Space

Zhurong: New Rover on Mars

There’s a new rover on Mars. In mid-May, China‘s Tianwen-1 mission delivered the Zhurong rover onto the red planet. As Mars means Planet of Fire in Chinese, the Zhurong rover’s name means, roughly, God of Fire in Chinese mythology. Zhurong landed in northern Utopia Planitia, the largest known impact basin in the Solar System, and…

Ganymede from Juno

What does the largest moon in the Solar System look like? Jupiter‘s moon Ganymede, larger than even Mercury and Pluto, has an icy surface speckled with bright young craters overlying a mixture of older, darker, more cratered terrain laced with grooves and ridges. The cause of the grooved terrain remains a topic of research, with…

Eclipse on the Water

Eclipses tend to come in pairs. Twice a year, during an eclipse season that lasts about 34 days, Sun, Moon, and Earth can nearly align. Then the full and new phases of the Moon separated by just over 14 days create a lunar and a solar eclipse. Often partial eclipses are part of any eclipse…

Eclipse Flyby

On June 10 a New Moon passed in front of the Sun. In silhouette only two days after reaching apogee, the most distant point in its elliptical orbit, the Moon’s small apparent size helped create an annular solar eclipse. The brief but spectacular annular phase of the eclipse shows a bright solar disk as a…

Circular Sun Halo

Want to see a ring around the Sun? It’s easy to do in daytime skies around the world. Created by randomly oriented ice crystals in thin high cirrus clouds, circular 22 degree halos are visible much more often than rainbows. This one was captured by smart phone photography on May 29 near Rome, Italy. Carefully…

A Total Lunar Eclipse Corona

This moon appears multiply strange. This moon was a full moon, specifically�� called a Flower Moon at this time of the year. But that didn’t make it strange — full moons occur once a month (moon-th). This moon was a supermoon, meaning that it reached its full phase near its closest approach�� to the Earth in its…

A Face in the Clouds of Jupiter from Juno

What do you see in the clouds of Jupiter? On the largest scale, circling the planet, Jupiter has alternating light zones and reddish-brown belts. Rising zone gas, mostly hydrogen and helium, usually swirls around regions of high pressure. Conversely, falling belt gas usually whirls around regions of low pressure, like cyclones and hurricanes on Earth….

A Bright Nova in Cassiopeia

What��������s that new spot of light in Cassiopeia? A nova. Although novas occur frequently throughout the universe, this nova, known as Nova Cas 2021 or V1405 Cas, became so unusually bright in the skies of Earth last month that it was visible to the unaided eye. Nova Cas 2021 first brightened in mid-March but then,…

A Distorted Sunrise Eclipse

Yes, but have you ever seen a sunrise like this? Here, after initial cloudiness, the Sun appeared to rise in two pieces and during partial eclipse, causing the photographer to describe it as the most stunning sunrise of his life. The dark circle near the top of the atmospherically-reddened Sun is the Moon — but…

The Shining Clouds of Mars

The weathered and layered face of Mount Mercou looms in the foreground of this mosaic from the Curiosity Mars rover’s Mast Camera. Made up of 21 individual images the scene was recorded just after sunset on March 19, the 3,063rd martian day of Curiosity’s on going exploration of the Red Planet. In the martian twilight…