Hot Astronomy Posts

Important Astronomers: Galileo Galilei

I'm starting a series on the top astronomers, with probably about eleven astronomers that I will be covering overall. So, let's start out from the top, with the top most important astronomer. In my opinion, Galileo Galilei is the top astronomer.

News: New Computer Simulation Reveals How Our Milky Way Really Formed After the Big Bang

For years, astronomers have been trying to figure out how our galaxy came to be. Even with the help of high-performance computers, no model of a spiral galaxy has ever been able to recreate the Milky Way, until now. An international team of researchers has created the first successful simulation of what happened 14 billion years ago to give our galaxy its unique shape. Turns out, all they needed was a bigger bang. Photo by IntelFreePress

Important Astronomers: Isaac Newton

In my opinion, Isaac Newton is definitely the number two astronomer, right below Galileo Galilei. His discoveries were very important to uncovering the secrets of space, and he deserves to be remembered.

Coming Soon: World's Biggest Digital Camera and Its 3.2 Billion Pixel View of the Skies

You're probably already impressed at some of the photos amateur astrophotographers can capture with their 16-megapixel digital cameras. I know I am. That's why I'm beefing up my camera skills, so I can also take some amazing pictures of our skies above. But if you can take photos this good with a 16-megapixel camera, imagine what you could do with something a little bigger, say, 3.2 billion pixels! That's a whopping 200 times more pixels!

How To: Watch Tonight's Peaking Geminid Meteor Shower—About 100 Shooting Stars Per Hour!

The Geminid meteor shower happens every December and has been observed for over 500 years. It's is also known as Winter's Fireworks because when viewed from the right location, there are enough meteors to light up the whole night sky, and some of them can even be different colors. The shower appears to come from the Gemini constellation, but is actually caused by Earth passing through the tail of dust and debris left behind by the comet 3200 Phaethon.

How To: Chat with NASA Astronauts Live from the International Space Station on February 22nd

Inhabiting the microgravity environment on the cusp of the world's atmosphere has to be filled with some of the most unique experiences in the world. Astronauts eat, sleep, and work just as we do, except that their lives are filled with the added dangers of extreme temperatures and possible life-threatening malfunctions, all while being 240 miles up in the sky. Well, now's your chance to ask a handful of astronauts anything you ever wanted to know about life on the International Space Station.

How To: Know Exactly When You Can Spot the International Space Station at Home with NASA Text Alerts

The International Space Station is one of the brightest objects in the night sky when it can be seen. If you know when and where to look, you can even see it from your house. It looks more or less like a really fast-moving plane—so fast, actually, that it's only visible from a specific place for a few minutes at a time. But now you don't have to do a ton of mathematical equations or rely solely on luck to spot the ISS at night. NASA just launched a program called Spot the Station that sends y...

News: Sun Picture from My New Solar Telescope

There is going to be an annular solar eclipse on May 20th that will be visible in a narrow pathway that covers part of Eastern Asia and the Western United States. The eclipse will be seen as a partial eclipse over a much greater region of the World. I live in Redding, California, which luckily happens to be right in the center of the path, giving a perfect ring of fire effect during the peak of the eclipse.

News: Quadrantid Meteors and Startrails

I took about 700 pictures over 7 hours late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning of the quandrantid meteor shower. I combined the clearest 300 of them to make the star trails, and then went and found individual pictures with the brightest meteors and overlayed them on top. I also found three planes flying overhead and overlayed those as well. The gaps in those plane streaks heading towards the horizon show how long my camera was taking between frames.

News: Solar Flare Gives Earth Biggest Radiation Storm in 7 Years; Auroras Likely

NASA reports that the sun erupted late last night with a large solar flare—an M8.7 class flare. The classification is calculated according to the peak flux of 100 to 800 picometer x-rays near Earth measured from the GEOS weather satellite. There are 5 letter classifications for solar flares, each with a linear 1-9 number scale of severity. M is the fourth most powerful class, with X leading the way. But last night's earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), captured by the Solar Dynamics Ob...

News: Lyrid Meteors Time Lapse Video and Still Pictures

The peak of the Lyrid meteor shower of 2012 was the night of Saturday, April 21, and I went to Whiskeytown Lake near Redding, California and took about 1,000 pictures. I used 3 Panasonic GH2s with various lenses and edited all of the shots together to make the time-lapse video below. You really have to watch it in full screen at 720p or 1080p HD in order to appreciate it. This is only my second attempt at a time-lapse video and my second attempt at filming meteors, but I was pretty happy with...

News: DIY Papercraft Models of the Planets

I'll have to post up some pictures of astronomy-related papercraft models that I have made at some point, but for now here is a link to a few different papercraft models of the planets. I need to go back through my resources because I know there are a bunch of sites out there with some easier to make polyhedral models. Also, at some point I'll put up the models of planetary bodies that I have mapped and labeled myself.

News: Photos of Mercury and the crescent Moon

Tonight, I saw Mercury for the first time. Mercury is a hard planet to see, even though it is quite bright, because it's orbit is so close to the sun. The angle Mercury makes with the Earth and the Sun is never more than about 25 degrees and most of the time it is much less. As a result, you can't ever see Mercury during the night but at a couple of times in it's orbit you can see it at either dawn or dusk. Right now, Mercury is close to it's greatest eastern elongation and can be seen low in...

News: Some Small Pics of the Partial Solar Eclipse

I managed to take a few snapshots of the solar eclipse in the Malibu area, where it was just a partial. Just wanted to share a few. I've still got the same setup as when I took my supermoon pics, but hopefully one day I'll be able to get something bigger than my 105mm capabilities, something like Cory's awesome solar telescope (see his time-lapse of the annular)!

News: Solar Scope Dialed in for the Eclipse

It's taken me several weeks to figure out the Meade Coronado SolarMax II 60 Double Stack telescope that I bought to produce a timelapse video of the solar eclipse but I'm pretty happy with the images I can produce now. Here's hoping for clear skies tomorrow!

News: Watch NASA's Tracer Rockets Light Up the Sky with Cloud Trails

This morning, NASA launched the five suborbital sounding rockets from Virginia as part of ATREX (Anomalous Transport Rocket Experiment). Each rocket was launched 80 seconds apart and released chemical tracers that created "milky, white clouds at the edge of space." Now, I've seen plenty of bullet tracers in my life, but these are far more poetic. Take a look at the time-lapse video and see for yourself. Why shoot these tracer rockets? To help scientists "better understand the process responsi...

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