astronomy

January 24, 2019

Our image of the outer solar system in decades past was much simpler than it is today. Pluto was the ninth planet, and that was the end of it except for some scattered asteroids and comets. Now, science doesn’t consider Pluto a planet, but some believe there’s a still-undiscovered ninth planet out there tweaking the orbit of small planetoids.

January 17, 2019

Despite recent issues with one of its instruments, the Hubble Space Telescope is expected to last at least another five years. A new report suggests that the iconic spacecraft has a strong chance of enduring through the mid-2020s."Right now, all of the subsystems and the instruments have a reliability exceeding 80 percent through 2025...

January 09, 2019

What is the "dark side" of the moon? The short answer? It's a misnomer. A cool-sounding misnomer! But a misnomer. Assuming they aren't talking about the Pink Floyd album or the French mockumentary, people who say "the dark side of the moon" are almost always referring to the moon's far side--which, despite pointing permanently away from those of us planetside, actually sees as much sunlight as the side facing Earth.

December 20, 2018

Our simplistic nine-planet view of the solar system was shattered years ago when scientists learned Pluto was not unique in the outer solar system. We have since discovered more “dwarf planets,” and an international team of astronomers has just spotted the most distant such planetoid yet. The object known as “Farout” is 120 times farther from the sun than Earth, putting it far beyond the orbit of Pluto.

December 13, 2018

NASA's Parker Solar Probe has made the closest-ever approach to a star (the sun) and shared an image of the sun's atmosphere on Twitter on Wednesday. NASA's image, captured Nov. 8, shows the corona, which is the sun's outer atmosphere, when the spacecraft was just 16.9 million miles from the star.

November 28, 2018

A newly released composite photo of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033, which lies about 1.6 billion light-years from Earth, bears a striking resemblance to the Starship Enterprise from "Star Trek."

November 04, 2018

Hubble went into safe mode when one of its three working gyroscopes failed, leaving mission managers with a weighty challenge: They could try getting a glitchy gyro working again, bringing the telescope’s pointing system back to its normal three-gyro mode. Otherwise, they would have to go to a one-gyro procedure for pointing at observational targets, and keep the second gyro in reserve.

October 09, 2018

Called the Event Horizon Telescope, or EHT, the project is “the biggest telescope in the history of humanity,” EHT director Shep Doeleman of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics says in the book. EHT unifies far-flung radio telescopes through a technique called very long baseline interferometry, which involves combining the light waves spotted by each telescope to determine how the light adds up, through a process called interference.

October 02, 2018

A new calculation shows that if space is an ocean, we’ve barely dipped in a toe. The volume of observable space combed so far for E.T. is comparable to searching the volume of a large hot tub for evidence of fish in Earth’s oceans, astronomer Jason Wright at Penn State and colleagues say in a paper posted online September 19 at arXiv.org.

September 25, 2018

Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, which arrived at the near-Earth asteroid on June 27 after a journey of more than three years, released the MINERVA-II1 container from a height of about 60 meters (SN Online: 6/27/18). The container then released two 18-centimeter-wide, cylindrical rovers. Because Ryugu’s gravity is so weak, the rovers can hop using rotating motors that generate a torque and send them airborne for about 15 minutes.

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