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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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A possible nine-planet system

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/04/06 04:06 CDT | 1 comments

Someone on Twitter pointed me to a paper recently posted to ArXiv titled "Evidence for 9 planets in the HD 10180 system." If the (tentative) conclusion holds up, HD 10180 will be the first exoplanetary system known to have more planets than our own.

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Checking up on Jupiter and Saturn

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2012/02/10 01:51 CST

It's amateur astronomers, not professionals, who are shouldering the burden of constant monitoring of the weather on Jupiter and Saturn. What's going on these days in the outer solar system?

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Eris and embargoes (or: don't fear Ingelfinger!)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/10/12 04:49 CDT | 3 comments

Last Tuesday at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting Bruno Sicardy presented the results of his research group's observations of a stellar occultation by Eris.

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Comet Garradd in 3D (sort of)

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/08/12 12:52 CDT

Amateur astronomer Patrick Wiggins sent me this neat little animation of comet Garradd moving against background stars through an hour's worth of observing. I'm not any kind of astronomer but if I were I think I would get a kick out of looking at things that appear to move within one night of watching -- asteroids, comets, Jupiter's spots. I'm impatient that way.

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Observing at the WIYN

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/06/08 02:43 CDT

On May 5 and 6, I had a run on the WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) telescope, a 3.5 m telescope, the second largest telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona.

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South of the Border

Posted by Meg Schwamb on 2011/05/25 08:30 CDT

The last decade has seen an explosion in our understanding of the solar system with the discovery of the largest Kuiper belt objects (KBOs) of comparable size to Pluto.

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So far, no moons found at Ceres or Vesta

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/15 02:37 CDT

Since the Galileo mission discovered tiny Dactyl circling Ida in 1993, quite a lot of asteroid systems have been found to be binary; there are even a few triples. So it's quite reasonable to guess that two of the biggest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, might also have satellites.

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Welcome to Carnival of Space #191

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/04/05 11:25 CDT

Welcome, everyone, to the Planetary Society Blog for the 191st Carnival of Space! Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the Carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space.

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Checking in on Jupiter: the belt is coming back

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/03/25 03:46 CDT

Since it's been several months since I last took a look at Jupiter, I thought it was time to see what's up with the South Equatorial Belt.

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A dog-bone-shaped asteroid's two moons: Kleopatra, Cleoselene, and Alexhelios

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/23 12:47 CST

Asteroid (216) Kleopatra has been interesting to astronomers for a long time because its brightness is highly variable, but it seems to get more interesting every time somebody looks at it with a new instrument. This week a paper was published in Icarus revealed that it's 30 to 50% empty space.

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Close approach to Earth turns Apollo into Aten

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2011/02/08 12:49 CST

Last week we got buzzed by a very small asteroid, something that happens fairly often. But there were several details that made the close approach of asteroid 2011 CQ1 worthy of note.

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Jupiter's outbreak is spreading

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/22 11:03 CST

Jupiter, always a pretty sight in the sky, is now worth visiting every day; the "outbreak" that heralds the return of Jupiter's formerly red, now fadedsouth equatorial belt is expanding and multiplying.

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The Disturbance is Starting

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/11/11 10:48 CST

Jupiter's faded belt may be coming back.

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DPS 2010: Pluto and Charon opposition surges, Nix and Hydra masses, Pluto and Eris compositions

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/10/25 11:18 CDT

An awful lot of the talks in the Pluto session on Tuesday morning, October 5, at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting spent more time focusing on how bad weather conditions were during the astronomers' attempts to view Pluto as it occulted background stars than they did on any measurements or science that came out from the data.

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Early warning for close approaches of two house-sized asteroids

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/09/08 01:31 CDT

Most of you have probably heard by now of two small asteroids, both in the neighborhood of 10 meters in diameter, recently discovered on trajectories that pass unusually close to Earth.

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From the Ground and from Space, New Planetary Systems Unveiled

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2010/08/27 02:32 CDT

Two nearly simultaneous announcements by scientists that they have detected entire planetary system deep in space have set the astronomical community abuzz.

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The August 20, 2010 Jupiter fireball -- and the March 5, 1979 one

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla on 2010/08/24 11:36 CDT

Following up on the story I first posted on August 22, the Jupiter impact fireball first noticed by Japanese amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa has been independently confirmed by two other Japanese astronomers.

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