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Astronomy

Images from the NASA Spitzer Space Telescope have been used to create a staggering 20-gigapixel panorama, encompassing more than half of the galaxy’s stars. The vista was created from more than a decade’s worth of infrared images, and will be used to help further our understanding of the structure and formation of stars in the Milky Way. Read More
A meter-wide (3 ft) asteroid impacted the Moon's surface September 11, 2013, producing a bright explosion and digging a new crater about 40 meters (130 ft) in diameter. The video of the event shows a bright flash of light against the stark blackness of the Moon's dark side. Similar in brilliance to the brightest stars in the Big Dipper, the asteroid impact is the largest confirmed impact on the Moon since continuous monitoring started some 15 years ago. Read More
A team of astronomers at The Australian National University (ANU) working on a five-year project to produce the first comprehensive digital survey of the southern sky has discovered the oldest known star in the Universe. Just a 6,000 light year astronomical hop, skip and jump from Earth, the ancient star formed shortly after the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. Read More
A cloudy night in London led to the discovery of the 21st Century's brightest supernova to date. The new supernova 2014J, the brightest since 1993, is located in the galaxy M82. This Type-Ia supernova has just reached its peak brightness of magnitude 10.6. M82 lies at a distance of only about 12 million light years, which explains the brightness of 2014J in our skies. 2014J is bright enough to be seen in small telescopes or perhaps in (very) large binoculars. We'll tell you how to find it. Read More
Since Earth is the only known inhabited planet and we happen to live here, it’s only natural to regard it as the ideal place for life to exist, and to assume that another life-bearing planet would be fairly similar. However, that is not the opinion of scientists René Heller and John Armstrong who contend that there might be a planet even more suitable for life than Earth 4.3 light years away orbiting the star Alpha Centauri B. Read More
Astronomers Without Borders (AWB) is a nonprofit organization aimed at knocking down national and cultural boundaries by encouraging a common interest in astronomy. Along with their message that we all share one sky, AWB is now selling a neat little grab-n-go telescope called OneSky. The scope is perfectly suited for a quick look at the heavens from the backyard, as well as for throwing in the car before heading to darker skies. I'm reviewing this scope, and it is a prize for the price. Read More
Mark your calendars for 2034, because that is when science is set to get a whole new spectrum to play with when the European Space Agency (ESA) launches its eLISA mission. Consisting of a constellation of three spacecraft flying in precise formation, eLISA will study gravitational waves in a manner that may one day revolutionize our understanding of the Universe. Read More
Our knowledge of the large-scale structure of the Universe is gradually taking shape. However, our improved vision is mostly being statistically squeezed from huge data sets. Working backward from a statistical analysis to a putative fact about the (singular) Universe, to which statistics do not apply on a cosmological scale, is a dicey business. A case in point is a recent look at the biggest known structures in the Universe – large quasar groups. Read More
In the old days, astronomy was simple – comets had tails and asteroids didn’t. Now, as if to not only disprove such established views, but drive the point home, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope took images in September of an asteroid called P/2013 P5 that has not one, but six comet-like tails. Read More
If you think being stuck in a strange town late at night after the last bus has gone is lonely, then give a thought for the exoplanet PSO J318.5-22. Discovered this year by astronomers at the University of Hawaii, this planet was found floating through interstellar space without a parent star and is one of the smallest free-floating objects seen outside of the Solar System. Read More