Amateur Planet Hunters Have a New Online Resource

A database run by the American Association of Variable Star Observers will organize and archive data on transiting exoplanets collected by amateur astronomers.

Illustration of planet transit

A planet passing in front of its sun causes an apparent drop in the star’s brightness, seen

Evidence Mounts for a Magellanic Collision

Astronomers have suspected for some time that the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds collided in the recent past. The Gaia space telescope provides striking new evidence for a head-on collision.

Image of Small Magellanic Cloud

This image of the Small Magellanic Cloud is composed from

The Case of the Vanishing Nebula

Now you see it, now you don’t. McNeil’s Nebula in Orion has disappeared, thanks to a drastic reduction in brightness from the protostar that usually provides illumination. 

McNeil’s Nebula, discovered by amateur astronomy Jay McNeil on January 23rd, 2004, is

Puny Star Might Be Specimen from Early Universe

A low-mass sun with few elements heavier than helium provides hope that the Galaxy might contain survivors from the very first generation of stars. 

Image showing location of 2MASS J18082002–5104378

The 13.5-billion year old binary system 2MASS J18082002–5104378 lies in the plane of the galaxy with

Dust Storm Electricity Might Forge Perchlorates on Mars

Electrostatic discharge in a simulated Martian environment yields perchlorates — a potential energy source for microbial life — at abundances much greater than sunlight alone.

Image of Martian dust storm

A short-lived dust storm blows across Mars’ Utopia Planitia, along the planet’s north seasonal polar

Dwarf Galaxy Found by Amateur

Donatiello I is a tiny galaxy about 10 million light-years away, and it was discovered by an Italian hobbyist with a homemade telescope.

Composite image of dwarf spheroidal galaxy Donatiello I

The dwarf spheroidal galaxy Donatiello I, discovered by amateur astronomer Giuseppe Donatiello, sits in the middle of