014 -  Current Meteor Shower

Earth is passing through a stream of debris from ancient Comet Thatcher, source of the annual Lyrid meteor shower. According to radar data, the shower is peaking today with meteor rates as high as 15 per hour.   Click  here  for more information.


Dateline - 18 April 2014 -  An idea for detecting exoplanets

It's always a problem that imaging exoplanets around a star is made almost impossible because the bright light of the star overwhelms the feeble point of light that may be a planet. This is an idea for placing a large circular shade in space that will occult the star as seen from a space telescope, so that any faint planets may be detected.    Click  here  for video.    (Contributed by Tim)  


Dateline - 17 April 2014 - Kepler discovers first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star

Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the 'habitable zone' - the range of distance from a star where liquid water might exist on the surface of an orbiting planet. This zone is also called the 'Goldilocks Zone', where the temperature is not too cold and not too hot, but 'just right' for life as we know it. In fact, the new planet could be a twin of the Earth. Whether it has developed life forms, whether any of these forms are intelligent, and whether such intelligence is present at this moment in the billions of years the universe has existed, are matters for speculation.    Full story


Dateline - 16 April 2014 - Unexpected teleconnections in noctilucent clouds

NASA's AIM spacecraft is discovering unexpected 'teleconnections' in Earth's atmosphere that link weather and climate across vast distances.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 14 April 2014 - A new moon for Saturn ?

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon.    Full story


Dateline - 13 April 2014 - Total lunar eclipse on Tuesday evening, April 15

On Tuesday evening, April 15, the full Moon will pass through the shadow of Earth, producing a colourful lunar eclipse. It will be orange rather than red. At the moment, Earth's stratosphere is not dusty enough produce a shadow with the deep red hues of blood. Whatever colour it turns out to be, the eclipse will be visible from North and South America, Australia and New Zealand.

South-east Queensland times:

The Moon will enter the Moon's umbra at 3:59 pm when it is still below the horizon. The total phase of the eclipse will begin at 5:08 pm, when the Moon will be completely immersed in the Earth's shadow. The fully eclipsed Moon will rise above the theoretical horizon at 5:28 pm, looking a dull red in colour. Maximum eclipse will occur at 5:46 pm. The first magnitude star Spica will be clearly seen three degrees above the Moon. Totality will end at 6:23 pm, and the Moon will begin to move out of the umbra. This partial phase of the eclipse will end at 7:32 pm. The penumbral phase of the eclipse will end at 8:36 pm, and the show will be over.  After a lunar eclipse, the Full Moon looks brighter than normal, as the Sun, Moon and Earth are so perfectly aligned.

Click  here  for observing tips and more information.

LIVE WEBCAST OF THE ECLIPSE: Got clouds? No problem. The lunar eclipse will be broadcast live on the web by the Coca-Cola Science Center at Columbus State University in Georgia. Click  here .


Dateline - 3 April 2014 - The underground ocean of Enceladus

NASA's Cassini spacecraft and Deep Space Network have uncovered evidence that Saturn's moon Enceladus harbours a large underground ocean, furthering scientific interest in the moon as a potential home to extraterrestrial microbes.    Full story


Dateline - 1 April 2014 - Arctic sea ice is melting more each year

A new study shows that the length of the melt season for Arctic sea ice is growing by several days each decade. This is allowing the Arctic Ocean to absorb enough additional solar radiation in some places to melt as much as four feet of the Arctic ice cap's thickness.    Full story


Dateline - 28 March 2014 - Mars approaches opposition

Dust off your telescope. Earth and Mars are converging for a beautiful close encounter on April 9, an event astronomers call 'the opposition of Mars'.    Full story     Video


Dateline - 17 March 2014 - First detection of gravitational waves ?

The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has reported that the BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarisation - 2nd generation) 26 cm microwave telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station has made the first detection of swirling ripples in the cosmic microwave background, that might be proof of Alan Guth's theory that the universe 'inflated' at a speed faster than light in the instant after the Big Bang. Click  here  for more.     (Contributed by Tim)


Dateline - 9 March 2014 - The story behind the 'picture of the century'

Click  here  for a video giving the story behind 'Earthrise' - the famous picture of the Earth rising above the Moon's horizon taken by the crew of Apollo 8 in December 1968. It includes actual images and sound from the mission.     (Contributed by Tim)


Dateline -  6 March 2014:   Asteroid disintegrates

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has recorded the never-before-seen break-up of an asteroid into as many as 10 smaller pieces.    Full story


Dateline -  26 February 2014:   New weather satellite to be launched tomorrow

NASA and JAXA are about to launch a new satellite that can see through storms, tracking rain and snow around the globe better than any previous observatory. The Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory is scheduled to lift off from Japan on February 27.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  26 February 2014:   Lots of new worlds found

Today, NASA announced a breakthrough addition to the catalogue of new planets. Researchers using Kepler have confirmed 715 new worlds, almost quadrupling the number of planets previously confirmed by the planet-hunting spacecraft. Some of the new worlds are similar in size to Earth and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  19 February 2014:   Cores of supernovae 'slosh around' before exploding

New data from a NASA X-ray observatory shows that the cores of supernovas probably slosh around before detonating. This helps solve a longstanding mystery about how massive stars explode.    Full story


Dateline -  14 February 2014:   Mars rover solves 'doughnut' riddle

What if a rock that looked like a jelly doughnut suddenly appeared on Mars? That's just what happened in front of Mars rover Opportunity last month. Researchers have since determined that the 'doughnut' is a piece of a larger rock broken and moved by the rover's wheels in early January.    Full story


Dateline -  14 February 2014:   International Space Station is now complete

With the ISS (International Space Station) no longer "under construction," the world's most advanced orbital laboratory is open for business. The station has just received a 10-year extension from NASA, giving researchers the time they need to take full advantage of its unique capabilities.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  7 February 2014:   Severe drought in California

California is experiencing an extreme drought--by some measures the deepest in more than a century. NASA researchers are investigating the underlying causes as satellites, aircraft, and high-altitude balloons collect sobering images of the desiccating landscape.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  4 February 2014:   The Kepler Space Observatory finds a wobbly planet

Imagine living on a planet with seasons so erratic you would hardly know whether to wear Bermuda shorts or a heavy overcoat. That is the situation on a weird, wobbly world found by NASA's Kepler space telescope. The planet wobbles wildly on its spin axis, much like a child's top.     Full story    

The Earth also wobbles, but very slowly. It takes 26 000 years for one complete circular wobble. The main effect of this wobble, called 'libration', is that the celestial poles - the north and south places in the sky towards which the Earth's axis is pointing - are not completely fixed but drift around the sky in a huge circle of about 47 degrees diameter every 26 000 years.  This has meant that when the Egyptians built the Great Pyramid and aligned it on their Pole Star, that star was Thuban. Since then, the North Celestial Pole has moved away from Thuban, and is currently near a different star, Polaris. The ancients knew about this drift, and Hipparchus named it 'precession of the equinoxes' in the second century before Christ. It means that the celestial grid of Right Ascension and Declination drifts slowly against the star patterns, and star charts must be redrawn every 25 years to account for this movement and correct the star positions.


Dateline -  30 January 2014:   The coldest spot in the universe ?

NASA researchers are planning to create the coldest spot in the known Universe - inside the International Space Station. Their atomic refrigerator, known as the 'Cold Atom Lab', could lead to the discovery of new forms of matter and novel quantum phenomena.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  29 January 2014:   Solar "eclipse" on January 30, but it can only be seen from space

Beginning at 11:31 pm tonight, Thursday, January 30 (Queensland time) the Moon will pass in front of the Sun, producing an eclipse that can be seen only from space. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory will record the 2.5 hour lunar transit. Tune in  here  to see pictures during the event.


Dateline -  23 January 2014:   NASA's rover Opportunity celebrates 10 years on Mars with a selfie

Opportunity landed on the Red Planet on January 25, 2004, bouncing off the surface while surrounded by airbags before coming to a halt and taking a look around. Since then it has covered 38.7 kilometres of the rocky Martian surface, and taken more than 170 000 images and relayed them back to Earth using the satellites NASA has in orbit.    Full story and pictures     (Contributed by Sean) 


Dateline -  22 January 2014:   Water found on the dwarf planet Ceres

Scientists using the Herschel space observatory have made the first definitive detection of water vapour on the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt, dwarf planet Ceres.    Full story


Dateline -  21 January 2014:   Global temperatures are rising

NASA scientists say 2013 tied with 2009 and 2006 for the seventh warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. With the exception of 1998, the 10 warmest years in the 134-year record all have occurred since 2000, with 2010 and 2005 ranking as the warmest years on record.    Full story


Dateline -  14 January 2014:   New Horizons spacecraft is approaching Pluto

Eight years after it left Earth, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is approaching Pluto. The encounter begins less than a year from now.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  11 January 2014:   Venus at inferior conjunction

Yesterday, January 11, Venus passed through inferior conjunction. That means it was located almost directly between Earth and the Sun. Around the world amateur astronomers are taking special precautions to avert eye damage as they photograph Venus passing by the sun in broad daylight. Click  here  to see their amazing photos.


Dateline -  10 January 2014:   Starting fire with water

Astronauts on the ISS (International Space Station) are experimenting with a form of water that has a strange property - it can help start a fire. This fundamental physics investigation could have down-to-Earth benefits such as clean-burning municipal waste disposal and improved saltwater purification.    Full story     Video


Dateline -  7 January 2014:   Powerful sunspot erupts

One of the largest sunspots in years, AR1944, has turned toward Earth and is crackling with strong flares. So far on January 7, the active region has produced M7- and X1-class eruptions, and more appear to be in the offing. As this alert is being issued, analysts are waiting for more data from solar observatories to clarify the possibility of CME impacts and geomagnetic storms in the days ahead. For updates, click  here .




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