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No, Saturn Won’t Be Huge in the Sky on May 1

Another day, another weird Facebook astronomy hoax. The photo with the caption above have been spread around Facebook quite a bit the past few days; it shows Saturn looming huge in the sky over a city, with the annotation, “On 5/1/16 Saturn will be the closest it ever has been to Earth. Show More Summary

Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane … Actually, It’s a Bird and a Rocket.

If you look up into the sky long enough, you’ll see the weirdest things. Astrophotographer Grahame Kelaher was in Western Australia late at night on Feb. 6, and he saw the odd, fan-shaped blue glow in the photo above moving across the sky. Show More Summary

The Future Is Here: A Festival Celebrating Science and Science Fiction

Are you a) a science enthusiast, 2) a science-fiction fan, and ?) live near Washington, D.C.? Then you’re going to love this weekend: Smithsonian magazine is holding a festival called “The Future Is Here,” from Friday to Sunday, April 22–24. Show More Summary

How Do You Get Better Science in TV And Movies? You Have to SEE.

Oh, do I love science fiction on TV and in the movies. I’m grooving on The Expanse, 12 Monkeys, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and more. The science in a lot of these productions may not be perfect, but it’s pretty dang good. Certainly way better than it was even a few years ago. A big reason for that is SEE: the Science and Entertainment Exchange. Show More Summary

Time-Lapse: Field of View

Y’know, every now and again you just need to sit back, breathe deeply, and watch a stunning and lush time-lapse video of thunderstorms and stars circling in the sky. Happily, Randy Halverson has made one for you. Called “Field of View”, the 3+ minute trailer is available in resolution up to 4k, so make it big and enjoy: Oh, my. Show More Summary

SpaceX Sticks the Landing!

Eight minutes and 35 seconds after a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched into space, the first stage booster came back to Earth and successfully landed vertically on a barge floating in the Atlantic Ocean. This was seriously one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life. Show More Summary

A Hundred Billion Galaxies

Perhaps you’ve heard that there are a hundred billion galaxies in the Universe. That’s a soul crushing number, so vast and unreachable that it’s literally hard to believe. Let me make a believer out of you. That photo above is from the venerable Hubble Space Telescope. Show More Summary

Time Lapse: “Radiance”

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time at all, I really shouldn’t need to do any urging to get you to watch a gorgeous time-lapse video of aurorae. So, here: Breathtaking. There is something particularly striking about the luminescent purple and green aurorae together that demands my attention. Show More Summary

Students: Want to Experience Weightlessness?

Are you, or do you know someone who is: Between 18 and 24 years old (on or before June 10, 2016)? In good physical health? A legal resident within the 50 United States? Enrolled at a learning institution? And most importantly, lovesShow More Summary

Blue Origin: Third Time’s a Charm (But So Were the First and Second)

Over the weekend, on April 2, 2016, the private rocket company Blue Origin did it again, again: For the third time they launched the New Shepard rocket on a suborbital flight, reaching a height of over 100 km (the generally acceptedShow More Summary

Introducing Crash Course Physics!

Look, I know there’s a huge galaxy-shaped hole in your heart ever since Crash Course Astronomy aired its final episode in January. But despair not! For now, a new science show is starting: Crash Course Physics! And Episode 1 is all ready to be downloaded into your brain. There! Now you know how to beat a speeding ticket. Show More Summary

Telsa, Elon Musk, and Climate Change

Last Thursday, Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla Model 3 electric car. I’ve been waiting for this announcement for some time; I love the idea of an all-electric vehicle, but I’m not quite ready to shell out 100 grand for the Roadster or $70K for the Model S (as much as I would love to have either). Show More Summary

We Are Dead Stars

My friend Michelle Thaller is an amazing person. I met her when she was doing public outreach for NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope mission many years ago, and she has since risen in the ranks at NASA to become the deputy director of science communication there. Show More Summary

Jupiter Got Whacked By Yet Another Asteroid/Comet!

On Mar. 17, 2016, an amateur astronomer in Mödling, Austria was taking video of Jupiter using a 20 cm telescope. This is a common technique to capture thousands of frames of an object, so that the best parts of each frame can be teased...Show More Summary

Psychedelic Stroboscopic Easter Eggs

Via Laughing Squid and Evil Mad Scientist, I saw this fantastic video made by Jiri Zemanek from Czech Technical University; it shows patterns dancing on Easter Eggs seemingly by magic. Watch: How is this possible? I’ve described this effect before. Show More Summary

Amazing Time-Lapse: A Year of Sunrises

Oh, I love the Internet sometimes. Last week was the vernal equinox. When I wrote about it, I talked a bit about what it means for the position of the Sun when it sets on the horizon during the year. On the equinoctes (yes, that’s the actual plural of equinox) it sets due west. Show More Summary

If Global Warming Is Real… Why Is Iceland So Cold?

Over the past few years I’ve heard a lot of nonsensical claims from climate science deniers: the Earth isn’t actually warming, carbon dioxide isn’t a significant greenhouse gas, CO 2 is good for plants, and more. Most of them are trivially...Show More Summary

Time-Lapse Video: Skylight

If you have four minutes and need something to make you sigh deeply due to its beauty and depiction of magnificent nature, then may I recommend the time-lapse video “Skylight,” by photographer Chris Pritchard? So pretty! I liked theShow More Summary

Happy Vernal Equinox 2016! But What Does That Mean?

Saturday is the vernal equinox! Well, Saturday night is, depending on where on Earth you are. The moment happens at 04:30 UTC on March 20 this year, which is, for example, March 19 at 10:30 p.m. Mountain (U.S.) time, where I live. But...Show More Summary

Global Warming: Satellites vs. Thermometers

When I write about climate change, the posts tend to be long, because I want to make sure there is enough background information in them so people can read more, including links to other articles about it. Sometimes, though, it pays to keep things on-topic, short, and sweet. Show More Summary

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