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Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία) is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry, in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, galaxies, and comets; the phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy. A related but distinct subject, physical cosmology, is concerned with the study of the Universe as a whole.

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Space Lightning

Who knew it existed?

Contributed by Alyssa Laudato

What if the universe was as complex as the small pieces of space dust that fascinate humans every day? I know I'd love to become an astronaut if it meant I could see something THIS amazing right before my eyes and marvel in the beauty of creation.

Contributed by Alyssa Laudato

A Mountain in a Moat

The New Horizons spacecraft has released a new image depicting the landscape of Pluto's largest moon Charon with what looks like a large mountain sitting in a moat which has geologists "stunned and stumped."

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

Pluto: A Beautiful World

The New Horizons spacecraft snapped this photo of the long sought-after "dwarf planet" Pluto just yesterday

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

Pluto Flyby: An Unmatched American Accomplishment

This is Charon and Pluto as seen by the New Horizons spacecraft from a distance of about 3.7 million miles taken July 8th. This flyby of Pluto is going to mark a new milestone in exploration and discovery! We will have visited every planet and dwarf planet in our solar system which is an accomplishment no other nation can match!

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

Pluto Has a Cold Heart

It appears that Pluto literally has a cold heart. The New Horizons spacecraft captured this image of Pluto on July 7th 2015 when the probe was within 5 million miles of the dwarf planet.

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

This astronomer and animator Scott Manley created an interactive 360 degree video in which he took all the asteroids near Earth, calculated their positions and placed them on a virtual Sky sphere in order to highlight the potential dangers that asteroids pose. You can pan the view around using a smartphone or tablet as a virtual window. I found the link and extra info here:

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

Philae Comet Could be Home to Alien Life

Pictured is the Rosetta probe and Philae lander above a comet named 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet could be home to microbial life according to leading astronomers. The comet has an organic-rich black crust which could most likely explain the presence of living organisms beneath its surface. Rosetta is also said to have picked up strange clusters of organic material that resemble viral particles. This proves that even comets can have the ability to support life.

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

This video shows over 100 million stars and thousands of star clusters embedded in a section of our own galaxy stretching over 40,000 light years. The image is 69,536 by 22,230 pixels, a total of 1.5 billion pixels requiring 4.3 GB of disk space! This is the largest photo ever taken and it's only just a small portion of the universe! This just goes to show you the vast and awe-inspiring nature of our universe. Found additional info here:

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

Astronomers Believe They're Witnessing the Birth of a New Planet

A group of astronomers made a request for the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to be pointed at one spot in the sky for an entire night and for good reason. The astronomical phenomenon that these astronomers hoped to see might be the first of its kind to be discovered, that is, the birth of a new planet. The young planet orbits around a young star surrounded by a circumstellar disk (which is what is pictured and is a disk of gas and dust). Initial observations suggest that its radius is about 7 times larger than Jupiter's and a temperature over 1112 degrees Fahrenheit!

Contributed by Sam Feldstone

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