astronomy

Talk about an out-of-this-world map! NASA has unveiled a stunning new clickable panoramic portrait of our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The zoomable, 360-degree view was constructed from more than two million infrared snapshots taken over the past ten years by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. “If we actually printed this out, we’d need a billboard…

Uncategorized

, , , , ,

A seventh grader sitting at the computer control desk at an observatory in a small Vermont town comments to her fellow student: “I can’t believe I am in charge of this telescope!” The 17-inch PlaneWave reflecting telescope, complete with its supporting state-of-the-art equipment and robotic software, was displaying images of a galaxy 2.3 million light-years…

Uncategorized

, , , , , ,

By Jim Urquhart for National Geographic “Mars has been flown by, orbited, smacked into, radar examined, and rocketed onto, as well as bounced upon, rolled over, shoveled, drilled into, baked, and even blasted. Still to come: Mars being stepped on.”—Buzz Aldrin In a remote stretch of Utah desert, five scientific researchers and one journalist, myself, came together this month…

Uncategorized

, , , , , ,

Late tonight, millions living around New York City may witness the best stellar disappearing act ever seen in North America. Lucky sky-watchers with clear skies across parts of the Northeast will observe a bright star momentarily wink out early Thursday morning. Beginning at 2:07 a.m. EDT, the 45-mile-wide (72-kilometer-wide) asteroid named 163 Erigone will slip…

Uncategorized

, , , ,

Sky-watchers can rejoice at the change of seasons this week, seeing the moon join forces with Mars and Saturn, just as one of the sky’s most brilliant stars is eclipsed. Moon joins Spica. Late at night on Monday, March 17, look for the waning gibbous moon to rise in the eastern sky with two bright celestial…

Uncategorized

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

With a change of seasons only days away, mid-March skies offer celestial sights that even the novice stargazer will find easy to enjoy. Lunar rectangle. After nightfall on Monday, March 10, look for the waxing gibbous moon to form a corner of a rectangle with Jupiter and the Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, high in the southern…

Uncategorized

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A newly discovered asteroid will hurtle through the Earth-moon system on Wednesday night. Everyone around the world can watch the event unfold through large telescopes that will broadcast live online. Asteroid 2014 DX110, discovered only on February 28, 2014, thankfully poses no danger since it will be missing our planet by 218,000 miles (350,837 kilometers)….

Uncategorized

, , ,

A final glimpse of the seventh planet from the sun comes this week, and the moon takes sky-watchers on a celestial tour of some stunning star clusters. Last-chance green giant. After dusk on Monday, March 3, the razor-thin crescent moon acts as convenient guidepost to the fast-fading planet Uranus, which will hang just below the moon….

Uncategorized

, , , , , , , , ,

A crescent moon snuggles up to the innermost planets this week, while sky-watchers will also see mythical twins reveal two stellar wonders. Zodiacal lights. With the moon out of the early evening sky this week, ideal sky conditions prevail for hunting down the elusive zodiacal lights. This ethereal glow across the sky is caused by sunlight…

Uncategorized

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The bright moon moves into late-night skies this week, offering backyard observers some early-evening opportunities to hunt down celestial sights ranging from a fading supernova to a giant asteroid. Last-chance supernova. For Monday, February 17, and the rest of the week, the exploding star SN 2014J will be visible in darker skies in the early evening, thanks to the…

Uncategorized

, , , ,

Winning an Olympic medal this weekend will make for a truly out-of-this-world experience. That’s because ten lucky athletes who earn gold at the Sochi Olympics on February 15 will also receive a bonus medal decorated with a piece of the giant meteor that smacked into the Olympics host country, Russia, exactly one year ago. UPDATE…

Uncategorized

, , , , , ,

The ultimate age barrier has been broken. The oldest living star in the entire universe may have been discovered—one formed only one or two hundred million years after the Big Bang itself. The ancient star, born some 13.6 billion years ago, bests the previous record handily, by 400 million years, and offers a unique view into what…

Uncategorized

, , , , , , , ,

Things are rocking right now in our own galactic neighborhood. Backyard telescope users already knew about the Cigar Galaxy, or M82, located in the Great Bear constellation, Ursa Major. Now it has two new cosmic secrets to explore. Two weeks ago a supernova—a giant exploding star—was discovered by British university students within the galaxy, which is…

Uncategorized

, , , , , , , , ,