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Super-supernova

New supernova is bright. Too bright, in fact.
posted by Citizen Premier on May 7, 2007 - 21 comments

And the baths of all the western stars, until I die

Under alien skies: Start with the simply stunning Exosolar, a flash-based interface for navigating through 2,000 nearer stars in 3-D, including all discovered planets outside our solar system. See what the skies would look like from other planets and suns. Explore star maps from many science fiction universes, from Star Trek to Dune. Watch the Big Dipper change its shape over a hundred thousand years. Zoom into a face-on map of the Milky Way that would cover 16 square meters if printed, and see the Atlas of the Universe. [prev. on extrasolar planets, prev. on star maps]
posted by blahblahblah on May 6, 2007 - 9 comments

Stonehenge math

Solstice/equinox calculations Been hankering to build your own Stonehenge but got stumped at the planning stage? Paul Doherty shows you the math to construct a modern ancient observatory with angles and facings correct for your latitude.
posted by Mitheral on May 1, 2007 - 5 comments

Cake to person ratio = infinite

To celebrate the 17th birthday of the Hubble Space Telescope, please feast your eyes on a very detailed (Flash) picture of the Carina Nebula.
posted by WolfDaddy on Apr 30, 2007 - 27 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

The dark energy backlash

Prominent cosmologist Simon D.M. White has written a provocative paper posted to the astrophysics arxiv complaining that too much time is being devoted to the quest to understand the nature of the elusive dark energy: "Dark Energy is undeniably an interesting problem to attack through astronomical observation, but it is one of many and not necessarily the one where significant progress is most likely to follow a major investment of resources." He worries generally that observational cosmology/astrophysics/astronomy may turn away from the construction of instruments of general utility (such as the Hubble Space Telescope), to concentrate on a small number of massive experiments narrowly focused on solving particular problems (such as WMAP and the Large Hadron Collider), to the detriment of the "quirky small-science" type of astronomy.
posted by snoktruix on Apr 21, 2007 - 8 comments

Astronomy Day 2007

This Saturday, April 21, 2007, is Astronomy Day 2007. This annual promotion of astronomy started in California (pdf) in 1973 and has since spread around the country and the world. Science museums and observatories all over are hosting special events to celebrate Astronomy Day. Find a local club near you and start enjoying the night sky!
posted by achmorrison on Apr 17, 2007 - 5 comments

Wikisky - Online Starmap and Wiki

It's like Google Maps...for space. Wikisky is a draggable, zoomable, web-based star map. And if you click on a star or other object, it brings up a page with all the information you could want on it, including recent articles and astrophotos that contain that object. And it does lots more. Go explore.
posted by Jimbob on Mar 22, 2007 - 25 comments

Titanic Pirates of Methane Seas

Titan Sea and Lake Superior
This movie, comprised of several detailed images taken by Cassini's radar instrument, shows bodies of liquid near Titan's north pole. These images show that many of the features commonly associated with lakes on Earth, such as islands, bays, inlets and channels, are also present on this cold Saturnian moon. They offer strong evidence that larger bodies seen in infrared images are, in fact, seas. These seas are most likely liquid methane and ethane.
Radar Shows Evidence of Seas
posted by y2karl on Mar 15, 2007 - 31 comments

Big Science, Cold Science, Blog Science

Welcome to the South Pole Telescope blog.
posted by geos on Mar 8, 2007 - 7 comments

Archaeoastronomy in Peru

The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo in Peru may be the Western Hemisphere's oldest known full-service solar observatory, showing evidence of early, sophisticated Sun cults, according to archaeoastronomy professor Clive Ruggles. The 2,300-year-old complex featured 13 towers running north to south along a ridge and spread across 980 feet to form a toothed horizon that spans the solar arc. Last year, another ancient observatory was discovered in Peru by Robert Benfer. The Temple of the Fox is 4,200 years old, making it 1,900 years older than the Chankillo site, but wasn't a complete calendar.
posted by homunculus on Mar 3, 2007 - 8 comments

See a nova in Scorpius

"A Naked-Eye Nova in Scorpius" - Scorpius, the constellation home to M4, has a nova visible to the naked eye. Skytonight.com has a cool javascript almanac for you to see when it will be most visible for where you live.
posted by frecklefaerie on Feb 19, 2007 - 7 comments

Art imitates Life imitates Cosmos

Super-sized cosmic double helix For all the many different (sometimes ignominious) ways in which we imitate nature, sometimes it is nice to see the dynamic change a bit - this time, in the guise of something at the heart of our essence found at the heart of our local island miniverse.
posted by anatinus on Feb 11, 2007 - 14 comments

Hubble ACS, We Hardly Knew You

Hubble's ACS Has Died. Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys has apparently gone into safe mode, with little hope of return. The ACS was installed in 2002, and added amazing upgrades to Hubble's imaging capabilities. Though its lifespan was only projected at five years, scientists had hoped it would hold out longer. Though a final shuttle servicing mission is scheduled for 2008, the mission objectives plate is already too full to consider its repair. Alas, more of those beautiful pictures (as well as extended research capabilities) will have to wait until the James Webb Space Telescope is launched in 2013.
posted by Brak on Jan 29, 2007 - 23 comments

Iapetus

What Did Arthur Know … and When Did He Know it? To all you Vader haters out there . . . we'll blow your planet up! we got Death Star!
posted by augustweed on Jan 11, 2007 - 51 comments

Comet McNaught could be HISTORIC

NOW SHOWING: Nekkid-eye Comet McNaught (via MonkeyFilter)
posted by spock on Jan 8, 2007 - 16 comments

The Lights in the Sky Are Stars

Universe Today is a news site for astronomy geeks. Don't miss its sibling, the Bad Astronomy Forum, which not only features examples of bad astronomy, but also discussions of space exploration and astrophotography. (If you like astrophotography, you're probably already aware of NASA's astronomy photo of the day.) But my favorite part of the whole site is the free astronomy eBook, What's Up 2007: 365 Days of Skywatching. If only it would only stop raining, maybe I'd grab some binoculars and go outside for some stargazing...
posted by jdroth on Jan 3, 2007 - 6 comments

A reason to call in sick tomorrow.

Last night there was a pretty cool coronal ejection that ought to be arriving shortly. When it does, expect Auroral activity as far south as Tennessee. (Or Northern Italy. Or New Zealand.) [Via MonkeyFilter]
posted by absalom on Dec 13, 2006 - 35 comments

Pencil Sketches of Palomar Observatory

Russell W. Porter was an amateur astronomer who helped design the 200 inch telescope for Mount Palomar observatory. His pencil sketches of the finished mechanism are remarkably beautiful.
posted by jonson on Dec 12, 2006 - 15 comments

The Solar System:Podcasts

Astronomy 161 - an introduction to Solar System Astronomy. These are a set of lectures in progress now at Ohio State University. All materials are available on line - audio resources (direct or podcast through iTunes), movies and lecture notes. If you are interested in where you live, these beautifully delivered lectures are excellent.
posted by grahamwell on Nov 25, 2006 - 7 comments

Great Balls of Fire!

Fireballs are not altogether uncommon. They are often associated with known meteor showers (and other times not). They are sometimes "earth crosser" asteroids, cometary debris, or simply man-made space junk. Sometimes they are extremely well documented. The March 7, 2003 Park Forest fireball/meteorite (pdf) was recovered and recorded by police car cameras: (AVIs: 1, 2, 3) Perhaps the most incredible is the one that got away on August 10, 1972. Recorded by many still and movie cameras as it was seen in daylight over the Grand Tetons, it was also recorded by a previously secret satellite during it's 1-1/2 minute skip off the earth's atmosphere. See also: How to observe, and report fireballs.
posted by spock on Nov 10, 2006 - 29 comments

Moon flatulence

Moon flatulence...amateur astronomers have seen puffs or flashes of light coming from the moon's surface. Although most professional observers have upheld the conclusion that the moon was inactive, such sightings have kept open a window of doubt. A gas release itself would not be visible for more than a second or so, but the dust it kicked up might stay suspended for up to 30 seconds. Nature article (subscription).
posted by 445supermag on Nov 9, 2006 - 9 comments

DON'T LOOK

Transit of Mercury again. here Transit of Mercury again. Today -- and not for another seven years or so -- Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, shwoing up a speck-like black circle. But don't look. Starting times, real-time visual, ways to see it and another caution are here. rotoman
posted by rotoman on Nov 7, 2006 - 40 comments

Armageddon's Deep Impact

An interactive map of the 174 major meteor impact craters. The largest crater we know of is the Vredefort Dome in South Africa, caused by a meteor some 10 km in diameter. Almost as large in the Sudbury Structure, located in Ontario, which contains some of the world's richest nickel and copper reserves, and has been only confirmed recently to be a crater. Third largest is the now-famous Chicxulub crater in the Yucatan, which probably killed the dinosaurs. Then take a look at an animation of asteroids near Earth [animated gif] and the list of minor planets that could hit us. Want to find out what happens when an meteor impacts in your area? Use the handy Earth Impacts Effects Program!
posted by blahblahblah on Oct 25, 2006 - 13 comments

Face on Mars

Stunning video flyby of the "Face on Mars". Oh, and this one too. via
posted by grateful on Oct 24, 2006 - 18 comments

The Many Worlds of David Darling

The Worlds of David Darling. British astronomer and science writer David Darling has written over 10,000 articles for three massive online efforts: the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight, the Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living , and a related encyclopedia of concept vehicles. Though the diversity of entries can be eccentric, and some are quite short, the science seems solid: learn about the illicit corned beef sandwich of Gus Grissom, peruse a comprehensive set of advanced space propulsion concepts, and see a terrific illustrated listing of strange land and air vehicles (don't miss the Peel P50 microcar and the Volvo Gravity Car).
posted by blahblahblah on Oct 16, 2006 - 2 comments

In Saturn's Shadow

In Saturn's Shadow. Pictures of Saturn like none you've seen before, taken by Cassini while the planet was in between the probe and the sun. You can just make out Earth in the photos. Previously.
posted by cerebus19 on Oct 16, 2006 - 17 comments

For your nocturnal viewing pleasure

The clear sky clock (this one is for Boston) provides a graphical representation of seven factors that affect the clarity of stargazing: cloud cover, transparency, seeing, darkness, wind, humidity, and temperature. Once you've figured out where and when to go stargazing (probably somewhere rural) make a custom map for your location so you know what you're seeing.
posted by nekton on Sep 27, 2006 - 7 comments

The Hive Mind Discovers Aliens

The number of communicating alien civilizations = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L. The formula is the Drake Equation, and modern estimates range from several thousand to none but us. You can solve it yourself. What is your estimate of the number of alien civilizations out there?
posted by blahblahblah on Aug 27, 2006 - 88 comments

support democracy

SAVE PLUTO
posted by thirteenkiller on Aug 25, 2006 - 91 comments

Newtonian dynamics unmodified

Good evidence that dark matter is for real.
posted by kliuless on Aug 16, 2006 - 57 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

Perseid Meteor Shower Peak

The annual Perseid meteor shower will peak in intensity tonight. The product of Earth intersecting with the debris trail from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the shower should be most dramatic shortly before dawn. More information on the shower can be found in various places.

Those living far away from cities will have the best view, but there are lots of good photos from past showers online for those immersed in city light, or blanketed under cloud.
posted by sindark on Aug 12, 2006 - 18 comments

Astronomy Quilts

Astronomy Quilts "My quilts are to communicate ideas, express feelings, tell stories, and encourage the progress of anti-entropy coalescing order from disorder."
posted by mediareport on Aug 4, 2006 - 15 comments

Huh, your world, maybe, pathetic earthlings!

The Size of Our World. A brief study in pictures of the relative sizes of some astronomical bodies.
posted by Eideteker on Jul 27, 2006 - 47 comments

3D Starmaps

3D Starmaps by Winchell Chung. (I knew him for his game illustrations before I ever knew about his starmaps.) The site contains lots of information about how to make 2D/3D starmaps from standard star tables, a nice selection of pre-existing maps and one of the best listings of 3D starmap software around.
posted by jiawen on Jul 23, 2006 - 12 comments

sun go boom

Life (Briefly) Near a Supernova (pdf, Google cache) by Steven Dutch (UW-Green Bay). What might it be like on a planet orbiting a star that went supernova? "It would take on the order of 100,000 seconds, or about a day, to receive enough energy to vaporize the Earth." Yes, Arthur C. Clarke and Larry Niven are name-checked. (And yes, the Sun is too small to actually go supernova, killjoy.) Via the nonist.
posted by languagehat on Jul 17, 2006 - 19 comments

Antique Celestial Maps

The U.S. Naval Observatory Library features high-res scans of images from antique books dealing with astronomy and navigation. Wallpapers, ahoy!
posted by Gator on Jul 13, 2006 - 18 comments

Ancient observatories - from space

Ancient observatories from space Satellite images of Angkor Wat, Chichen Itza, Chaco Canyon, Stonehenge, Teotihuacan, and others. The observers, observed. High res images available.
posted by carter on May 8, 2006 - 23 comments

Summer begins today. No, really.

Happy Beltane! Today, astronomically speaking, is one of the four Cross-Quarter days, exactly midway between the solstices and equinoxes. To some people, that makes today the start of summer - after all, why would you begin the season that's supposed to be bright and hot on the day when the only direction to go is darker? (Yes, I know they say May 1 - the first site I linked to figures out the exact dates and times mathematically, so I'm more inclined to trust it).
posted by wanderingmind on May 5, 2006 - 16 comments

pieoverdone, star hustler

So I'm driving to Salina, KS in the middle of the night and I realize that in all that nothing, I can look out my windshield and I can see stars. Like, all the stars. And I think that it's a bummer that I don't know that much about what it is I'm looking at.
posted by pieoverdone on Apr 29, 2006 - 41 comments

The scientific tradition in Africa

The scientific tradition in Africa. An interview with Thebe Medupe, a South African astronomer.
posted by Wolfdog on Apr 19, 2006 - 5 comments

Function Follows Form in Quantum Mechanics and Astronomy. The need for a NEW Black Hole.

Function Follows Form in Quantum Mechanics and Astronomy. The need for a NEW Black Hole. A Weblog.
posted by nthdegx on Apr 14, 2006 - 22 comments

Exterior Decorator

Missouri Skies: The show me state .
posted by hortense on Apr 2, 2006 - 18 comments

March 2006 Solar Eclipse Photos

There was a lovely total solar eclipse over parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia yesterday. See the photo galleries from Spaceweather, BBC, various Flickr users, and the International Space Station.
posted by brownpau on Mar 29, 2006 - 12 comments

But can we make the Kessel Run in 12 parsecs?

Howdy, neighbor! A direct detection of a brown dwarf only 12.7 light years away (practically next door in interstellar terms) adds another substellar object to the list of those relatively close by. While not quite the closest such object yet detected, it’s notable for being pinpointed with a combination of ground-based adaptive optics and Simultaneous Differential Imaging, a special set of filters designed to subtract out starlight while leaving the light from substellar objects. This could be an important milestone in the ongoing quest to directly detect extrasolar planets, as opposed to finding their traces indirectly via methods such as stellar wobble or gravitational microlensing. Direct detection, among other things, makes it much easier to analyze planetary atmospheres for traces of life. An object that could be as small as 9 Jupiter masses, less than 13 light years away, is a heck of a good step forward, especially considering that the very first indirect detections of extrasolar planets weren't made until the 1990’s, and I recall serious arguments being made in the 1980’s that they did not, in fact, exist.
posted by kyrademon on Mar 22, 2006 - 8 comments

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich has some excellent online collections related to maritime history and technology, including telescopes, marine chronometers, sundials, and a whole lot more. Some stuff I've been looking at: John Harrison's chronometers (described in Dava Sobel's book Longitude), polyhedral sundials, and pocket globes.
posted by carter on Mar 15, 2006 - 4 comments

Astronomers: want to watch a supernova?

Odd Supernova Amateur and professional astronomers rejoice , point your telescopes at RA: 03:21:39.71 Dec: +16:52:02.6 to watch a new phenomenon that could turn into a supernova explosion
posted by elpapacito on Feb 24, 2006 - 17 comments

Portraits of a Universe in Motion

Galaxy Dynamics GRAVITAS is an ongoing project to visualize and animate the dynamics of galaxies using supercomputer simulations.
posted by ZippityBuddha on Feb 2, 2006 - 21 comments

I Spy Black Satellites

I Spy Black Satellites Amateur satellite spotters can track everything government spymasters blast into orbit. Except the stealth bird codenamed Misty
posted by Postroad on Feb 1, 2006 - 16 comments

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