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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

0
votes
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
189 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
570 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 ...
6
votes
0answers
307 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
853 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 ...
-3
votes
1answer
524 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
274 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
488 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 $D$ ...
1
vote
2answers
247 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
454 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
867 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
256 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. ...
6
votes
2answers
569 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 ...
4
votes
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 ...
7
votes
3answers
435 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
751 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?
7
votes
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 ...
10
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
362 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
173 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
332 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
189 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
319 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 ...
2
votes
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
184 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
738 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
168 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°, ...
6
votes
5answers
555 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
166 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
5k 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). ...
3
votes
1answer
106 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?
6
votes
3answers
184 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
258 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
111 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
254 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
468 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
173 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
196 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
425 views

Does the length of the sidereal day vary systematically?

I'm confused about some properties of the sidereal day, in particular whether its duration varies systematically over the course of the year.1 It seems to me that that must be the case, but the ...
2
votes
3answers
130 views

How is a star's parent galaxy recognized?

A star is probably visible/detected by it's radiation. But that star may or may not belong to our own galaxy ... yet news reports speak of detecting a star/nova in a distant galaxy. How does one ...
4
votes
2answers
651 views

What is the formal definition of a stellar day?

I'm having trouble understanding precisely what a stellar day is. Neither the USNO nor the IERS sites provide a definition. And Wikipedia's description as the "rotation period relative to the fixed ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are the orbits of the planets in our solar system along the same basic plane? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are our planets in the solar system all on the same disc/plane/layer? After watching this video I realized that the orbits of the planets in our solar system ...
2
votes
0answers
102 views

What is the correct way of integrating in astronomy simulations? [closed]

I'm creating a simple astronomy simulator that should use Newtonian physics to simulate movement of plants in a system (or any objects, for that matter). All the bodies are circles in an Euclidean ...
4
votes
1answer
241 views

Future space-based telescope array

Radio-telescopes (e.g. the Very Large Array (VLA)) can simulate one gigantic dish by using separate smaller dishes. Q: Could such an array of optical telescopes potentially see an exoplanet at say 20 ...
1
vote
2answers
169 views

how do we know that the base of entire universe is the proton (hydrogen) and not the antiproton?

It may be that the base of a part of the world is anti-proton, We've always been on the planet Earth and the Milky Way. how do we know that the base of entire universe is proton (hydrogen atom)?
0
votes
1answer
402 views

Is there a simple, accurate formula for calculating transit times from rise and set times?

I have access to "rise" and "set" times for astronomical objects, and want to determine the corresponding times of culmination. Is there a reliable and accurate way to do this? It isn't clear to me ...
2
votes
1answer
86 views

Alpha Centauri Bb: Comparing astrometric precision vs doppler precision

How do you compare astrometric precision vs doppler spectroscopic precision? In particular will the Gaia spacecraft to be launched next year be able to confirm the existence of Alpha Centauri Bb? ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

Are comets known to exist in other star systems?

Are comets a feature unique to our Solar System? Or, are comets/cometary clouds detected around discovered/observed extra-solar systems too? If they were detected elsewhere, how do such cometary ...