Astronomy | KERA News

Astronomy

Victoria Girgis was leading a public outreach session at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., when one of her guests noticed a string of lights moving high overhead.

"Occasionally, you'll see satellites, and they look kind of like shooting stars moving through the sky," Girgis says. "But this was a whole line of them all moving together."

Updated at 5:30 p.m. ET

A secretive group of scientists who advise the U.S. government on everything from spy satellites to nuclear weapons is scrambling to find a sponsor after the Defense Department abruptly ended its contract late last month.

The group, known as the Jasons, will run out of money at the end of April. The Pentagon says that the group's advice is no longer needed, but independent experts say it has never been more relevant and worry the department is throwing away a valuable resource.

From Texas Standard:

Humans create a lot of trash. It's everywhere, from the oceans to the sides of Texas highways to our own backyards. But planet Earth isn't the only place that we've deposited our junk. There's also lots of junk in space, including decommissioned satellites and pieces of rockets. And it's all stuck orbiting around the Earth without much rhyme or reason. That means space junk can collide with and damage working satellites. A UT engineer wants to do something about it.

Opportunity lost.

NASA has officially declared an end to the mission of the six-wheeled rover on Mars. Opportunity lost power in a dust storm last June, and all efforts to make contact have failed.

"Our beloved Opportunity remained silent," Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, said Wednesday at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "With a sense of deep appreciation and gratitude," he added, "I declare the Opportunity mission as complete."

From Texas Standard:

Not all darkness is created equal. In a place like Big Bend, the night sky reaches depths not present closer to a big city. That's also true of Devils River State Natural Area, located about 60 miles north of Del Rio. It’s the newest dark sky sanctuary – so designated by the International Dark-Sky Association.

From Texas Standard:

Between SpaceX moving its rocket manufacturing to Texas from California, and the so-called super blood wolf moon, you may have missed this bit of space news: Texas-based astronomer Robert Kennicutt will be leading the Astro2020 Decadal Survey. Every decade, the study mandated by Congress helps set set priorities for what scientists will study in the coming years in the realm of astronomy and astrophysics.

PHOTOS: Super 'Blood Moon' Wows

Jan 21, 2019

The huge, red moon awed viewers across the Americas and parts of western Europe and Africa on Sunday night and early Monday morning.

It was the only total lunar eclipse of the year, a "blood moon" in which sunlight leaking around the edges of the Earth makes the moon appear red. And it was also a supermoon, when a full moon appears larger than usual because it has neared the closest point to Earth in its orbit.

On Monday, the moon will completely eclipse the sun, and people all over the U.S. will watch.

For those who have been boning up on eclipse trivia for weeks, congratulations. For everyone else, here are the things you need to know about the phenomenon.

Where can I see the eclipse?

A partial solar eclipse will be visible everywhere in the contiguous United States, but to see the total solar eclipse, you'll need to be in a sash of land that cuts from Oregon to South Carolina.

You might think that, after thousands of years of observing total solar eclipses, science-minded folks would have exhausted what can be learned from this awesome natural spectacle.

You would be wrong.

A small, faint star relatively close by is home to seven Earth-size planets with conditions that could be right for liquid water and maybe even life.

The discovery sets a record for both the most Earth-size planets and the most potentially habitable planets ever discovered around a single star.

Shutterstock

Even if you don’t need to stay up late Monday night to finish taxes, you might want to. Starting after midnight there will be what’s called a “blood moon.” It’s a full lunar eclipse, and it’s the first of a rare series of eclipses over the next two years.

The folks at UT Austin today announced their discovery of a black hole that is so large, it could potentially challenge our understanding of the universe.