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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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 ...
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5answers
299 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
1k 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 ...
4
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1answer
162 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 ...
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1answer
389 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
1k 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 ...
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2answers
214 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 ...
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2answers
786 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?
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1answer
33 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
156 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 ...
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2answers
30 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, ...
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3answers
159 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 ...
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2answers
349 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
188 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
3k 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?
18
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5answers
464 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
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2answers
909 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 ...
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3answers
123 views

How long would it take to scan the visible universe for unique signals?

The article Amazing rays as star succumbs to dark side talks about a very large black hole swallowing up a star. The report goes on to say that the only reason it was discovered was because it shot ...
11
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1answer
77 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 ...
9
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1answer
50 views

How do I use this 'Horizon Observatory'?

Just around the corner, we have one of these: It's at the Halde Hoheward (article in the German wikipedia), and it's called a 'Horizon Observatory' by the people who built it. How does it work ...
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4answers
9k 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
640 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 ...
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3answers
67 views

Is a rogue 'exoplanet' classed as a exoplanet?

Given that the term planet strictly (according to the IAU) refers to a body around the sun, rogue planets can't be called that, so I assume they must be called rogue exoplanets? But do they even ...
9
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2answers
555 views

Could the earth have another moon?

First, to clarify: I'm not asking if perhaps there's a moon that we haven't found yet. The question is, theoretically, would the earth be able to have another stable moon in addition to the current ...
7
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2answers
51 views

Where to find Lunar Eclipse data

I am wondering whether there's a good resource to find data about upcoming Lunar Eclipses. For example, showing the percentage of the eclipse over time. Such as: 17:23 GMT - 0%, 17:40 GMT - 10%, etc. ...
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6answers
173 views

What possible science could we do during the 2012 Venus transit? [closed]

I had previously asked about how useful everyday solar physics data is to other astronomers ... But about a year from now, we will have another Venus transit, where Venus will pass between the sun and ...
16
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2answers
414 views

Recommend good book(s) about the “scientific method” as it relates to astronomy/astrophysics?

I am interested in astronomy/astrophysics, but I am not science major (I am a computer science graduate). Facts and results of the field are presented to the public without showing how these ...
18
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2answers
669 views

How would the night sky appear at the edge of the galaxy?

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series, there is a planet named Terminus which is believed to be the planet farthest from the galactic center. There are almost no visible stars in its sky, only the ...
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5answers
2k views

Does the Moon's core still contain significant heat?

On earth, using earth-sheltering techniques can significantly reduce the temperature fluctuations on a structure. Would the same statement be true as well on the Moon? Does the Moon's core still ...
15
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5answers
3k views

What do the colors in false color images represent?

Every kid who first looks into a telescope is shocked to see that everything's black and white. The pretty colors, like those in this picture of the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy (M64), are missing: The ...
10
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2answers
5k views

Cameras in Voyager probes

I've always wondered about the cameras in the space probes, especially in the Voyagers. 1) What kind of cameras do they have? Digital? (What kind of sensor and megapixel count?) Analog? (Do they ...
2
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2answers
279 views

Why can't you see meteors, but you can see comets from the moon?

Why can't you see meteors from the moon and why can you see comets?
10
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1answer
229 views

How many earth-sized planets have been discovered outside the solar system?

How many earth-sized planets have been discovered outside our solar system? Is there a combined registry of them anywhere? Where might I look for more information?
6
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3answers
358 views

Shapes of galaxies

I've heard most of galaxies are spiral or ellipsoid shaped. Is it true? If true, then why they form in such shapes? How did arms of the spiral galaxies form?
19
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4answers
10k views

How do astronomers measure the distance to a star or other celestial object?

How do scientists measure the distance between objects in space? For example, Alpha Centauri is 4.3 light years away.
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3answers
243 views

How are newly discovered objects (stars, planets, galaxies…) named?

When a new astronomical object (star, planet, galaxy, comet, etc.) is discovered, what is the official procedure to name it? Who decides about the name of it? Can they be changed in time? Extra ...
4
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1answer
32 views

Are solar physics images of use to the night-time community?

I'm actually interested in cases of cross-discipline data re-use. I know that the SOHO/LASCO coronographs are used for comet finding, that solar telescopes were used to get information about Venus's ...
12
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2answers
161 views

What is the most distant object from the Earth that a spacecraft has visited to date?

What is the most distant object from the earth that a spacecraft visited has visited so far? What was the mission and when did it happen?
11
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3answers
3k views

Calculations of apparent magnitude

I was attempting to do some calculations of apparent magnitude to help solidify my understanding of the topic, but have been running into some confusion. According to Wikipedia, the apparent ...
7
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2answers
83 views

What latitude is needed before you can reliably see Omega Centauri?

What latitude is needed before you can reliably see the globular cluster Omega Centauri, say it reaches 20 degrees above the horizon? What about if you are up on a hill looking down, what's the ...
6
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3answers
708 views

Binary stars' apparent magnitude

If you plot the apparent magnitude of a binary system (so you are unable to see 2 distinct stars) against time, it gives a repeating 'M' effect. (from http://accessscience.com/) Assuming one star ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What does the sky look like to human eyes from orbit?

There are numerous pictures, obviously, of the blackness of space from the shuttle, the space station, and even the moon. But they all suffer from being from the perspective of a camera, which is not ...
11
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5answers
11k views

What is an asterism compared to a constellation?

I'm doing an astronomy exam tomorrow and in the practice paper it asks for the difference between constellation and asterism. It seems asterism is a group of recognizable stars; however I thought that ...
8
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2answers
644 views

Smaller free remote control telescopes?

There are several online services that let you control a large telescope (eg, lightbuckets.com and slooh.com), even some that are free (eg, telescope.org). Unfortunately, the pay services are ...
9
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1answer
1k views

Why is the Ritchey–Chrétien telescope preferred in professional astronomy?

Hubble, as well as numerous other professional telescopes, use the Ritchey–Chrétien design. What optical and instrumental advantages does this kind of telescope have for professional astronomy?
5
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1answer
49 views

How does atmospheric seeing evolve over time?

I am writing an automated target selection application in which the seeing at the time of observation is an important factor: some fields are important to observe under good seeing, others, less so. ...
10
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2answers
199 views

How do air Cherenkov telescopes work?

The very highest energy photons, gamma-rays, are too energetic to be detected by standard optical methods. In fact they rarely actually make it to the surface of the Earth at all but interact with ...
6
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2answers
178 views

In what ways can a lunar eclipse occur?

In what ways can a lunar eclipse occur? Also, on what percentage of the Earth are they usually viewable? I am aware that there are multiple configurations that constitute a lunar eclipse (umbral, ...