Best Space Stories of the Week – June 21, 2015

New research suggests that ancient Mars, rather than being warm and wet (top, left), was more of an icy snowball.Credit: Robin D. Wordsworth Crashed comet lander Philae phones home. A dead satellite falls to Earth. Mars shows both methane-laced meteorites and a possibly icy past, and the moon’s dust gets a source in the best […]

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Want to Go Stargazing? Know the Stars of Early Summer

Early summer is an “in-between” time in the skies. The realm of the galaxies has moved off to the west, but the summer Milky Way has not yet arrived. This is the best time of year to observe globular clusters and double stars. The centerpiece of the early summer constellations is Boötes, the herdsman, with […]

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Father's Day Summer Solstice Marks Longest Day of the Year

Dads everywhere will celebrate Father’s Day today (June 21), and the Earth is joining the fun this year with the summer solstice, kicking off the first day of the northern summer. At 12:38 p.m. EDT today (1638 GMT), the sun will reach that point where it will appear to shine farthest to the north of […]

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NASA's Europa Mission Approved for Next Development Stage

Artist concept of NASA’s Europa mission spacecraft approaching its target for one of many flybys.Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech A plan to launch a spacecraft to Jupiter’s moon Europa in the 2020s passed a major hurdle, as NASA approved the mission concept and gave the go ahead to move forward into the formulation stage of development. Sending a […]

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The crammed centre of Messier 22

Globular Clusters: Dense Groups of Stars

Globular cluster Messier 22, also known as M22, lies 10,000 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius. Image released April 6, 2015.Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA Globular clusters are densely packed collections of ancient stars. Roughly spherical in shape, they contain hundreds of thousands, and sometimes millions, of stars. Studying them helps astronomers estimate the age […]

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The Grand Canyon Star Party: Illuminating Dark Skies

Michael Sainato is a freelancer with credits including the Miami Herald, Huffington Post and The Hill. Follow him on Twitter at @msainat1. Sainato contributed this article to’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights . Grand Canyon National Park has some of the clearest night skies in Arizona, hours away from urban environments and thousands of […]

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