Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It applies mathematics, physics, and chemistry, in an effort to explain the origin of those objects and phenomena and their evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, galaxies, and comets; the phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, all phenomena that originate outside Earth's atmosphere are within the purview of astronomy.
News and discussion about stars, planets, and other celestial objects.
  • NASA is going to live stream the touchdown of its new Mars lander
    BGR News

    NASA is going to live stream the touchdown of its new Mars lander

    NASA has sent a number of high-tech robots to the Red Planet already, but we don't normally hear about how things like entry and landing went until after the fact. That's going to change with the entry of the InSight lander, which is scheduled to touch down on Mars on November 26th, because NASA is going to live stream the entire event for the world to watch. No, the lander won't actually be sending back live video of itself hurtling towards the Martian surface, but the space agency is going to have live commentary and video feeds from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's mission control so we can see the scientists and engineers doing their thing in real time. In a new blog post, JPL says that it's actually planning on doing two live streams side-by-side. One will be streamed on the NASA TV Public Channel and will include commentary from experts explaining what is happening and giving detailed updates. The second will be what NASA called "an uninterrupted, clean feed from inside JPL mission control, with mission audio only," meaning that you'll be able to hear the engineers and controllers talking to each other without anyone narrating the action. JPL added some additional color for the special nature of the mission: Launched on May 5, InSight marks NASA's first Mars landing since the Curiosity rover in 2012. The landing will kick off a two-year mission in which InSight will become the first spacecraft to study Mars' deep interior. Its data also will help scientists understand the formation of all rocky worlds, including our own. InSight is being followed to Mars by two miniature NASA spacecraft, jointly called Mars Cube One (MarCO), the first deep-space mission for CubeSats. If MarCO makes its planned Mars flyby, it will attempt to relay data from InSight as it enters the planet's atmosphere and lands. If everything goes as planned, InSight will deliver data about Mars that scientists can now only dream of. Finding out how the guts of the planet work should be incredibly interesting, and we'll be keeping an eye out for all kinds of neat discoveries in the days and months following the spacecraft's landing.

  • Scientists report a super-Earth orbiting Barnard’s Star, a mere 6 light-years away

    Scientists report a super-Earth orbiting Barnard’s Star, a mere 6 light-years away

    The astronomical team that found the nearest exoplanet at Proxima Centauri has done it again with the reported detection of a super-Earth orbiting Barnard’s Star, the second-closest star system to our own. The discoverers acknowledge, however, that they’re not completely sure yet. “After a very careful analysis, we are 99 percent confident that the planet is there,” Spanish astronomer Ignasi Ribas, lead author of a study about the detection published today by the journal Nature, said in a news release. “However, we’ll continue to observe this fast-moving star to exclude possible, but improbable, natural variations of the stellar brightness which could masquerade… Read More

  • SpaceRef

    New York Students to Speak with Astronaut Aboard Space Station

    New York Students to Speak with Astronaut Aboard Space Station Press Release From: NASA HQ Posted: Tuesday, November 13, 2018 NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor, currently orbiting Earth as part of the International Space Station's Expedition 57 crew,will answer questions from students at New York's University Prep Charter High School at 11:05 a.m. EST Friday, Nov. 16. The Earth-to-space call will air live on NASA television and the agency's website. The school's 400-member student body is expected to attend the event and use Auñón-Chancellor's responses to guide students in an interdisciplinary project investigating how to colonize Mars.  The event, in association with Teach for America,

  • Gaia Spots an Enormous Ghost Galaxy Right Next Door that's Being Dismantled by the Milky Way
    Universe Today

    Gaia Spots an Enormous Ghost Galaxy Right Next Door that's Being Dismantled by the Milky Way

    Astronomers combing through data from the ESA's Gaia spacecraft have discovered what they're calling a ghost galaxy. The galaxy, named Antlia 2 (Ant 2) is an extremely low-density dwarf galaxy that was formed in the early days of the universe. And it is being stripped of its mass by the tidal forces of the Milky Way. This ghost galaxy has been hiding in plain sight all along. It's low density made it hard to detect, and so did its location. It's hidden behind the shroud of the Milky Way's disc, in an area known to astronomers as the “Zone of Avoidance” (ZOA.) But it's enormous: it's the same size as the Large Magellanic Cloud and one third the size of the Milky Way. An international team of astronomers

  • After aborted mission, NASA astronaut confident about December launch

    After aborted mission, NASA astronaut confident about December launch

    Astronaut Anne McClain, along with a Russian cosmonaut and a Canadian astronaut, will man the Dec. 3 mission. It will be the Russian-made Soyuz-FG's first crewed flight since Oct. 11, when U.S. astronaut Nick Hague and a Russian cosmonaut landed unharmed on the Kazakh desert steppe after the rocket bound for the International Space Station failed in mid-air two minutes after liftoff. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has relied on Russian rockets to ferry astronauts to the space station since the United States retired its Space Shuttle program in 2011, though the agency has announced plans for test flights carrying two astronauts on commercial rockets made by Boeing and SpaceX next April.

  • Galaxy mergers hide ravenous supermassive black holes
    Ars Technica

    Galaxy mergers hide ravenous supermassive black holes

    Black holes are… um, black. The point of a black hole is that the force of gravity is strong enough to prevent light from escaping its grasp. But the matter that is being sucked into a black hole is not at all happy about its fate. The matter gets hot and bothered and starts to glow very brightly before it reaches the black hole. This produces what are called luminous accreting black holes. Most black holes are proud of themselves, sucking down matter right before our very eyes. But others are shy and seem to hide their antisocial behavior, raising questions about whether they were actually there. It turns out that these murderous monsters are hiding behind the gas clouds created by galaxy collisions.

  • It's a great time of year to view the amazing Orion Nebula
    KTAR 92.3 Phoenix

    It's a great time of year to view the amazing Orion Nebula

    The seasons have changes and you can really feel it in the air at night, as the temperatures are making it feel like fall! With the clear skies that accompany this time of year, get set to see one of the most spectacular objects in all the night sky. The great Orion Nebula is now coming into view, if you look to the East around 11 p.m. local time. Buried deep inside the constellation of Orion the Hunter, the Orion Nebula, also known as the great Messier M42 nebula, is a collection of new stars and vast regions of dust some 1,340 light years from your eye. The nebula was seen by the Mayans and the first recorded view of it via crude telescope were credited to observers in November of 1610. To

  • An Extremely Rare Gamma Ray Emitting Neutron Star Binary Has Been Found
    Universe Today

    An Extremely Rare Gamma Ray Emitting Neutron Star Binary Has Been Found

    Neutron stars are one of the most fascinating astronomical objects in the known Universe. In addition to being the densest type of star (with the possible exception of quark stars), they have also been known to form binary pairs with massive stars. To date, only 39 such systems have been discovered, and even fewer have been detected that were composed of a massive star and a very high energy (VHE) gamma-ray neutron star. To date, only two of these systems have been found, the second of which was discovered just a few years ago by a team of international astronomers known as the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) collaboration. In addition to being a rare find, the


    After GSAT-29, ISRO aims high with plan to launch 22 missions in 2019

    Sriharikota, Nov 14: Going full throttle on its operational capabilities, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is taking concrete steps towards scaling up its operations. Following the missions, ISRO chief Sivan said, in January next, ISRO would launch the Chandrayaan-II mission (lunar lander) which will be the first operational mission of the GSLV-Mk III-vehicle. India's solar mission Aditya-L1 will also be launched in 2019 besides demonstrating the commercially viable baby rocket, Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV), in May-June 2019. The solar mission's main aim is to improve our understanding of "dynamical processes of the sun," and to help resolve some notable questions pertaining to solar physics.

  • 10 of the coolest things in space that you had no idea existed
    Business Insider

    10 of the coolest things in space that you had no idea existed

    In 2017, an international research team of astronomers discovered what may be a planet made of solid diamond. Pulsars are tiny, dead neutron stars that are only around 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) in diameter and spin hundreds of times a second while emitting beams of radiation. This planet is paired with pulsar PSR J1719-1438 and scientists think it is entirely made of carbon so dense that it must be crystalline, meaning a large part of the world would be diamond. Incredibly, the planet "orbits its star every two hours and 10 minutes, has slightly more mass than Jupiter but is 20 times as dense," according to Reuters.

  • New Scientist

    Pluto's weird ridges may be glacial landforms unlike any on Earth

    WHEN the New Horizons spacecraft flew past Pluto in 2015, it revealed an astonishing variety of terrain. Now, it seems some of these weird textures probably came from ice debris left behind by ancient receding glaciers. “Washboard” and “fluted” terrain consists of parallel ridges a few kilometres across and less than 100 metres tall. The formations on Pluto are unlike anything we see on Earth. To determine their origin, Oliver White at the SETI Institute in California and his colleagues turned to maps and images from the New Horizons fly-by. They found that the ridged areas coincided …

  • Feedback: Is 'Oumuamua an alien solar sail or interstellar mozzarella?
    New Scientist

    Feedback: Is 'Oumuamua an alien solar sail or interstellar mozzarella?

    Space oddity SHMUEL Bialy and Avi Loeb at Harvard University have come up with a novel explanation for the origin of 'Oumuamua, the interstellar object seen passing through our solar system in October 2017. They calculate that it may not be shaped like a lumpy asteroid or comet, but instead be flat and wide. If it is a big sheet, it could behave like a light sail, which could account for apparent anomalies in its trajectory. But the researchers aren't just suggesting it has a strange shape. “'Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth …

  • Where Are All the Aliens? 'Out There' Book Excerpt

    Where Are All the Aliens? 'Out There' Book Excerpt

    In "OUT THERE: A Scientific Guide to Alien Life, Antimatter, and Human Space Travel (for the Cosmically Curious)," (Grand Central Publishing, 2018), senior writer Mike Wall tackles the most pressing questions about alien life. The book, which comes out Nov. 13 and was illustrated by Karl Tate, also talks about humanity's quest to get off its natal rock and spread out into the solar system. In 1950, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Enrico Fermi — who led the team that created the first-ever nuclear reactor, the inadequately named Chicago Pile-1 — and a few of his colleagues were discussing UFOs during their lunch break. The Milky Way harbors hundreds of billions of stars and is about 13 billion years old, so there has been plenty of time and opportunity for alien civilizations to rise and spread throughout the galaxy.

  • The 'Escape to Mars' Plan Has a Fatal Flaw – Space Time

    The 'Escape to Mars' Plan Has a Fatal Flaw – Space Time

    Mars, our neighboring red dot, has been the focus of human exploration for hundreds of years. Science fiction writers, scientists, and explorers alike have spent decades imagining what life would be like if humankind could pick up and move there. Never mind the radiation, lack of oxygen, and inhospitable atmosphere. According to some billionaires and scientists, Mars is our future. The private space industry has exploded, with companies like SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic all designing spacecrafts to bring people to the cosmos and orbit the earth as tourists, or, in SpaceX's case, to set up a massive settlement of humans on Mars. But the field of space exploration is at an ethical impasse.