The biggest full moon of 2012 is due to arrive this weekend. The moon will officially become full on May 5 at 11:35 p.m. EDT. And because this month’s full moon coincides with the moon’s perigee, its closest approach to Earth, it will also be the year’s biggest. The moon will swing in 221,802 miles (356,955 kilometers) from our planet. Аccording to meteorologist Joe Rao and not only does the moon’s perigee coincide with full moon this month, but this perigee will be the nearest to Earth of any this year, as the distance of the moon’s close approach varies by about 3 percent.
The newly discovered glass dune fields, spread across almost a third of the planet Mars, likely formed from interactions between magma and ice, or water, interactions that could create the perfect environments for microbial life. The northern lowlands spread across millions of square miles in the Red Planet’s northern hemisphere. But dark sediments in the region have puzzled planetary scientists. Briony Horgan and James Bell, both of Arizona State University, used the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter to re-examine light radiated from the Martian plains.
Astronomers by using images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) reveal an old star in the throes of a fiery outburst, spraying the cosmos with dust. The findings offer a rare, real-time look at the process by which stars like our sun seed the universe with building blocks for other stars, planets and even life. The star, catalogued as WISE J180956.27-330500.2, was discovered in images taken during the WISE survey in 2010, the most detailed infrared survey to date of the entire celestial sky.
As said researchers Giant coils of lava on Mars suggest a mysterious network of valleys on the planet was born from volcanoes. The origin of the Athabasca Valles region near the equator of Mars has been debated for more than a decade. Some researchers have proposed that lava once shaped the valleys, while others have thought ice was responsible. The way the ground there is patterned with multisided polygons suggests that either fire or ice could be the culprit, such patterns of cracks might have formed due to seasonal fluctuations in temperature if the surface there was rich in ice, but also might have arose as lava cooled and fractured.
The subtle yet surprisingly varied colors of Mercury are revealed in the latest images from NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft (the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) space probe).The 485 kg (1,070 lb) MESSENGER spacecraft was launched aboard a Delta II rocket in August 2004 to study Mercury’s chemical composition, its geology, and its magnetic field. It became the second mission after 1975’s Mariner 10 to reach Mercury successfully when it made a flyby in January 2008, followed by a second flyby in October 2008, and a third flyby in September 2009.
The giant Envisat satellite, which is the world’s largest imaging satellite for civilian use, was photographed in stunning detail by a French spacecraft that is also designed to snap high-resolution images of Earth. The photo of Envisat in space reveals that the $2.9 billion spacecraft is intact and that its huge solar array is deployed. Envisat is a huge satellite that weighs about 17,600 pounds (8,000 kilograms).
These bright stars shining through what looks like a haze in the night sky are part of a young stellar grouping in one of the largest known star formation regions of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a dwarf satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.The LMC is the third closest galaxy to our Milky Way. It is located some 160 000 light-years away, and is about 100 times smaller than our own. The image was captured by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.
The sun erupted in an amazing solar flare on April 16, unleashing an intense eruption of super-heated plasma that arced high above the star’s surface before blasting out into space. The powerful solar flare occurred at 1:45 p.m. EDT (1745 GMT) and registered as a moderate M1.7-class on the scale of sun storms, placing it firmly in the middle of the scale used by scientists to measure flare strength. The storm is not the strongest this year from the sun, but photos and video of the solar flare captured by NASA spacecraft revealed it to be an eye-popping display of magnetic plasma.
The Lyrids are a strong meteor shower lasting from April 16 to April 26 each year. The Lyrid meteor shower is expected to reach maximum intensity overnight from Saturday to Sunday (April 21 to 22), with the best observing opportunities coming between midnight and dawn on the 22nd local time, experts say. The moon will be nearly new at that time, so its glare shouldn’t drown out too many of the Lyrids’ brief flashes. The dark skies could make a big difference for meteor-watchers, because the Lyrids are historically a mild shower.