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Top 10 Headlines Today: Science of Fireworks, High-Speed Hummingbirds…

The top stories on National Geographic’s radar today: Engineers explain the science behind a popular Fourth of July tradition, a high-speed camera captures the movement of hummingbird wings, and…

Pluto’s Newly Discovered Moons Get Official Names

Back in February we told you about an online naming contest for Pluto’s two newly discovered, smallest moons (P4 and P5). Now, nearly half million votes later, the moons have their official names. Formally approved by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the governing body that officially names celestial objects,  P4,  which is 15 miles (20…

5 Sky Events This Week: Venus Buzzes Beehive, Morning Return of Mars

Early evening and mornings this first week of July offer up some celestial close encounters that may test your stargazing skills–but they promise great rewards. Pluto best for 2013. After nightfall on Monday, July 1 Pluto will be at “opposition,” meaning that it’s opposite to the Sun in the sky. And that means the dwarf…

Trekkies put their stamp on Pluto moon naming contest

After nearly a half million votes cast by the public, Pluto’s two tiniest moons may have new names—one of which could be named after the home world of famous fictional pointy-eared humanoid Mr. Spock. Astronomer Michael Showalter and his team who discovered these tiny worldlets asked the online community for help in naming the moons, now…

Your Chance to Name Pluto’s New Moons

Even though Pluto may have been officially kicked out of the major planet club, the number of moons orbiting the dwarf planet has increased by two in just the last couple of years.  And now astronomers need your help in naming these newly discovered moons. The naming contest for two of the tiniest satellites, measuring…

Help Astronomers Name Pluto’s Moons

P4 and P5? Surely you can come up with better names for Pluto’s newly-discovered moons. Astronomers at the SETI Institute are asking for your help.

Help Put Pluto On Postage!

As New Horizons speeds toward its date with Pluto the mission team petitions to celebrate the spacecraft with a USPS Forever Stamp… and YOU can help!

Pluto: a Dwarf Planet With Rings?

  NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is currently speeding through the outer solar system toward its July 2015 date with Pluto, when it will take a good close look at the dwarf planet’s mysterious surface, atmosphere, moons, and… rings? Less than three-quarters the size of our moon, Pluto nevertheless has no shortage of fascinating features. It…

A New Milestone for New Horizons

    Artist’s rendering of New Horizons. Southwest Research Institute (Dan Durda)/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (Ken Moscati)   Last Friday, December 2, 2011, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft became the closest spacecraft ever to Pluto, a record previously held by Voyager 1 which came within 983 million miles of Pluto on January 29, 1986. This…

Top Ten Space Blog Posts of 2010

Forget naughty or nice–with December now in full force, news outlets across the country are busy compiling their lists of what were the most popular/spectacular/important stories of 2010. We here at NG are no exception, and we’ve even compiled everything into a handy-dandy “best of” hub page for easy perusing. Since you know you love…

Pluto Gets 14 New Neighbors

Beyond Neptune‘s orbit, roughly five billion miles from the sun, the solar system can seem like a dark, desolate place. But like the murky depths of the ocean, the darkness hides millions of mysterious bodies—or at least, so we think. Known collectively as trans-Neptunian objects, or TNOs, the first of this population to be discovered…

Why Classical Music Snubbed Pluto, Too

It’s been four years since the International Astronomical Union (IAU) ruled that Pluto is no longer a planet, and the subject remains almost as divisive as the political rumble over climate change. But it turns out that Pluto was creating kerfuffles almost from the moment it was discovered—even among world-reknowned composers. If [like me] you’re…

Will “Curiosity” Kill the Mars Science Program?

—Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech Today NASA announced that its next flagship Mars rover has been granted a name: Curiosity. Sixth-grader Clara Ma of Lenexa, Kansas, penned an essay about the concept of curiosity that won her the right to name the new probe, an SUV-size rover that will be the largest, most technically capable craft yet…

Pluto Rocks

Being sick is a real drag, especially when it leaves you too physically and mentally weak to do much more than lie on the couch and wonder whether it’s possible to create a playlist of good songs with planets for titles. Sometime during my fevered haze I started playing around on the ol’ laptop searching…

D’oh! So Close!

—Image courtesy NASA/Bill Ingalls Actually, I’m not talking about the space shuttle Discovery, which has been yet again postponed from its planned liftoff, this time to Sunday night. I’m talking about the lush full moon that was shining down on Discovery as it sat on the Florida launch pad on Wednesday, March 11. The moon…