Author Archives: Kelly Beatty

Kelly Beatty

About Kelly Beatty

J. Kelly Beatty, S&T's Senior Contributing Editor, joined the staff of Sky Publishing in 1974 and specializes in planetary science and space exploration. Learn more about him here.

1996 PW's comet-like orbit

Eight Billion Asteroids in the Oort Cloud?

A fresh look at a nagging problem — asteroids moving in comet-like orbits — concludes that asteroids must make up about 4% of the vast, distant Oort Cloud of comets. When a telescope atop Hawaii's Haleakala swept up a fast-moving object in August 1996, astronomers didn't know what to make of it. Designated 1996...

Curious lunar feature Ina D

(Geologically) Recent Volcanoes on the Moon?

Images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show dozens of small, curious features that might be volcanic eruptions in the past 50 to 100 million years. Countless astronomers, both amateur and professional, have spent untold hours scrutinizing the Moon through telescopes for hints of volcanic activity. Numerous claims of "transient lunar phenomena" (TLP) have been...

Totality2-21-08_SW

Night Owls Prepare for October 8th’s Lunar Eclipse

You'll need to be up after midnight to watch the Moon plunge deep into Earth's shadow tomorrow morning — but it'll be worth it. Sometimes astronomical events occur in prime time — soon after it gets dark yet before bedtime. But that won't be the case tomorrow morning when, for the second time this year,...

This image shows an artist concept of NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN)  spacecraft, which reached the Red Planet on September 21, 2014.Lockheed Martin

MAVEN Makes It to Mars

On September 21st, after a 33-minute-long rocket firing, NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft slipped into orbit around the Red Planet.

InOMN logo

A Worldwide Night of Moonwatching

International Observe the Moon Night is an event that encourages people to "look up" and enjoy our nearest neighbor. This year's InOMN is Saturday, September 6th. Here's a quiz: What astronomical object looks amazing no matter what the magnification, never looks exactly the same no matter how often you view it, and can be...

Autumn sky sights near Vega

Tour September’s Sky: Farewell to Saturn

The astronomical calendar says autumn arrives on September 22nd. It's a season of transition, with plenty of celestial comings and goings in the evening sky. September’s equinox takes place on the 22nd at 10:29 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. At that moment the Sun shines directly overhead as seen from the equator. Days and nights...

Pleiades

Resolving the Pleiades Distance Problem

A new measurement, made using radio interferometry, argues that the distance to the Pleiades star cluster measured by ESA's Hipparcos satellite really is wrong — and that ground-based astronomers had it right all along.