Science News

Searching for planets beyond the Solar System

09 May 2013
The US space agency, NASA, recently announced that it will launch a new space mission for detecting exoplanets, planets beyond our Solar System, in 2017.

Saturn at Opposition

30 April 2013
On Sunday, 28 April 2013, Earth passes between the Sun and Saturn, a phenomenon known as opposition, and occurs every 377 days, approximately. This phenomenon is observed only for the superior planets. It resembles the event of the full Moon, as Saturn is opposite to the Sun in the sky, and is fully illuminated, as viewed from Earth. To an observer viewing the solar system from space, the Earth will be crossing between the Sun and Saturn, and the three objects will appear aligned on a straight line. During the opposition, the Earth-Saturn distance will be the shortest in this year, being about 1,320,000 km. Saturn is the most distant planet that can be seen easily with the unaided eye.

Partial Lunar Eclipse

21 April 2013
On 25 April 2013, a partial lunar eclipse will be visible in Africa, Australia, Europe and most of Asia. In Egypt, the eclipse will start at 20:03:38, when the Moon enters the pale outer component of Earth’s shadow, the penumbra. The partial phase, during which only a tiny portion of the Moon will be darkened, will start at 21:54:08, when the Moon skims the inner dark component of Earth’s shadow, the umbra.

Big meteorite explodes over Russia

17 February 2013
On Friday, 15 February 2013, a large meteorite penetrated the atmosphere, over Russia, and was witnessed as a blazing fireball. Moving at an estimated speed of 30 km/s, it passed over the southern Ural region, and exploded over the Russian Chelyabinsk Oblast. The powerful air blast occurred about 15-25 km above ground, and gave rise to a dazzling glow and a shock wave, which damaged thousands of buildings, and injured over 1,000 persons. The injuries were mainly due to glass from shattered windows.

Dust Storm Blows from the Nubian Desert

26 September 2012
On 26 July 2012, a dust storm blew off the shores of Sudan and into the Red Sea. NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired a picture of the storm (Fig. 1) the same day, the third consecutive day of the dust activity.

Is the Ozone Hole Recovering?

22 September 2012
Twenty five years ago, scientists and politicians unveiled the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, regarded by the United Nations (UN) as “the most successful treaty in UN history.” On 16 September 1987, 24 nations signed on to the protocol; 173 more have signed on in the subsequent years. The international agreement likely solved a global environmental crisis, while presenting a model of developing and employing environmental policy.

Zooming in on Saturn’s Magnificent Rings

18 September 2012
NASA recently published an interesting image (Fig. 1) of Saturn's rings, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. The image is a close-up, showing fine details of the rings and a tiny Saturnian moon, known as Pan, shining as a small speck of light in the middle of a gap in rings (near image center).

Storm on Saturn’s Largest Moon

14 September 2012
NASA recently published an interesting image of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, showing a vortex, a polar storm, swirling in the Titan’s south polar region. The image was acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft.

A Dark Cosmic Cloud

10 September 2012
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) recently published an exquisite image (Fig. 1) showing part of a curious cosmic cloud, known as the Pipe Nebula, a huge dark cloud of thick interstellar dust. The image of was obtained by the 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Giant Saturn and Its Giant Moon

05 September 2012
NASA recently published a natural color image of Saturn and its largest moon, Titan, acquired by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft. Titan (5,150 km across) is the second largest planetary moon; it is even larger than Mercury (4,880 km across), the smallest planet. Interestingly, Saturn is currently undergoing seasonal changes, as spring has begun in the planet’s northern hemisphere.

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