NASA is celebrating its 50th birthday, and what a ride it has been! The space agency has sent humans to the moon and probes to the edge of the solar system, meeting with triumph as well as tragedy. Learn about 10 firsts from the space agency’s first 50 years.
The Hubble Space Telescope has reshaped our understanding of the cosmos and dazzled the public with images of deep space. Hubble isn’t the only scientific eye in the sky. Since its launch in 1990, Hubble has been joined by a fleet of orbital observatories. Learn about six other great telescopes — and one more that is still to come.
Today, cutting-edge astronomers use space-based observatories to gain a sharp view of the stars and advance our understanding of the cosmos. But appreciation for celestial bodies dates back to ancient times. Many cultures built structures in ways that suggest they were in tune with Earth’s annual trek around the sun. Other structures appear to take constellations and planets into account. Learn about 10 of these ancient observatories.
Spend a night stargazing, and chances are that at least one “star” will appear to suddenly shoot across the sky. Shooting stars occur when tiny flecks of dust and debris – shed by comets during their trips through the inner solar system – burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, causing a streak of light. Learn about the Perseids as well as six other major showers, plus a handful of minor showers.
For most people, the chance to view a total eclipse is a rare, once-in-a-lifetime event: Any given patch of Earth will host one only about once every 375 years on average. Learn about eight memorable eclipses of the past.
Astronomers unveiled today what they are calling the best map ever produced of the Milky Way galaxy. The new view shows our spiral galaxy as it would look face-on to a very distant observer.
When E.T. phoned home, where did he call? If it was a local connection, Mars was the likeliest place. Learn about Mars and seven more relatively nearby targets where scientists believe they could find E.T.