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How Do Clouds Form?

As someone who loves looking at clouds, and may have a somewhat scientifically directed brain, I’m fascinated by the shapes and structures of clouds. Where I live, at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, provides endless examples of them. I write about them a lot, but I don’t think I’ve ever explained just how clouds form. Show More Summary

Dragon-Eye View of SpaceX Pad Abort Launch

On May 5, 2015, SpaceX tested its launch abort system: A set of powerful rockets on the Dragon space capsule that can pull the Dragon away from the Falcon rocket underneath in case of catastrophe. SpaceX just released video taken from a camera on the Dragon capsule, and it’s pretty dang dramatic. Show More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: The Lord of the Rings

Who out there doesn’t need a little more Saturn in their life? I can deliver. This was a cool one to record. Even though we’d done 17 episodes before, I like to play with the format a little bit. I was a little more relaxed when we shot this, leaning back in the chair more and just having more fun with it. Show More Summary


I’ve been listening to electronica music for a long time (like, a really long time; as in I have Isao Tomita albums), and it’s interesting to me that variations of it are still popular. I can’t keep up with kids these days (STAY OFFShow More Summary

Rainbow Tornado

Last year, I thought myself pretty lucky to catch a lightning bolt zapping across a rainbow while I was taking video of it. But that was nothing compared with what some storm chasers saw near Eads, Colorado, on May 9, 2015: a tornado forming across a rainbow! Wow. This was taken around 4:30 p.m. Show More Summary

Dance of the Noctilucent Clouds

I know I just posted a time-lapse animation of aurorae yesterday, and the time-lapse below also has aurorae in it, but — and this is a big but — it has something I’ve only seen very rarely: Animation showing the movement of eerie and beautiful noctilucent clouds! The noctilucent clouds are in the first 40 seconds of the video. Show More Summary

What If Climate Change Is Real?

Katharine Hayhoe is one of my favorite climate scientists. There are a lot of reasons for this, but it all boils down to her being a science evangelist, and I do mean that literally: She’s an evangelical Christian who specifically talks...Show More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: Jupiter’s Moons

One of the first objects Galileo observed with his new telescope was the planet Jupiter, shining high in the skies over Italy in 1610. When he did, he was astonished to see three little stars in row next to it, all invisible to the naked eye! These three stars stayed near the bigger planet, moving around it. Show More Summary

Small Rockslide Causes Splatter Eruption on Kilauea

Last year, I visited the Big Island of Hawaii and spent a few hours looking over the Halema’uma’u crater on the Kilauea volcano. The crater is several hundred meters across, and on one side is the Overlook Crater, a vent that has lava pooled some dozens of meters below the rim. … usually. Show More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: Jupiter

If you go outside after sunset and look to the southwest right now, you’ll see Venus low in the sky. And above it, not too far away, is another bright object: Jupiter, the mightiest planet in the solar system. It’s very pretty, but if you look with binoculars you’ll see it has moons. Show More Summary

Video of SpaceX Pad Abort Test Flight

It was an almost blink-and-you’ll-miss-it event: SpaceX tested its “pad abort” system for the Dragon capsule this morning, with the launch occurring right on time at 09:00 EDT. Within minutes, SpaceX had video (note: check your volume...Show More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: Mars

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen every single science fiction movie made about Mars. Angry Red Planet, John Carter, Mars Attacks!, and the best of them all, War of the Worlds (the George Pal 1953 version, duh). But sometimes, truth is cooler than fiction. Show More Summary

Farewell, Good MESSENGER

Today, sometime around 19:30 UTC (3:30 p.m. Eastern US Time), the MESSENGER spacecraft will slam into the planet Mercury at nearly kilometers per second. That will bring to an end an astonishingly successful mission, one that was ridiculously difficult to pull off. Getting a probe to Mercury is hard. Show More Summary

A Million H-Bombs Per Second Heat the Sun's Corona

The Sun’s atmosphere—its corona—is far, far hotter than its surface, and this has been a long-standing mystery, baffling astronomers for decades. This week, astronomers announced they have found the smoking gun. Almost literally. Here’s the scoop. Show More Summary

Making Sense of Nonsense: a MOOC about Climate Change Denial

The Earth is warming up. The climate is changing. Human activity is responsible. 97% of actual climatologists agree on this. But the media still give “equal time” to climate change deniers, who flood the public with misinformation. Just...Show More Summary

Rising Rainbow

Aysun Ülger is, like me, someone who loves atmospheric optical phenomena. Halos, glories, aurorae, iridescent clouds … so much so she created a Facebook page where she collects such photos. She just started it, but there are already a few lovely examples there. And this includes, of course, rainbows. Show More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: Venus

There but for the grace of physics goes us: Venus, second rock from the Sun, could be said to be Earth’s twin… but it’s the evil one. Find out why on this week’s episode of Crash Course Astronomy! I love the fact that you can learn all...Show More Summary

Aurorae Out an Airplane Window

It’s fun to look out an airplane window at night and try to identify stars above and cities below. But I’ve never had as good a view as this: That time-lapse video is by Paul Williams, a systems designer based in London. He flies toShow More Summary

Crash Course Astronomy: Mercury

Quick: What’s the hottest planet in the solar system? You might think Mercury, because it’s the closest to the Sun. But in fact, it’s not! Venus is hotter due to its runaway greenhouse effect. But that’s not to say Mercury isn’t loaded with astronomical goodness. Show More Summary

SpaceX Launch Today: Space Station Supplies and Another Booster Landing Attempt

SpaceX is scheduled to launch a Falcon 9 rocket today at 20:33 UTC (4:33 p.m. Eastern) from Florida. The primary goal: Send a Dragon capsule loaded with two tons of supplies to the International Space Station. The secondary one: Land the first stage booster on a barge floating in the Atlantic Ocean. First things first. Show More Summary

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