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Re-Entering Chinese Rocket Booster Lights Up Western United States Skies

On Wednesday night, at around 9:30 p.m. Pacific time, a huge fireball lit up the sky from California to Utah. Moving eerily slowly, bits of it were seen to fall off like sparks as it made its way across the sky. Twitter lit up like the fireball itself at the time, and I was flooded with replies and queries. Show More Summary

Time-Lapse: The Skies Over Dry Tortugas

How have I never heard of Dry Tortugas National Park until now? It’s a little over 100 km west of Key West, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s pretty remote, accessible only by boat or seaplane, and has an interesting history. It’s...Show More Summary

EPIC Earth: A Year of Days from Space

NASA has released a pretty amazing video: It consists of over 3000 images of Earth taken by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) on the DSCOVR spacecraft. DSCOVR is in a special orbit, 1.5 million kilometers closer to the Sun than Earth, that keeps it more or less between the Earth and Sun. Show More Summary

These Are the Anti-Heroes We Don't Deserve

So you’re anti-reality and anti-human-driven climate change, but you can’t find any way to get your kids to listen to you about it? I have just what you need: Anti-heroes for the age of anti-science. Presenting Climate Inaction Figures!...Show More Summary

March … I Mean April… I Mean May… I Mean June 2016 Is the 6th … I Mean 7th… I Mean 8th … I Mean 9th Temperature Record-Breaking Month in a Row

N.B. If this article sounds familiar, it should. This has been happening so frequently I just copied the post for March April May and updated it. October. November. December. January. February. March. April. May And now June. For the...Show More Summary

Time-Lapse: Vorticity

Mike Olbinksi is a wedding photographer based out of Arizona. He’s also a storm chaser, and creates jaw-dropping time-lapse animations of weather systems that have to be seen to be believed (like “Monsoon II”, and one of a Texas supercell...Show More Summary

I’m a Loner, Dottie. A Dwarf Galaxy.

Poor UGC 4879. Doomed to wander the Universe forever, alone. Or is it? Dun dun dunnnn. UGC 4879 is a dwarf galaxy, a small collection of stars, gas, and dust located about 4.5 million light years away from us. The Milky Way, our galaxy, is part of a small clutch of galaxies called the Local Group, which is a few million light years across. Show More Summary

Follow-Up: Jupiter’s Moons Dance As Juno Approached

Last night, for the first time in nearly two decades, humanity added a new moon to Jupiter: The spacecraft Juno successfully entered orbit around the giant planet, beginning a nearly two-year-long mission to study Jupiter’s interior and determine its origin story. You can read all about that in my post from last night. Show More Summary

Jupiter Looms Ahead for Juno

On July 5, 2016, at 03:18 UTC (July 4 at 11:18 p.m. Eastern US time), the Juno spacecraft will ignite its main engine. It will burn for 35 minutes, and when it’s done the spacecraft will be doing something a NASA mission hasn’t doneShow More Summary

Small Meteorite Punches Through Roof of House in Thailand

In the early morning of Tuesday, June 28, 2016, a small rock that is very likely a meteorite fell onto a house in Phitsanulok's Muang district, punching a hole in the roof and doing some minor damage inside. Apparently many people in...Show More Summary

A Sunday Morning Brain Teaser For You

Hey, I know just you want on a Sunday morning! A physics problem! If it helps, think of it as a brain teaser. Like many such, it’s deceptively simple, but when you start to think about it a lot of concepts collide and it’s not as obvious as you might suppose at first glance. Here’s my friend Dianna Cowern, aka Physics Girl, with the brain-stumper. Show More Summary

On the Ball of the Midnight Sun

Imagine you are on a large sphere. Got it? Now imagine that sphere is spinning. As it does, two poles are defined: You can call them what you like, but “top” and “bottom” work. Halfway around the sphere from the top one toward the bottom is the sphere’s midsection. Show More Summary

A Strip of Pluto

I know, that image above doesn’t look like much, does it? But go ahead, click it. I dare you. Because I took the original 1,000 x 15,000 pixel image, rotated it, and shrank it to fit the width of the blog. It’s a jaw-dropping close-up...Show More Summary

What Causes Stripey Clouds?

Sixty Symbols is a great effort: A group of professional scientists of various stripes putting out short videos, each one tackling a different symbol in science. ?F, -K, kg… each one is explained clearly and simply by actual scientists. The videos proved so popular (more than 53 million views as I write this!) that they kept going. Show More Summary

Fireball: Couch-Sized Rock Lights Up the Sky Over Arizona

Last Thursday, June 2, 2016, at 10:56:32 UTC (03:56 local time), a rock the size of a typical living room recliner burned up over Arizona, bright enough to light up the sky and spark a lot of social media chatter and 911 calls. There are quite a few videos of it online. Show More Summary

Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert Will Save Us From Gay Space Colonies

Are you sitting down? Good. Comfy? Excellent. I wouldn't want you to be hurt when your jaw hits the floor watching this video. Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, everyone: Just in case you missed —and how could you?— here’s the fun bit: I really...Show More Summary

Lies Trump Reality

At this point, it’s painfully clear that Donald Trump is incapable of telling the truth. Listening to him talk is actually rather amazing; just by the laws of statistics he should randomly say something accurate just once, at least by accident. Yet, here we are. On Friday, May 27, 2016, Trump was in Fresno, California to give a stump speech. Show More Summary

Ride Along With a SpaceX Rocket Back to Earth

On Friday (May 27, 2016) SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket with the THAICOM 8 satellite into orbit. The launch went off right on time (after a one-day delay due to an unusual reading from the upper stage on the Thursday launch attempt),...Show More Summary

A Dozen (Or So) Ways to Die in Space

Macabre? Sure. But my sense of humor runs dark sometimes, and I love science fiction, so this (very) short animation (very) briefly depicting a bunch of ways hapless space explorers can undergo Death in Space cracked me up. I could nitpick...Show More Summary

Cards Against Humanity Just Paid for a Young Woman’s College Tuition

In April 2015, I wrote about a new expansion pack for the ridiculously popular game Cards Against Humanity. The new pack was the brainchild of Zach Weinersmith, who asked me to help come up with some of the funny science-based questions...Show More Summary

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