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Blog Archive


Our Improved Optical Search for ET
New hardware processes terabytes of data every second

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/08 11:15 CDT

The Planetary Society Optical SETI (OSETI) Telescope was successfully upgraded and fully tested, and is now fully operational looking for aliens. Here are some updates on the performance and progress. In summary, the upgraded telescope is performing just as hoped and is scanning the skies.

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Making mirrors for the Giant Magellan Telescope

Posted by Jason Davis on 2013/09/02 06:00 CDT | 1 comments

A video on the Giant Magellan Telescope and its third mirror, which was cast on August 24, 2013 at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab in Tucson, Ariz.

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Book review: Europe to the Stars, by Govert Schilling and Lars Lindberg Christensen

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/08/16 11:05 CDT

The world's great telescopes capture stunning photographs of stars, nebulae, and other sky phenomena. In Europe to the Stars, authors Govert Schilling and Lars Lindberg Christensen share many such photos. But the real stars of this book are the great telescopes of the European Southern Observatory.

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Comet ISON lives on! (we think...)

Posted by Karl Battams on 2013/08/13 01:31 CDT | 1 comments

For several weeks now, ground-based observers have been blind to Comet ISON as our local star was sitting directly between us and the comet. I am delighted to share two pieces of good news: first, that ISON is still alive and well, and secondly that it has been recovered.

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The Peak of Discovery
Touring the Mount Wilson Observatory with the Hale Family

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/07/16 04:20 CDT

This week's Planetary Radio goes on tour at the Mount Wilson Observatory with descendants of its founder.

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Planetary Society Hangout: Arkyd Telescopes, Planetary Resources, Chris Lewicki
Thursday, Jun 27, noon PDT/1900 UTC

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/06/27 11:15 CDT | 2 comments

We talked to Chris Lewicki, President of Planetary Resources, about their upcoming Arkyd telescopes including one for the public, asteroid mining, and more. Hosted by Bruce Betts with Jennifer Vaughn.

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Astronomy Enters a New Era
Join us for a live webcast about thrilling new tools that will come online in the next decade.

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/05/26 08:45 CDT | 3 comments

A live conversation about just a few of the powerful new instruments that will revolutionize our knowledge of the cosmos once again.

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Checking in on Jupiter

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/03/12 01:57 CDT | 2 comments

We don't have any spacecraft at Jupiter right now, which is a pity. Until we do, we have to rely upon Earth-based astronomers to monitor the changing face of the largest planet.

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Sea Salt

Posted by Mike Brown on 2013/03/06 10:41 CST | 3 comments

Ever wonder what it would taste like if you could lick the icy surface of Jupiter’s Europa? The answer may be that it would taste a lot like that last mouthful of water that you accidentally drank when you were swimming at the beach on your last vacation.

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Planetary Society Weekly Hangout: Studying Asteroids from Earth with Andy Rivkin

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/02/28 01:25 CST | 5 comments

Emily Lakdawalla's guest this week was Applied Physics Laboratory asteroid astronomer Andy Rivkin. We talked about the menagerie of rocks in the asteroid belt, how many of them travel in pairs and triples, how some of them are surprisingly wet, and how much you can learn about asteroids using Earth-based telescopes.

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Observing 2012 DA14

Posted by Edward Gomez on 2013/02/18 05:14 CST | 4 comments

Mostly the Universe stays unchanged for hundreds, thousands or even millions of years. There are some cases however when some things change really rapidly. Recently I observed one of these rapidly changing, transient phenomena, as asteroid called 2012 DA14. I work for Las Cumbres Observatory and we have been trying to observe this asteroid since 5 February.

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Stars, and stars, and stars: pretty pictures from the European Southern Observatory

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2013/01/21 03:39 CST | 4 comments

My solar system chauvinism is well-established, but I am as much a sucker for beautiful astrophotos as the rest of you. Once in a while I get a media advisory from the European Southern Observatory about a new pretty picture posted on their website, and then I inevitably lose an hour following links to one stunner after another.

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The Astronomy Budget Squeeze
It's not just NASA. All of space science feels the pinch of smaller budgets.

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/01/09 07:11 CST | 1 comments

It's not just the Planetary Sciences division within NASA that's under harsh budgetary times. The NSF Division of Astronomical Sciences is facing a choice between funding scientists and funding telescopes. A report from the 221st AAS meeting in Long Beach.

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DPS 2012: Double occultation by Pluto and Charon

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/26 03:12 CDT | 5 comments

A few talks at last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting discussed observations of a double occultation -- both Pluto and Charon passing in front of the same star.

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DPS 2012: Future impact risks

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/24 01:14 CDT | 7 comments

Continuing my writeup of notes from last week's Division for Planetary Sciences meeting: presentations on the risks of future asteroid impacts. How much risk do we face, and what are the appropriate actions to take in the face of that risk?

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DPS 2012: The most detailed images of Uranus' atmosphere ever

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/10/22 04:14 CDT | 4 comments

New ground-based images of Uranus show more finely detailed structure than any photos I have ever seen.

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Following up the dark spot on Uranus

Posted by Heidi Hammel on 2012/09/04 06:38 CDT | 2 comments

It was a surprise and delight to have our Icarus paper highlighted in Emily Lakdawalla's blog. Thanks for highlighting Uranus, since it has gotten, ahem, a bum rap over the years. Here's more about our discovery of the dark spot on Uranus.

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Optical SETI Gets a Major Upgrade

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/08/30 03:57 CDT | 5 comments

The Planetary Society Optical SETI Telescope in Harvard, Massachusetts just got a major upgrade of its electronics.

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Virtual Star Parties

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/28 12:02 CDT

Hang out with Fraser Cain and amateur astronomers all over the world in Cosmoquest's Virtual Star parties conducted over Google+. Here's how -- plus an inspiring video produced by Google to show just how cool this is.

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Artist's views of a night sky transformed by a galaxy merger

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/06/04 12:25 CDT | 2 comments

A measurement of the Andromeda galaxy's proper motion shows it's coming directly at us, and will collide with the Milky Way in 4 billion years. The event will transform the appearance of our night sky.

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