Astroquizzical 6 Aug 2018, 19:45 UTC Our list of known planets and exoplanets unfortunately doesn’t extend much beyond our own Milky Way galaxy - to spot a planet, you need to be able to measure the light from an individual star and monitor it over time. You’re looking either for tiny flickers in the amount of light you receive, as a star happens to pass in front of the star you’re watching, or you’re looking for there to be a little Doppler shift in the color of the star’s light, as the planets tug it slightly off center as they orbit. Known by the names of the transit method and the Doppler shift method respectively, both of these require really careful observations over a significant amount of time, without the light from the star mixing with the light from other stars. This limits us pretty well to the stars within or surrounding our Milky Way.
Centauri Dreams 6 Aug 2018, 17:15 UTC Anyone who remembers how hard it was to find a suitable Kuiper Belt Object to serve as New Horizons’ next target will understand how challenging it would be to observe MU69 from the ground. The distant object, perhaps a binary, must be made to yield as many of its secrets as possible as our spacecraft continues the journey that will culminate in a New Year’s Day 2019 flyby. The effort proceeds by the observation of stellar occultations by hardworking mobile teams.
Starts With a Bang! 6 Aug 2018, 14:01 UTC Mars will never look as big as the full Moon. But it isn’t even the biggest planet.
Geekwire 6 Aug 2018, 05:03 UTC No one has ever built a satellite in space, but thanks in part to a team of students from Idaho, that could soon change. Other teams are building miniaturized satellites to look for missing sources of mass around our Milky Way galaxy, or find out how much deadly ultraviolet radiation hits alien planets, or zoom past Mars and track a bigger spacecraft as it descends to the Red Planet’s surface.
Planetaria 6 Aug 2018, 00:20 UTC When it comes to the question of what places in the Solar System would be the best to search for alien life, Europa immediately comes to mind. This small moon of Jupiter seems to have everything necessary – a global subsurface ocean and likely sources of heat and chemical nutrients on the ocean floor. But looking for evidence isn’t easy; the ocean lies beneath a fairly thick crust of ice, making it difficult to access. That would require drilling through many metres or even several kilometres of ice, depending on the location.
The New York Times 5 Aug 2018, 21:23 UTC DAKAR, Senegal — When Salma Sylla was a little girl, she tried to find relief from Senegal’s steamy hot season by retreating to the roof of her home to sleep. Restless and overheated, she would lie awake staring at the stars. The area where she lived outside Dakar, the capital, had no electricity, and the heavens sparkled. She tried to count the stars, realizing more shone on some nights than on others.
Scientific American 5 Aug 2018, 16:00 UTC The Kepler space telescope isn't dead yet. Kepler, which has discovered about 70 percent of the 3,800 known exoplanets to date, woke up from a four-week hibernation yesterday (Aug. 2) and has begun beaming data home, just as planned, NASA officials announced today (Aug. 3).
Astro Bob 5 Aug 2018, 01:56 UTC In the past few days several people have mentioned they’ve been seeing more meteors than usual. Late July through mid-August is always one of the best times of years to spot a meteor without even trying. Several different showers overlap from mid-July through mid-August, the reason for the uptick. Three meteor showers are currently active: the Delta Aquarids (July 21 – Aug. 23), Alpha Capricornids (July 11 – Aug. 10) and the Perseids (July 13 – Aug. 26).
Scientific American 4 Aug 2018, 16:00 UTC HOUSTON—Call them the Commercial Crew Nine. NASA has unveiled the first astronauts to fly on private spaceships built by SpaceX and Boeing, and, just like the original Mercury Seven, NASA's first astronauts announced in 1959, these 21st century space travelers have "the right stuff."