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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1answer
80 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
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3answers
533 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
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1answer
2k 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
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3answers
284 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"?
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2answers
3k 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
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5answers
4k 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 ...
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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2answers
99 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
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1answer
27 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 ...
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2answers
635 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 disc/...
0
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1answer
47 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 (...
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3answers
787 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
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3answers
251 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 ...
8
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2answers
626 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
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3answers
266 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 ...
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2answers
6k 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 (auto-...
3
votes
3answers
149 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
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3answers
1k 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.
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3answers
66 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
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2answers
56 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
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1answer
278 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 ...
11
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1answer
2k 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 measurement/...
14
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2answers
725 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
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1answer
284 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
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1answer
83 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
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2answers
100 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
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3answers
99 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 ...
5
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4answers
1k 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
285 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 ...
11
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2answers
1k 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?
17
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5answers
36k 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
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2answers
3k 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
70 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 ...
6
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2answers
2k views

What are the differences in using an eyepiece with a barlow instead of a shorter eyepiece?

I intend to start making visual observations, and I want to know more about the difference between using barlow lenses and one or two eyepieces and using a complete kit of eyepieces, both for ...
15
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6answers
159 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 doesn'...
3
votes
1answer
82 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)
5
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2answers
4k 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
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1answer
134 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
70 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 ...
6
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2answers
272 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?
15
votes
4answers
568 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
1k 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
80 views

Amateur Stargazing (30 degrees N)

When I look at the sky I easily recognize Orion, The Big Dipper, and the North Star (in relation to the Big Dipper). Besides these (and the moon^^), what easily identifiable (unaided eye) astronomical ...
4
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4answers
3k views

Are telescopes with a concave lens useful for astronomy?

Are telescopes with a concave lens (instead of convex ones) ever useful for astronomy? And if so, where are they used? Do they ever affect resolving power?
3
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2answers
28 views

For resolving different objects, are there any alternative coefficients to the one used in the Rayleigh criterion? (which is 1.22)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_resolution#Explanation It's the point where you can't distinguish between the maxima and the first minima. But could there be cases where you have a more ...
3
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2answers
154 views

Is angular resolution important when we want the spectra of an Earth-like exoplanet?

Right now, our resolution + light gathering power are still far too low to take direct images of exoplanets, so we're limited to subtracting the planet spectra from the parent star spectra when the ...
6
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1answer
3k views

Most accurate ways to find the average distance between stars in Milky way galaxy

I've already posted here on quora. But, I'm not totally sure if it's the most reasonable method. Would anyone care to elaborate on how to find the average distance between stars in a given galaxy (...
7
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3answers
5k views

What is the irregularity in Uranus' orbit that is caused by Neptune?

I carefully read the Wikipedia article Discovery of Neptune, and I don't get what the irregularity of Uranus orbit was that lead to the discovery of Neptune. Years ago, I watched some educational film ...