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Illustration of the DART spacecraft with the Roll Out Solar Arrays (ROSA) extended. Each of the two ROSA arrays in 8.6 meters by 2.3 meters. (Credit: NASA)

A NASA mission to deflect an asteroid – it’s been the premise for more than one Hollywood movie – but next month NASA launches its DART mission that aims to do it for real.

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University of Chicago and Argonne beamline scientist Barbara Lavina observes one of the tiny asteroid fragments through a microscope, with the magnified image on the screen beside her, during the initial research session at Argonne in July. (Jason Creps / Argonne National Laboratory)

Tiny fragments from an asteroid could shed light on the early development of the solar system, thanks to the unique capabilities of Argonne National Laboratory.

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A full moon. (Lim Yaw Keong / Pixabay)

Two harbingers of autumn — the harvest moon and fall equinox — are occurring within days of each other this week, which will make for some interesting sunsets and moon rises. And keep an eye out for “Chicagohenge.”

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This view of Jupiter was captured by NASA’s Juno spacecraft on Feb. 12, 2019, as the spacecraft performed its 17th science pass of Jupiter. (Courtesy of NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS)

Jupiter and Earth are currently about as close as they get to each other. The outer planet is visible from sunset to sunrise and is among the brightest objects in the sky.

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This illustration provided by Carl Knox depicts a black hole, center, swallowing a neutron star, upper left. The blue lines are gravitational waves, ripples in time and space, which is how astronomers detected the merger, and orange and red areas indicate parts of the neutron star being stripped away. (Carl Knox / OzGrav / Swinburne University Australia via AP)

Talk about a heavy snack. For the first time, astronomers have witnessed a black hole swallowing a neutron star, the most dense object in the universe — all in a split-second gulp.

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This illustration provided by the American Museum of Natural History depicts the planet Earth, center, with the Sun in the background. The line of spots across the center of the image indicates star systems which can see Earth as it goes in front of our Sun. (OpenSpace / American Museum of Natural History via AP)

Feeling like you are being watched? It could be from a lot farther away than you think. Astronomers took a technique used to look for life on other planets and flipped it around — so instead of looking to see what’s out there, they tried to see what places could see us. 

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(Adler Planetarium / Facebook)

A return to pre-pandemic business as usual is not yet in the stars for the Chicago cultural institution, though some screenings and public observing events will make an in-person comeback beginning July 3.

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Partial solar eclipse, June 10, 2021. (Bill Ingalls / NASA)

Chicagoans’ view of Thursday morning’s “ring of fire” solar eclipse was over before most people were awake.

Plus: “Chicago Tonight” gets into the UFO report and its implications

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The image from video provided by the Department of Defense labelled Gimbal, from 2015, an unexplained object is seen at center as it is tracked as it soars high along the clouds, traveling against the wind. (Department of Defense via AP)

The U.S. government has been taking a hard look at unidentified flying objects. A report summarizing what the U.S. knows about “unidentified aerial phenomena” — better known as UFOs — is expected to be made public this month.

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A lunar eclipse. (dexmac / Pixabay)

Chicagoans aren’t in the right place or time zone to see Wednesday’s lunar eclipse at its peak. Just when the show gets interesting, the moon will sink from view.

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(moritz320 / Pixabay)

Look to the night sky this week for fascinating celestial show: the solar system’s three inner planets — Mercury, Venus and Mars — will all be visible. Use the crescent moon as a guide to find them in the sky.

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“Chicagohenge” during the fall 2020 equinox. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

During the fall and spring equinoxes, the sun rises due east and sets due west, creating an effect dubbed Chicagohenge (in reference to Stonehenge), when sunset is strikingly framed by the city’s east-west streets.

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This combination of images from video made available by NASA shows steps in the descent of the Mars Perseverance rover as it approaches the surface of the planet on Thursday, Feb. 18, 2021. (NASA/JPL-Caltech via AP)

NASA on Monday released the first high-quality video of a spacecraft landing on Mars, a three-minute trailer showing the enormous orange and white parachute hurtling open and the red dust kicking up as rocket engines lowered the rover to the surface.

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The first image NASA’s Perseverance rover sent back after touching down on Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. The view, from one of Perseverance’s Hazard Cameras, is partially obscured by a dust cover. (NASA / JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Perseverance rover greeted its global audience on Twitter, beaming back to Earth the first image captured after touching down Thursday afternoon on Mars. 

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This Sept. 21, 2020 image shows the remains of an ancient delta in Mars’ Jezero Crater, which NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover will explore for signs of fossilized microbial life. The image was taken by the high resolution stereo camera aboard the ESA (European Space Agency) Mars Express orbiter. (ESA/DLR/FU-Berlin)

NASA prepares to land a rover on Mars designed specifically to detect signs of ancient life. Local astronomer and space exploration enthusiast Mark Hammergren tells us more about the mission.

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A rendering of the GLIDE spacecraft by Lara Waldrop.

A spacecraft designed by an Illinois researcher and professor will orbit Earth’s outermost atmospheric layer to better understand powerful bursts of radiation from the sun, also known as solar flares. Lara Waldrop tells us more.