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A selection of the latest astronomy news and blog posts.

NASA heading back to Moon NASA is accelerating plans to return Americans to the moon. ,said Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, in a meeting at NASA's Washington headquarters, adding he hoped to have astronauts back there by 2028. The last person to walk on the Moon was Eugene Cernar in December 1972, during the Apollo 17 mission, the last of the Apollo programm.

NASA just got its best budget in decades After months of unrelated political turmoil, multiple stop-gap spending bills, and an unprecedented government shutdown that shuttered the U.S. space program for 35 days, legislation providing NASA's 2019 budget was finally signed into law today. Remarkably, NASA did very well in the end.

This Week's Sky at a Glance, February 15 - 23 - The waxing gibbous Moon shines in the feet of Gemini this evening. Castor and Pollux are to its left, Procyon is to its lower left, and Orion is to its lower right. Saturday, February 16. - Right after dark, the Moon finds itself between Procyon to its lower left and Pollux and Castor closer to its upper right.

Mercury is quickly approaching its finest appearance of 2019 is for anyone who wants to learn more about astronomy events, cosmology, planets, galaxies, asteroids, astrophotography, the Big Bang, black holes, comets, constellations, eclipses, exoplanets, nebulae, meteors, quasars, observing, telescopes, NASA, Hubble, space missions, stargazing, and more.

The Sky This Week from February 15 to 24 The night sky's brightest star, Sirius, may wink out when a dim asteroid passes in front of it the evening of February 18. Before dawn that same morning, Venus and Saturn meet in a spectacular conjunction. The largest Full Moon of 2019 arrives February 19, though don't expect it to look noticeably larger than any other Full Moon.

Planet Earth Report - "City Apocalypse, Earth 2100, Impossible 12.0 Earthquake" The "Planet Earth Report" connects you to headline news on the science, technology, discoveries, people and events changing our planet and the future of the human species.

Happy 455th birthday Galileo His scientific achievements at first drew acclaim and privilege - but later brought him into conflict with Catholic doctrine and ended in humiliation and house arrest.

AASWomen Newsletter for February 15, 2019 AAS Committee on the Status of Women AAS Committee on the Status of Women Issue of February 15, 2019 eds: Nicolle Zellner, Heather Fle…

Space transport roundup - Feb.15.2019 A sampling of recent items related to traveling to and through space:. ** LEO Aerospace is a young launch company started by Purdue engineering students. They recently did a test of their balloon launch architecture: Successful launch of rocket from high-altitude balloon makes space more accessible to microsatellites - Purdue University News.

"Paleo to Present" - Interactive Map Shows Your Location as It Was Over the Past 750 Million Years An amazing new map lets you plug in your address to see how it has changed over the past 750 million years, The interactive tool enables users to hone in on a specific location and visualize how it has evolved between the Cryogenian Period, Earth's greatest ice age, and the present.

Super Massive Neutron Object - "Reveals Fundamental Properties of Matter" Quarks, the smallest building-blocks of matter, never appear alone in nature. They are always tightly bound inside the protons and neutrons. However, neutron stars, weighing as much as the Sun, but being just the size of a city like Frankfurt, possess a core so dense that a transition from neutron matter to quark matter may occur.

Wax on, Wax off…. The simple explanation is when the illuminated portion of the moon is getting larger, from the new moon phase to the full moon phase, that is when the moon is waxing. From the time of the full moon until it is once again a new moon the moon is waning.

"Neutron Sirens" - Will Solve 'Hubble's Conundrum' About Our Expanding Universe "The Hubble Constant is one of the most important numbers in cosmology because it is essential for estimating the curvature of space and the age of the universe, as well as exploring its fate," said Hiranya Peiris, at University College London.

Gorgeousness in death Its temperature is many tens of thousands of degrees, but it's so small it's intrinsically not terribly luminous; at the nebula's distance of about 1,400 light years you need a large telescope to see that star at all. Still, this distance makes Abell 36 one of the closest planetary nebulae in the sky.

M42, The Orion Nebula It is also, in fact, a part of a much greater nebula, called the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, which extends throughout the entire constellation of Orion. The Molecular Cloud Complex contains fascinating observing targets such as the infamous Horsehead Nebula, Barnard's Loop, the Flame Nebula, M43, and M78.

How Do We Classify The Stars In The Universe? One of the advantages of developing a universal classification system for any field of study is the ability to make distinctions between things that may share certain characteristics but are nonetheless different. A standardized system also facilitates the communication of knowledge to others.

Astronomers find the first evidence of a giant collision between exoplanets New research suggests the dense world Kepler-107b got smacked by a planet at some point in its history, leaving behind a hefty, iron-rich core. A planetary collision is exactly as bad as you would imagine. Unlike an asteroid impact, there's not just a crater left behind.

The Women Who Contributed to Science but Were Buried in Footnotes "In science, the question of who gets credit for important work-fraught in any field-is set down on paper, for anyone to see.

La Serena: Penguins & Pisco When you travel for a year you have to accept that sometimes, things will not go according to plan. With my cousin Sally coming out to visit in February, everything was set for a weekend-hop to San Pedro de Atacama in the north of Chile for stargazing and dramatic scenery.

Listen Up: Get Gravitational-wave Alerts The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory will soon begin a new round of listening for massive mergers. Now you can find out about the discoveries as they happen.

Space policy roundup - Feb.14.2019 A sampling of links to recent space policy, politics, and government related space news and resource items that I found of interest:. Space Webcasts:. ** The Space Show - Sun, 02/10/2019 - Doctor Beth O'Leary and Lisa Westwood discussed preservation of "space historical sites in space, on the Moon, on Earth and throughout the solar system".

Origin of Earth's H2O - "Billions of Tons of Water-Packed Asteroids" "Our calculations indicate that, coinciding with the so-called 'Heavy Bombardment' produced by the gravitational destabilization of the main asteroid belt, billions of tons of carbonaceous chondrites reached Earth about 3.8 billion years ago.

Conference announcement - "SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise" Here is an announcement from the Space Studies Institute on their conference this summer :. SSI 50: The Space Settlement Enterprise. The Space Studies Institute is pleased to announce the date and location for its 2019 conference.

The Mars Exploration Rovers Update Special Report: NASA Declares Opportunity and MER Mission "Complete" In the minutes or hours after the robot sent what would be her final missive from Mars on June 10, 2018, the worst planet-encircling dust event that NASA scientists have ever observed stopped Opportunity in her tracks.

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