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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10
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2answers
24k views

How is distance between sun and earth calculated?

How has the distance between sun and earth been calculated? Also what is the size of the sun?
3
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2answers
9k views

Differences between astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology? [closed]

What is the main difference between Astronomy, Astrophysics, and Cosmology? I have the impression that astronomy is a subject that runs parallel to physics but it is outside the physics field. This ...
1
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2answers
994 views

What is a good introductory text to astronomy [closed]

What is a good and easy to read introductory text for an adult with limited basic scientific knowledge to astronomy for someone without a telescope and lives in a big city and why do you think that ...
15
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3answers
639 views

What is the probability that a star of a given spectral type will have planets?

There is a lot of new data from the various extrasolar planet projects including NASA's Kepler mission on extra-solar planets. Based on our current data what is the probability that a star of each of ...
8
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2answers
800 views

Why is the summer, in the temperate latitudes, in average, hotter that the spring?

It is common knowledge that the transition from the Spring to the Summer season occurs in the Summer Solstice when the "Sun reaches its highest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the ...
5
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1answer
1k views

When and how were relative distances to the planets first measured?

I understand that the absolute distance to a planet can be measured using earth-baseline (e.g., diurnal) parallax, and that the first reasonably accurate such measurement was made for Mars by Cassini (...
3
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2answers
21k views

How is the speed of light calculated?

How is the speed of light calculated? My knowledge of physics is limited to how much I studied till high school. One way that comes to my mind is: if we throw light from one point to another (of known ...
2
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1answer
335 views

When would the proposed black hole at the centre of Milky Way gulp in our solar system? [duplicate]

I've heard and read that our solar system lies near to the peripheral region of the Galaxy. Then accordingly we would have a greater probability of sustaining to eventual gulping down by the super-...
2
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1answer
869 views

Difference between Gunn Peterson trough and the Lyman Alpha Forest? Cosmological implications?

I'm having difficulty understanding the full implications of the Lyman alpha forest and its use in cosmology. My understanding is this: we detect features in the Intergalactic Medium (IGM) by very ...
16
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3answers
7k views

Observing lunar lander and footprints on the moon?

After Apollo 11 first landed on the Moon in 1969, there have been conspiracy theories that this never really happened and that it was all a hoax. In 2010 NASA released photos from its Lunar ...
9
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3answers
9k 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! ...
8
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3answers
741 views

Are there planetary systems where the planes of orbits vary greatly?

Inspired by this question, are there any known planetary systems with largely varying planes of orbit? For example a system where two planets have perpendicular planes?
8
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2answers
1k views

Do we know what event caused the Sun and Solar System to form?

Some stellar formation theories suggest that stars are formed by shock waves from trigger events such as supernovae. This excerpt from Star Formation basically gives the background to my question: ...
5
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1answer
148 views

Is there an Algorithm to find the time when the sun is X degrees above the horizon for a given latitude B at date C

Is there an accurate algorithm / method to determine the precise time of day/night when the sun is X degrees above (or below) the horizon for a given latitude Y at date Z? Is this the same question ...
5
votes
1answer
183 views

What fraction of baryonic matter is in stars?

We know from big bang nucleosynthesis that baryonic matter accounts for about 5% of the universe's total mass-energy density. What is the current best estimate of how much of this is in the form of ...
5
votes
2answers
346 views

What time scale is used by the JPL HORIZONS system?

I'm confused by the ust of the term "UT" in the description of time scales used by the JPL HORIZONS system. Their manual states that UT is Universal Time This can mean one of two non-uniform ...
3
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5answers
695 views

Could the speed of light change outside our solar system

Theory: The speed of light changes when it enters or exits the solar system due to a difference in medium (dark matter possibly). Potential problem 1: refraction If there was a speed change at the ...
2
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2answers
129 views

Seeing the shadow of a black hole

Why can't we see the shadow of a black hole cast on Earth. Shouldn't the black hole block some light from a star or a galaxy far behind as they line up?
1
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2answers
154 views

What parameters control the amount of thermal energy an object must possess for it to be detectable in space?

What parameters control the amount of thermal energy a space object must possess for it to be detectable by a sensor also in space (i.e. one that does not have to deal with interference from a planet'...
9
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1answer
1k views

How distorted does the Andromeda Galaxy appear to us due to the speed of light?

The Andromeda Galaxy appears to us at an angle to the galactic disk, i.e. we are not in the Andromeda Galaxy disc's plane, nor are we near the direction that the galaxy's pole points. Therefore, due ...
7
votes
1answer
342 views

Is it feasible to measure the energy of cosmic ray muons with a consumer Digital Single Lens Reflex camera?

I have read this article SIBBERNSEN, Kendra. Catching Cosmic Rays with a DSLR. Astronomy Education Review, 2010, 9: 010111. and it talks about estimating the muon cosmic ray flux by means of a DSLR ...
5
votes
2answers
116 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 ...
4
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1answer
56 views

No tremendous neutrino-flux for SNIa?

Why do neutrino account for 99% of the energy release for a SN II, while it is not expected to be the case for SN Ia? Is it because the densities are not high enough to induce inverse beta-decay? (...
2
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2answers
103 views

Is it possible to build an optical system that increases the perceived surface brightness?

So is it possbile to build a system from lenses and mirrors that can make faint gas nebulas brighter or can be used as nightvision? If you increase the size of the aperture of a telescope it will ...
2
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1answer
86 views

How is Doppler redshift of distant galaxies established?

Doppler redshift of distant galaxies gave first hint that the universe is expanding. I am curious to know how this redshift is actually measured and interpreted from observation. Suppose I observe ...
1
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2answers
303 views

Is there a “present state” of distant stars if simultaneity is relative?

Special relativity theory says simultaneity is relative, meaning that different observers will not agree on what happened first and what second. Does it then make sense to say that looking at distant ...
45
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2answers
6k views

Why are gold mirrors yellow?

Why are golden mirrors yellow? Do they add a yellow component to the spectrum or absorb non-yellow components? If they absorb, then why are they used in telescopes being imperfect? If they add a ...
23
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6answers
6k views

Why are the orbits of planets in the Solar System nearly circular?

Except for Mercury, the planets in the Solar System have very small eccentricities. Is this property special to the Solar System? Wikipedia states: Most exoplanets with orbital periods of 20 ...
21
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3answers
15k 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 ...
15
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2answers
467 views

Does it make sense to continue searching for dark matter on Earth?

The Large Underground Xenon Detector (LUX) recently released results1 that they have found no signs of dark matter2 after a ~3 month search this spring and summer. The LUX group plans to spend all of ...
14
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3answers
1k views

What is the most compelling evidence of General Relativity in the presence of matter and energy?

The most oft-cited triumphs of GR are things such as the shifting perihelion of Mercury, gravitational redshift experiments, and gravitational lensing. But, as far as I know, these are only ...
13
votes
1answer
678 views

What percentage of the sky is occluded by stars?

If you drew rays from the center of the earth out to infinity at every angle, what percentage of them would intersect a star? Extra details: Assume the rays are mathematical rays, or that they ...
11
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2answers
427 views

Does the Milky Way have dark matter satellite galaxies?

This recent paper by Weinberg et al. discusses that one potential problem with our current model of Cold Dark Matter (CDM) is that is predicts a greater number of satellite galaxies for the Milky Way ...
7
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0answers
381 views

Why is my approach to the equation of time off by a constant?

I'm trying to better understand the causes for the equation of time by deriving an approximation from first principles. My naive approach, $EOT_{NAIVE}$, is to take the difference between the right ...
17
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10answers
317 views

In astronomy what phenomena have theory predicted before observations?

As far as I know, astronomy is generally an observational science. We see something and then try to explain why it is happening. The one exception that I know of is black holes: first it was thought ...
9
votes
2answers
692 views

What are the demographics of stars visible to the naked eye?

Of the stars that can be seen with the naked eye, what are the distributions of each type? For example, how many are main sequence? how many are Super Red giants/white dwarfs/neutron stars...etc. ...
6
votes
1answer
163 views

How did Kepler arrive at his laws?

How did Kepler arrive at his laws? If one already knows the distances to the planets (and the eccentricity of the orbits etc.) it is understandable how one might proceed to establish the second and ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between UT0, UT1 and GMT time?

Every reference I find says that they are "essentially" the same, which we all know really means that they are not the same, but different only by a some small amount that someone else other than me ...
18
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2answers
989 views

How deep is the Great Red Spot?

The Great Red Spot (GRS) is a very persistent storm system that's easily visible through a telescope on the surface of Jupiter. But what is the three-dimensional structure of the GRS, and how deep ...
15
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the farthest-away star visible to the naked eye?

My girlfriend and I were watching Cosmos, and something Carl Sagan said got us wondering what the farthest-away visible star is. Obviously "visible to the naked eye" is a fuzzy concept that might have ...
10
votes
2answers
621 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 ...
10
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1answer
262 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?
9
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1answer
1k views

Distribution of star colours in a galaxy

I'm trying to randomly generate a representation of a galaxy. I have some Idea on the spatial distribution of stars within a galaxy, and I can find plenty of material on the colour of stars, but ...
8
votes
1answer
139 views

How many galaxies could be the source of the recent LIGO detection?

The recent LIGO detection is pretty exciting, and a lot of people are asking whether there is a chance of optical detection of the black hole pair that created the signal. From a cursory reading of ...
8
votes
1answer
475 views

Are the distances we measure to objects in the universe incorrect because of their relative motion?

For example the agreed distance to the Andromeda Galaxy is 2.5 million light years, and consequentially, we see the galaxy as it was 2.5 million years ago! (A time interval in which the galaxy must ...
7
votes
1answer
350 views

What are the different ways to measure the spatial curvature of the universe?

Just what the question asks. Assuming the Friedmann-Rovertson-Walker (FRW) metric, what measurements can be performed to determine the spatial curvature of the universe.
6
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2answers
1k views

How did pre-Copernican astronomers accurately predict planetary position?

Copernican elements (circular orbital elements) are not very accurate. But Copernicus simplified our understanding a great deal by placing the Sun at the center of the system. Im astonished by the ...
5
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2answers
157 views

Of the 9096 visible stars — 90% are how close?

I was on a beach on a tropical island one night and, of course, the night sky was magnificent. It got me thinking: I want to point to a star and say with $90$% certainty that it is probably $x$ ...
4
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2answers
566 views

Do green stars exists?

I asked a university lecturer why we don't observe green stars, and he said the blackbody curve averages at that frequency such that the cones in our eyes don't recognise it. I have a hunch that ...
3
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1answer
201 views

Did dark matter cause the formation of the Solar System?

This question is related to my previous question on Solar System Formation and is a pure thought experiment, with as few as possible assumptions made. From my previous question, I learned that stars ...