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Asteroid Discovery - 1980-2012

Using data provided by the Lowell Observatory and Minor Planet Center, this fascinating video provides a view of our knowledge of nearby asteroids and how closely their paths intersect with Earth's. The voiceover explains the count of objects, and what the colorations mean. [slyt]
posted by quin on Mar 1, 2013 - 17 comments

Mars: Cosmic Bullseye?

Will Mars be rocked by a massive comet in 2014? Maybe a little. Maybe a lot. A comet will definitely pass close to the Red Planet on October 19, 2014. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Mar 1, 2013 - 41 comments

As below, so above.

"Forget the old heliocentric model – our solar system is a vortex!" Part 1, Part 2. [via] [more inside]
posted by griphus on Mar 1, 2013 - 51 comments

Like a big pizza pie

Wired: The Most Badass Moons of our Solar System Mimas | Europa | Io | Enceladus | Hyperion | Iapetus | Charon | Triton | The Moon | Asteroid Moons | Titan | Phoebe
posted by slogger on Feb 28, 2013 - 19 comments

Pretty Colors

A gallery of gorgeous thin-section photos of meteorites.
posted by Scientist on Feb 22, 2013 - 18 comments

Twirling, twirling, twirling toward the nebulous 3rd dimension

Finnish astrophotographer J-P Metsävainio has created some stunning 3D animations (more at his blog) of far-flung nebula. Phil Plait first pointed to them back in October. Today, there's a post on the Smithsonian Magazine's website about them.
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 22, 2013 - 5 comments

More beholden to magnetism than gravity

Fiery Looping Rain on the Sun (via badastronomy and NASA's SDO)
posted by IvoShandor on Feb 21, 2013 - 17 comments

Galileo and impolitic science

Moon Man: What Galileo saw. [Via]
posted by homunculus on Feb 7, 2013 - 28 comments

Parting Moon Shots from NASA's GRAIL mission

Three days prior to its planned impact on a lunar mountain, mission controllers activated the camera aboard one of NASA's GRAIL twins to take some final photos from lunar orbit. The result is some of the best footage of the moon's surface captured so far. [more inside]
posted by quin on Jan 25, 2013 - 36 comments

Planet Four

With the help of Stargazing Live, 10,506 citizen scientists are exploring the surface of Mars like never before.
posted by Dr. Fetish on Jan 9, 2013 - 8 comments

The Mote in Sauron's Eye

Fomalhaut is a magnitude 1.16 star in the "Piscis Austrinis" or "Southen Fish," and one of the first stars discovered with an extrasolar planet (previously). It has been dubbed "The Eye of Sauron" after a stunning picture taken in 2008 of its debris ring. There was some controversy about the exoplanet, dubbed "Fomalhaut b" though as it turns out, its orbit is stranger than expected.
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 9, 2013 - 13 comments

So high, so low, so many things to know.

January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 8, 2013 - 10 comments

What a wonderful world!

NASA spacecraft captures breathtaking new view of Saturn. [more inside]
posted by mazola on Dec 21, 2012 - 31 comments

The Universe is beautiful.

Phil Plait presents the Best Astronomy Images of 2012. Plait and Bad Astronomy previously.
posted by davidjmcgee on Dec 19, 2012 - 15 comments

The end of the world is nigh. We need to publish papers on it.

At Cambridge University, the Project for Existential Risk is considering threats to humankind caused by developing technologies. It will be developing a prospectus for the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, to be launched by the Astronomer Royal, a co-founder of Skype and the Bertrand Russell professor of philosophy. More detail from the university, while the news excites some journalists. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 25, 2012 - 25 comments

Destroyer Gods and Sons-of-Bitches

In the telling it has the contours of a creation myth: At a time of great evil and great terror, a small group of scientists, among the world’s greatest minds, secluded themselves in the desert. In secrecy and silence they toiled at their Promethean task. They sought the ultimate weapon, one of such great power as to end not just their war, but all war. They hoped their work would salvage the future. They feared it could end everything. - Prometheus in the desert: from atom bombs to radio astronomy, New Mexico's scientific legacy
posted by Artw on Nov 24, 2012 - 22 comments

It's full of.... well, you know.

100,000 Stars [SLInteractive3DVisualization] (Seems to run best on Chrome or Safari and a decent graphics card)
posted by gwint on Nov 14, 2012 - 18 comments

It's only 42 years away. Bring towels.

Well now, this is an interesting discovery... Reexamination of data collect through HARPS has resulted in finding three additional planets bringing the total to six. One of which is safely within the goldilocks zone of its star.
posted by michswiss on Nov 9, 2012 - 26 comments

The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 3, 2012 - 46 comments

PhD Comics tv

You may already be familiar with PhDComics (Previously) and the PhDMovie (Previously), but PhDComics.tv has now become a pretty fantastic resource for both researchers and laymen. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 26, 2012 - 2 comments

Not to be confused with Dyson, the vacuum cleaner company.

Dark matter, or DYSON SPHERES? [more inside]
posted by fnerg on Oct 25, 2012 - 70 comments

The vanishing groves

The vanishing groves: A chronicle of climates past and a portent of climates to come – the telling rings of the bristlecone pine.
posted by homunculus on Oct 17, 2012 - 19 comments

What do you mean you've never been to Alpha Centauri? Oh, for heavens sake mankind, it's only four light years away, you know.

A planet with about the same mass as Earth has been discovered in orbit around Alpha Centauri B, a star in the Alpha Centauri triple star system - the solar system's closest neighbor, a mere 4.3 light years away. Alpha Centauri B is very similar to the Sun, and this marks the first planet with a mass similar to Earth ever found around a Sun-like star. However, the planet is orbiting at a distance of about six million kilometers, much closer than Mercury is to the Sun in the Solar System, so temperatures above 400 degrees Celsius may make vacationing there unpalatable even for the most dedicated beach-goer. However, lead paper author Xavier Dumusque called it "a major step towards the detection of a twin Earth in the immediate vicinity of the Sun."
posted by kyrademon on Oct 16, 2012 - 55 comments

September was Historic, astronomically

For the first time ever, a meteor has grazed in and out of Earth's atmosphere, slowing enough to become a temporary satellite that lasted a full orbit. In other astronomical news, a comet was discovered by a couple of Russian astronomers that appears to have all of the ingredients to be one of the greatest comets in our lifetimes, and maybe one of the greatest in human civilization's history. New comet might blaze brighter than the full Moon This will be the second great comet of 2013.
posted by spock on Oct 3, 2012 - 72 comments

It has a tail. It will do what it wants to.

A comet has been discovered and we may get to see it. If it doesn't boil away first, we'll be able to see it November 29th, 2013, give or take a day. Lots of back-slapping on the comet email list. (Via.)
posted by univac on Sep 25, 2012 - 30 comments

13 billion light-years from home

eXtreme Deep Field (1.4 MB JPG) is the deepest-ever view of the universe - a new assemblage of 10 years of Hubble Space Telescope photographs focused on a small area at the center of the original Ultra Deep Field. With a cumulative exposure time of 2 million seconds, XDF shows approximately 5,500 galaxies - some of them 10 billion times too faint to be seen with the naked eye.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 25, 2012 - 64 comments

Capturing photons

Astronomy Photographer of the Year
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Sep 20, 2012 - 14 comments

How to build a Dyson sphere in five (relatively) easy steps

How to build a Dyson sphere in five (relatively) easy steps.
posted by Egg Shen on Sep 7, 2012 - 80 comments

Hubble's hidden treasures

Hubble's hidden treasures "Hubble has made over a million observations since launch, but only a small proportion are attractive images ... but the vast amount of data in the archive means that there are still many hundreds of beautiful images scattered among the valuable, but visually unattractive, scientific data that have never been enjoyed by the public. We call these pictures Hubble’s hidden treasures, and a few months ago, we invited the public to look through Hubble’s science archive to help us find them."
posted by dhruva on Aug 23, 2012 - 21 comments

Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea

Mars: Adrift on the Hourglass Sea. Desolation and the Sublime on a Distant Planet. Mars-inspired artwork, commisioned by NASA, by Kahn & Selesnick (previously). [Via]
posted by homunculus on Aug 18, 2012 - 11 comments

What came before Pangea? What comes next?

A history of the world. As seen from space. Over a really long stretch of time. If the Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and Pangea split up only about 200 million years ago, what happened before then? I never knew that geologists could reconstruct the continents' movements from before Pangea. Not only that, but they can give us a preview of what comes next. Here's three possible ways the continents might be joined in 250 million years. In the big picture, researchers from U.C. Lancashire have just finished a model of the way the Milky Way Galaxy formed. [more inside]
posted by Sleeper on Aug 6, 2012 - 34 comments

Note: object sizes are not to scale.

Our solar system in one very long infographic. [more inside]
posted by quin on Jul 16, 2012 - 39 comments

Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.

After a period of relative stability, another leap second will occur on 2012 June 30 at 23:59:60 UTC. (Previously.) Proposals to decouple UTC from the Earth's irregular rotation (previously, previously) have stalled and the International Telecommunication Union has recently deferred the development of a continuous time standard. So enjoy your extra second while you can! [more inside]
posted by RedOrGreen on Jun 29, 2012 - 41 comments

New Moon

Kelly Beatty of Sky & Telescope magazine has introduced the first entirely new Moon globe in 40 years using high-resolution data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC). You may know LROC as the satellite that showed us the remains of the Apollo missions (previously). One nice detail is that they got the Moon's asphalt-like color correct.
posted by dirigibleman on Jun 16, 2012 - 16 comments

One billion stars; billions and billions of pixels

Want to see what a billion stars look like from the comfort of your chair? [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on Jun 11, 2012 - 29 comments

Cosmic vocab

Professor Brian Cox (previously) wondering about things.
posted by Artw on Jun 5, 2012 - 31 comments

Christmas in June

The United States Department of Defense has generously "decided to give NASA two telescopes as big as, and even more powerful than, the Hubble Space Telescope." They apparently had some antiquated spy satellite hardware sitting around unused and unwanted. NASA still needs to find money to outfit them with recording instruments and pay a team to manage them, which may take 8 years
posted by crayz on Jun 4, 2012 - 69 comments

Last chance this century!

Missed the transit of Venus in 2004? Want to know if you'll be able to see the transit on June 5/6 from your location? Want a free badge-of-geekhood app for your iPhone? It's all right here! [more inside]
posted by Quietgal on Jun 1, 2012 - 27 comments

Measuring the Universe

The Royal Observatory, Greenwich has put together the fantastic short video Measuring the Universe which briefly describes the different techniques used to allow us to calculate the vast distances to stellar objects in space. [via]
posted by quin on May 30, 2012 - 11 comments

Happy Century Ruby

Have you looked at the sky today? You probably should. She would have been a hundred today, she just might have had a bit to do with how we understand our universe.
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan on May 28, 2012 - 15 comments

SKA, music to an astronomers ears

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Organisation recently announced a two site approach, in Australia-NZ and Southern Africa, a move that was applauded by the Australian team. Once fully operational in 2024, SKA's one square kilometre collecting area should lead to major advances in astronomy. [more inside]
posted by wilful on May 27, 2012 - 32 comments

Ad Astra Incrementis

Carl Sagan wrote, “We began as wanderers, and we are wanderers still. We have lingered long enough on the shores of the cosmic ocean. We are ready at last to set sail for the stars.” But how will humans or our machine representatives fly to the stars? [more inside]
posted by audi alteram partem on May 1, 2012 - 42 comments

Before and after science.

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg discusses his reason for suspecting that advances in particle physics and astronomy will not just slow down in the coming years, but cease entirely.
posted by Nomyte on Apr 23, 2012 - 41 comments

For once, clouds are a good thing

One of the neater aspects of astronomy is that amateurs often make significant contributions to the field. A few nights ago Wayne Jaeschke found a strange cloud feature in his Mars images. He posted his findings to the site Cloudy Nights. It created a bit of a buzz there, as well as the wider media, (even MSNBC!). It has also piqued the interest of the pros. Researchers working with the Mars Thermal Emission Imaging System onboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft and the Mars Color Imager onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Observer are looking over their data to try to figure out exactly what it is they're seeing.
posted by dirigibleman on Mar 24, 2012 - 18 comments

Stars, Galaxies and Lasers

Astronomer’s Paradise - A beautiful time-lapse video of Paranal Observatory in action.
posted by quin on Mar 19, 2012 - 6 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

1,000 new worlds

NASA has announced that the latest Kepler data dump contains 1,091 extrasolar planet candidates, with 196 Earth-sized planets among them. The data shows "a clear trend toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods is evident with each new catalog release. This suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant." Total Kepler candidates as of February 27, 2012: 2,321. [more inside]
posted by IvoShandor on Mar 1, 2012 - 44 comments

"That orbed maiden, with white fire laden, / Whom mortals call the moon."

""The moon is actually expanding or stretching and being pulled apart in some small areas and by a little bit," [CBC.ca] New evidence suggests that the moon, once thought to be geologically cold and dead, is still stretching and contracting on its surface.
posted by Fizz on Feb 26, 2012 - 27 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

It sounds like a need a subwoofer

What does a nebula sound like? "Astronomer Paul Francis from the Australian National University has used [recording from spectrographs] and converted them into sound by reducing their frequency 1.75 trillion times to make them audible, as the original frequencies are too high to be heard by the human ear." His projects so far include a comet, quasar, and the life of a sunlike star. His explanation of the "Celestial Orchestra" is worth a listen.
posted by Made of Star Stuff on Feb 9, 2012 - 21 comments

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