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Comet Collisions Spotted Around Distant Star

Violent comet crashes are occurring around a star easily visible to sky-watchers, astronomers report. The star is one already known to harbor a burgeoning solar system. Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Telescope in northern Chile announced this week that they have found a giant clump of carbon monoxide gas in the dusty disk…

5 Sky Events This Week: Zombie Comet, Celestial Canine, and Moon Flirts with Venus

Sky-watchers get a last chance to glimpse the ghost of Comet ISON, watch the moon glide past the goddess of love, and glimpse a mythical hunter’s trusty companion. Zombie Comet ISON:  In early December, comet watchers will want to get up before dawn to scan the eastern horizon for any signs of Comet ISON. After…

7 Sky Events This Week: Double Comet Flybys and Lunar Encounters

Be dazzled by a superbright comet and watch three worlds align in this week’s sky events not to miss.

Skywatchers Enjoy Comet Bonanza

Backyard astronomers in the Northern Hemisphere get an eyeful this week, when four comets will be visible with binoculars or small telescopes in the early morning sky. First up, the most famous of the bunch is Comet ISON, which is currently speeding towards its close encounter with the sun on November 28. While it has…

5 Sky Events This Week: Morning Comets and Solar Eclipse

The Earth’s moon plays hide and seek with distant stars and our sun this week, and the nighttime sights include a double comet show in the pre-dawn skies. Lunar Trio. In the early morning hours of Tuesday, October 29 the moon will form a stunning triangular pattern with ruddy Mars and blue-white star Regulus in…

5 Sky Events This Week: Saturn Poses With Moon, Comet Coming, Giant Lunar Wall

As we head towards mid-month naked-eye sky-watchers get to witness the moon pose with the lord of the rings and the goddess of love, while now famous comet ISON and a giant asteroid fill telescope and binocular views. Moon Near Saturn.  On Monday, September 9, the ringed planet Saturn will be an easy naked-eye target…

Did Comets Kick-Start Life On Earth?

A thought-provoking new study is bolstering the notion that comets raining down on Earth billions of years ago may have seeded our young planet with the organic building blocks of life. Through powerful computer simulations of comet impacts of various sizes, astronomers have found that it is possible that complex organic molecules  may have hitched…

“Somewhat Beauty and Poetry”: Remembering Maria Mitchell

This week marks the 122nd anniversary of Maria Mitchell’s death. This talented and unconventional astronomer not only discovered a never-before-seen comet, she helped blaze a trail for women who wanted a life in science.

It’s Raining Planets in Pasadena

Your Breaking Orbit blogger is back from vacation, and I’ll be bringing you highlights direct from the 42nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences in Pasadena, California. It’s a cold, drizzly day outside the convention center, but inside it’s raining hot new finds about planets, dwarf planets, exoplanets, minor planets, and…

Comets “Melted” Jupiter’s Biggest Moon

If Earth’s moon is made of green cheese, Jupiter‘s biggest moon is made of refrozen ice cream. False-color view of Ganymede — mmmmm, planetary Drumstick! —Image courtesy NASA/JPL/DLR According to a new study in Nature Geoscience, the Jovian moon Ganymede used to be similar in structure to its neighbor Callisto. But then, about 3.8 billion…

Why’s It so Dusty Down Here?

Not every meteor that slams into Earth is a dino-killing whopper. Microscopic meteorites also find their way down to the planet’s surface on a regular basis, but there’s been some debate about where exactly they come from. In the September 1, 2008, issue of Geology, Mathew Genge of Imperial College London reports that a massive…