569 posts tagged with astronomy.
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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

Red Southern Lights

A lovely time-lapse of the Aurora Australis - The striking red color is the result of charged particles from the sun exciting oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere. [more inside]
posted by quin on Feb 7, 2012 - 15 comments

Black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... small pale dot... black... black... black...

Astronomical... the solar system in book form
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 28, 2012 - 24 comments

"...very little everything and more nothing than you could imagine."

The size of the known universe - A six and a half minute video which provides a view of the scale of the universe.
posted by quin on Jan 19, 2012 - 34 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

OpenCode

Today, NASA goes open source with its code, joining endeavours such as SpaceHack [previously], WorldWind and (for more worldly coders) Github, GoogleCode, and the venerable SourceForge.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Jan 8, 2012 - 11 comments

"We Stopped Dreaming"

King of the Cosmos (A Profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson) by Carl Zimmer. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jan 3, 2012 - 20 comments

Stargazing

Spacedex has well organized worldwide viewing information for meteor showers, like the brief Quadrantids on Tuesday and Wednesday. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Jan 2, 2012 - 3 comments

Comet falls into sun

Today, a comet falls into the sun. Via
posted by hot_monster on Dec 15, 2011 - 27 comments

Best Of 2011: Space and Astronomy

Timelapse of the Year: an awe-inspiring trailer for the movie TimeScapes by Tom Lowe (full 4K version on YouTube/MP4 direct link). (Previously)
Rover Newcomer: Where In The Solar System is Curiosity?
Astronomy Photographer of the Year. The Top 24 Deep Space Pictures of 2011Top 14 Solar System PhotosTop 16 Space Photos.  (Images of a million-light-year long collision of galaxy clusters and a “stellar snow angel” didn’t make the cut, but should have).
Discovery of the Year: Opportunity uncovers conclusive proof that water flowed on Mars.
Astronomy Animation of the year: a zoom to the center of the Milky Way, and the supermassive black hole that is feeding there.
Lifetime Achievement: The Known Universe, a stunning three-minute zoom from the peak of the Himalayas to the edge of the cosmos, finally available in HD. (Previously).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul on Dec 15, 2011 - 6 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

SciGuy Eric Berger

One of my favorite blogs happens to be local to me. Eric Berger, the Houston Chronicle's "SciGuy" usually reports on the weather. But he also posts entertaining and serious stuff as well. [more inside]
posted by PapaLobo on Nov 22, 2011 - 3 comments

We're all made of star stuff

Carl Sagan famously said that we are all made of star stuff. In his vision the basic building blocks of life were jettisoned into interstellar space by the massive explosions of stars going supernova. Now scientists from Hong Kong University have claimed that the results of their latest study(paywall), published in Nature, indicate that stars can create complex organic compounds on the very short timescale of weeks. [more inside]
posted by AElfwine Evenstar on Oct 27, 2011 - 48 comments

Pons-Brooks

A reanalysis of historical astronomical observations suggests that Earth narrowly avoided an extinction event just over a hundred years ago in 1883. [more inside]
posted by jeffburdges on Oct 17, 2011 - 29 comments

The Bolshoi Simulation - visualization of dark matter

Visualization of the dark matter in 1/1000 of the gigantic Bolshoi cosmological simulation, zooming in on a region centered on the dark matter halo of a very large cluster of galaxies. ... The Bolshoi simulation is the most accurate cosmological simulation of the evolution of the large-scale structure of the universe yet made (“bolshoi” is the Russian word for “great” or “grand”). (The Formation of the Milky Way and its Neighbors is cool too.)
posted by nickyskye on Oct 2, 2011 - 6 comments

The Space of Imagination

Dr. Dan Durda [bio; vita] is a veritable Renaissance Man, having hobbies that others would call careers; most notably, he is an accomplished astronomer, jet pilot, cave diver, and Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists.

Oh yeah, about that art stuff -- there's a lot [more inside]
posted by troll on Oct 1, 2011 - 5 comments

Apollo 11, as seen through Google Moon

The descent of the Apollo 11, plotted with Google Moon Pictures from the actual moon landing side-by-side with Google Earth, as the lander descends. [via]
Also, try the Google Earth KML file for the Apollo 11 landing.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike on Sep 28, 2011 - 22 comments

"The first image I made was purely for beauty..." photographing the analemma

"As noted elsewhere, more men have walked on the moon than have successfully photographed the analemma." (details) [more inside]
posted by jessamyn on Sep 19, 2011 - 51 comments

George Lucas was ahead of his time after all!

A team of astronomers monitoring data from the Kepler, a craft designed to identify potenially habitable stars, have just announced today that they have located one orbiting a double star system (NYT Link). Early data suggests it's a gaseous planet, but it is also within the range considered "sustainable for life". Still, if there's no life there, Kepler's got over a thousand other exoplanets to check out. Officially, the newly-discovered planet is named "Kepler 16b," but astronomers have already nicknamed it "Tatooine".
posted by EmpressCallipygos on Sep 15, 2011 - 59 comments

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