Astronomy

NASA spacecraft slips into orbit around Mars

1:21 PM   A NASA robotic spacecraft has fired its braking rockets, ending a 10-month journey to put itself into orbit around Mars and begin a hunt for the planet's lost water and dramatic changes to its atmosphere.

Boeing, SpaceX to take Americans to space

Artist's impression of Boeing crew transport capsule docking with the International Space Station.

Kenneth Chang   Boeing and the Space Exploration Technologies are the winners in the competition to carry American astronauts to the International Space Station, ending NASA's reliance on Russia.

Fixing climate change may add no costs, report says

JUSTIN GILLIS   In decades of public debate about global warming, one assumption has been accepted by virtually all factions: that tackling it would necessarily be costly. But a new report casts doubt on that idea, declaring that the necessary fixes could wind up being effectively free.

Find and see elusive Mercury

How-to: Mercury will be joined by Spica in the southern sky on September 19.

Perry Vlahos   Close to the spring equinox in September is a good time for evening viewing of Mercury.

Canopus the star of the show

Get down: Canopus, the second-brightest star in the sky, is heading directly to the horizon in Melbourne.

Perry Vlahos   An unusual alignment between Melbourne and the star Canopus, the second brightest star in the sky, is happening now.

Bill Bradfield, world-class comet hunter

Eye in the sky: Astronomer Bill Bradfield in 2004 with his homemade telescope.

Perry Vlahos   With modest, homemade gear, the renowned star gazer had an astounding record in finding shooting stars.

NASA scientist says Australian science cuts 'embarrassing'

Abigail Allwood with daughter Sophia at home.

Tony Moore   The Brisbane astrobiologist now leading NASA’s search for life on Mars says recent Australian science funding cutbacks were “tragic and embarrassing”.

Comments 28

Rain of asteroids melted early Earth, boiled its oceans

The lunar surface.

Julia Rosen   When you look up at the moon's pock-marked face, you're actually staring at Earth's early history. Scientists have found that much of our planet's surface probably melted repeatedly following large collisions during the 'Hadean era'.

Kryptonite for the super moon

AN EXAGGERATION: Describing it as a ‘‘super’’, leaping over tall buildings moon? I think not.

Perry Vlahos   The next full moon, on August 11, should be an ‘‘ultra super premium moon’’ because it will be 1362 kilometres closer than July’s.

Sci-tech

Buzz Aldrin saw 'unidentified' object during 1969 Apollo 11 flight

Buzz Aldrin says humans who go to the moon should plan on staying there.

David Milward   Second man to walk on moon convinced life exists elsewhere in space but denies his sighting was extraterrestrial.

A pearler of a mystery

CHAIN OF COMMAND: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Perry Vlahos   An astronomical enigma was solved 20 years ago to the day, in 1994.

Sky-high meaning in Brazil's flag

Counting stars: Brazil's flag is loaded with symbolism.

Perry Vlahos   As the host nation for the World Cup soccer tournament, Brazil's flag is flying high, and it's loaded with symbolism.

Our neighbour Proxima Centauri not quite next door

(L to R) sun, Alpha Centauri A & B, and Proxima. It would take Voyager 1 nearly 74,000 years to travel the 4.2 light years to Proxima Centauri.

Perry Vlahos   Called Proxima Centauri because of its proximity, it’s sometimes referred to as Alpha Centauri C, because it’s thought to be a far-flung third member of the Alpha Centauri star system.

'Godzilla of Earths' boosts case for life on other worlds

'Godzilla of Earths': The newly discovered Kepler-10c dominates the foreground in this artist's conception. Its sibling, the lava world Kepler-10b, is in the background and both orbit a star like our sun.

Melanie Kembrey   Astronomers have discovered a new type of rocky planet dubbed the ‘‘Godzilla of Earths’’ that they say has positive implications for the existence of life and habitable worlds outside our solar system.

The little moon that could

Saturn's moon Enceladus: All the ingredients for life in space.

Perry Vlahos   Enceladus has come from almost nowhere to overtake the favourites in the field for the life In the solar system.

Astronomy

Titan's mysteries begin to be revealed

An artist's impression of the robotic Huygens probe that landed on Saturn's enigmatic moon Titan.

Perry Vlahos   Despite being known for 350 years, we're just starting to gain some understanding of the giant Saturnian moon.

Astronomy

May full moon an unusual occurance of occultation

In the De Revolutionibus, Copernicus established the order of planets and proposed a heliostatic universe.

Perry Vlahos   May's full moon and related "occultation" next week will bring the curtain down on a month's worth of cool celestial sights.

Filters up for partial solar eclipse on April 29

Partial solar eclipse. from 2012.

Perry Vlahos   The eclipse begins about 4pm. Mid-eclipse, when more than half the sun will be obscured, is at 5.07pm. The sun sets while still eclipsed at 5.37pm.

Space

Mars: red warrior in our skies

Mars: Its fiery colour stands out.

Perry Vlahos   Shining with a fiery orange-red colour, it's brighter than all the other stars in the eastern sky.

Space

Odd Uranus is no joke

Discovery path: Caroline Herschel takes notes as her brother William observes.

Perry Vlahos   Tomorrow is Albert Einstein's birthday, but today marks the anniversary of the discovery of Uranus.