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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How do stars look like from space? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Optical explanation of images of stars? What are these rays that appear in photograph of sun? I thought stars should look round shaped (similar to a sphere, or oblate ...
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2answers
104 views

Approach of the Andromeda Galaxy

So, it's theorized that Andromeda will collide with the Milky Way some time in the next 3 billion years... I don't get how galaxies can collide with each other. What is the cause of their movement? ...
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1answer
545 views

What is the apparent diameter of the sun as seen from earth?

I know this may not be physically accurate. For my purposes, basically 3D renders, I am assuming the sun rays are parallel rays from an infinitely far lamp. If the sky is clear, what size would that ...
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3answers
545 views

How far are constellations recognizable?

A novel of the 'Foundation' series mentioned that the universe being 3-D the shape of a constellation is recognizable only in the near vicinity of a given planet. In other words move out from the ...
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1answer
344 views

Determine date of birth from “astrological” signs?

Suppose someone tells me what constellation the Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were in when they were born, and the information is astronomically accurate (ie, not astrological ...
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2answers
2k views

Do photons lose energy while travelling through space? Or why are planets closer to the sun warmer?

My train of thought was the following: The Earth orbiting the Sun is at times 5 million kilometers closer to it than others, but this is almost irrelevant to the seasons. Instead, the temperature ...
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2answers
2k views

Dumbed-down explanation how scientists know the number of atoms in the universe?

It is often quoted that the number of atoms in the universe is 10$^{70}$ or 10$^{80}$. How do scientists determine this number? And how accurate is it (how strong is the supporting evidences for ...
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1answer
154 views

Do stars appear to move with uniform motion?

The Ancient Greek astronomers had quite an obsession over uniform circular motion; I was wondering if there was a logical reason for this. Did it develop through actual observations of the stars? Do ...
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1answer
297 views

The Moon is slowly moving away from the earth. Does this mean that a total solar eclipse wasn't possible at some point in earth's history?

When the moon was closer to earth, was it still possible to witness a total solar eclipse millions of years ago? Or was the view-able space so small that it was impractical to even witness it?
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88 views

Could a bipolar nebula be produced by a time gradient?

M2-9 is an example of a bipolar nebula that resembles two back-to-back rocket nozzles. Is it possible that this shape (somewhat unusual for an explosion) is the result of a time gradient? A rotating ...
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1answer
95 views

Other than the motion of the Earth, what else would cause parallax?

Wikipedia has this to say about the discovery of the aberration of light: In 1728, while unsuccessfully attempting to measure the parallax of Eltanin, James Bradley discovered the aberration of ...
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79 views

Atmospheric hydrogen in Titan

In 2005, some astrobiologists proposed that methanogenic life on the surface of Titan would consume both hydrogen and acetylene from the atmosphere, causing a downward gradient in the concentrations ...
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1answer
191 views

Why is the Hubble Space telescope able to see farthest in the universe?

What determines how far a telescope can see in the universe? How does recording data for a very long time (~10 years) help? If we could build a telescope which work at microwave region, will it be a ...
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684 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 ...
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312 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 ...
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3answers
910 views

How many percent of the visible light reaching the Earth are from other stars than the Sun?

How many percent of the whole visible light reaching the Earth are from other stars than the Sun? Is it maybe 0,5 - 1% or is my guess already too much? I am interested mainly in visible light, but ...
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1answer
561 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 ...
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1answer
288 views

When calculating the local apparent sidereal time, which time scale should I use?

UT1, UTC, TAI, TDB, or what? I need to determine the time difference between a given observation and the epoch from which certain constants apply. I typically work with the J2000.0 epoch. This is to ...
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3answers
507 views

Tidal force on far side

I have a question about tidal forces on the far side of a body experiencing gravitational attraction from another body. Let's assume we have two spherical bodies $A$ and $B$ whose centers are $D$ ...
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2answers
255 views

What does “equinox of date used” mean?

The documentation for an API I often use for quick astronomical modeling and figure drawing says Positions are given in FK5 heliocentric coordinates in the equinox of the date used. What does ...
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4answers
467 views

Are galactic stars spiraling inwards?

Are the stars in our galaxy spiraling inwards towards the center, or are they in a permanent orbit? And if we are heading towards the center then what is the rate of this process? I started ...
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4answers
6k views

Is it possible for the planets to align?

We've all heard the statement that on the 21st of December, the planets in the solar system will "align" from the point of view of the Earth. I assume this means that they would all be in the same ...
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2answers
1k views

When is the right ascension of the mean sun 0?

I understand that the right ascension of the mean sun changes (at least over a specified period) by a constant rate, but where is it zero? I had naively assumed that it would be zero at the most ...
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2answers
266 views

The validity of the Longitude of Perihelion

As I understand it from Astronomical Algorithms, by Jean Meeus, the Longitude of Perihelion is a very common numeric value associated with planets, even used as one of the planetary orbital elements. ...
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2answers
605 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 ...
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1answer
128 views

Polaris distance correction and implications for cosmological measurements

Polaris has been a guiding light of navigation for centuries. But Polaris also happens to be the closest cepheid variable to our sun. These, together with the type II-A supernovae constitute standard ...
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474 views

How much of the universe is observable at visible wavelengths?

Knowing that: The Zone of Avoidance (Looking towards the center of the Milky Way) blocks roughly 20% Each Milky Way star has an angular size, depending on proximity, that obscures a certain ...
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774 views

Why cant one see tidal effects in a glass of water?

Why cant one see the tidal effect in a glass of water like in an ocean?
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4answers
3k views

View of the Sun from Voyager 1

Today Voyager 1 is approximately 122 AU distance from the Sun. What does the sun look like from this distance? How much brighter does the sun appear to the naked eye compared to other stars in the ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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4answers
364 views

How accurate are Mayan astronomical “ephemerides”?

Because of the hype surrounding the "end" of the Mayan calendar (along with the usual cultural relativism and Western guilt) it is nearly impossible to find an objective quantitative assessment of the ...
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1answer
175 views

How do physicists and astronomers handle leap seconds?

I'm confused by the many contradictory descriptions I see about how UTC leap seconds are accounted for. I understand that there are various ways to handle them in common practice, and I've seen a ...
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5answers
345 views

Why relative positions of stars and other objects in a galaxy do not change over the year

Though the identifiable stars in a constellation(say andromeda) and galaxy(say andromeda galaxy) are situated light years apart, why isn't the galaxy appearing at different positions(with respect to ...
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1answer
194 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 ...
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2answers
323 views

Exploding Earth

I have always heard that the Earth, due to its structure, cannot explode. Now, I'm quite fascinated by astronomy physics but I admit I only hold some more than basic knowledge. In any case, even ...
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0answers
68 views

Elimination of the node

Recently I have been reading a lot of astronomy papers on reductions in models of the solar system. A reoccurring concept is the elimination of the node. However, they never explain what the node is ...
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1answer
194 views

How long in advance can dates of moon phases be accurately predicted?

When researching an article on Chinese New Year I found a few websites that predict the dates of Chinese New Year (CNY) tens - or sometimes even hundreds - of years in advance. I´m wondering how many ...
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1answer
755 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 ...
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1answer
170 views

Is there an “authoritative” source for ephemeris data?

I find some variation in the values reported for ephemeris by the various sources I have access to. For example for 2012-11-27T03:31:55 UTC I get solar declination values of -21.1828°, -21.18296°, ...
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5answers
588 views

How is distance measured to far away stars and galaxies?

What I need is an accurate description of the methods used to determine the distance to Andromeda. The Parallax method is for nearby objects as I presume. The red shift method applies, but how do you ...
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1answer
171 views

Fractal Cosmology and Misner's Chaotic Cosmology

I have a question pertaining to the ideas behind the considered homogeneity and isotropic nature of the universe (at a grand scale) versus the theory of a chaotic and anisotropy structure of the ...
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3answers
6k views

What are good books for graduates/undergraduates in Astrophysics?

There are no book recommendations for Astrophysics here. I will write my own answer, but I am also interested in what are others' views on the question (I will NOT mark my own answer as the best one). ...
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1answer
108 views

If the observable universe keeps expanding would we eventualy see light 24/7… clouds permiting? [duplicate]

If we can see more observable universe could there be a time when day and night looked the same?
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3answers
188 views

Is there any dynamical reason for the winter solstice to happen close to the perihelion?

When the winter solstice arrives, the angular momentum of the Earth, its orbital angular momentum and its radius vector with the orbital focus in the Sun are in the same plane. This happens quite ...
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2answers
263 views

Why does a blue sky at dusk appear nearly black through a telescope?

Earlier this evening I was looking at the Moon through my cheap toy telescope (x150 magnification) when I noticed a (rather mundane) optical effect I couldn't explain. The Sun had just dipped below ...
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2answers
114 views

A thought about Quasars

If Quasars are "beams" of energy exiting a super-massive black hole, in order for them to get through the black-hole's event horizon, they'd have to be traveling faster than the speed of light. My ...
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2answers
260 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 ...
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2answers
472 views

What accounts for the discrepancies in my calculations of year lengths?

A common exercise in many introductory astronomy texts is to use the lengths of various kinds days to calculate the approximate length of the corresponding year. For example, ratio $k$ of the length ...
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1answer
179 views

What is the likelihood of a long-period comet impact?

I always see lots of information about asteroid impacts, but very little is said about comet impacts. As I see, a long period comet impact is much more dangerous because a) we wouldn't have time to ...
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202 views

What day/night cycles, climate and seasons would experience Alpha Centauri Bb inhabitants?

Alpha Centauri Bb is an exoplanet orbiting Alpha Centauri B. It is asserted that given the close distance to the star the planet should be tidally locked. The orbiting period of the planet is about ...