The science dealing with objects and phenomena located beyond Earth. In particular, this applies to observations and data. At its core, astronomy is the physically informed cataloging and classifying of the contents of the universe in order to better understand what is out there.

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11
votes
3answers
752 views

Why is this radio telescope's reflector spherical and not parabolic?

This is the Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Its reflector is spherical, measuring 1,001 ft. in diameter. It is considered the most sensitive radio telescope on Earth, but the fact that ...
2
votes
1answer
115 views

Get time from sun Azimuth

I want to know if I can determine the time where the sun's azimuth is at a given value. In other words, I want a function that takes the sun azimuth along with longitude or time zone and outputs the ...
15
votes
1answer
3k views

Which way do spiral galaxies rotate?

Is it known whether spiral galaxies typically (or exclusively?) rotate with the arms trailing or facing? Intuitively it feels weird to think of the arms as facing the direction of rotation, but ...
9
votes
2answers
247 views

How fast is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) changing?

I know that the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) is the leftover radiation from the "surface of last scattering". However, at every instant the surface is changing (at the rate of flow ...
3
votes
0answers
144 views

Parallax Cloud Displacement - Angular Distance from Geostationary Satellite

When observing clouds from a geostationary satellite, they appear displaced because of the parallax effect. The satellite looks at the clouds "at an angle" and it projects them on a point of the earth ...
4
votes
1answer
103 views

How is the atmosphere composition of astronomical objects in solar system determined?

How is the atmosphere composition of astronomical objects, for example triton, the moon of neptune, determined?
2
votes
2answers
3k views

How much of sky can be seen on a typical night from a mid-latitude location?

I'm at about 40deg north so, assuming a clear southern horizon, I can't see things below about -30 or so (I actually don't know how far south). I also have a large portion that is circumpolar so it's ...
3
votes
1answer
74 views

What could this very dark planet be made of?

I was reading about the planet TrES-2b which is less reflective than charcoal. What could possibly be its composition?
4
votes
3answers
414 views

Pleiades through a 15x 76 mm telescope

How clearly can the stars of the Pleiades cluster be seen through a 15x telescope (for example, FunScope)?
7
votes
1answer
1k views

What are the minimum telescope requirements to view a nice spiral galaxy?

I would like to view some spiral galaxy. However, I would prefer not to spend lots of $$$. What are the minimum specs a telescope must have to resolve detail in a spiral galaxy?
3
votes
3answers
178 views

Name for celestial “Prime Meridian”?

Is there name for the line that goes from celestial pole to pole at RA 0 degrees 0 minutes 0 seconds? On Earth we would call it the Prime Meridian. Is it called the "Celestial Meridian"?
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Density of stars near the center of the Milky Way

At night, I can look up and see the Milky Way across the sky. My question is, supposing our solar system was, instead of way out on an 'arm' of the galaxy, if we were near the galactic center. Would ...
14
votes
5answers
3k views

Telescope for 6 year old and dad new to astronomy

What's a good telescope for my 6 year old? We're both brand new to telescopes in general, but love space, stars, planets, cosmology, etc. Happy to spend up to $200 to start. Maybe more for a good ...
6
votes
1answer
827 views

Is there a simple yet accurate formula for where on Earth the Sun and Moon are directly overhead?

I'm trying to improve a site that shows the region of the Earth currently under daylight, and I need a formula that, given the current time, tells where (latitude/longitude) the sun and moon are ...
5
votes
2answers
88 views

Tropical year is 27s/year off from Gregorian year?

http://hpiers.obspm.fr/eop-pc/models/constants.html states the tropical year is $365.242190402$ days. The Gregorian calendar's average year is $365.2425$ days (every 4th year a leap year, except ...
4
votes
1answer
26 views

What demonstrations for a five-hour optical and radio astronomy workshop? [closed]

I volunteer at a group that has restored the oldest German radio telescope. We are now at a point where we want to invite interested amateur astronomers and school children to workshops. I'm currently ...
20
votes
2answers
417 views

Why don't stars in globular clusters all orbit in the same plane?

Globular clusters like Omega Centauri certainly don't seem to be very coplanar at all. In other words, why doesn't the explanation at Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same ...
0
votes
1answer
45 views

Where to get hard historical and trend data related to reentry of satellites like UARS [closed]

NASA is providing very brief updates on the reentry of the UARS satellite. They also published an extensive study of the Re-entry and risk assessment for the NASA Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite ...
5
votes
3answers
472 views

What is the minimum magnification needed for an instrument to see all the Messier objects?

I know someone that wants to buy a 60cm (1.5 inch) refractor and I thought about recommending what to look at the Messier objects. And I was wondering, can he see all these objects with that refractor ...
0
votes
3answers
185 views

Why is it hard to write a computer program to detect patterns which planethunters is asking us to figure out? [closed]

I recently came across this site http://www.planethunters.org. It shows brightness observed for a star vs time. It asks questions like if star is exhibiting variable or fixed pattern. Later it asks if ...
6
votes
3answers
387 views

“Reverse engineering” of a horoscope?

I'll start with a disclaimer -- this is not a question about astrology itself, I'm neither trying to refute nor to defend astrology. I'm interested in purely technical things, which are mostly ...
4
votes
3answers
190 views

Fall/Winter Viewing

I live in Seattle and am thinking of purchasing a telescope. Is fall/winter a decent time of year for viewing (aside from summer)? Are there any major viewings/events during that this of year? I know ...
-1
votes
2answers
4k views

Celestron NexStar 6 SE vs. Orion XT8 [closed]

I'm interested in purchasing a new telescope and have narrowed it down to the NexStar 6 SE vs. the Orion XT8. I'd like to be able to get into astrophotography and read that having the Go-To ...
3
votes
3answers
130 views

Photographs of galaxies many light years far from the Earth

Using ground-based telescopes or the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers take photographs of galaxies which are many light years from the Earth. Does it mean those photographs are as old as the ...
8
votes
3answers
720 views

Are planetary orbits measured from the Sun's surface or centre?

I would imagine planetary orbits are measured from the Sun's centre and not its surface. Is that true? I can't find anywhere that actually states this.
0
votes
3answers
62 views

Why can't Jupiter be seen over Thanksgiving break?

As of these past few days, Jupiter can be seen in the sky, correct? Around Thanksgiving, why can't it be seen?
2
votes
2answers
45 views

What physical interactions actually make single stars leave their binary companions at formation?

From an interesting ScienceDaily article, I read this Before the groups of stars disperse, binary stars move through their birth sites and the group studied how they interact with other stars ...
0
votes
1answer
233 views

Is water necessary for forming the sedimentary rocks found on Mars' surface?

So, I've just been reading a recent ScienceDaily article, and came across this interesting quote "Clays form in more neutral, less acidic conditions than the sulfate-rich sandstones we've been ...
10
votes
1answer
855 views

How vacuous is intergalactic space?

You often hear intergalactic space is an example for a very good vacuum. But how vacuos is space between galaxy clusters and inside a huge void structure? Are there papers quoting a ...
14
votes
2answers
508 views

What percent of planets are in the position that they could be viewed edge-on from Earth? (and thus able to undergo transits)

Star number 12644769 from the Kepler Input Catalog was identified as an eclipsing binary with a 41-day period, from the detection of its mutual eclipses (9). Eclipses occur because the orbital ...
6
votes
1answer
211 views

Axial Tilt and precession rate of exoplanets

The Earth's axis is 23.5 degrees away from othogonality to the ecliptic, and it takes about 26 000 years for it to precess fully. I have neither an intuitive sense nor the formula for precession ...
3
votes
1answer
72 views

Phases of the moon video

I am an educator, and I am looking for a specific video. In the video, they ask some middle school students and some college graduates about why the moon has phases. Most of the students in both the ...
3
votes
2answers
89 views

Computing period, semi-major axis of binary

I have mass, $g$, and luminosity of each of the stars in a binary system, extracted from a model. I calculated the individual radii from $g$ and the mass. I am trying to compute $a$, but I seem to be ...
5
votes
3answers
86 views

How to get started in Astronomy (UK based) [closed]

I have always been interested in space and astronomy (in my youth - I wanted to be an astronaut). However for various reasons, I never quite got started. I now want to get started - small but ...
19
votes
3answers
11k views

How long does it take to travel 36 light years with tolerable acceleration and deceleration?

The recent discovery of HD85512b only 36 light years from Earth has promising attributes to harbor life. Assuming we want to travel there, we cannot instantaneously jump to light speed, (StarTrek ...
4
votes
4answers
750 views

Creating a Star Map

I have a set of data on all the stars (well, to a magnitude of 9 or so) with the values of the following properties: magnitude, right ascension and, declination. Now I'd like to create a planar ...
3
votes
3answers
243 views

On what planar regions are the Earth, Moon.. for that matter, all astronomical bodies, placed in the Universe?

When we are on Earth, we look UP in the Sky to see the Moon. How do we have to look at Earth from Moon.. Is it the way ? If so, how are these bodies actually placed in the space? Are all astronomical ...
10
votes
2answers
800 views

If the Earth didn't rotate, how would a Foucault pendulum work?

How does the Foucault pendulum work exactly, and would it work at all, if the Earth didn't rotate?
15
votes
5answers
27k views

Can the “Milky Way” galaxy be seen by the naked eye in a clear sky?

Is this photo "real"? Are the stars not super-imposed in the image?    
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Formula for Rotation curves of Galaxies

To ask a more specific one for the rotation curves of elliptical galaxies, and hope from there to later understand the dynamics of spiral galaxies. Treating the galaxy as an isothermal ...
3
votes
2answers
66 views

Particular targets of high angular resolution infrared telescopes

I work in the field of infrared interferometry, specifically instrumentation. As such, I need to be aware of the science goals of such an instrument. Is there a quick list of important and ...
15
votes
6answers
121 views

What to show a beginner [closed]

At my new job, it's soon going to be my turn for doing night/graveyard shifts for a fair amount of weeks. Perfect excuse to buy a decent beginners telescope to replace the 4.5" 15 y/o Meade that ...
3
votes
1answer
58 views

Assuming an observer is 50 light years away, in the plane of the solar system and observing earth, what is the light flux of earth he would see?

As in, from what the planet emits and re-radiates out into space (this is going to be important if we are to image any Earth-like planet)
4
votes
2answers
2k views

How do you measure distance to stars within the galaxy?

I know that for close by stars (<50 LY) we can use the parallax effect. And for distant galaxies we use red-shift (& hubble's constant). So how do we measure how far is a star lets say 50,000 ...
6
votes
1answer
110 views

What conditions should an asteroid or comet impact need to meet in order to start an impact winter?

Is there a way to calculate if an impact from a given asteroid (say 5 miles in diameter, solid rock to which we know the mass) would start an impact winter? If yes, I would like to see a real example ...
4
votes
3answers
59 views

Are our telescopes capable of taking actual images of brown dwarfs?

One nice result from NASA's WISE infrared survey of the sky is the discovery of particularly cool (as in 'not very warm') stars, now called 'Y dwarfs'. This was reported, for example, in NASA's ...
2
votes
1answer
13 views

What is the current evaluation of a sky map application for mobile devices?

Which sky map application for mobile devices have the best "feature satisfaction"-to-investment ratio? I would like to have a comparison between "sky map" applications for mobile devices and it ...
5
votes
2answers
186 views

How can Y-dwarf stars have such a low temperature?

A recent article from NASA said they found some stars with temperatures "as cool as the human body." How is this possible? Does fusion still occur in these stars?
14
votes
4answers
381 views

How far would you need to displace your eyes to get meaningful depth perception of the stars?

The question follows from xkcd cartoon "Depth Perception (941)". I've isolated the frames that describe the concept here. In words, one could theoretically point two cameras at the sky, and ...
5
votes
1answer
952 views

How does the view of night sky change as the Sun orbits around the Milky Way?

I know that the Sun and hence the Solar System orbits around the galactic center of the Milky Way. Does this rotation cause any visible change in the night sky? I know that human life span is ...