Space

Asteroid 2010 WC9 was lost, then it was found — and now the small space rock that is hundreds of feet wide is zooming toward Earth, making a close but safe pass on Tuesday that will see it fly roughly halfway between our planet and the moon.

Before we continue: There is no risk of even a partial collision, and the asteroid will stay tens of thousands of miles away from the outer limits of Earth's atmosphere. So there's no reason to take cover when the asteroid makes its closest approach at 6:05 p.m. ET Tuesday.

Wednesday was the day astronomers said goodbye to the old Milky Way they had known and loved and hello to a new view of our home galaxy.

A European Space Agency mission called Gaia just released a long-awaited treasure trove of data: precise measurements of 1.7 billion stars.

Here's a reminder that while you are out in the world buying groceries, picking up dry cleaning or catching up on The Crown, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity is on the red planet doing work.

Astronomers have spotted some kind of outer space rock that's the first visitor from outside of our solar system that they've ever observed.

The discovery has set off a mad scramble to point telescopes at this fast-moving object to try to learn as much as possible before it zips out of sight.

The Orionid Meteor Shower will reach its peak on Friday night and Saturday morning, with the best viewing shortly before dawn (wherever you are).

Last year, the annual show was less than spectacular — a bright gibbous moon hung in the sky for most of the night, stealing the glory from the meteors.

But this year, there's barely a sliver of moon in sight — the new moon was just on Thursday. And much of America can expect a nearly cloudless sky, to boot.

For the first time, scientists have caught two neutron stars in the act of colliding, revealing that these strange smashups are the source of heavy elements such as gold and platinum.

The Golden Record is basically a 90-minute interstellar mixtape — a message of goodwill from the people of Earth to any extraterrestrial passersby who might stumble upon one of the two Voyager spaceships at some point over the next couple billion years.

But since it was made 40 years ago, the sounds etched into those golden grooves have gone mostly unheard, by alien audiences or those closer to home.

Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET

After 13 years in orbit around Saturn, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is about to plunge itself into the planet's atmosphere and disintegrate. NASA decided to put an end to the mission on Friday because the probe is almost out of fuel.

Cassini has provided exquisite details about the second-largest planet in our solar system.

This has been quite a space week for Americans.

After Monday's stunning solar eclipse, Wednesday night PBS will air its two-hour documentary film about the two Voyager missions, launched 40 years ago. The Farthest: Voyager In Space, celebrates a technological and intellectual achievement rarely matched in history. Two small, nuclear-powered spacecraft have traveled farther than any other man-made machine and have forever changed our views of the solar system — and our place in it.

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