4000 Exoplanets : Over 4000 planets are now known to exist outside our Solar System. Known as exoplanets, this milestone was passed last month, as recorded by NASA’s Exoplanet Archive. The featured video highlights these exoplanets in sound and light, starting chronologically from the first confirmed detection in 1992. The entire night sky is first shown compressed with the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy making a giant U. Exoplanets detected by slight jiggles in their parents-star’s colors (radial velocity) appear in pink, while those detected by slight dips in their parent star’s brightness (transit) are shown in purple. Further, those exoplanets imaged directly appear in orange, while those detected by gravitationally magnifying the light of a background star (microlensing) are shown in green. The faster a planet orbits its parent star, the higher the accompanying tone played. The retired Kepler satellite has discovered about half of these first 4000 exoplanets in just one region of the sky, while the new TESS mission is on track to find even more, all over the sky, orbiting the brightest nearby stars. Finding exoplanets not only helps humanity to better understand the potential prevalence of life elsewhere in the universe, but also how our Earth and Solar System were formed. via NASA

Jupiter Abyss : NASA’s Juno spacecraft captured this view of an area within a Jovian jet stream showing a vortex that has an intensely dark center. (via NASA)

Birds During a Total Solar Eclipse : What do birds do during a total solar eclipse? Darkness descends more quickly in a total eclipse than during sunset, but returns just as quickly – and perhaps unexpectedly to the avians – just a few minutes later. Stories about the unusual behavior of birds during eclipses have been told for centuries, but bird reactions were recorded and studied systematically by citizen scientists participating in an eBird project during the total solar eclipse that crossed the USA in 2017 August. Although some unusual behaviors were observed, many observers noted birds acting like it was dusk and either landing or flying low to the ground. Radar confirmed a significant decrease in high-flying birds and insects during and just after totality. Conversely, several sightings of normally nocturnal birds were reported. Pictured, a flock of birds in La Serena, Chile flew through the air together during the total solar eclipse that crossed South America last week. The photographer captured the scene in frames from an eclipse video. The next total solar eclipse in 2020 December will also cross South America, while in 2024 April a total solar eclipse will cross North America from Mexico through New England, USA. via NASA

Total Solar Eclipse Darkens the South Pacific : On July 2, 2019, skywatchers in the beach city of La Serena, Chile, looked up at 4:38 p.m. local time to see a black circle in the sky. (via NASA)

Crescent Saturn : Saturn never shows a crescent phase – from Earth. But when viewed from beyond, the majestic giant planet can show an unfamiliar diminutive sliver. This image of crescent Saturn in natural color was taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2007. The featured image captures Saturn’s majestic rings from the side of the ring plane opposite the Sun – the unilluminated side – another vista not visible from Earth. Pictured are many of Saturn’s photogenic wonders, including the subtle colors of cloud bands, the complex shadows of the rings on the planet, and the shadow of the planet on the rings. A careful eye will find the moons Mimas (2 o’clock) and Janus (4 o’clock), but the real challenge is to find Pandora (8 o’clock). Saturn is now nearly opposite from the Sun in the Earth’s sky and so can be seen in the evening starting just after sunset for the rest of the night. via NASA

Earth’s Glow, the Moon and a Starry Night : This was the view as the International Space Station orbited 256 miles above the Pacific Ocean, southeast of the Hawaiian island chain. (via NASA)

NASA’s First Rover on the Red Planet : This 8-image mosaic of the Sojourner rover on the surface of Mars was acquired during the late afternoon on Sol 2. Sojourner arrived aboard the Mars Pathfinder on July 4, 1997. (via NASA)

Taking to the Skies: Orion Test Brings Moon, Mars Missions Closer : A launch abort system (LAS) with a test version of Orion attached soars upward on NASA’s Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test atop a Northrop Grumman provided booster on July 2, 2019, after launching at 7 a.m. EDT. (via NASA)

Orion “Go” for Launch : A test version of NASA’s Orion crew module is ready for rollback at Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. (via NASA)

Virtual Flight over Asteroid Vesta : What would it be like to fly over the asteroid Vesta? Animators from the German Aerospace Center took actual images and height data from NASA’s Dawn mission when it visited asteroid Vesta a few years ago and generated a virtual movie. The featured video begins with a sequence above Divalia Fossa, an unusual pair of troughs running parallel over heavily cratered terrain. Next, the virtual spaceship explores Vesta’s 60-km Marcia Crater, showing numerous vivid details. Last, Dawn images were digitally recast with exaggerated height to better reveal Vesta’s 5-km high mountain Aricia Tholus. The second largest object in the Solar System’s asteroid belt, Vesta is the brightest asteroid visible from Earth and can be found with binoculars. Using Vesta Trek, you can explore all over Vesta yourself. via NASA