Mercury passed in front of the sun this week. The phenomenon, which happens only 13 times each century, was visible around much of the globe. From Earth it looked like a tiny black dot passing slowly in front of its host star, the sun. This is the first Mercurian transit since 2006, and there won’t be another until 2019. If you didn’t have your telescope ready, you can see pictures here and watch it here.
The International Space Station had a run-in with space debris last month, and it damaged the space station’s Cupola, the section where all those extraordinary picture and videos are taken from. British astronaut Tim Peake took a picture of the clipped window pane and said in a statement that he was “glad it is quadruple glazed!” That’s an astronomical understatement. Read more and watch swirling space junk here.
NASA announced its Kepler space telescope has confirmed 1,284 new planets, the largest find of new planets in history. Kepler finds planets by tracking their transits, like the one Mercury made May 9. When a planet passes in front of a star like the sun, the star dims slightly. Kepler detects that change and measures it, and scientists can use that information to figure out whether there is an undetected planet there.
What makes these discoveries especially neat is that nine of these new planets have conditions that could potentially support life. Read more here.
Science announced a doubly attractive breakthrough this week. Researchers from MIT and Harvard revealed they’ve developed a material that can make wrinkles and sagging undereye skin look smoother. The “second skin” known as the “Strateris platform” has more than superficial benefits, though. It can lock in moisture really well and can be effectively worn for at least 24 hours. So it could help soothe the symptoms of conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Read more here.
And, finally, if you want a good laugh with a smart message, watch comedian John Oliver rant about sham science. It is, of course, very funny. But Oliver also raises really good points about the validity of much of the science “news” we are exposed to on a regular basis. We’ve broken down his key points here.
Want more links from the week? Check these out: