The annual Geminid meteor shower peaked overnight last night (Dec. 13), dazzling skywatchers around the world with a bounty of brilliant shooting stars.
The Geminids' peak was supposed to be good this year, as it occurred in a sky left dark by the new moon. Experts had predicted that viewers in rural areas might see 100 meteors per hour early Friday morning (Dec. 14) — and perhaps even more.
[Full Story: Stunning Geminid Meteor Shower Wows Skywatchers: Photos ]
At 4 ½ months old, the San Diego Zoo's newest giant panda, Xiao Liwu, is growing into a rambunctious cub.
During his weekly exam Thursday (Dec. 13), the baby bear weighed in at 14 pounds (6.3 kilograms) and was very active, making it difficult for zookeepers to take measurements.
[Full Story: Panda Cub Hits 'Terrible Toddler' Stage ]
To help protect a diminutive elephant researchers are taking an innovative look at the pachyderm's genome.
The goal is to understand the genetic diversity of pygmy elephants on the island of Borneo. Numbering about 2,000, these babyish-looking elephants are the most endangered subspecies of Asian elephant. They live primarily in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo, where they are threatened by the loss and fragmentation of their forest, often by development associated with palm oil, widely used, edible plant oil.
[Full Story: Pygmy Elephants Get Protection Boost from Genetics]
National Geographic photographer Mike Theiss has always wanted to see the northern lights. So when an assignment took him to Whitehorse, in Canada's Yukon Territory, he rented a car and drove more than 550 miles (885 kilometers) north to the Arctic Circle.
While it usually takes a major solar storm to send the northern lights dancing over the lower parts of Canada and the northern United States, auroras can sometimes be seen in the Arctic Circle even when not visible elsewhere. And sure enough, they made an appearance for Theiss.
[Full Story: Photographer on Arctic Trek Snags Stunning Northern Lights Photos ]
A new small primate with a toxic bite and distinctive facial fur markings has been discovered in the jungles of Borneo.
The new slow loris species is found in the highlands of the island of Borneo and has been named Nycticebus kayan, after a major river, the Kayan, flowing through the region. The trio of scientists also found that two species previously considered sub-species in the Nycticebus genus are officially unique species.
[Full Story: New Primate with Face Mask & Toxic Bite Discovered ]
The fearsome box jellyfish packs venom that is among the deadliest in the world, but a new treatment may take the sting out of its powerful poison, according to a new study.
The study researchers found that a zinc-based compound prevented death in mice injected with box-jellyfish venom. The compound — zinc gluconate, a nutritional supplement — seems to work by preventing certain ions (charged particles) that keep the heart beating from leaking out of blood vessels.
[Full Story: Possible Cure for Deadliest Jellyfish Sting Discovered ]
The world's highest mountain doesn't look quite so high from space.
Russian cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko recently snapped a shot of Mount Everest from his perch 230 miles (370 kilometers) above Earth on the International Space Station. The photo shows the peak of Everest nestled among other crags in the Himalayas, with snow lightly dusting the tops.
[Full Story: Earth's Highest Mountain Photographed From Space Station ]
Powerful jets of subatomic particles moving at nearly the speed of light blast half a million light-years outward from the radio galaxy Hercules A, in this spectacular image produced by two of astronomy's most advanced tools — the newly refurbished Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico and the Hubble Space Telescope.
The yellowish elliptical galaxy in the center of the image, seen in visible light by Hubble, is some 2 billion light-years from Earth. Unseen in visible light, but revealed by the VLA, are the jets, reddish in this image, powered by the tremendous gravitational energy of a black hole at the galaxy's center. The black hole is more than 1,000 times more massive than the black hole at the center of our own Milky Way.
[Full Story: Exotic Physics of Radio Galaxy on Display ]
Smelling the scents of predators may help the cuttlefish brain prepare for quick escapes before it even hatches, new research finds.
The study helps explain why these squidlike cephalopods (and perhaps other animals) show differences between the two sides of their brains and bodies — known as lateralization. Lateralization is the reason most humans favor either their right or left hands, and many living organisms show some signs of lateralization.
[Full Story: Squidlike Creatures Turn Left to Avoid Predators ]
This visualization shows a coronal mass ejection approaching Venus. Coronal mass ejections are eruptions of solar winds and magnetic fields from the sun into space; they happen every few days to a couple times a day, depending on how active the sun is. Interactions of these "CMEs" with Earth's atmosphere can cause extra-strong auroras, or northern (and southern) lights. [See dazzling aurora images]
CMEs and other solar activity are currently in the news because some believers in the so-called Mayan Apocalypse think that sun activity is set to destroy or damage Earth on Dec. 21. In fact, according to NASA, the sun is showing no signs of unusual activity.
Now you can see all of the country's nighttime lights in a single high-def image that allows users to zoom in and see tiny details of the so-called "Black Marble" view of Earth.
The zoomable image was made with technology from a company called Gigapan in conjunction with NASA's Earth Observatory. It's an enhanced version of one released on Dec. 5 by NASA and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which shows what the planet looks like when the sun goes down. It is made up of several photographs taken by an instrument aboard the Suomi NPP satellite in recent months.
[Full Story: Zoom in On 'Black Marble' Earth View ]