Astronomy Features

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.

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: Find and Observe the Garradd Comet

If you haven't seen one, a comet is one of the most spectacular astronomical objects in the sky, partially because it is so close to Earth. At the closest, it is only 1.3 a.u. (194,477,400 kilometers) away from Earth. Comet C/2009 P1 Garradd was discovered by Gordon J. Garradd on August 13, 2009. It never comes closer to the sun than Mars's orbit. Usually, a comet moves fast, but it has stopped moving so fast recently, making it really easy to observe. It can be observed by a telescope or wit...

News: Astronomical Observing News (3/28 to 4/3)

Grab your binoculars and telescopes, because there's a lot going on in the night skies this week. The usually dim Little Dipper will appear brighter as it moves to the right of Polaris, creating a cool effect with the Big Dipper. There's also a first-quarter moon and a really good view of Saturn. If you know of something else, share with us in the comments below!

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: 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: 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.

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.

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: 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.

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:

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)!

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: 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

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...

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.