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Spiral bridge of young star clusters links colliding galaxies

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope photographed a 100,000-light-year-long structure that looks like a string of pearls twisted into a corkscrew shape winds around the cores of the two massive galaxies. The “pearls” are superclusters of blazing, blue-white, newly born stars. Image and caption via NASA/ESA

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope photographed a 100,000-light-year-long structure that looks like a string of pearls twisted into a corkscrew shape winds around the cores of the two massive galaxies. The “pearls” are superclusters of blazing, blue-white, newly born stars. Image and caption via NASA/ESA

Two two ancient, colliding, giant elliptical galaxies appear to have a bridge of young, blue super star clusters evenly spaced in a winding chain between them. The chain of star clusters, which is 100,000 light-years long – or about the size of our entire Milky Way galaxy – winds in a corkscrew shape around the two giant ellipticals.

Bright meteor over Australia likely a Soyuz rocket reentry

UPDATE JULY 10 AT 1815 UTC (1:15 P.M. CDT). Experts are now reporting that today’s bright meteor – widely reported over southeastern Australia today (July 10, 2014) – was not a piece of natural space debris, but instead was the reentry of the upper state of a Soyuz rocket, launched on July 8. It seems the meteor was part of the vehicle used to launch Russia’s second Meteor-M weather satellite.

410 million-year-old extinct spider crawls again

A video based on fossils of an ancient extinct arachnid – one of the first predators on land – recreates the animal walking.

Dates of lunar and solar eclipses in 2014 and 2015

This is what a total eclipse looks like.  This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004 via Fred Espenak of NASA, otherwise known as Mr. Eclipse.  Visit Fred's page here.

This is what a total eclipse looks like. This is the total eclipse of October 27, 2004 via Fred Espenak of NASA.

The next eclipse is a total eclipse of the full moon – the Northern Hemisphere’s full Hunter’s Moon – on the night of October 7-8, 2014. Can’t wait? Follow the links inside to learn the dates for upcoming solar and lunar eclipses for the rest of 2014 and 2015. Enjoy.

Arctic shorebirds may help disperse plants all the way to South America

American golden-plover. Image Credit: Jean-Francois Lamarre.

American golden-plover. Image Credit: Jean-Francois Lamarre.

Migrating Arctic shorebirds may play an important role in the long-distance dispersal of mosses and liverworts to remote regions in North and South America.

This date in science: First Telstar launch

Image credit: NASA

A model of the Telstar 1 satellite displayed at the Parade of Progress show in Cleveland in 1964. Image credit: NASA

July 10, 1962. This date marks the launch of Telstar 1, the first communications satellite capable of relaying television signals from Europe to North America, by a Delta rocket. Telstar – a 171-pound, 34.5-inch sphere loaded with transistors and covered with solar panels – relayed its first signal just hours after its launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The first transmitted images showed an American flag outside of a receiving station in Andover, Maine.

Electric blue night-shining clouds

Matt Robinson in Sunderland, U.K., saw this wonderful, electric-blue noctilucent clouds on July 7, 2014.  They are sometimes called night-shining clouds.

Matt Robinson in Sunderland, U.K., saw a grand display of electric-blue noctilucent clouds on July 7, 2014. They are sometimes called night-shining clouds.

2014 has been a great year for noctilucent, or night-shining, clouds, seen at high latitudes only from about mid-May to mid-July. Wondrous, if you can catch them!

Mercury visible in the morning sky, starting around July 11

2014-july-10-aldebaran-mercury-venus-night-sky-chart

The planet Mercury left the evening sky to enter the morning sky on June 19, 2014. Even so, Mercury is only now getting far enough from the rising sun to become visible in the morning sky. Find an unobstructed eastern horizon, and start your Mercury search about 75 minutes before sunrise if you live at mid-northern latitudes, or about 90 minutes before sunup if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.

Astronomers invite you to help name exoplanets and their stars

Artist's impression of a distant exoplanet - planet beyond our solar system - orbiting its star.  Via the IAU.

Artist’s impression of a distant exoplanet – planet beyond our solar system – orbiting its star. Via the IAU.

Since early in the 20th century, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has taken it upon itself to be the official source of names for space objects. In response to public interest, the IAU has now organized a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars. Cool, yes?

Probiotics revisited: How – and if – they work

Image Credit: Feuerrabe

Image Credit: Feuerrabe

Stores are full of probiotic products, but are we any closer to understanding if and how they work?