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Red Planet Blues

The trouble with terraforming Mars...
posted by Artw on Dec 20, 2013 - 73 comments

Planet Rise

What would the night sky look like if the other planets were as close as the moon?
posted by jim in austin on Jun 29, 2013 - 55 comments

Exoplanet Hunter

"It was one of those things that was a gift to humanity... We’re all going to lose for sure." Kepler's career is over, but not before answering one of mankind's most profound questions.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot on May 15, 2013 - 30 comments

March Madness!

Take a tour of the solar system! Tonight, see the wonders of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn! There's only one catch: You'll need to actually step outside to do it. [more inside]
posted by bondcliff on Mar 5, 2012 - 48 comments

"A situation in many respects similar to ours"

For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was erroneously believed that there were canals on Mars.
Maps of the Martian canals. List of Martian Canals. Historical Globes of the Red Planet.
A modern perspective. The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery .
posted by timshel on Feb 12, 2012 - 26 comments

The tiniest star system

Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun. The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The smallest is about the size of Mars.
posted by IvoShandor on Jan 11, 2012 - 29 comments

Other earths, circling different suns

The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog is a database of the planets outside our solar system which are considered the most suitable for life according to certain steps and metrics. So far 16 have been identified as possible candidates. This Guardian article is a good introduction. You can also just dive into the catalogue, which ranks planets on two main scales, similarity to Earth and surface habitability (note that all images are computer renderings). The catalog is a project of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at University of Puerto Rico in Arecibo (home to the world's largest radiotelescope).
posted by Kattullus on Dec 5, 2011 - 42 comments

Now, witness the power of this fully-armed and operational battle station

The discovery indicates there are many more free-floating Jupiter-mass planets that can't be seen. The team estimates there are about twice as many of them as stars. In addition, these worlds are thought to be at least as common as planets that orbit stars. This would add up to hundreds of billions of lone planets in our Milky Way galaxy alone.
posted by anigbrowl on May 18, 2011 - 52 comments

Dude, where's my planet?

Where's Tyche, the 10th 9th planet? Getting the full story. John Matese and Daniel Whitmire of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette recently made the news when they announced the possible discovery of a gas giant planet they named Tyche in the Oort Cloud, at the extreme edge of the Solar System (previously). Now ars electronica breaks down the evidence behind the announcement, what can be done to confirm or disprove its existence & how long it could take.
posted by scalefree on Mar 3, 2011 - 17 comments

with depravity / i break lots of gravity

Our solar system may have a ninth planet -- or a tenth, if you're a Pluto sentimentalist. Tyche, which astronomers suspect lurks in the Oort cloud, fifteen thousand times farther away from the sun than the Earth, is thought to be a gas giant four times the size of Jupiter. We may know for sure in April.
posted by eugenen on Feb 14, 2011 - 99 comments

Make your own astronomical calendar

Several months ago, Bill Rankin of Radical Cartography (previously and previouslier) created an astronomical calendar of events for New Haven, Connecticut, where he lives, featuring all of the inexorable rhythms of the Solar System in one handy PNG file. Now you can create such a calendar for any location on the planet, with information as basic as the hours of daylight or as esoteric as the tilt of Saturn's rings, all lovingly rendered in soothing translucent pastels. [more inside]
posted by theodolite on Feb 7, 2011 - 18 comments

1000 worlds

NASAs Kepler mission has discovered over 1,100 extrasolar planet candidates. Including, "68 Earth-sized, 288 super-Earth-sized, 662 Neptune-sized, and 165 Jupiter-sized planets". 54 are found in their star's habitable zone, with five of those considered "near-Earth sized" [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 3, 2011 - 65 comments

"A novel metric of habitability"

Amid news of new extrasolar planet discoveries, including a system with a possible 7 planets, Greg Laughlin and Sam Arbesman have released a paper that will be published next month in the open-access journal PLoS One. "A Scientometric Prediction of the Discovery of the First Potentially Habitable Planet with a Mass Similar to Earth" (pdf of full paper) boldly predicts that: "the fi rst potentially habitable planet will be discovered, in this case, as early as May 2011, and likely by the end of 2013." NASA's Kepler mission is set to release data on hundreds of candidate planets early next year. The mission has discovered 7 so far. (Pre-vio-usly)
posted by IvoShandor on Sep 20, 2010 - 23 comments

"All these worlds are (like) yours except . . . "

More than 100 Earth-like planets found . . . [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Jul 23, 2010 - 48 comments

That's Science!

People have been upset about Pluto's demotion for some time now. (While classical music fans have just had a love/hate relationship with this whole process.) But astronomical hate mail has never been as cute as the missives Neil deGrasse Tyson has received over the years from tots upset at poor Pluto's ouster.
posted by greekphilosophy on Mar 15, 2010 - 46 comments

At the limit of humankind's ability

Scientists at NASA will announce the first findings from the Kepler mission next month. The results have caught scientists off-guard but they aren't giving any hints as to what mission co-investigator David Latham "was not prescient enough to anticipate". [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Dec 16, 2009 - 94 comments

Zeta Reticuli is watching the Brady Bunch

If extraterrestrial civilizations are monitoring our TV broadcasts, then this is what they are currently watching.
posted by Artw on Jul 7, 2009 - 52 comments

Did that star just blink?

Tonight NASA is scheduled to launch the Kepler Mission (named after planetary legislator Johannes Kepler) with the goal of finding Earth size planets in orbit around stars in the Cygnus-Lyra region of the sky. Over the next 3 and a half years it will maintain a nearly unblinking gaze on the approximately 100 thousand stars in the region. NASA expects it to find about 50 Earth size planets, as well as hundreds that are larger. You can watch the launch live on NASA TV. [more inside]
posted by borkencode on Mar 6, 2009 - 42 comments

Stars In Your Eyes

See Saturn this Saturday April 12 is the second annual International Sidewalk Astronomy Night, a worldwide event coordinated by the Sidewalk Astronomers. The group, founded in 1968 by John Dobson (subject of this documentary), is dedicated to a sort of guerrilla astronomy -- experienced stargeeks bringing their really good telescopes out to places where people are. So even on your way to the bars, the shows, and the honky-tonk you can see stuff like this and this - like these people did.
posted by Miko on Apr 10, 2008 - 16 comments

Space Oddity

Mars and Beyond - 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
posted by madamjujujive on Jun 10, 2007 - 9 comments

Ice hot planet

Scientists have discovered a planet composed of scorching hot ice. Originally thought to be a gas giant due to its mass, its actually only four times the size of Earth and most likely composed of exotic forms of ice, such as Ice VII and Ice X with s surface temperature of 300° C.
posted by Artw on May 16, 2007 - 30 comments

Far distant lands

The first was found just fifteen years ago, after centuries of speculation. As of today, we're up to 227 and counting. Most are just wobbles in data, but we have pictures and exotica too. And we are looking for more (although some think we shouldn't look very hard and others are drawing some surprising conclusions). The science and technology of finding the most fascinating and elusive types demands some of the cleverest engineering, yet you can even have a go for yourself. Previously on Metafilter
posted by Devonian on Apr 22, 2007 - 23 comments

I guess we need a new mnemonic...

Ceres, Charon, and 2003 UB313 (a.k.a. Xena) may join the 9 planets we already know (and strive to remember) if a resolution by the International Astronomical Union is passed next week. So what makes a planet, according to the IAU? Having sufficient mass to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium (i.e. be round enough...welcome former asteroid Ceres) and being in orbit around a star without being a star itself or a satellite of another planet (apparently Charon and Pluto are actually a double planet.) Mike Brown, discoverer of "10th planet" Sedna and alleged "Pluto-hater", doesn't really like the idea.
posted by nekton on Aug 16, 2006 - 75 comments

Stellarium

Stellarium. A free program which renders realistic skies in real time, and more. Handy for anyone who ever wrangled with one of these. And very cool to watch in fast forward.
posted by fire&wings on Nov 7, 2005 - 20 comments

Watch Your Back, Pluto

Big object sighted... if you liked Sedna and Quaoar, you're bound to love 2003 EL61, which has been found lurking in photographs from a couple of years ago. There appears to be some speculation that this one could be larger than Pluto.
posted by gimonca on Jul 29, 2005 - 19 comments

Star Cluster and You

First Super Star Cluster detected in Milky Way, while in the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), MYSTERY Star Clusters are found.
Unique? Us? Haw. Plenty of Earth-like planets await discovery, say researchers.
posted by dfowler on Apr 5, 2005 - 6 comments

First extrasolar planet photo

Orbiting GQ Lupi: first confirmed images of extrasolar planet
posted by dfowler on Apr 4, 2005 - 14 comments

Ring-around-the-posie

" It was beyond description, really, it was mind-blowing," she said. "I'm surprised at how surprised I am at the beauty and the clarity of these images. They are shocking to me."
posted by moonbird on Jul 2, 2004 - 2 comments

Hubble harvest 100 new planets

Hubble harvests 100 new planets during a 7-day sweep of the bulge of the Milky Way.. If confirmed it would almost double the number of known planets to about 230. "I think this work has the potential to be the most significant advance in discovering extra-solar planetary systems since the first planets were discovered in the mid-1990s."
posted by stbalbach on Jul 1, 2004 - 17 comments

Chasing Venus

Chasing Venus Transits of Venus occur every 130 years or so when Venus can be observed passing across the face of the sun. Chasing Venus is an online exhibition by Smithsonian Institution Libraries that tells the story of how the transit has been observed since the 17th century, with early observations in England, illustrated accounts of expeditions by 18th century astronomers to various parts of the world, and early uses of photography to record observations in the 19th century. Includes links to animations of transits reconstructed from Victorian photographs, and details of a lecture series on Thursdays in April and May (first one April 8). The first transit since 1882 is this year.
posted by carter on Apr 4, 2004 - 5 comments

Observing the five planets

Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, the five planets visible to the naked eye, can all be seen simultaneously after sunset over the next few weeks. Viewing details. The next opportunity will be in 2036.
posted by carter on Mar 21, 2004 - 8 comments

planetary photojournal

planetary photojournal
posted by crunchland on Nov 18, 2003 - 1 comment

2000 EB173 gets a name

Large rock named Huya! 3 years after being discovered a large object (?) orbiting the sun has been named.
posted by rdr on Aug 24, 2003 - 9 comments

Sketches at the Eyepiece

Sketches at the Eyepiece. Drawings of the Moon, the Sun, planets and other astronomical objects.
Also The Face of the Moon: Galileo to Apollo. A catalogue of rare books and maps, with images.
posted by plep on Jun 23, 2003 - 8 comments

Celestial spheres

This guy can build an orrery for you. Or you can make your own armillary sphere. These two devices are quite possibly the most elegant and beautiful scientific instruments ever created.
posted by WolfDaddy on May 2, 2003 - 10 comments

Is there Life on Mars?

Is there Life on Mars? As NASA announce a nuclear-powered Mars and beyond project, British scientists are looking forward to the launch of the Beagle 2 which will search for signs of life on the Red Planet. Is this the return of the Space Race in a new form? And will they find any sign of life?
posted by anyanka on Jan 22, 2003 - 3 comments

Aonther massive celestial object, with a companion star in tow,

Another massive celestial object, with a companion star in tow, has been discovered hurtling through the Milky Way. Unlike similar discoveries confirming the bow shock theory of stellar dynamics, this week's phenomenon is considerably older, as it's an aftereffect of the galactic core's formation. The French and Argentine astromoners making the discovery believe what they've witnessed may be a black hole, though theoretically, the collasped matter may be a gravistar.
posted by Smart Dalek on Nov 19, 2002 - 10 comments

Next Thursday, NASA will announce the discovery of huge water ice oceans on Mars. Lying less than a metre beneath the surface south of 60° latitude, the water ice reservoirs if melted would form an ocean 500m deep covering the entire planet. NASA insiders believe these findings could result in a manned landing within 20 years.
posted by adrianhon on May 26, 2002 - 24 comments

I saw all five of the visible planets in our solar system tonight!

I saw all five of the visible planets in our solar system tonight! And so can you, if you have clear skies and go outside between 8:45 and 9 p.m. your time this week. Disclaimer - my naked eyes weren't good enough to see Mercury but I could see it with binoculars.
posted by Lynsey on May 6, 2002 - 4 comments

Reflections on a Mote of Dust

Reflections on a Mote of Dust "We succeeded in taking that picture [from deep space], and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam." Carl Sagan "Pale Blue Dot"
posted by crasspastor on Sep 11, 2001 - 15 comments

Get a piece of the Rock.

Get a piece of the Rock. Moon that is. I say boy, you got to think of the future. Just remember all these worlds are yours except Europa.
posted by john on Nov 20, 2000 - 6 comments

A Mars Lander is set to touch down on Mars

A Mars Lander is set to touch down on Mars sometime between December 1st and December 20th of this year. Keep your eyes peeled on this mars site, it will be the primary location of new information about the mission. I doubt if they find water on Mars though...
posted by mathowie on Nov 16, 1999 - 0 comments

We are not alone....

We are not alone.... a new planet outside of our solar system was found today. It's only a matter of time before the little green men come down to greet us.
posted by mathowie on Nov 13, 1999 - 0 comments

The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia gives detailed information on all the planets scientists have found outside the solar system. Nerd chic.
posted by tdecius on Oct 10, 1999 - 0 comments

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