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Dark matter is a former of yet undiscovered matter, which does not interact with the electromagnetic force. Dark matter is called dark because it does not emit light and it does not reflect light, making it virtually impossible to observe. There is also no clear consensus on what exactly dark matter is and where it fits in the accepted model of particle physics.

One theory dubbed Supersymmetry suggests all known particles in the Standard Model — fundamental particles such as electrons, quarks bosons and muons — are paired with a partner particle of dark matter. Another theory stipulates dark matter is built from small, undetectable black holes scattered around the galaxy. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe's expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. It turns out that roughly 68 percent of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27 percent.


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Whatever the case may be, all estimates show dark matter is the dominant substance in the universe, accounting for about 85 percent of matter. Stephen Hawking explains the universe.

Nathalie Cabrol Searches the Earth for the Secrets of Life on Mars

In this best-seller, the renowned physicist breaks down black holes, space and time, the theory of general relativity and much more, and makes it accessible to those of us who aren't rocket scientists. The book is a great primer for anyone who wants to learn more about the origins of the universe and where it's all heading. In her new book "The Planet Factory: Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth," astrophysicist Elizabeth Tasker explores what scientists currently know about the mysterious distant planets beyond the solar system.

The refreshing tone of her narrative takes readers on a journey through old techniques for spotting exoplanets some of which were quite dangerous , the oblong orbits of some alien planets, and why the "habitable zone" of a planet does little to support life if too much water drowns out it's rock cycles. The style is good for beginners, and the chapters are full of humorous explanations to grasp this important field of modern astronomy. Will Kalif, who runs the website Telescope Nerd, guides readers to dozens of interesting objects in the sky. Whether you enjoy looking at planets, star clusters, the moon, nebulas or something else, there are a range of fun things to seek out using this book.

The night sky is a very big place to explore, but Kalif narrows it down to what a beginning telescopic observer will enjoy. His star charts are handy guides to help you find your way.

Tonight's Sky — Select location

He even includes a section on astrophotography if you're interested in taking pictures, including options with unspecialized equipment. Since the text of the book is written at a junior high level, your teenage kids likely will enjoy the book as well.

Whether you're an amateur astronomer, casual stargazer or anything in between, " Things to See in the Night Sky" is your one-stop shop for information on where, when and how to spot some of the brightest and most easily recognizable sights in the sky. Written by Dean Regas, an astronomer and public outreach educator at the Cincinnati Observatory in Ohio, the book breaks down everything you need to know to stargaze like a pro. Beginners can use this book as an introduction to stargazing, while more experienced readers will find the book to be a useful field guide that can serve as a reference for locating and identifying stars, constellations, meteor showers, eclipses and even satellites.

The book focuses on "naked-eye" objects, so you don't need telescopes, binoculars or any other equipment to utilize this handy skywatching guide.

Monster of the Milky Way

Read an interview with the author here. In "The Zoomable Universe," astrophysicst Caleb Scharf takes readers from the size of the observable universe step-by-step down to the shortest theoretical measurable length. Along the way, Scharf and the book's illustrator, Ron Miller, explore the formation of the universe, our galaxy and Earth, the makeup of life and quantum physics, and the complexity that develops when you look beyond the surface at any scale. The large, colorful book has a lot of ground to cover, but it delves into enough detail to spark readers' curiosity, and additional graphics by 5W Infographics pack more information into less space.

As it speeds through orders of magnitude, from the largest to the smallest, it stops in lots of fascinating corners of the universe along the way. Fifty years ago, only a handful of scientists were hunting for signals from other civilizations as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence SETI. But Tarter continued to fight, helping to found a private agency that would survive government changes, hunting for private donors to look beyond this world and helping move the search for intelligent life from the fringes into mainstream science.

Author Lucas Ellerbroek highlights the passion of exoplanet researchers as they learn about the countless planets circling other stars. Throughout history, solar eclipses have transformed from terrifying omens to the subject of scientific study. In "Sun Moon Earth: The History of Solar Eclipses from Omens of Doom to Einstein and Exoplanets," astronomer-artist Tyler Nordgren traces the natural history of eclipses and how they have inspired eclipse chasers to travel the world and witness the natural phenomenon.

Nordgren's narrative also details how observations of total solar eclipses have contributed to scientific discoveries about the sun, moon and Earth's place in the universe throughout history. Read an interview with the book's author here. The search for planets beyond Earth's solar system has revealed countless surprises, including the existence of strange and unexpected worlds that astronomers would have never imagined existed only a few decades ago. A new book titled "Exoplanets: Diamond Worlds, Super Earths, Pulsar Planets and the New Search for Life Beyond Our Solar System" Smithsonian Books, explores the history of exoplanet research, illustrates the many different types of planets that have been discovered to date and discusses how astronomers plan to further study these newfound alien worlds.

The solar system is a wild place, and even Earth's immediate neighborhood is much more chaotic than maps would suggest — researchers discover more than near-Earth asteroids every month.


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A new book by Carrie Nugent, an asteroid researcher from Caltech, goes through how we find asteroids and near-Earth objects and what we would do if one was heading toward us. Over the past century, humankind's influence over our environment has increased dramatically. In "Earth in Human Hands," Grinspoon explores the ways that, for good or bad, humans have seized control of the planet. The choice is whether we do so mindlessly, or whether we act in a responsible, considerate manner.

Such a dilemma may be common to all life, and the most successful, long-lasting civilizations in the galaxy may live on planets they have engineered to be stable over extensive periods of time, making them more difficult to identify than rapidly-expanding societies. You can read an interview with Grinspoon and watch video clips of him discussing the book with Space. It has been the top-selling stargazing guide for over 20 years.

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Now in its revised fourth edition, the book contains everything you need to know about what's up in the sky through the year The bookre chapter is dedicated to stargazing technology, like binoculars and telescopes. An entiked with information that even the most experienced stargazers will find comes in handy. At that time, astronomers relied on grounded telescopes to record nightly observations of the stars. Women computers at the Harvard College Ovesrvatory were then tasked with interpreting those observations, captured on photographic glass plates.

Author Dava Sobel follows the stories of several women, which she collected from old diaries, letters and published observatory log books. For any space fan looking to learn crazy, fun facts about the universe, "Facts From Space!

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

Dean Regas, an astronomer and public outreach educator for the Cincinnati Observatory, has gathered together all the cool, quirky and mind-blowing facts you probably never knew you'd want to know about the universe. Regas chronicles everything from the sometimes silly adventures of space travelers in Earth's orbit and on the moon to black holes, galaxies and nebulas far away in deep space, listing all the best facts about the universe in a way that is fun and easy to read.

Readers of all ages can understand and appreciate the contents of this book.