Thousands of astronomers flocked to Washington, D.C., for the 215th American Astronomical Society meeting, a conference touted to be the largest gathering of space scientists in the universe on Jan. 3-7, 2010.

Welcome to SPACE.com?s coverage of the conference to discuss the latest discoveries of alien planets, black hole, dark matter and other oddities and cosmic wonders of the universe. SPACE.com Senior Writer Andrea Thompson and Staff Writer Clara Moskowitz covered the meeting live at the Marriott Wardman Park.

Friday, Jan. 8

  • Thank Your Dusty Stars For Our Existence
    We owe our existence to a star that exploded long, long ago. That's the conclusion of a study that aimed to solve the mystery of why our solar system is enriched in a rare form of oxygen.

Thursday, Jan. 7

  • How Earth Survived Its Birth
    Just how Earth survived the process of its birth without suffering an early demise by falling into the sun has been something of a mystery to astronomers, but a new model has figured out what protected our planet when it was still a vulnerable, baby world.
  • Distant Planet is Second Smallest Super-Earth
    A newly discovered planet light-years from Earth is just four times the mass of our home planet, making the second smallest extrasolar planet to be found to date.
  • NASA Chief Calls for More International Cooperation in Space
    The United States must reach out to other countries to increase international cooperation in space, NASA chief Charles Bolden told an audience of astronomers this week.

Wednesday, Jan. 6

  • Tuesday, Jan. 5

    Plenty of Solar Systems Like Ours Expected
    There's good news and bad news. The bad news is that solar systems like ours are in the minority in the Milky Way. The good news is that's still an awful lot of potential twins out there.
  • Hubble Spies Most Distant, Early Galaxies Yet
    The Hubble Space Telescope has taken the deepest look into the universe yet, revealing some of the most distant, earliest galaxies to form after the Big Bang.

Monday, Jan. 4

  • Explosive Nearby Star Could Threaten Earth
    A massive, eruptive white dwarf star in the Milky Way ? long overdue for its next periodic eruption ? is closer to our solar system than previously thought and could threaten the Earth if it fully explodes millions of years from now.

Sunday, Jan. 3

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Just for Fun:

  • 9 Astronomy Milestones in 2009
  • Images - The Universe in Infrared
  • Hubble Space Telescope: Greatest Hits
  • Understanding Dark Matter
  • Top 10 Strangest Things in Space
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