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NASA's Kepler Space Telescope has, to date, offered scientists more than 4,000 candidate planets -- the 1,000th of which was recently verified.
The planet Venus has its turn in the celestial spotlight in 2015 as a brilliant night sky object. See how to see Venus in the night sky for the New Year.
Our monthly podcast offers the key highlights for stargazing in January: where to find bright stars and planets, and a special look at the Pleiades star cluster.
Early in January, look low in the west about 30 minutes after sunset. You’ll easily spot brilliant Venus, but look carefully below Venus for much dimmer Mercury. These two are a few degrees apart as the year begins but close to within 1° of each other by January 10th.
How To See Comet Lovejoy Tonight
Comet Lovejoy, glowing at 4th magnitude, is entering its best two weeks. It's nicely placed high in the evening sky before moonrise for your binoculars or low-power, wide-field telescope. The comet may be dimly visible to the unaided eye under excellent dark-sky conditions — if you know exactly where to look!
NASA's MAVEN mission has discovered a new population of particles in Mars's upper atmosphere. It's also found a plume of particles escaping from the planet's poles, confirming atmospheric loss is happening today.
NASA's Curiosity rover has detected both methane in Mars's atmosphere and carbon-bearing organic compounds in its rocks.
Organics are molecules made up of carbon atoms linked to other elements, especially combinations of hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen. But they don’t automatically signal “life.” Dozens of different organic molecules occur abiotically in interstellar clouds, and they can rain down from space as micrometeoritic dust. Either way, organics would break down fast in the hostile Martian environment, destroyed by solar ultraviolet rays or by the strongly oxidizing soil, so missions have had trouble detecting them.