Get our magazine and podcast combo packages at a reduced rate.
You are here
To help you and your family stay in touch with the rest of the universe while you're staying at home, we've reduced the prices of our combo packages to $35 per year.
Even with the number of people vaccinated on the rise and restrictions being eased, it's still best to stay close to home for a while and follow safe practices.
A total solar eclipse will take place on August 21. It will cover a narrow slice of the United States, from Oregon to South Carolina. Millions of Americans are expected to travel to the eclipse path, making it the most-viewed solar eclipse in history.
Why does the Moon have phases?
Because it is so far from the Sun, astronomers had a hard time measuring Pluto's size. They finally got it right in the 1980s, after James Christy discovered a companion object. By watching Pluto and the companion, named Charon, eclipse each other, they measured Pluto's diameter at about 1,400 miles -- about one-third less than the diameter of Earth's Moon.
Pluto is basically a ball of frozen nitrogen, methane, and carbon dioxide wrapped around a small core of rock. On average, it's farther from the Sun than any other of the major planets, so its surface is bitterly cold.
Deimos is farther away and moves slowly from east to west. Deimos would look like a small dot of light in the sky. Phobos is slowly moving closer to Mars. In another 50 to 100 million years, it will crash into Mars.
Phobos is small, dark, and airless. And it's one of the driest bodies in the solar system.
Io: Fire World
Robotic probes may someday provide close-up views of some of the most remarkable vistas in the solar system, from the canyons of Mars to the ice-geysers of Triton. For a true hot-spot, they might show us the surface of Io, one of the moons of Jupiter. It is an eerie landscape of active volcanoes, tall mountains, and plains covered with frozen sulfur.
Titan: Smog World
Surrounded by a thick atmosphere that's topped by orange smog, and with a landscape that in some ways resembles Earth, Titan is one of the solar system's most intriguing moons.
Titan's frigid atmosphere is about 60 percent denser than Earth's at the surface, and clouds float across the sky. A global haze of organic molecules tops the atmosphere, so it was almost impossible to study the surface until the Cassini spacecraft, which carries instruments that can peer through the haze, arrived at Saturn in 2004.