Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Finding Stephen Hawking’s Star – And Your Own


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

When I look at the night sky, I often view the stars not just in space but also in terms of their places in time. Light moves at a finite speed, so the journey from star to star is a very long one even for a beam of light. When astronomers talk about light years of distance, they are literally describing the number of years it takes for light to travel from those distant stars to your eyeball.

And so when I heard about the death of Stephen Hawking, I couldn’t help thinking about his place in the stars. At some distance from Earth, there is a star whose light (as seen right now on Earth) started its journey at the time when you were born. You can think of that as your birth star. We all have one. Hawking has one – and you can easily see it. His birth star is shining brightly in the evening tonight. …

outthere 2018/03/14 stephen-hawking

Constellation Leo with Regulus


Why Do All The Planets Orbit In The Same Plane?


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

Our Solar System is an orderly place, with the four inner planets, the asteroid belt, and the gas giant worlds all orbiting in the same plane around the Sun. Even as you go farther out, the Kuiper belt objects appear to line up with that same exact plane. Given that the Sun is spherical and that there are stars appearing with planets orbiting in every direction imaginable, it seems too much of a coincidence to be random chance that all these worlds line up. In fact, practically every Solar System we’ve observed outside of our own appears to have their worlds line up in the same plane, too, wherever we’ve been able to detect it. Here’s the science behind what’s going on, to the best of our knowledge. …

starts-with-a-bang 92ddba8b88d6

Solar System plane

Spacial Orientation


(xkcd) – Randall Munroe:

I spend way too much  time trying to work out my orientation relative to other stuff in the universe.” …

xkcd 1964

Randall Munroe: xkcd 1964: Spacial Orientation

Grasping for the Stars


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

I was thinking about Pioneer 10 this past week as I contemplated another cosmic frontier. Standing on a beach in the Yucatan, I was far enough south to see the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, glittering on the horizon. Bright. Beckoning. Waiting for us. Almost impossibly far away–but only almost. It is our human nature to explore, and I believe that it is our human destiny to find a way to the stars. …

outthere grasping-for-the-stars

Pioneer 10 journey

Proxima Centauri


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Despite being only 4.3 light-years away from Earth, the trio of stars comprising Alpha Centauri still holds a lot of mysteries. It being the closest star system to us, you’d think we’d have teased out most of its secrets by now, but in fact we’re still learning basic stuff about it.

We know some of the basics, of course. The system has two stars that orbit each other in a binary, one of which (called Alpha Centauri A) is much like the Sun and the other (Alpha Cen B) is a tad smaller and cooler. Nearby is a third star, Proxima Centauri, a low-mass and cool red dwarf, that by happenstance is somewhat closer to us, on the near side of the system.

But after that, things get a bit hazy. …

syfywire proxima-centauri

Proxima Centauri

A Song of Ice and Light


(NASA JPL) – Saturn‘s moon Enceladus drifts before the rings and the tiny moon Pandora in this view captured by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 1, 2009. The entire scene is backlit by the Sun, providing striking illumination for the icy particles that make up both the rings and the jets emanating from the south pole of Enceladus …

jpl.nasa PIA17144

NASA JPL: PIA17144: A Song of Ice and Light

Shells and Star Streams


(APoD) – What’s happening to galaxy NGC 474? The multiple layers of emission appear strangely complex and unexpected given the relatively featureless appearance of the elliptical galaxy in less deep images. The cause of the shells possibly is tidal tails related to debris left over from absorbing numerous small galaxies in the past billion years. …


NGC 474

Where Is Elon Musk’s Space Tesla Actually Going?


(Atlantic Science) – Marina Koren:

The payload of SpaceX‘s recently launched rocket overshot its planned orbit near Mars. …

theatlantic 2018/02 spacex-asteroid

SpaceX Tesla Roadster Starman

Earthshine From a Young Moon


(APoD) – This stunning image of earthshine from a young crescent moon was taken from Las Campanas Observatory, Atacama Desert, Chile …


Yuri Beletsky: Old Moon in the New Moon's Arms

Scaling the Solar System


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

The solar system is vast.

It’s incredibly difficult to wrap your head around these scales. Worse, analogies tend to fall flat. Example: It would take nearly two centuries to drive to the Sun if there were a road to it (and your windows were shut really tightly). Does that visualize how far that really is?

But there is a helpful model: a scale model. Across the world there are quite a few models of the solar system, and they tend to be pretty big. I was reminded of this when I saw this video, where a filmmaker, Wylie Overstreet, created a scale model of the solar system in the Nevada desert. …

syfywire scaling-the-solar-system

Solar System