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The Mysterious Case of a Nonexistent Alien Planet Discovered 160 Years Ago

The first planet ever to be discovered was found in 1781. It was an accident of sorts; William Herschel wasn’t looking for a planet specifically. He was instead scanning the sky for double stars, cataloging them as he found them. But a star he saw one night didn’t stay still. Show More Summary

Rocket men: why tech’s biggest billionaires want their place in space

Forget gilded mansions and super yachts. Among the tech elite, space exploration is now the ultimate status symbol The explosion could be felt 30 miles away. At 9.07am on 1 September, a SpaceX rocket containing 75,000 gallons of liquid...Show More Summary

Russian Resupply Rocket Lost During Launch

News is still coming in right now, but it looks like a Progress capsule loaded with supplies for the astronauts on the International Space Station was lost as it was heading up into space this morning. It was uncrewed, so there was no loss of human life. Jason Davis at The Planetary Society has details, and you can also get more at SpaceFlightNow. Show More Summary

Starry Starry Swing

Longtime BABlogee and music composer Greg La Traille sent me a note letting me know about an amazing art exhibit in Zürich, Switzerland called “Starfield”, but really it should be called “Star Swing”. Why? Well, for one thing, it’s a swing. Show More Summary

Jupiter Unwrapped

On Mar. 8, 2016, Earth lapped Jupiter in their race around the Sun. Earth orbits closer to the Sun than Jupiter, and so moves much more rapidly. Like a car on the inside track passing one on the outside, this meant that Earth was asShow More Summary

What the Heck Is Going on at the North Pole?

I’ve written quite a bit over the past few years about the death spiral of sea ice at the North Pole. Every year the amount of ice goes up and down with the seasons, growing in winter and declining in summer. But, on top of that there...Show More Summary

Ice Crystals Above Clouds Dance to the Tune of Electricity

A few years ago I wrote an article about one of the most bizarre phenomena I had ever seen: dancing, twisting beams of light appearing over storm clouds. The video of them is really weird. Watch: It looks like the cloud itself is writhing! After...Show More Summary

An Eerie Hex on Saturn

Two things I love: Astronomy, and cool clouds. I love them even more when I can enjoy both at the same time. The image above is of Saturn, taken by the Cassini space probe on Sept. 5, 2016, when it was about 1.4 million kilometers from the planet, using its wide-angle camera equipped with a filter that lets through near-infrared light. Show More Summary

Time-Lapse: Refraction

Air bends light. Well, OK, not exactly. A beam of light could pass through air all day long (as long as you have a layer of air 26 billion km long) and not deviate a whit. But if the density of that air changes, the light will bend.Show More Summary

I'm Voting for Hillary Clinton.

Well, here we are. Election Day is tomorrow. I strongly suspect most people have made up their minds already, and so it seems exhorting someone to vote for one candidate over the other may seem superfluous. Still, let me be clear: I am voting for Hillary Clinton, and will also be voting the straight Democratic ticket in my home state of Colorado. Show More Summary

Carving the Orion Nebula

I’ve written many times about the Orion Nebula, one of the most magnificent star-forming regions in the galaxy. It’s a spectacular gas cloud, wispy and sculpted, multicolored and bright. It’s only about 1,400 light-years from Earth, making it close enough to study in detail. What you see isn’t really what you get in the nebula, though. Show More Summary

Global Weirding

It’s impossible not to see that this election has become hyperpartisan; a split so wide the gulf seems unbridgeable. How can someone like me —a socially progressive nontheist— ever even hope to be able to communicate the most important...Show More Summary

How Big Is Proxima Centauri’s Planet?

Earlier this year, astronomers announced amazing news: The closest star to the Sun, called Proxima Centauri, has a planet! Not only that, but the planet’s size is roughly the same as Earth’s, and at its distance from Proxima it getsShow More Summary

Earthrise, from the Moon

If you go outside over the next few nights shortly after sunset and look east, you’ll see the waxing gibbous Moon rising. In the twilight you can see quite a few details on its surface with your naked eye. For example, most obvious are...Show More Summary

Time's Arrow Explained by Minute Physics

Why does time flow from the past to the future? That’s an extraordinarily deceptively simple question. It seems so, well, straightforward. But when you start to really investigate it, you wind up going down a rabbit hole of twisty, complicated physics. When I first started reading about this, I was surprised to learn that it’s tied to entropy. Show More Summary

Would You Vote for Someone Who Thinks the Earth Is Flat?

Think about this for a moment: Would you vote for someone running for Congress —or to be President of the United States— who thought the Earth was flat? And I don’t mean someone who’s just flirting with the idea, but someone who really, truly believes the Earth is a flat disk floating in space. Show More Summary

Blue Origin Tests Its Rocket Escape System in a VERY Dramatic Way

Yesterday, Blue Origin had a helluva day. After a handful of short holds, the company’s New Shepard rocket lifted off for the fifth time from the Texas desert proving grounds, heading up into space. Like the previous four test flights,...Show More Summary

Seeing double?

Watch the amazing AIM animated video in virtual reality (VR glasses and phone needed)

Elon Musk Wants to Put a Million People on Mars

It’s no secret that Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. This week, he showed how he—and a lot more people—just might do it. At the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico on Tuesday—and after teasing it for many months—he finally revealed his vision for the future of SpaceX, and possibly humanity. Show More Summary

Shaking Hands with Pele

Our world is extraordinary. Of all the planets, ours alone has a surface driven by tectonics. Under the relatively thin crust lies a layer of incredibly hot rock under unimaginable pressures. The physics of this material is so bizarre...Show More Summary

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