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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Which citizen-science astrophysics and astronomy projects currently exist?

Most of you probably know of Galaxy Zoo, a citizen-science project to classify galaxies with help of untrained hobby-researchers. In mathematics, the Polymath Project is well known for its success. ...
6
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2answers
169 views

Funding opportunities for an independent researcher

In one of my questions I asked about the career paths to become a professional astronomer. Now let's consider the next logical step. What if a person has gained his/her PhD in Astronomy and had an ...
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3answers
139 views

Did I see two Milky Ways next to each other?

I am from the northern hemisphere and as far as I remember, the Milky Way was "single lane", just one stripe. At least, this is what I recall the Milky Way to look like when seeing it from near ...
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1answer
19 views

Could asteroseismology have a significant potential to unravel the mechanisms of solar cycles that last thousands of years?

Could asteroseismology have a significant potential to unravel the mechanisms of solar cycles that last thousands of years? And what about solar cycles 1 billion years ago and 2 billion years ago ...
2
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1answer
114 views

Are the inner planets on planar orbits because there was more dust in the inner solar system (early on in planetary accretion)?

Question inspired by a question thread here. So when there's lots of dust in a galaxy, the galaxy tends to collapse into a spiral galaxy (to maintain angular momentum and to minimize gravitational ...
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2answers
179 views

Where does a star's angular momentum go as its spin slows down?

So we know that stars slow down as they age. But total angular momentum must be conserved. Where does that angular momentum go? The dissipation of Earth's tides somehow transfers Earth's angular ...
3
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3answers
82 views

Distribution of each element and molecule as a function of distance from the Sun and as a function of time

Are there any graphs that show the distribution of each element and molecule as a function of distance from the Sun? And maybe even the time-evolution of each distribution over the solar system's ...
4
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1answer
55 views

Vesta dwarf planet status

Now that we have close-up photos of Vesta, which the IAU had previously said was a candidate dwarf planet, when is the IAU going to decide the issue? Personally, Vesta doesn't look round enough to me. ...
3
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1answer
621 views

At what temperature does water become a liquid on Mars? On the asteroids? And in a vacuum?

I know that I can just read off the phase diagram for water (for the surface atmospheric pressure on each object). But could there possibly be some nuances that someone might miss just from viewing ...
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3answers
5k views

How fast will the sun become a red giant?

I've read many accounts of our sun's distant fate, but what I've never heard is on what time scale these events occur. For instance, when the sun runs out of hydrogen, I presume it doesn't just WHAM! ...
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3answers
903 views

Are we capable of discovering planets in the Andromeda galaxy?

I just watched this SpaceRip video on YouTube which shows pictures taken by Hubble while looking into the disk of the Andromeda galaxy to study a certain type of variable star. It occurred to me that ...
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3answers
65 views

Can the Hanbury-Brown and Twiss effect be used to measure the size of composite objects like galaxies?

I know that the Hanbury-Brown and Twiss effect can be used to measure the size of stars. Can it also be used to measure the size of galaxies?
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4answers
659 views

Names, maps for Milky Way dust clouds?

There is a nice image of the Milky Way, labeled with constellations, at 360°x45° panorama with constellations: It leads me to wonder how much we know about the Great Rift, Coalsack and other ...
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2answers
70 views

Could many widely separated space telescopes be combined for VLBI on IR/visible wavelengths?

I have read about ground-based Very Long Baseline Interferometry telescope arrays able to achieve huge resolution at IR/visible wavelengths. There are also space-ground VLBI configurations in ...
13
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2answers
640 views

What is the largest observed celestial body?

I'm not referring to phenomena such as galaxies or clusters but rather, what is the largest discrete celestial body that has been observed in the universe?
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1answer
2k views

What's the difference between a red giant and a red supergiant?

I've seen both theoretical and observational definitions of stars. For example, an AGB star is a star where two sets of nuclear reactions (helium to carbon and hydrogen to helium) are taking place in ...
9
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1answer
42 views

“Blue Bumper” Stars

I was recently overviewing various massive compact halo object studies (the Anglo-Australian MACHO collaboration and the French I/II EROS collaboration), and they frequently reference "blue bumper ...
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3answers
26 views

Would it be interesting or useful to map objects' current (predicted) locations?

Due to light travel time, we observe astronomical objects as they were in the past. If we knew objects' motion (relative to us), it seems like we could extrapolate to their present positions, but I ...
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2answers
2k views

How does the central peak in moon craters form?

The central peak in many of the moon's large craters are visible with a telescope and they seem a little odd to me. Can someone explain how they form.
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5answers
58 views

Which current big Earth-based telescopes are equipped with adaptive optics?

I know only that the VLT is equipped with adaptive optics (AO) to bypass atmospheric distortion. Is it the only one, or have other telescopes been build with AO in the optical and infrared spectrum?
6
votes
4answers
74 views

Does the current light pollution set a fundamental limit for the range of Earth-based telescopes?

As far as I know, all deep-sky pictures are captured with the Hubble Space Telescope. If there would be no atmospheric distortion, could we make deeper pictures in the optical spectrum with ...
4
votes
4answers
481 views

Can the Hubble telescope bring any star into focus?

Lets say I am talking about a view like this supernova - 13 billions light year away. In short can Hubble bring any star into focus in the entire universe? And if so, to what definition? I also ...
4
votes
2answers
247 views

Is the Milky Way significantly easier to see by astronauts?

On Earth the Milky Way appears very ghostly when looked at with the naked eye, somewhat easier to see when NOT looking directly at it. Is it substantially easier to see by astronauts in space or is ...
10
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1answer
2k views

How dense are nebulae?

How functionaly dense are nebulae? Are they so sparse they are only visible from an interstellar or intergalactic perspective or would you be unable to see your hand in one? Do they vary widely in ...
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3answers
281 views

Why did the ancients fail to discover that the Earth orbits the Sun?

The ancients observed that the Sun and the 'fixed' stars rotated about the Earth. They were also aware that the Earth was spherical. They performed many astronomical measurements on the planets - ...
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3answers
2k views

Solar system, visible stars and deep sky objects

Since I've seen that galaxies are often called "deep sky objects", as opposed to individual stars, does this mean that all visible stars in the night sky actually only belong to The Milky Way Galaxy? ...
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8answers
2k views

Seeking Recommendation for Celestron Firstscope Eyepiece Upgrade

I have a Celestron Firstscope telescope and like it overall for my location and the amount of observing I do. I am disappointed in my view of the planets with the scope. What would be a good eye piece ...
10
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5answers
901 views

How is it possible for astronomers to see something 13B light years away?

In a NPR News story from a few years back: "A gamma-ray burst from about 13 billion light years away has become the most distant object in the known universe." I'm a layman when it comes ...
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4answers
385 views

Applying the Maxwell–Boltzmann statistics to astrophysical objects

Quoting Wikipedia: In statistical mechanics, Maxwell–Boltzmann statistics describes the statistical distribution of material particles over various energy states in thermal equilibrium, when the ...
18
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5answers
232 views

Given a photo of the Moon, taken from Earth, is it possible to calculate the position of the photographer's site?

Given a photo of the Moon, taken from Earth, is it possible to calculate the position (Earth longitude and latitude) of the photographer's site? I am thinking about photos taken with a normal camera ...
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2answers
793 views

How can a Population III star be so massive?

How can a Population III star have a mass of several hundred solar masses? Normally the limit is about 100 solar masses.
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5answers
2k views

Curiosity Rover (MSL): specification / dimensions

I have been looking all over and I can't find a detailed specification about the Curiosity Rover. The length is about 10 feet but it would be cool to find out the dimensions of the wheels, clearance ...
3
votes
1answer
139 views

Is the orbit of earth around the sun chaotic?

The orbit of the earth seems to be very predictable. But as it is a many-body problem having sun, earth, moon, jupiter and so on, is it really that stable or will it start making strange movements ...
2
votes
1answer
219 views

What examples are there of fuzzy concepts in astronomy?

What examples are there of fuzzy concepts in astronomy? In particular, how fuzzy are the boundaries between different types of stars? As an example of a fuzzy concept I'm thinking of the planet/brown ...
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3answers
511 views

What are the easiest ways to get data out of a FITS file without a library?

There are FITS libraries for most programming languages (see this list), but FITS is a simple enough format that it should be pretty easy to extract data without the need for such libraries or ...
5
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2answers
143 views

Advice sought on choosing a camera for a Meade LX10

I have a Meade LX10 and have never done any astrophotography (except with some computerised SBIG ST9s on my university's LX200s). I would like to get started at home, but could do with some advice on ...
7
votes
2answers
666 views

Finding Directions using moon

Is it possible to find directions just by looking at moon(not full bright)? I was curious to use the clue that if moon is half lit then the direction in which it is lit will it be east?
6
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1answer
29 views

Lack of exoplanet missions in the decadal survey

In recent exoplanet meeting "The Next 40 Years of Exoplanets", there was much discussion of the inablity of the community to agree on whether to support coronagraph missions or interferometer ...
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2answers
140 views

Space Interferometry Mission (SIM) cancellation [closed]

NASA's SIM mission was recently cancelled despite \$600 million being spent already over the last ten years. Has this \$600m been completely wasted or has any new technology been developed that could ...
0
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2answers
66 views

Study of exoplanets reaching saturation point [closed]

In recent exoplanet meeting The Next 40 Years of Exoplanets, it was mentioned a few times that the field/topic is becoming saturated. In what ways is it becoming saturated, and can you see the effect ...
12
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2answers
27 views

Why are binary objects so critical to astronomy?

There are a lot of astronomical objects out there to study but binary objects seem to get more attention. Why is this? What makes binary objects (stars, Kuiper Belt Objects, black holes, galaxies, ...
3
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3answers
104 views

What was the apparent magnitude of the June 15th 2011 lunar eclipse?

My plan was to observe and estimate the apparent magnitude of the Moon during totality of the June 2011 lunar eclipse, but the clouds rolled in at the exact moment, so I couldn't make any useful ...
9
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2answers
312 views

Silicon-based life [closed]

My question may not be suitable here, because it's more of astrobiology. Life as we know it is carbon based. Is life based on silicon possible? What would the conditions for habitability for ...
7
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1answer
169 views

Could two colliding comets near Earth cause devastation?

Let's say two comets crashed into each other. If it was 0.1 AU away from the Earth, would the collision cause mass destruction here, or not affect us at all?
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3answers
2k views

What would happen if the polar ice caps of Mars melted?

My dad told me that Mars' polar ice caps are made of H2O and CO2. If they melt, would it add an atmosphere to Mars and allow life?
17
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5answers
331 views

Why don't we have a better telescope than the Hubble Space Telescope?

The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was launched in 1990, more than 20 years ago, but I know that it was supposed to be launched in 1986, 24 years ago. Since it only took 66 years from the fist plane to ...
14
votes
2answers
717 views

What if our Sun were located in the middle of a globular cluster?

Say you took our current solar system and relocated it deep in the heart of a globular cluster such as Omega Centauri. What would the night sky look like? Would the starshine of nearby stars be enough ...
11
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1answer
64 views

Why did the june 2011 lunar eclipse last so long?

It was kind of hard to miss the lunar eclipse this week, although I didn't see it in person (Sod's law means that on every relatively major astronomical event clouds cover where I am). From what I ...
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4answers
5k views

Why is a new moon not the same as a solar eclipse?

Forgive the elementary nature of this question: Because a new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun, doesn't this also mean that somewhere on the Earth, a solar eclipse ...
8
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3answers
382 views

Significance of letters in Hertzsprung-Russell (H-R) diagram

The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram that categorizes star types uses the letter codes O, B, A, F, G, K, and M to indicate a star's temperature/color. Hottest (blue) is O and coolest (red) is M. What do ...