The Solar System

In the Solar System Channel, you can explore the planets and celestial objects around our own sun. Learn about topics such as Mars, Jupiter and the Moon.

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It dashed through our solar system like a cigar-shaped signal from another star system. But which one? Astronomers are on the case.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

Jupiter has been notoriously bad about revealing any water deep in its thick atmosphere. That's changing though.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

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Comet 21P and comet 46P will swing past our planet during the month of September — and you won't need a telescope to see either.

By Mark Mancini

But don't buy your lakefront property just yet.

By Patrick J. Kiger

It's the second lunar eclipse of 2018, but it will last longer than any other during the 21st century.

By Mark Mancini

Mars Close Approach is July 31, 2018. That is the point in Mars' orbit when it is nearest to Earth.

By Laurie L. Dove

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The days are getting longer, but don't worry about changing your clocks.

By Chris Opfer

To define the location of objects in the sky, astronomers utilize a system of celestial coordinates, which extends latitude and longitude from Earth's surface into space.

By Patrick J. Kiger

Once upon a time, the sun caught an interstellar orphan and adopted it as its own. It's named 2015 BZ 509.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

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Some scientists think the existence of plate tectonics could be a prerequisite for life. So do they exist on other planets outside of Earth?

By Mark Mancini

Astronomers have just discovered a gas in Uranus' clouds that does nothing to help the planet being taken seriously.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

It's been a while since the sun has hung out with its brothers and sisters in the same stellar nursery, but they're definitely out there, and citizen scientists can help find them.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

No one knew exactly what the deal was with ureilites, a rare type of meteorite, until now.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

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Yep, 'Oumuamua was probably kicked out of its own star system by an overbearing gas giant like Jupiter.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

Scholz's star buzzed our solar system back when humans and Neanderthals roamed the planet. Turns out that encounter may have shaken up a whole bunch of comets.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

Beneath Jupiter's famous swirls and stripes is an environment that's completely unlike anything on Earth.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

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The term "blue moon" dates back to at least the 16th century. Since then, it's had several different definitions, many of which are contradictory. So what's a blue moon today?

By Mark Mancini

All those intrepid colonists are going to need a plentiful supply of water, and it turns out that accessing one may not be as hard as we thought.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

The apparently random flashes in the sky known as FRBs have resisted being pinned down by astronomers. Until now.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.

It wasn't quite as loud as you might imagine.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

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When our planet was young, it took a beating from an unrelenting storm of planetesimals falling from the skies. Some of that debris meant more gold for the planet.

By Ian O'Neill, Ph.D.