Space

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.

NASA, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Retired NASA astrophysicist Fred Espenak has 'written the book' on eclipses - many, many books, actually. He has seen 27 total solar eclipses and at least one on every continent. Matt Markgraf speaks with Espenak about why you should see the total eclipse, what it is, how to predict one and what kind of gear he's using to take photos of "The Great American Eclipse" on Monday.

The moon might be flowing with much more water than we thought, thanks to ancient volcanic deposits, a new study shows.

Scientists have found a shockingly hot, massive, Jupiter-like planet that has a tail like a comet.

"It is so hot that it is hotter than most stars that we know of out there," says Scott Gaudi of Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, whose team describes the scorching world called KELT-9b in the journal Nature.

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