Venus photobombed the Moon last night, and everyone loved it

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If you’re staring at the sky on a clear night it’s usually pretty easy to spot the Moon, but we often forget that it’s sometimes possible to see entire other planets with our naked eyes as well. Last night was a great reminder of that, as Venus was positioned perfectly for telescope-free viewing, and everyone seemed to eat it up.

Since the planets in the Solar System don’t orbit the Sun in sync with one another, we’re only treated to sights like this every so often. Even on the rare occasion that we can see another planet like Venus without any extra equipment it often only lasts a short while, but that doesn’t make it any less breathtaking.

Of course, Venus isn’t the only planet that regularly makes an appearance in our night sky. We’re just days away from Mars showing its shining face to skywatchers here on Earth, and while it won’t be quite as obvious as Venus you’ll still be able to see it without a telescope. July 27th will be the big day, and you should be able to spot the Red Planet as it dances near the Moon in the southern sky. – READ MORE

Scientists continue to peer deeper into the galaxy in the search for exoplanets that may host alien life, but our best chance of finding extraterrestrial life might actually be right here in our own Solar System. A new study based on data collected by NASA’s Cassini orbiter is providing some tantalizing clues as to what is hiding beneath the thick ice sheets on Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and it’s incredibly exciting.

The study, which was published in Nature, reveals the presence of complex organic compounds within the planet’s vast ocean, and while it’s not definitive proof that life exists deep within the moon, it’s a massive step towards that potential discovery.

Enceladus is incredibly special. It’s tiny orb, much smaller than the Earth, but it’s covered in a thick sheet of ice that encases a massive ocean of liquid water. We know this because of the large fissures that exist near its poles, particularly near the moon’s southern end, where water sprays out into space from between the cracks. Deep within the planet, the water is warm, and that’s a pretty big deal when it comes to searching for life.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft snatched a sample of those particles during its mission, and this new research is based upon the data that it sent back. Scientists now say that the water contained carbon-rich material, suggesting some pretty complex organic processes happening near the center of the moon. This makes Enceladus the only other body in the known universe with all the prerequisites for life, as far as we understand it. – READ MORE

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