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Top Galaxy Stories Of The Week

Top Galaxy Stories

Gamma rays are photons of light with very high energies. These gamma rays came from a galaxy known as PKS 1441+25, which is a rare type of galaxy known as a blazar. At its center it hosts a supermassive black hole surrounded by a disk of hot gas and dust.

As material from the disk swirls toward the black hole, some of it gets channeled into twin jets that blast outward like water from a fire hose only much faster — close to the speed of light. One of those jets is aimed nearly in our direction, giving us a view straight into the galaxy’s core.

Gamma rays detected from galaxy halfway across the visible universe

In April 2015, after traveling for about half the age of the universe, a flood of powerful gamma rays from a distant galaxy slammed into Earth’s atmosphere. That torrent generated a cascade of light — a shower that fell onto the waiting mirrors of the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System (VERITAS) in Arizona. The resulting data have given astronomers a unique look into that faraway galaxy and the black hole engine at its heart. Read More…

XXL hunt for galaxy clusters: Observations from ESO telescopes provide crucial third dimension in probe of Universe’s dark side

ESO telescopes have provided an international team of astronomers with the gift of the third dimension in a plus-sized hunt for the largest gravitationally bound structures in the Universe — galaxy clusters. Observations by the VLT and the NTT complement those from other observatories across the globe and in space as part of the XXL survey — one of the largest ever such quests for clusters. Read More…

Faintest galaxy from the early universe, 400 million years after the big bang

Astronomers harnessing the combined power of NASA’s Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have found the faintest object ever seen in the early universe. It existed about 400 million years after the big bang, 13.8 billion years ago. Read More…

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Top Solar System News Of 2015

Top Solar System News Of 2015

Humanity’s grasp on statistics may be seriously underestimating our estimates of how big hypothetical aliens may be. Here I will share the top 3 stories on solar system of 2015.

Aliens May Be Polar Bear-Sized

*According to statistics. How big and powerful would aliens be compared to humans? The answer that we can currently give is of course limited, because we haven’t found any evidence for extraterrestrial life, yet. But a little statistics knowledge suggests we may be way underestimating a typical alien’s stature.

The University of Barcelona’s Fergus Simpson just conducted a thought experiment along these lines. On a website explaining a recently published paper, he suggests going up to fans of English football (soccer) and asking them to name favorite teams. Most of them will cite the exceptional ones, even though there are 5,000 teams in football that pull in far less revenue and far fewer fans. Read More…

Neighboring Earth-like Planets Could Share Alien Life

There’s only one planet in our solar system that can communicate across interplanetary space. But imagine if things were different. Say if Mars, for example, had intelligent beings able to talk to us at the same time as we talked to them — how would that have changed our history?

This scenario is impossible in our own solar system, but could be (albeit remotely) possible elsewhere in the galaxy. This is part of what the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’ Jason Steffen considered in a new paper looking at possibly habitable planetary pairs. It’s not something that has been yet seen by the Kepler space telescope, although the NASA mission has spotted plenty of planets close to one other. Read More…

Life-Friendly Chemistry Revealed Inside Saturn Moon

After determining that the ocean beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus has roughly the same pH as Windex or soapy water — an indication that the water has been in contact with rock, creating potentially life-friendly chemistry — scientists are moving on to the trickier hunt for evidence of hydrothermal venting.

Saturn’s Double Aurora Show
NASA and ESA astronomers released movies of Saturn’s northern and southern lights, glimpsed edge-on for the first time by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The data comes from NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft, which in October made its deepest dive into plumes of vapor and ice jetting off the southern polar region of Enceladus, a 310-mile wide moon that has emerged as a top contender in the search for life beyond Earth. Read More…

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Parts of a Telescope

Parts of a Telescope

Without telescopes, we would know incalculably less about the universe beyond Earth than we do today. While these tools have come a long way since Galileo’s 16th-century invention, their essential parts — lenses, mirrors and structural components — remain fundamentally unchanged.

The Parts of a Reflector Telescope

Here is an explanation of the various parts of a reflector telescope. There are variations in types of reflector scopes but for the most part they are very similar.

1- The Tube assembly: This is the long white part and it holds the mirror, the secondary mirror, the eyepiece and holder. It is the whole optic system.
2- The Mount assembly: This is the whole assembly that supports and moves the telescope tube.
3- The eyepiece assembly: There is a knob for focusing and a sleeve that you can insert various sized eyepieces in. Read More…

The Parts of a Reflector Telescope

A modern reflecting telescope has two major parts—the primary mirror and a secondary mirror. There are many variations to this seemingly simple design however, and it took centuries for the design to be perfected.

The Basics of a Reflector Telescope

A reflector telescope uses a primary mirror to collect the light from distant stars and galaxies. Read More…

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How to Use a Reflector Telescope

How to Use a Reflector Telescope

Suppose you have bought a fine guitar with a lovely sound and are learning to play it. But after a while, you notice that it has gone slightly out of tune. What do you do? Learn how to tune it, or trade it in for a piano? Enter the importance of learning how to align your Newtonian reflector telescope.

Your Newtonian reflector will give great images of stars and planets — but only as long as you keep it well tuned. The “tuning” of a telescope is known as collimation. You may have heard that it is incomprehensible, tedious, time-consuming, a pain in the neck, and best avoided. I hope to convince you that it is none of these things. You can master it and in only a minute or two get your instrument ready for a star performance.

USING AN ASTRONOMICAL TELESCOPE

When setting up the telescope make sure the mounting is stable. If it does wobble it may have a stone or other object under one of the feet. If you are going to view at night set the telescope up just before it gets dark. There are two reasons for this, first it is easier if you can see what you are doing, second if the telescope has been kept indoors or in a garage or shed, it may take an hour or so to acclimatise (cool down) before it will perform at its best.
Directly the telescope is set up remove the tube cover to allow air to flow through the Tube and around the mirrors. Do not fit the eyepiece until you are going to use the telescope because its lens may get covered with dew. Leave the Finder Cap on until you want to use it or it to will have its lens covered with dew. Dew can of course be wiped off with a cloth or tissue. Read More…

How to Use a Reflector Telescope

If you have a reflector telescope, the cosmos is yours to explore. Techniques for viewing the galaxy using a reflector telescope run the gamut from very elementary to extremely complicated, but fortunately, getting started is very easy. Once you successfully use your telescope for casual exploration, the transition into more precise and complex viewing should be relatively easy. Read More…

Reflector Telescopes

The reflector telescope uses a mirror to gather and focus light. All celestial objects (including those in our solar system) are so far away that all of the light rays coming from them reach the Earth as parallel rays. Because the light rays are parallel to each other, the reflector telescope’s mirror has a parabolic shape. The parabolic-shaped mirror focusses the parallel lights rays to a single point. All modern research telescopes and large amateur ones are of the reflector type because of its advantages over the refractor telescope. Read More…

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What is the Difference between Refractor and Reflector Telescopes?

Refractor and Reflector Telescopes

Refractor telescopes are telescopes that use lenses to gather and focus light. Refractors deliver sharp, high-contrast images with crisp views of the moon, planets and stars. Refractors are known for their rugged simplicity. They are easy to aim, they need little maintenance and lenses rarely need alignment-very popular for beginning students of astronomy.

Reflectors are telescopes that use mirrors. They most commonly use a concave main mirror at the bottom of the tube, which focuses light back up to the top of the tube. There, a small flat mirror deflects the light at right angles to an eyepiece on the side of the tube. Reflectors offer more aperture (objective lens diameter) for the money than refractors, providing enough light to reveal hundreds of deep-sky objects as well as show details of the moon and planets. However, exposed mirrors can collect dust and grime and may need occasional adjustments to keep them properly aligned.

Reflecting vs. Refracting Stargazing Telescopes

When you’re ready to invest in a stargazing telescope, start by looking at the different models of telescope tube – the bits with the optics in. You can find quite a few different designs. Reflecting telescopes use mirrors to gather the light. Refracting telescopes use lenses. There are different kinds of reflectors, but in general the refractors all follow the same basic design.

Stargazing: Refracting telescopes
Refracting telescopes use lenses to collect and focus the light, just like binoculars do. In fact, you can think of a refracting telescope as one half of a giant pair of binoculars. The light enters a refracting telescope through the front lens, called the objective lens. It then travels down the length of the telescope to the eyepiece lenses, which is where the magnifying happens. Read More…

The Difference Between Refracting and Reflecting Telescopes

The difference between a refracting and a reflecting telescope is in their optical construction. The refracting telescope uses a system of lenses to refract light rays, while a reflecting telescope uses a system of mirrors to reflect light rays. Reflectors are usually used to view brighter stars and planets. Read More…

Two Kinds of Telescope

Since the invention of telescopes astronomers have been able to see a huge amount more of what is out there including the detailed surface of the Moon and the planets. We can also see many more stars than we can with the unaided eye.

There are two main types of optical telescope. Refracting and reflecting.

Refracting Telescopes

When a wave such as light passes from one medium to another at an angle it changes direction. This is called refraction. A lens is a piece of glass designed to bend the light that passes through it in such a way that an image may be produced. A refracting telescope uses a combination of lenses to produce an image of a distant object, e.g. a star or planet. Read More…

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How To Pick A Telescope For Adults

How To Pick A Telescope For Adults

Many years ago, before digital photography revolutionized the medium, taking a beautiful shot of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), or even a detailed image of the moon, showing its many craters, rilles and mountains would only be possible if you had a large wallet and access to highly specialized equipment and techniques. For the average amateur astronomer it was entirely out of reach.

With high-end telescopes now being mass produced, new optical designs and most importantly, the digital camera in combination with brilliant new software solutions that dramatically increase the quality of the images, the popularity of astrophotography has increased exponentially over the past two decades. What was virtually impossible twenty years ago is now available to anybody with a passionate interest and willingness to spend long hours perfecting the art of celestial imaging.

Tips and guidance on how to choose your first telescope.

If you are looking at purchasing your first telescope or just researching what is available in the market, here are some simple considerations and rules to help you along the way.

Optical equipment and terminology can quickly become a very complicated subject so we have tried to strip away the jargon and give you a framework to make sure you get the right first telescope.

Decide what you want from your telescope Since there are many models and kinds of telescopes, the best thing is to ask yourself what you need your telescopes for. Are you going to use it just for astronomy, land/sea viewing, bird watching, looking at the view from you deck or some sort of combination? Are you a beginner and want to learn on a smaller model or buy a larger one to grow in to over time? Is it going to be in one place or do you want to transport it around? How much room have you got to store it? Will it fit with the style of the house you have? These are some of the questions you may need to consider.

What is your budget? Telescopes are expensive. Identifying your budget helps in choosing just the right ones for you. However, like any other products, the higher the price is the better quality the product has. For example, you can’t compare the quality of the results of a fifty-dollar camera to a ten thousand dollar camera. The same thing applies with telescopes. Read More…

Telescope Buying Guide For Adults’

The Beginner
Buying a telescope for a total beginner with little or no knowledge about space, the stars or telescopes? Not a problem. Best thing you can do is try a GPS controlled telescope or a fully-automatic telescope. These telescopes are a great way to introduce a novice to backyard astronomy. The fully-automatic telescopes take out the work. Simply take one to your viewing location, turn it on, and the easy-to-use computer will automatically point to incredible celestial bodies that would otherwise take hours to find.

If you’re working within a budget, then we’ve got the absolute best Beginner Bundles in the biz. These packages give you complete space and astronomy with the basic accessories you’ll need — like a copy of the book Astronomy for Dummies — that you’ll need to get started. With a few more bucks, you may try upgrading to a Deluxe Bundle or even an Ultimate Bundle for all the bells and whistles. Read More…

 

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How To Do Astrophotography On A Budget

Astrophotography On A Budget

Why should you think of doing astrophotography on a budget? Because in my humble opinion you do not need to spend a fortune on kit to achieve impressive images of deep sky objects – hopefully the images I reproduce on this website will bear that out. Oh, and also because I don’t have much money!

So, if you are interested to do astrophotography on a budget, I would recommend you  reading the following 3 great resources from trusted sites I have shown you.

Astrophotography on a Budget

Astrophotography can seem like a daunting hobby to jump into. Indeed, there are definitely learning curves to overcome, but if it’s something you’re interested in pursuing, our astronomers are always happy to help you along in your goal to capture some deep sky objects with your camera. To help you get started, I’ve written up a simple guide to help you get going!

THE CAMERA (OF COURSE!)
Naturally, the first thing you’ll need is a camera to photograph the night sky with. Though many options exist, we’re going to stick to the more budget-minded route since that’s where most people will be coming from. The most accessible option would be to get a DSLR camera, such as a Canon Rebel. Under normal, daylight circumstances, both Canon and Nikon reign supreme in the field of photography. With deep space photography, however, Canon has embraced the market much more noticeably than their competitors. This is primarily because Canon sells a modified version of their 60D camera called the 60Da. What’s the difference? (Besides the ‘a’?) Every camera comes with a filter that covers the sensor that makes the sensor more sensitive to visible light. The 60Da comes with a modified filter that is able to “see” more light than the standard filter (or your eyes), specifically Hydrogen-alpha particles. Hydrogen-alpha particles are important to astrophotography because they make up a significant amount of matter in many deep space objects. If you already own a camera in the Canon line, you can have that custom modified to have that filter replace the standard filter since the process is relatively simple and routine (though very tedious). Keep in mind though that this will void any warranty on the camera. Read More…

‘Astrophotography on a Budget’ Startrails – Software

Star trail images are beautiful to look at and they are captivating because they make time visible. These images can be made either by exposing one single image over a very long period or by taking many shorter exposures and combine them afterwards. Digital cameras deliver images as electronic files, making combining very easy – particularly with software that does all the combining work automatically. One of these software tools is the program Startrails. This software has been developed by Achim Schaller, and he did an outstanding job. Not only is his software really easy to handle, but it comes with powerful features – and it is free. Startrails can be downloaded at Achim’s website.

The Program
Startrails is designed to automate star trail image processing by combining a series of input files into one final image. It is Microsoft Windows based and runs on Windows XP and later versions. Microsoft .NET framework has to be installed on the computer. Simplicity is a key attribute that sticks out immediately. Only 6 buttons maneuver through all functions of this software. It processes input files in JPEG, TIFF and BMP format and stores results also in these formats. Read More…

Astrophotography on a Budget

I was thirteen when I received my first telescope, a Polarex (Unitron) 50mm achromatic refractor. It was a present from my maternal grandmother and I remember clearly how impressed I was with its beauty and quality. Both my parents were supportive of my new hobby, but whereas my dad would take a quick look at Saturn and continue whatever he was in the midst of, I could not get enough of it – I spent hours and hours behind my little telescope, never tiring of the ever changing views that the moon would offer, the rings of Saturn and the four largest moons of Jupiter.

I soon began taking pictures through my scope, first by simply holding my camera behind the eyepiece, and later with an inexpensive Russian reflex camera (Zenith B), using a special adapter for eyepiece projection (see photo). This technique uses the same eyepiece you look through to project an image on the film or sensor of your camera. It is a great way to shoot the moon and the planets.

By that time, I had also built my first darkroom and I started to experiment with specialty film developers (like Acufine and Diafine) to push my Kodak Tri-X film to ISO 1600. The results were actually quite decent (see samples), considering the fact that it was only a 50mm refractor without motor drive or anything. I exposed the film by opening the camera shutter and then moving a black piece of cardboard in front of the telescope, briefly uncovering the lens, so vibrations from shutter and mirror would be minimized. I cherish that little telescope to this day and last year completely refinished its beautiful wooden case (which over half a lifetime was pretty badly beaten up). Read More…

 

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Astronomy Basics – The Beginner’s Guide

Astronomy Basics

Knowing the basics of astronomy is very important for all kids to develop their interest in Science and technology. So, in this article, I have created the best resources section for you to show your child the astronomy basics.

Astronomy Basics

Brush up on your knowledge of astronomy with these classroom-oriented resources. All educators’ overviews, including instructions and suggestions for using the resources, Read More…

Astronomy For Beginners

All you really need to do to get started in astronomy is look up. The night sky is an amazing treasure chest of astronomical wonders, even if you don’t have a telescope or even binoculars.
Sky at a Glance logoOur most popular offering, “This Week’s Sky at a Glance,” guides you to the naked-eye sky, highlighting the major constellations and planets viewable in the evening sky, with occasional dips into deep-sky territory. Read More…

How to Start Right in Backyard Astronomy

Did you know you can see a galaxy 2½ million light-years away with your unaided eyes? Craters on the Moon with binoculars? Countless wonders await you any clear night. The first step is simply to look up and ask, “What’s that?” Begin gazing at the stars from your backyard, and you’ll be taking the first step toward a lifetime of cosmic exploration and enjoyment. Read More…

Introduction to Astronomy

Hello, explorer! You are about to start a journey that will take you to the farthest reaches of space and the innermost depths of matter and from the earliest beginning of time to the future billions of years from now. Introductory astronomy classes have the daunting task of introducing students to the wonders of the entire universe in one short course, often just one semester or one quarter long. Read More…

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How To Choose A Telescope For Astrophotography

How To Choose A Telescope For Astrophotography

For most beginner astronomers finding the right beginner telescope is an extremely daunting task. The world of astronomy is a fascinating place but the process of finding the right telescopes for beginners can be filled with technical jargon, confusing features and a multitude of options. Telescope mechanics can be quite complex and it is not uncommon for new beginners to find themselves purchasing the wrong scope and becoming incredibly disappointed in the process.

To help astronomers, this guide offers a simple resource for explaining what every newcomer needs to know when purchasing their new telescope.

How to Choose a Telescope

This is an exciting time to become an amateur astronomer. Never have novice stargazers been presented with such a vast array of telescopes and accessories to pursue their hobby. Naturally, this brings the burden of choice: the bewildering variety makes it hard for an uninformed consumer to make the right decision.
Whether you’re seriously considering buying your first telescope or just daydreaming about it, this guide will help you narrow your options. First we’ll explore the types of telescopes available, and then we’ll discuss their key features — the size of the primary lens or mirror, type of mount, portability, computerization, and accessories. We’ll also look at the tradeoffs, because every instrument has its advantages and disadvantages. Read More…

Telescopes for Digital Astrophotography

As with picking a camera, picking the best telescope for your needs will depend on a number of different factors:
Experience Level – Are you a beginner or a seasoned expert?
Budget – how much do you have to spend?
Area of Interest – Is there a particular area that you want to specialize in? Do you want to do high-resolution work, or wide-field astrophotography?
Planets – Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn etc. You need a high-quality scope with a relatively long focal length if you want to do high-resolution photography of the planets.
Deep-Sky – Star Clusters, nebulae, Galaxies. You need a fast, short focal length scope for wide-field work such are large nebulae. You need a lot of aperture and focal length if you want to shoot small planetary nebulae and galaxies. Read More…

So You Wanna Buy a Telescope… Advice for Beginners

So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and buy a telescope — congratulations! Astronomy can be a life long pleasure, with the right equipment. But what to buy? And how do you not wind up with a room that looks like the above? There’s more equipment out there than ever before. This article will attempt to make some sense out of the seemingly huge selection of scopes and accessories.

Ready? Good. Let’s begin.

First of all, some words of advice: Read More…

ASTROPHOTOGRAPHY 101: CHOOSING A TELESCOPE

Photography is one of those hobbies that you can pour never ending amounts of cash into, there is always something new and shiny to spend your money on. But if you’re into astronomy, or star gazing chances are that you may be interested in Astrophotography (Taking pictures of stars and space). One thing that you will need in addition to your normal photography gear is a telescope and it can be hard for beginners to choose a photography worthy telescope. Read More…

How to choose a telescope

We hear this question frequently from our customers:

“This will be my first telescope, but there are so many to choose from, so I would need some advise about how to choose a telescope…”

Then I would ask couple of questions to make sure we go into the correct direction… The question, “what sort of budget you have” or “how much were you planning to spend” might be not that easy to answer, once you know that some telescopes might not serve you as well as others for a certain purpose…, never-the-less it’ll give me an idea about what types of telescopes to discuss with you… Read More…

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A Guide To Solar System For Kids

Solar System For Kids

Our solar neighborhood is an exciting place. The Solar System is full of planets, moons, asteroids, comets, minor planets, and many other exciting objects. Learn about Io, the explosive moon that orbits the planet Jupiter, or explore the gigantic canyons and deserts on Mars.

Our Solar System

The Solar System is made up of all the planets that orbit our Sun. In addition to planets, the Solar System also consists of moons, comets, asteroids, minor planets, and dust and gas.

Everything in the Solar System orbits or revolves around the Sun. The Sun contains around 98% of all the material in the Solar System. The larger an object is, the more gravity it has. Because the Sun is so large, its powerful gravity attracts all the other objects in the Solar System towards it. At the same time, these objects, which are moving very rapidly, try to fly away from the Sun, outward into the emptiness of outer space. The result of the planets trying to fly away, at the same time that the Sun is trying to pull them inward is that they become trapped half-way in between. Balanced between flying towards the Sun, and escaping into space, they spend eternity orbiting around their parent star. Read More…

The Solar System and its planets

The Solar System is made up of the Sun and all of the smaller objects that move around it. Apart from the Sun, the largest members of the Solar System are the eight major planets. Nearest the Sun are four fairly small, rocky planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. Read More…

Kids Guide To Astronomy

The Solar System is made up of the Sun and the celestial objects that are bound to it by its gravity: the eight planets and five dwarf planets, their 173 known moons, and billions of small bodies, such as asteroids, icy kuiper belt objects, comets, meteoroids, and interplanetary dust.

Although the farthest planet is over four billion kilometers away from the earth, all eight planets can be seen in the night sky, using a telescope or binoculars – as long as you know where to look! Read More…

Fun Solar System Facts For Kids

Check out these fun solar system facts for kids.

Learn about the Sun, asteroid belt, terrestrial planets, gas giants and a range of other interesting facts about the Solar System. Read More…

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