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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12
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4answers
11k views

What does f/4.6 mean in a telescope and how important is this value? [closed]

In some specifications for telescopes, I saw a value marked as f/4.6. What does it mean exactly, and how important is when it comes to choosing a telescope?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What is exactly a Dobsonian, and what are the differences when compared with Schmidt-Cassegrain or Newtonian?

What is exactly a Dobsonian telescope, and what are the differences between this technical choice over a Schmidt-Cassegrain or a Newtonian configurations?
6
votes
2answers
157 views

How can I judge a globular cluster on the Shapley & Sawyer scale?

Globular clusters were classified by Shapley and Sawyer as being on a scale from 1 to 12 where 1 is very loosely packed central area and 12 is highly packed central area. As a visual astronomer, it ...
10
votes
3answers
286 views

Why is M42 red in the pictures, but green when observed at the eyepiece?

I saw magnificent images of the Orion Nebula (M42) in pictures from Wikipedia, However, when observed with a telescope, the nebula appears green hued, and I can't see any of the characteristic red ...
-1
votes
3answers
515 views

What age to start kids with astronomy [closed]

My son is getting interested in astronomy. I was thinking about getting him a scope when he gets a bit older, he is 4 now. At what age have other people gotten their kids telescopes? (I have a 10" dob ...
9
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3answers
33 views

What are good resources for someone looking to become an amateur astronomer?

What resources would you consider to be essential for an amateur astronomer?
2
votes
2answers
79 views

What objects look best in an O-III filter?

I've heard that an O-III (Oxygen III) filter is great for planetary nebulae. Is this true for all planetary nebulae, or just some or most? What other target types are often improved with an O-III ...
5
votes
1answer
314 views

A method to estimate the relative magnitude of a star using nearby stars

I remember a method to make a reasonable estimate of the magnitude of a given star X by using two other stars of known magnitude as references. The method used evaluation phrases like "the star X and ...
15
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
28 views

What tools do I need to track an orbit of a mystery object?

A while back I was observing Uranus with my 6" dob and a moving object tracked across my field of view. I was at about 90x at the time, and the object was pretty bright but slow moving. I dropped down ...
7
votes
1answer
121 views

What is a backlit CCD sensor, and why might I prefer it to other kinds?

I've heard Astronomers talking about backlit CCD sensors, and talking about how much better they are than other types. What are they, why might I want to get one, and what are the pros/cons of this ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views
6
votes
2answers
676 views

Optimal Angular Field of View (AFOV)

Given the rather huge price differences between eye pieces at the same focal length. How exactly does the AFOV affect the view seen through the eyepiece? Are higher / lower AFOV better for certain ...
5
votes
1answer
18 views

What criteria were used to set the “useme” flag in the NOMAD astrometric catalog?

How was the value of the "useme" flag in the NOMAD astrometric catalog set? The readme just describes the field as "Recommended astrometric standard," but says nothing about the basis on which that ...
6
votes
2answers
310 views

What makes a good set of binoculars? [closed]

After trying a bunch of binoculars at Star Parties and the like, I have a pretty good feel for about what aperture and magnification I'd like in a new set binoculars. I'm an eyeglass wearer so a long ...
3
votes
1answer
25 views

What to cite for MSX6 survey?

Here is my current dilemma: I used the data from MSX6 Survey and want to put a citation or some kind of acknowledgment but I can't seem to find any concrete paper or reference text to put in the ...
13
votes
5answers
155 views

How do you respond to questions like “Have you ever observed a UFO?” [closed]

This is a question that astronomers get asked by the public regularly, and I'm curious to see how others respond.
8
votes
2answers
719 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
25 views

Is there any site/place which gives access to astronomical signals acquired from space?

I am an engineer and I'd like to know if there are any places which provide access to any kind of astronomical signals acquired from space using radio telescopes.
2
votes
1answer
168 views

May 20th Annular Eclipse - Duration from Vancouver?

On May 20th, there's an annular eclipse. It's technically visible towards the end from Vancouver. In the middle, the duration is just under 6 minutes. What I want to know is what the duration is ...
6
votes
1answer
33 views

Liquid Water in “mid-ice” on Europa. Mechanism?

Recently I read this entry by Dr. Phil Plait (a.k.a. The Bad Astronomer). He is talking about a lake of water contained within the ice layer of Europa. the lake is completely embedded in the ice ...
6
votes
2answers
233 views

Io - Turned inside out

In a lot of the descriptions of the moon Io it frequently states that the moon, because of volcanic activity, has been literally "Turned inside out". What exactly is meant by "Turned inside out" and ...
4
votes
1answer
397 views

Lunar twilight and sixth magnitude stars

Summary: when the Moon is x degrees below the horizon, it interferes with stargazing the same as astronomical twilight would. What is x (as a function of the Moon's phase)? We define civil, ...
3
votes
1answer
945 views

About binary stars and calculating velocity, period and radius of their orbit

I saw somewhere about being able to measure the velocity, period and radius of a binary star orbit by looking at red shift and blue shift. I understand it but can someone give me an example of ...
6
votes
1answer
162 views

Frequency of nomad planets passing within 30 AU of the sun

A recent estimate by the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (a joint institute of Stanford and SLAC) is that there are circa 100000 times as many 'nomad planets' as stars I ...
0
votes
1answer
139 views

How to find the orbit of a moving point object given 3 past passing positions?

How do I find the orbit of a moving point object given 3 past passing positions and the tangents at these passing positions, and given that the orbit is known to be an ellipse?
0
votes
1answer
330 views

How to describe the inner curve of a crescent?

What is the equation which describes the inner circle of the crescent that a celestial body displays when view at an angle from its light source, as a function of the crescent-cycle period? For ...
7
votes
2answers
857 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?
2
votes
1answer
148 views

Gravitational sphere

I was reading this article that mentions a blackhole as having a gravitational sphere of 4,000 light-years. I'd not heard of the term (gravitational sphere) before ...
1
vote
1answer
501 views

Calculating position using shadows

Suppose, we know the length of the shadow of an object at some known time. Can we use the this information to find position of the object (the longitude )?
4
votes
1answer
109 views

How is the atmosphere composition of astronomical objects in solar system determined?

How is the atmosphere composition of astronomical objects, for example triton, the moon of neptune, determined?
12
votes
5answers
12k 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
votes
1answer
170 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
627 views

IRIS alternative on mac?

I need to process some images taken from a telescope to determine the intensity of an astroid. This way I can determine the rotation period of this asteroid. The pictures were taken the usual way ...
2
votes
3answers
223 views

What is the strange event in this simulation of a galactic collision?

I was watching this video on YouTube: 2 Spiral Galaxies w/Supermassive Black Holes Collide Around half way, and again almost at the end, the black holes seem to suddenly give off some sort of force ...
4
votes
2answers
176 views

What really are some distant astronomical bodies that seems like dust clouds?

Looking at pictures like this I bet it is a picture of a giant cloud of dust, bigger than a galaxy and made of asteroids and planets (instead of stars). But probably I'm wrong. What is that?
2
votes
3answers
207 views

Is the “far” universe expanding more quickly?

I'm reading this silly Time article: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2044517,00.html And they say "Even at its best, the 20-year-old telescope never had the acuity to peer so far into ...
1
vote
0answers
228 views

Is the conclusion that the cosmic burst observed in the Draco constellation from gamma rays that are streaming towards a massive black hole correct?

Referencing this news article: http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/cosmic-burst-in-far-away-galaxy-puzzles-nasa-20110408-1d6kz.html It also references an event id: (GRB) 110328A The article ...
5
votes
1answer
159 views

Oort Cloud Detection

The hypothetical Oort cloud is an explaination for long period comets. It presumably is made up of icy bodies orbiting up to 50,000 AU from the Sun. If so, shouldn't the Spitzer IR telescope have ...
2
votes
1answer
127 views

Solar Cycle UV Variation

The average energy we receive from the Sun is 1,366 w/m^2, and this only varies by 0.1% from the activity peak to trough of its 11 year cycle. About 9% of the energy comes from wavelengths less than ...
-2
votes
5answers
295 views

Does the rotational speed of a planet consistently become faster and faster given that there are no conflicting events? [closed]

Does the rotational speed of a planet consistently become faster and faster given that there are no conflicting events?
2
votes
7answers
483 views

Can astronomers directly detect black holes?

Are there any methods of direct detection for black holes? I'm not referring to gravitational lensing, or measuring the orbits of a star in a binary pair. Is there any way of directly 'seeing' them? ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

Gravity and Planetary Differentiation

During solar system formation, many bodies achieved hydrostatic equilibrium, a spherical shape where their self gravitational force was balanced by internal pressure. Many also achieved ...
7
votes
1answer
248 views

Mass Needed to Clear an Orbital Neighborhood

In 2006 the IAU deemed that Pluto was no longer a planet because it fails to "clear" the neighborhood around its Kuiper Belt orbit. Presumably, this is because Pluto (1.305E22 kg) has insufficient ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

How would I calculate celestial body characteristics without a priori knowledge?

Without any a priori knowledge of the mass, speed, distance, and size of local celestial bodies (aside from Earth's size), what can I calculate and how from my "backyard" through observation? Edit: ...
5
votes
2answers
317 views

Does the math work out for there being enough time for the formation of the heavier elements and their distribution as seen in today's universe?

Currently accepted scientific theory says that all elements heavier than hydrogen, helium, and a little lithium have been created in supernova explosions. My questions, specifically, is has anyone ...
-2
votes
1answer
565 views

History of Man Acquired knowledge of solar system [closed]

I know the basics of solar system like how earth moves around sun, and that we have so many planets, elliptical orbit of earth, and how far is sun from earth etc etc. I want to take a step back and ...
3
votes
1answer
461 views

Does the long axis of Earth's orbit precess? Does it nutate?

Get up off the plane of the ecliptic by a couple of million miles. Look back at the Sun and watch the Earth's orbit in time-lapse for a few centuries. The orbit is an ellipse tilted at 23.5 degrees ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Find true anomaly given period, eccentricity and time

Is it possible to find the true anomaly of an object in a Kepler orbit given the orbital period of the object, the orbital eccentricity and the time? Assuming a two body system and the mass of the ...
0
votes
3answers
113 views

Is there a chance for Earth to have an additional satellite someday?

I am just an space enthusiast and not a physics professional so pardon me if this is not the right place to ask. As title says, is there a chance for our Earth to have additional satellite(s) like our ...