Astronomy

Stargazers watch Comet Neowise shoot across the sky on July 19, 2020 outside of Los Angeles, California.

Ten Dazzling Celestial Events to See in 2022

Stargazers in North America can look forward to meteor showers, lunar eclipses and a stunning multi-planet lineup this year

One reader wonders what graffiti was like before spray paint.

Ask Smithsonian

What Did Graffiti Look Like Before Spray Paint and More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts.

An artist’s conception of the James Webb Space Telescope at work.

The James Webb Telescope Successfully Launches Into Space

A rocket carrying the $10 billion dollar invention blasted off Christmas morning and powered up as planned, providing astronomers with a long-awaited gift

Webb’s 18 mirror segments can lock into the largest telescopic mirror humankind has ever built.

Future of Space Exploration

The Five Big Ways the James Webb Telescope Will Help Astronomers Understand the Universe

The highly awaited observatory is set to break new ground in many areas of astronomical research

A region within Mars's Valles Marineris (pictured) called the Candor Chaos had a large amount of hydrogen about a meter below the surface.

Beneath Canyons on Mars, Astronomers Find Potentially 'Water-Rich Area the Size of the Netherlands'

A Martian orbiter located a large reserve of hydrogen in a mountainous area of the Red Planet

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The Wonder of Avi Loeb

The physicist thinks we might have glimpsed evidence of an alien civilization. Despite controversy, he’s determined to find more

Construction of multiple telescopes has begun on Saishiteng Mountain—near the town of Lenghu in the Qinghai province of China. The site could be China’s first major observatory, on par with those in Hawaii, Chile, and the Canary Islands.

Future of Space Exploration

Why the Tibetan Plateau Might Be the Ideal Spot for the Telescope of the Future

A team in China has identified a location that could give the Eastern Hemisphere its first major observatory

An illustration of Saturn and its "fuzzy" core.

Saturn's Seismic Activity Makes Waves in Its Iconic Rings

Scientists uncover new insight into the planet's core based on observations of its rippling rings

DESI will analyze light collected by the four-meter Mayall telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.

New Project Aims to Create Most Detailed 3-D Map of the Universe

An instrument named “DESI” will chart up to 40 million galaxies, ten times more than any previous survey

After about a month of darkness, Hubble is back online and already collection impressive scientific data.

Retired NASA Engineers Return to Fix Hubble Telescope

The repaired space computer is back online and already beaming spectacular images of distant galaxies back to Earth

Jupiter and its largest moon Ganymede are shown in this image. Ganymede is slightly larger than the planet Mercury. Meanwhile, Jupiter's new 80th moon is much smaller, likely only a few dozen miles in diameter.

Amateur Astronomer Discovers New Moon Orbiting Jupiter

Kai Ly spotted the unnamed satellite using telescope images from 2003

A new image of a powerful jet firing out of the black hole at the center of the radio galaxy Centaurus A, taken with the Event Horizon Telescope.

New Research

New Black Hole Image Shows Plasma Jets Blasting Into Space

Researchers say the new, detailed image of the black hole at the center of the Centaurus A galaxy could reveal how its jets formed

People lie on the ground to view the Perseid meteor shower in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado at an astronomy night event on August 12, 2018.

How to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower

Known for its 'fireball' meteors, the Perseid shower began on July 14 and will peak in mid-August

Palomar 5 is located about 80,000 light-years from Earth in the Milky Way’s inner halo.

Scientists Discover Bevy of Black Holes in Our Own Galaxy

Palomar 5's unusual cluster may explain some of the Milky Way's star streams and other phenomena

A newly discovered white dwarf star (right) is only slightly larger than the moon (left).

New Research

Incredibly Dense White Dwarf Star Packs the Mass of the Sun Into the Size of the Moon

Researchers say if the star was any more massive it would likely collapse under its own weight and explode

Data collected revealed that a neutron star twice as massive as the sun was swallowed up by a black hole nine times the size of the sun.

Astrophysicists Detect a Black Hole Gobbling Up a Neutron Star in Two Separate Events

Researchers spotted both events using sensors to locate ripples in spacetime that traveled 900 million years to reach Earth

An artist's rendering of the Earth and sun seen from space. Astronomers on Earth can detect other worlds when far away stars flicker as an orbiting planet passes in front of them, partly blocking our view. New research asks how many alien worlds might have been able to detect Earth in this way.

New Research

If Aliens Exist in These 1,700 Solar Systems, They Can Probably See Earth

Hypothetical alien astronomers orbiting these stars could have seen the sun’s light flicker as Earth passed in front of it

Like the newly-identified 2014 UN271, the NEOWISE comet pictured here is a long-period comet originating in the Oort Cloud.

Giant Comet From the Oort Cloud Will Pass by the Sun in 2031

Astronomers used about 40 observations of the object, which is called 2014 UN271, to estimate its size and orbit

It’s considered one of the coldest and smallest exoplanets discovered so far.

This Neptune-Like Exoplanet May Have Water Clouds

Despite the possible presence of water vapor, TOI-1231 b is likely not habitable because of its size

So far, scientists have only documented jagged lightning bolts. Some physicists believe that the discovery of a completely straight lightning bolt could prove the existence of dark matter.

Could Weirdly Straight Bolts of Lightning Be a Sign of Dark Matter?

A group of scientists say the phenomenon could indicate dark matter speeding through our world at more than 300 miles a second

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