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Blog Archive


Half the Park is After Dark: Stargazers Celebrate U.S. National Parks Centennial

Posted by CaLisa Lee on 2016/08/08 06:00 CDT

On August 25th, 2016, the U.S. National Park Service is celebrating its Centennial. That’s 100 years of protecting the lands and the night skies so that people from around the world and all walks of life can come and see the stars!

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WISE Views in Infrared

Posted by Judy Schmidt on 2016/06/24 12:04 CDT | 3 comments

Amateur image processor Judy Schmidt explains the process of creating gorgeous views of the cosmos from infrared data from the WISE telescope.

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Three bright planets: Portraits from the Pyrenees

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2016/05/26 02:40 CDT | 1 comments

It's a great time to go outdoors and look at planets. I have three glorious planetary portraits to share today, sent to me by amateur astronomer Jean-Luc Dauvergne.

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Running Down a Comet

Posted by Joseph Masiero on 2016/01/26 02:04 CST

The Near-Earth Object Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE) telescope has discovered its first comet of 2016.

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Checking in on Uranus and Neptune, September 2015 edition

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/09/22 01:28 CDT | 5 comments

There are no spacecraft at Uranus or Neptune, and there haven't been for 30 and 25 years, respectively. So we depend on Earth-based astronomers to monitor them, including Damian Peach.

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Jupiter's changing face, 2009-2015

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2015/07/24 08:46 CDT | 4 comments

Damian Peach's photo-documentation of Jupiter helps us monitor the giant planet's ever-changing patterns of belts, zones, storms, and barges, during a time when no orbiting missions are there to take pictures.

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Addressing some common questions about Comet Lovejoy

Posted by Matthew Knight on 2015/01/23 06:19 CST | 1 comments

Lowell Observatory's Matthew Knight addresses several points of confusion that have repeatedly come up in the coverage of Comet Lovejoy.

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Hunting Binary Asteroids

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/11/07 05:31 CST

Thanks to The Planetary Society’s Shoemaker NEO Grant program, a new telescope has been brought to bear focusing on searching for and understanding the properties of binary asteroid systems.

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I've been asteroided! (274860) Emilylakdawalla

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/07/16 07:22 CDT | 13 comments

What a great piece of news to receive upon returning home from vacation! There is now a small piece of the solar system named for me: asteroid 274860 has been formally named "Emilylakdawalla" by the International Astronomical Union. Here is everything I've been able to learn about my namesake asteroid.

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Voyager 3 Project

Posted by Peter Rosén on 2014/07/08 02:15 CDT | 3 comments

In 1979, the Voyager 1 probe took a stunning series of images on its final approach to Jupiter. Thirty-five years later, almost to the day, a group of seven Swedish amateur astronomers set out to replicate this odyssey, but with images taken with their own ground-based telescopes.

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Opposition time for Mars, and several months of dancing with the stars

Posted by ESA Mars Express Team on 2014/04/08 08:47 CDT | 1 comments

The Mars Express team showcases some of the best viewing opportunities of Mars in 2014, including how to spot Comet Siding Spring when it flies past Mars this October.

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Shivering in Paradise: An Alaskan Aurora Adventure

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/03/14 06:14 CDT | 1 comments

Mat Kaplan checks an item off his bucket list: Seeing the aurora in Alaska.

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Pretty Picture: Three Wanderers

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2014/03/12 12:34 CDT

With all the excitement happening on missions criscrossing the solar system, I often forget to enjoy the views of our solar system that we can achieve from home. Amateur astronomers don't make the same mistake. Here's a lovely photo that Stuart Atkinson sent me, captured last night from Kendal, England, showing four special wanderers.

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Eyes and stopwatch are all that are needed to help measure an invisible asteroid

Posted by Ted Blank on 2014/03/03 01:04 CST | 1 comments

Would you like to be part of one of the largest citizen-science efforts in the history of astronomy? The International Occultation Timing Association (IOTA) invites you to join in the campaign to observe and time the best and brightest asteroid occultation ever predicted to occur over a populated area – and no telescope is required!

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Intro Astronomy Class 3: Telescopes, the Moon

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2014/02/21 04:35 CST

Explore optical, radio, and space telescopes and the Moon in the video of class 3 of Bruce Betts' Introduction to Planetary Science and Astronomy class.

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A new comet observing campaign for C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring)
You thought you were rid of us...but we're baa-aaack!

Posted by Karl Battams on 2014/01/27 11:22 CST | 1 comments

You thought you were rid of us...but we're back! Following the spectacular and, quite frankly unprecedented, success of the Comet ISON Observing Campaign, we are launching a similar venture for another unique cometary encounter that's happening this year. In October 2014, comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) will pass extremely close to Mars.

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Planetary Radio: NEOWISE PI Amy Mainzer
NEOWISE has reawakened to discover more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2014/01/01 12:56 CST | 1 comments

NEOWISE has reawakened to discover many more asteroids and comets. The mission leader thanks the amateur astronomers who follow up on these discoveries.

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A case of the measles for Jupiter?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/11/26 03:09 CST | 1 comments

Amateur astronomer Christopher Go has found Jupiter to be putting on a fun show for observers: it's sprouting little red spots "like it has a measles attack!"

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Comet ISON Enters the Final Countdown

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/11/19 03:12 CST | 6 comments

We're now less than two weeks away from comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) reaching perihelion and, if we’re honest, we are still none the wiser as to how the situation might play out!

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Neptune: The new amateur boundary?

Posted by Christophe Pellier on 2013/11/07 05:39 CST | 3 comments

Can features on Neptune be observed by amateur astronomers? For years, the Hubble Space Telescope and some professional terrestrial observatories have been revealing incomplete belts and spots on the surface of Neptune. Now, spots have been imaged by amateurs.

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