Astronomy Features

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: 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.

News: Two Bright Nebulae in Orion's Sword

My attempt at real astrophotography. The two bright nebula are M 42 and M 43 located in Orion's Sword. I took about 20 images at ISO 800 and 1.6 second exposures using a 300 mm lens and stacked them in Photoshop after repositioning them because of the movement of the sky. This is cropped in just a tiny bit.

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: 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 ...

News: Proof of Water on Mars

Since the first time we've been to Mars, the question was 'Did there used to be life here?'. That all changed for the better when NASA told us that the Opportunity rover found signs of water- the essential part to life. NASA officials on Wednesday said the rover discovered a mineral vein of gypsum running along the rim of a crater called Endeavor. The gypsum was deposited by flowing water billions of years ago. The vein is about 20 inches long. They found it while studying a rock called Tisda...

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!

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: Photo Highlights from the Quadrantid Meteor Shower

If you slept in during the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower this morning, don't fret, because plenty of early risers did manage to wake up—with their cameras. Even if you did wake up and managed to withstand the cold morning air, you might not have seen anything. Cloud cover could have made it impossible, as well as bright city lights. But some stargazers made it their mission to photograph the Quadrantids, and lucky for you, they did.

News: Welcome to Astronomy World!

A little about myself and astronomy: I created this world because I love astronomy. I really, really, love astronomy. When I was ten, I went to a restaurant and saw a huge wall mural of the Andromeda Galaxy. At my house, we had a tiny refractor telescope. I knew this wasn't enough, so I bought (with help) an 8 inch Dobsonian reflector. I looked up one time to try to find something to look at and saw something fuzzy- the Orion Nebula. This is when I really got into using my telescope. I still ...

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...

News: Astronomical Observing News (3/7 to 3/13)

AON is moving to Wednesdays! There are lots of things going on this week in the skies above, so be sure to observe. As usual, there's a lot to see around Jupiter, with its moons eclipsing and transiting. Also, a star from the Virgo constellation will be in conjunction with our Moon.

News: Milky Way Over Abandoned Kilns

From Astronomy Picture of the Day, Milky Way Over Abandoned Kilns by Tom McEwan. McEwan shot some historic kilns in rural Nevada, stitching together a panoramic "digital conglomerate of five separate images taken in early June from the same location. Visible above the unusual kilns is a colorful star field, highlighted by the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy appearing along a diagonal toward the lower right."

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.

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: Timelapse Footage of a Moonrise

This is a really quick video I took of a moonrise last year. It has been sped up by a factor of 8 and was taken using a 2600 mm equivalent lens (75 times zoom for a 35 mm lens). The mountain it is rising over is about 40 miles away.

News: Astronomical Observing News (2/21 to 2/27)

There's not much going on this week in the skies above, but there are a lot of conjunctions to take a peek at! And of course, there's the comet Garradd that's still showing its tail to us down here on Earth, so make sure to catch it before it's gone. The rest that's going on this week: