Hot Astronomy Posts

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.

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.

Earth's Shadow: Time-Lapse Video of the Total Lunar Eclipse of 12/10/11

I woke up at 4:00 am this morning in order to take some video of the last total lunar eclipse visible from North America till 2014. The eclipse was beautiful. It was amazing to watch the shadow of our planet creep slowly across our nearest neighbor. Once the shadow was blocking out most of the light from the sun, the moon was significantly dimmer and the color had changed to a reddish orange. This color is caused by the same effect that makes our sunrises and sunsets so colorful. The light fr...

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.

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.

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: Jupiter and Venus Rising Before the Sun

Right now, Jupiter and Venus are rising in the early morning hours just before dawn. I went outside on the morning of the 4th of July and saw Jupiter and Venus right next to each other with the Pleiades (The Seven Sisters) just above them and knew that the next morning I was going to have to get up early and set up my tripod to try and capture what I saw. I used my Panasonic GH2 with the stock zoom lens set to about 40 to 50 mm equivalent and with the aperture open to about f/5. I set my ISO ...

How To: There's a Total Lunar Eclipse Monday Night—Here's How to Watch the "Blood Moon" Rising

Get ready to look up in the night sky very soon, because you're in for a real treat. There will be a total lunar eclipse on the night of Monday, April 14th, and folks living in the United States, Canada, and parts of Central and South America will be able to see the moon turn a dark blood-red shade for a little over an hour. This will be the first in a series of four total eclipses that are to happen over the next two years. What Is a Blood Moon?

How To: Help NASA Write Code to Fix the International Space Station and You Could Win $10,000!

The International Space Station is a habitable man-made satellite currently in orbit around the Earth. Launched in 1998, the ISS is used mainly as a microgravity and space environment research laboratory where astronauts perform experiments in large variety of fields, including biology and physics. In order to be hospitable for crew members and scientists, the ISS needs energy. To do this, the station uses its solar panels to capture rays of sun and power the station up. In order to garner th...

News: Supermoon Pictures from Last Night

Last night was the so called "Supermoon," where the moon was at perigee, which is the closest orbital point to the Earth while the moon was in full phase. This makes the moon appear larger by up to about 14% and brighter by up to around 30%. I went out and used my 5-inch refracting telescope to take several pictures.

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!

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: 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...

How To: Observe the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

Note: This shower is only visible in the Northern Hemisphere. The Quadrantid meteor shower is one of my personal favorites, mainly because of the amount of meteors it produces. You can sight more than 100 meteors per hour- that's more than 1 meter per minute. Even though that doesn't sound like much, it will make your observing experience much more exciting. The peak is short, typically lasting no more than an hour or so. It is more easily observed on the fourth, with its peak at 1:00 AM EST.

News: Top 5 Extraordinary Types of Stars!

There is many different types of stars in the universe. Majority of them are red dwarf stars. However, there are plenty of stars like ordinary stars (like our sun), red giants, blue stars and etc. Furthermore, when you look in the night sky, we see a lot of small and bright stars. What people don't know is that there are stars that are not even completely understood by astronomers and scientists.

News: Top 5 Alien Worlds That Could Host Alien Life!

Video: . Extraterrestrial life is life that does not originate from Earth. It is also called alien life, or, if it is a sentient and/or relatively complex individual, an "extraterrestrial" or "alien" (or, to avoid confusion with the legal sense of "alien," a "space alien"). These as yet hypothetical forms of life range from simple bacteria-like organisms to beings far more complex than humans. The possibility that viruses might exist extraterrestrially has also been proposed.

How To: Watch Asteroid 2012 DA14 Zoom Past Earth Today

Earlier today, a meteorite flew over the Chelyabinsk region of Russia, triggering a shock wave that injured hundreds of people and caused damage to buildings and vehicles in the area. Witnesses describe seeing a bright ball of light streak through the sky followed by a loud boom as the 10-ton meteorite entered the Earth's atmosphere and exploded.

How To: SETI Needs Your Help Renaming Pluto's Newly Found P4 and P5 Moons

In 2006, everything that revolved around my world shattered into tiny pieces as I learned that scientists had decided to rescind Pluto's planetary status. Given the ol' Jeff Probst treatment, Pluto was officially voted off our solar system in the blink of an eye, leaving us with only eight planets and a whole load of useless textbooks. The primary reason that Pluto was demoted down to a "dwarf planet" was due to Pluto's largest moon, Charon, being about half the size of Pluto; all the other p...

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: Watch NASA's Curiosity Rover Land on the Surface of Mars Tonight (Live Online)

NASA will be attempting to land the Curiosity rover on the surface of Mars tonight, and you can watch it live. Curiosity (the Mars Science Laboratory) was launched almost a year ago on November 26, 2011, and will be finishing its 354 million mile journey to the red planet tonight (Sunday, August 5th) at around 8:30pm PST. The craft will be deploying a supersonic parachute to slow itself, as it will be traveling at upwards of 1,000 mph. The show's not over though, as the first images from the ...

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