planets

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This Is the Week to Look Up at Mars

Red planet will be very visible in the night sky

(Newser) - If you're looking for a little break from earthly concerns, Mars might provide an option this week. The red planet is particularly visible to the naked eye in the night sky thanks to a confluence of events, reports NPR . In fact, this will be the best week to see... More »

Mercury Making a Rare Trip. Here's How to Watch

It's currently making a transit across the sun

(Newser) - Mercury is in the middle of a rare trip across the sun, and almost everyone in the US should be able to catch at least a glimpse—with modest gear and safety protections. The official term is a "transit," and Mercury showed up as a small black dot... More »

It Turns Out Venus Is Not Our Closest Neighbor

On average, that is

(Newser) - File this one away for bar trivia night: The planet closest to Earth is not Venus. So say researchers in a paper in Physics Today touting the new mathematical method they devised that spit out the true nearest neighbor when distance is averaged over time: Mercury. And here's the... More »

Saturn's Rings Just Got a Death Date

NASA study predicts they'll be gone in 100M years

(Newser) - NASA's Voyager spacecrafts recorded data suggesting Saturn's rings were disappearing when they whipped past the planet decades ago. Now, confirmation: The rings have likely existed for only a fraction of the planet's 4.5 billion years and will be gone in an astrological flash, reads a new... More »

Why NASA Is Closely Watching a Gargantuan Dust Storm

The Opportunity rover is stuck in it on Mars

(Newser) - To call the Martian dust storm gargantuan wouldn't be an overstatement: As of Tuesday, it covered a quarter of the planet, making it the size of North America and Russia combined, per Space.com . And the Opportunity rover is in the middle of it. That's of concern. The... More »

It Seems Likely Solar System Is Hiding Huge Planet

NASA unveils new evidence for mysterious 'Planet Nine'

(Newser) - Astronomically inclined conspiracy theorists have long been predicting the Earth's demise in a collision with a rogue planet called "Niburu" or "Planet X" biding its time out of sight somewhere in the solar system, CNET reports. In fact, Niburu was "supposed" to crash into Earth just... More »

9th Planet May Solve 'Mystery' of Our Solar System

It could explain why orbits are tilted 6 degrees

(Newser) - New research may have solved a "deep-rooted mystery" about our solar system and lent credence to the theory that there's a ninth planet chilling beyond Pluto. (Sorry, buddy.) Researchers at Caltech, including Konstantin Batygin and Mike "Pluto Killer" Brown (who first floated the "Planet Nine"... More »

Scientists 'Hit the Jackpot' With Outer-Space Discovery

Earth-like planet found right next-door

(Newser) - After scanning the vast reaches of the cosmos for Earth-like planets where life might exist, astronomers have found one right next door, the AP reports. A planet that is rocky like Earth and only slightly bigger has been discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest star to our solar system, scientists... More »

3B Years Ago, Venus Might've Been Livable

Climate models suggest it was a lot like early Earth

(Newser) - Venus is perhaps best known as "that torrid acid bath next door," as Gizmodo puts it, with toxic thunderclouds and atmospheric pressure capable of crushing bones, per Science Alert —but it might have looked very different 700 million years ago. After plugging topographic data and the hydrogen... More »

Wacky Planet Has 3 Sunrises, 3 Sunsets Each Day

Or else it spends 140 Earth-years in daylight

(Newser) - Don't let aliens from HD 131399Ab hear you complaining about global warming. The newly discovered planet 340 light-years from Earth in the constellation Centaurus is the first found to be orbiting three suns and is scorching at 1,000 degrees—though that's mostly because of its gas formation.... More »

'Embryo' Planet Plowed Into Earth, Creating Moon —and Stayed

New study suggests Earth is made up of 2 planets that fused in violent collision

(Newser) - Scientists already know that roughly 4.5 billion years ago planet Earth was violently smacked into by another mass —Theia, a so-called "planetary embryo" that was still forming and may have been just as large as Earth. But now UCLA researchers report that the collision was not a... More »

Scientists: There May Be a Giant 9th Planet Past Pluto

Sorry, Pluto—'Planet 9' may be more of a 'massive perturber' than you

(Newser) - Pluto is gonna be PO'd. While the dwarf planet tries to fight its way back into the good graces of Those Who Deem What Counts as a Planet, another icy orb even further out may snatch that designation first. Astronomers at the California Institute of Technology say a giant... More »

5 Brightest Planets Begin Rising Together

Look for them: Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury

(Newser) - Like stargazing in the pre-dawn hours? Then here you go: The sky's five brightest planets visible from Earth will soon be lined up for the first time in over a decade, the Conversation reports. Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, and Venus—which have been up visible together since early January—will... More »

New Definition Could Make the Moon a Planet

Astronomer's mathematical formula could help in identifying exoplanets

(Newser) - You'll remember the International Astronomical Union's redefinition of a planet in 2006 as the move that demoted Pluto to a mere dwarf planet. But scientists recall the change for another reason: The new classification is incredibly vague. Basically, any nearly round celestial body that orbits the sun and... More »

Jupiter, Venus Together This Evening

Look to the west around sunset

(Newser) - Sky watchers get a treat this evening: Venus and Jupiter will appear to be practically on top of each other. The two planets will be separated in the sky by just one-third of a degree, which means you'll be able to cover them both with your pinky finger, notes... More »

Get Ready to Welcome Pluto Back as a Planet

Astronomer thinks Ceres will join the club, too

(Newser) - Vanderbilt astronomer David Weintraub thinks Pluto was wrongly kicked out of the planet club in 2006. But he's confident that this is going to be a very big year for Pluto and for another so-called "dwarf planet" named Ceres, he writes in the Conversation . NASA spacecraft will visit... More »

Giant Exoplanet's Rings a 'Super Saturn'

Impressive 30-ring system is 200 times larger than Saturn

(Newser) - In 2012, scientists discovered a giant exoplanet (one that orbits a star other than our sun) with a ring system so impressive it eclipses its own host star. Now, thanks to a recent eclipse where planet J1407b lined up in front of host star J1407, scientists at the University of... More »

Two Planets May Lurk Beyond Pluto

Astronomers can't otherwise explain behavior of objects way out there

(Newser) - It might soon be time to change all those grade-school dioramas of the solar system again: Astronomers think at least two more planets exist, reports Universe Today . In two studies from the UK and Spain, scientists say the planets' existence is the only way to explain why objects are behaving... More »

Jupiter's Red Spot Isn't What We Thought It Was

Researchers re-create phenomenon in lab

(Newser) - Scientists have made their own version of Jupiter's Great Red Spot in a lab, and it suggests that the spot's cause is very different from what's been postulated. An existing theory holds that the spot is the result of chemicals underneath the planet's clouds. But following... More »

To Search for Aliens, Look for ... Air Pollution?

Air pollution could signal intelligent life on other planets: researchers

(Newser) - Astrobiologists look for extraterrestrial life by searching for gases (i.e. methane and oxygen) that suggest the possibility of life, or for radio or laser signals in the hopes of communicating with distant alien life forms. But now a team of astronomers at Harvard is suggesting we also look for... More »

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