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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2answers
768 views

Are meteorites igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rocks?

Are meteorites igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic rocks? Or do we need a new method of rock classification for them?
4
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1answer
126 views

Does the Earth help stabilize changes in the moon's obliquity as well?

We know that the moon helps stabilize changes in Earth's obliquity. But what about Earth and the moon? Are some of the obliquity-stabilizing effects (of the moon on the Earth) communicated through ...
3
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1answer
188 views

How do the day/night temperature variations of moons compare to those of their planets?

Does the planet's eclipse have a significant impact on the flux of light hitting the moon? Does tidal locking have any effect on the day-night difference of the planet?
11
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5answers
2k views

Anti-Matter Black Holes

Assuming for a second that there were a pocket of anti matter somewhere sufficiently large to form all the type of object we can see forming from normal matter - then one of these objects would be a ...
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3answers
1k views

Is a water world possible, and for how long could it be stable?

I have several questions regarding this topic. First, could a water world be stable for thousands of years with most of its surface remaining covered in water. What would it take for this to be ...
6
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2answers
237 views

If you focus in on one image, is combining two telescopes really equivalent to a larger mirror?

Have a look at this example: In addition, the Keck I and Keck II telescopes can work together as the Keck Interferometer. The 85-metre (279 ft) separation between the two telescopes gives them the ...
3
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1answer
40 views

What determines a progenitor's fate as a spiral or elliptical?

I was thinking about my answer to Are the inner planets on planar orbits because there was more dust in the inner solar system (early on in planetary accretion)? - when it occurred to me that maybe I ...
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3answers
329 views

Software for Creating Custom Star Charts?

I need to produce custom star charts for my website. I want to be able to do the following: Specify a region, maybe a constellation or just an arbitrary region Specify what appears on the chart ...
11
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5answers
7k views

Stephen Hawking says universe can create itself from nothing, but how exactly?

Stephen Hawking says in his latest book The Grand Design that, Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Is it not circular logic? I mean, how ...
4
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2answers
168 views

How is the shape of the universe measured by scientists?

I would like to learn how scientists go about measuring the large-scale curvature of the universe to determine if the universe is closed 'i.e. spherical', flat, or open 'i.e. saddle shaped'. My ...
5
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4answers
362 views

What free software is there for observing the sky (sky map software)

I used until now only stellarium.org and I'm curious if there is any other software that is better than stellarium. By better, I mean: doesn't have high system ...
4
votes
1answer
52 views

Do stars of higher metallicity have more planets in highly-inclined Pluto-like orbits?

In an answer to a previous question of mine, one that asked about the planar orbits of inner planets, I was told the following (emphasis mine): On the subject of different solar systems, I would ...
4
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1answer
178 views

How to identify the objects in an astrophoto, and what portion of the sky it covers?

Given an astrophoto with a resolution between 0.5 and 5 arcseconds per pixel, which ways exist to identify the direction of view, field of view, and objects in the picture? I believe most amateur ...
2
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1answer
20 views

What was the most distant supernova spotted by a amateur astronomer until today?

What type of commercial amateur telescope and what method (difference imaging,...) did he use for identifying the supernova?
5
votes
2answers
88 views

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
votes
2answers
176 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 ...
2
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3answers
153 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
20 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
votes
1answer
121 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 ...
4
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2answers
195 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
61 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
votes
1answer
661 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 ...
7
votes
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! ...
6
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3answers
1k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
66 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?
7
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4answers
741 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 ...
5
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2answers
73 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
787 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?
4
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1answer
3k 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
45 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 ...
6
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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 ...
9
votes
2answers
3k 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.
5
votes
5answers
59 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
78 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
508 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
258 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
votes
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 ...
11
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3answers
304 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 - ...
6
votes
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? ...
3
votes
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
votes
5answers
935 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
415 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
votes
5answers
241 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
882 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.
5
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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
142 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
249 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
621 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
votes
2answers
162 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 ...