Deep Sky Astronomy & Telescopes

Extraterrestrial Life: The Giants are Coming…

September 11, 2015

Finding a biological marker in the atmosphere of an exoplanet is a major goal, but as Ignas Snellen argues in the essay below, space-based missions are not the only way to proceed. A professor of astronomy at Leiden University in The Netherlands, Dr. Snellen makes a persuasive case that technologies like high dispersion spectroscopy and […]

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The Shape of Space Telescopes to Come

September 4, 2015

Planning and implementing space missions is a long-term process, which is why we’re already talking about successors to the James Webb Space Telescope, itself a Hubble successor that has yet to be launched. Ashley Baldwin, who tracks telescope technologies deployed on the exoplanet hunt, here looks at the prospects not just for WFIRST (Wide-Field InfraRed […]

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A Supernova Trigger for Our Solar System

August 19, 2015

The interactions between supernovae and molecular clouds may have a lot to tell us about the formation of our own Solar System. Alan Boss and Sandra Keiser (Carnegie Institution for Science) have been exploring the possibility that our system was born as a result of a supernova ‘trigger.’ Their new paper follows up on work […]

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Rosetta’s Day in the Sun

August 13, 2015

Today is perihelion day for the European Space Agency’s Rosetta orbiter and the doughty Philae lander that, we can hope, may still be taking data even if we can’t talk to it. Celebrating the event, ESA has made available a new interactive viewer based on images taken with Rosetta’s navigation camera (NAVCAM). At the end […]

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A Cosmological Fade to Black

August 12, 2015

Some writers immerse us so deeply in time that present-day issues are dwarfed by immensity. I always think of Olaf Stapledon and Star Maker (1937) in this regard, but consider Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars (1956), in which we see the city Diaspar on the Earth of a billion years from now. […]

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The View from Outside the Galaxy

June 5, 2015

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has recently released a video (viewable here on YouTube) showing how a number of celestial objects might look if they were substantially closer to Earth than they are. The image of the Andromeda galaxy and its trillion stars projected against an apparent Earthscape is below. Unfortunately, this seems to […]

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Perytons: A Microwave Solution

April 15, 2015

Radio bursts scant milliseconds long that have been reported at the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales — so-called ‘perytons’ — turn out to be the product of microwave ovens. The Case of the Puzzling Perytons, as Earl Stanley Gardner might have titled it, appeared in these pages earlier, with alliteration intact, when Jim […]

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Enter ‘Galactic Archaeology’

April 9, 2015

I’ve used the term ‘interstellar archaeology’ enough for readers to know that I’m talking about new forms of SETI that look for technological civilizations through their artifacts, as perhaps discoverable in astronomical data. But there is another kind of star-based archaeology that is specifically invoked by the scientists behind GALAH, as becomes visible when you […]

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In Search of Colliding Stars

April 7, 2015

How often do two stars collide? When you think about the odds here, the likelihood of stellar collisions seems remote. You can visualize the distance between the stars in our galaxy using a method that Rich Terrile came up with at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The average box of salt that you might buy at […]

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Starship Detection: The K2 Perspective

March 26, 2015

‘Classical’ SETI, if I can use that term, is based on studying the electromagnetic spectrum primarily in the radio wavelengths thought most likely to be used for communication by an extraterrestrial civilization. SETI’s optical component is largely focused on searching for signals intended as communication. What is now being called Dysonian SETI is a different […]

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