The Harvest Moon rose into the evening sky on Monday (Sept. 24), providing some spectacular scenes for skywatchers and photographers around the globe. A full moon that gets its moniker from its proximity to the autumnal equinox, the Harvest Moon typically arrives in September — though it occasionally falls in October instead. Traditionally, the night of the Harvest Moon was considered an ideal time for farmers to work late into the night, harvesting corn and other crops under the moonlight. [Full Moon Names 2018: From Wolf Moons to Cold Moons] The Harvest Moon became officially full on Monday (Sept. 24) at 10:52 p.m. EDT (0252 GMT on Sept. 25). As with any other full moon, the Harvest Moon appeared as good as full to the casual observer on the night before it reached its fullest phase, and it will continue to look pretty full the night after. So, if you missed the Harvest Moon last night, it's not too late to see it this evening! Near San Francisco, California, … [Read more...] about See the Harvest Moon of 2018 in These Gorgeous Photos!
The dust has cleared enough for NASA's Mars rover Opportunity to be spotted from space. On Thursday (Sept. 20), the agency's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) snapped a photo of the silent, stationary Opportunity in Perseverance Valley, on the rim of the Red Planet's 14-mile-wide (22 kilometers) Endeavour Crater. "This image was produced from about 166 miles (267 km) above the Martian surface," NASA officials wrote in a description of the image, which was released today (Sept. 25). "The white box marks a 154-foot-wide (47-meter-wide) area centered on the rover." [Mars Dust Storm 2018: What It Means for Opportunity Rover] Though Opportunity was just seen, it still hasn't been heard from — not since June 10, anyway. After that date, a dust storm darkened the skies above the solar-powered rover so dramatically that it couldn't harvest enough sunlight to recharge its batteries. The storm grew into a planet-encircling monster shortly thereafter. But it began … [Read more...] about Silent Opportunity Mars Rover Spotted from Space (Photo)
Images from the 1930s captured the immensity of the American Dust Bowl, and modern snapshots reveal massive "haboob" dust storms intensely rolling over the Sahara Desert. Now, astronomers have taken pictures of something stunningly similar on an altogether alien location: They observed dust storms on Saturn's moon Titan. The discovery of dust storms blowing across Titan's equatorial region makes the moon the third body in the solar system, after Earth and Mars, known to have the tempests. Data from the Cassini mission helped researchers discover Titan's dust storms, according to NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA). Cassini's mission to Saturn and the planet's many moons lasted from 2004 until 2017, when the probe plunged into the ringed planet's clouds to disintegrate. The death dive helped avoid contaminating the Saturn system with Earth microbes. [Amazing Pictures of Titan, Saturn's Largest Moon] "Titan is a very active moon," said Sebastien Rodriguez in a … [Read more...] about Dust Storms Rage on Saturn Moon Titan, Just Like on Mars and Earth
Here's a nice twist on the Mars-explorer selfie. We're used to seeing the photos that robots such as NASA's Opportunity and Curiosity rovers snap of themselves on the Red Planet's surface. But the agency just released a shot that the MAVEN spacecraft took of itself in Mars orbit. The new image is a composite of 21 photos taken in ultraviolet light by MAVEN's Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph (IUVS) instrument, which sits on the end of a 3.9-foot-long (1.2 meters) boom. The IUVS usually monitors emissions from Mars' upper atmosphere, but the MAVEN team turned the instrument around to get the selfie. [The Top 10 Space Robot Selfies Ever] NASA officials released the image on Sept. 21 — the fourth anniversary of the spacecraft's arrival in Mars orbit to study the Red Planet's upper atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind, the stream of charged particles flowing continuously from the sun. MAVEN — whose name is short for "Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution" … [Read more...] about NASA Mars Orbiter Snaps Selfie to Mark 4 Years at Red Planet
A glob of material the size of Earth is getting sucked into a black hole at nearly one-third the speed of light, a new study reports. The speed of light in a vacuum is 186,282 miles (299,792 kilometers) per second, and, according to Einstein's theory of special relativity, that's the top speed for anything traveling in our universe. So, something zipping at a third the speed of light is moving nearly 56,000 miles (90,000 km) per second — fast enough to circle Earth twice in that brief time. The newly observed infall event occurred in the galaxy PG211+143, which is more than 1 billion light-years away from Earth. Astronomers spotted it using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton space telescope, which observes the universe in X-ray light. [Images: Black Holes of the Universe] "We were able to follow an Earth-sized clump of matter for about a day, as it was pulled towards the black hole, accelerating to a third of the velocity of light before being swallowed up by the hole," … [Read more...] about The Stuff Falling into This Black Hole Is Moving at Almost 56,000 Miles a Second!