Though there are over 30 meteor showers annually, none are as anticipated as the Perseids, the biggest and most spectacular of them all. The "shooting stars" have been streaking across the skies at a rate of about a dozen an hour, since mid-July. However, meteors' pace will sharply escalate over the next few weeks, reaching a high of between fifty to a hundred an hour, on August 11, 12, and 13, 2019.
July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The groundbreaking journey began on July 16, 1969, when NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins launched into space from Florida's Kennedy Space Center. Four days later, on July 20, half a billion people across the globe — or about one-seventh of the Earth's population at the time — watched Armstrong and Aldrin descend the lunar module ladder to become the first humans ever to set foot on the moon. The grainy footage, along with Armstrong's now-famous quote, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," remain forever etched in the minds of those that witnessed the event live.
Two summers ago, on August 21, 2017, thousands of people from across the world witnessed the "Great American Solar Eclipse," the first total solar eclipse to occur exclusively over the continental United States since January 11, 1880. Now, stargazers are getting excited to watch the Sun disappear again for a brief period on July 2, 2019 — this time, the eclipse's narrow path will extend across the South Pacific all the way to Chile and Argentina.
As if being downgraded to dwarf planet status was not enough, Pluto may now be in danger of losing its wispy atmosphere by 2030. The dire prediction comes from a 28-year study of the small celestial body, which lies at the edge of our solar system, by a team of international researchers led by University of Tasmania astronomer Andrew Cole.
Meteor showers, which happen when our planet traverses through debris streams left behind by passing comets, are a fairly common occurrence. While the tiny rocks usually burn up when they collide with our atmosphere, resulting in what we call "shooting stars," every so often one manages to survive the impact and land on Earth. That is precisely what appears to have happened in Costa Rica recently.
While rain on Earth is associated with water, precipitation on the Sun comes as giant clumps of plasma, or supercharged gas, which drizzle down from the star's atmosphere on to its surface. Though coronal rain has been observed on numerous occasions, its source, which researchers believed would help them better understand how the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, gets so hot, had never been discovered. Now, thanks to Emily Mason, a graduate student at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the mystery has finally been solved.
Given that even a six month stint at the International Space Station (ISS) causes astronauts to lose bone density and, in some cases, results in visual impairment, researchers have wondered if the human body can withstand a mission to Mars, which could take up to three years. Now, a groundbreaking study involving American twin astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly has found that while the body undergoes drastic changes when exposed to the weightless environment and space radiation for long durations, it mostly reverts to normal upon returning to Earth. This has led the experts to conclude that astronaut health can be "mostly sustained" for a year in space.
The existence of black holes, first proposed by Albert Einstein in his 1916 general theory of relativity, has been known for decades. However, astrophysicists have thus far relied on indirect evidence, such as the stars orbiting a large and invisible object in the center of the Milky Way galaxy, to prove their presence. That changed on April 10, 2019, with the release of the first-ever direct visual evidence of a black hole in the center of the galaxy M87, located 55 million light-years from Earth.