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Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer

Star Gazer is the world's only weekly television series on naked eye astronomy. Each weekly episode features selected objects for naked eye viewing for the following week. This video podcast contains the 10 most recent episodes of Jack Horkheimer: Star Gazer.

FaviconStar Gazers 1 Min. Dec. 30, 2013- Jan 5, 2013 13 Nov 2013, 4:10 pm

Here Comes The Sun

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FaviconStar Gazers 5 Min. Dec. 30, 2013- Jan 5, 2013 13 Nov 2013, 4:09 pm

Here Comes The Sun

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FaviconStar Gazers 1 Min. Dec. 23-29, 2013 13 Nov 2013, 4:08 pm

Bye-Bye Venus,Good-bye And Celebrate The New Year With The New Year's Eve Star

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FaviconStar Gazers 5 Min. Dec. 23-29, 2013 13 Nov 2013, 4:06 pm

Bye-Bye Venus,Good-bye And Celebrate The New Year With The New Year's Eve Star

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FaviconStar Gazers 1 Min. Dec. 16-22, 2013 13 Nov 2013, 4:03 pm

Off To The Races With Venus And Jupiter

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Science @ NASA Feature Stories Podcast

The mission of Science@NASA is to help the public understand how exciting NASA research is and to help NASA scientists fulfill their outreach responsibilities.

FaviconGeminid Meteors Defy Explanation 9 Dec 2010, 3:00 pm

The annual Geminid meteor shower peaks this year on Dec. 13th and 14th. Researchers don't fully understand the Geminids, and new measurements make it more mysterious than ever.

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Favicon"Arsenic-Bug" Redefines Life as We Know It 2 Dec 2010, 3:00 pm

NASA-supported researchers have discovered the first known microorganism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The microorganism, which lives in California's Mono Lake, substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in the backbone of its DNA.

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FaviconAlien Comets Invade the Solar System 23 Nov 2010, 3:00 pm

Some of the comets in our Solar System probably came from other stars, according to new research by NASA-supported scientists. Studying these 'alien' comets, they say, could reveal new information about stellar systems far, far away.

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FaviconHubble Observes Possible Asteroid Collision 13 Oct 2010, 2:00 am

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured rare images of a suspected asteroid collision. The snapshots show a bizarre X-shaped object at the head of a comet-like trail of material. Their findings will be published in the Oct. 14th issue of Nature.

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StarDate Online

FaviconMeteor Plots 29 Jan 2015, 1:00 am

Several weak meteor showers rain into the night sky at this time of year — showers with names like the Alpha Corona Borealids and the February Eta Draconids. They’re all puny, but they add up. Under dark skies, you can expect to see a handful of meteors just about any night of the year.

Astronomers have identified almost 600 possible meteor showers. Only a few produce enough “shooting stars” to make them worth mentioning. But even if they don’t have aesthetic value, they all have scientific value. Every meteor shower is produced by a trail of debris from a comet or asteroid. Plotting the courses of the meteors can help astronomers track down these parent bodies.

A couple of years ago, in fact, researchers at Cal Poly Pomona used a network of 60 video cameras to photograph thousands of meteors in January and February skies. Their goal was to see if any of the meteor streams might suggest that their parent bodies were on a collision course with Earth.

The observations detected meteors associated with 42 showers, including 16 that had never been seen before. Only one of the showers was tied to a parent object, though, and it’s no danger to Earth. But the technique can help point the way to more parent bodies — including those that might someday threaten our planet.

Even on a night with a lot of moonlight, like tonight, if you can get away from city lights you might still see a few bright meteors blazing across the night sky.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2014


For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
The one constant in the Universe: StarDate magazine

FaviconGetting Closer 28 Jan 2015, 3:37 am

This image, snapped by the Dawn spacecraft on January 25, 2015, is the sharpest yet of Ceres, the largest asteroid. Taken from a range of 147,000 miles (237,000 km), the image shows more detail than even the best taken by Hubble Space Telescope. Dawn will draw closer to Ceres over the next few weeks and enter orbit around the little dwarf planet on March 6. [NASA/JPL/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA]

Dawn image of Ceres, January 25, 2015

Text ©2015 The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory

For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
The one constant in the Universe: StarDate magazine

FaviconCatching Neutrinos 28 Jan 2015, 1:00 am

In a cavern a half-mile below the hills of northern Minnesota, scientists and engineers have built a “battleship in a bottle” — a 6,000-ton concoction of steel and electronics designed to study some of the most ephemeral particles in the universe.

Neutrinos are produced in nuclear reactions, such as those that power the Sun and other stars. They stream through space at almost the speed of light, and zip through stars and planets without stopping. In fact, trillions of them pass through your body every second.

Early theories said that neutrinos shouldn’t have any mass. But experiments found that they come in three varieties, known as flavors. And they can change flavors as they speed along — like a scoop of ice cream morphing from chocolate to vanilla to strawberry. For this idea to be correct, neutrinos must have a small mass, with a different mass for each flavor.

The Minnesota experiment, known as MINOS, is studying how the neutrinos change as they speed through the universe. Scientists fire a beam of one flavor of neutrinos from a lab in Illinois. The beam travels hundreds of miles below Wisconsin and Lake Superior before some of its neutrinos hit the detector. There are so many neutrinos that one of them occasionally zaps an atom in the detector, causing a splash of atomic particles.

Studying these events should help scientists learn how neutrinos work — information that can help them better understand the reactions that power the stars.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2014

For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
The one constant in the Universe: StarDate magazine

FaviconCold Dark Matter 27 Jan 2015, 1:00 am

To catch the whisper of a passing particle of dark matter, two experiments in northern Minnesota get cold. One of them, in fact, is chilled to a few thousandths of a degree above absolute zero.

Dark matter appears to make up about five-sixths of all the matter in the universe. Astronomers see it on large scales because it exerts a strong gravitational pull on the normal matter around it.

Yet no one has ever seen an individual bit of dark matter. It rarely interacts with normal matter in any way — and it may not interact at all.

The experiments in Minnesota use detectors made of germanium. If a particle of dark matter rams into the nucleus of a germanium atom, the nucleus should “wiggle” a bit, producing a tiny amount of heat and a tiny change in electric charge.

But the detectors need an enormous amount of shielding. They’re in a laboratory that’s a half-mile below ground; the layers of rock screen out cosmic rays, which can zap the germanium atoms.

At normal temperatures, the atoms vibrate so much that they would overwhelm any signal from a collision with a particle of dark matter. So the detectors in the Cryogenic Dark Matter Survey are chilled to almost absolute zero by a complicated refrigeration system.

Even so, the experiment hasn’t turned up any evidence of dark matter. But scientists are planning to build a bigger version of the experiment in a deeper mine — changes that could help catch the faint signal of dark matter.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2014


For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
The one constant in the Universe: StarDate magazine

FaviconSoudan Laboratory 26 Jan 2015, 1:00 am

A half-mile below the hills of northern Minnesota, visitors to the Soudan Mine State Park face a choice. Turn left, and they can climb aboard carts like those in “Temple of Doom” to explore an abandoned iron mine. Turn right, though, and they enter a laboratory where scientists are studying some of the most important topics in modern physics.

Miners began hauling out iron ore in the 1880s. The mine was shut down in 1962, and it’s been a state park ever since.

In recent decades, though, scientists dug two new tunnels off the mine’s lowest level. One of the tunnels hosts an experiment that studies neutrinos — phantom-like particles produced in the hearts of stars. The other hosts two experiments that are trying to find particles of dark matter — matter that produces no detectable energy, but that exerts a gravitational pull on the normal matter around it.

Several dark matter experiments are operating around the world, and all of them are deep underground. That’s because interactions between dark matter and normal matter are extremely rare, if they happen at all. At the surface, the signal of such an interaction would be drowned out by cosmic rays — heavy particles from deep space — as well as the radioactive decay of elements on Earth’s surface and other events.

The rock above the Soudan laboratory blocks most of these other signals. That should make it easier to detect the “fingerprint” of dark matter. More about that tomorrow.

 

Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2014

For more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
The one constant in the Universe: StarDate magazine

ESOcast HD

ESOcast is a video podcast series dedicated to bringing you the latest news and research from ESO, the European Southern Observatory. Here we explore the Universe's ultimate frontier with our host Doctor J, a.k.a. Dr. Joe Liske.

FaviconESOcast 71: New Exoplanet-hunting Telescopes on Paranal 14 Jan 2015, 6:00 am

This ESOcast takes a close look at an unusual new group of small telescopes that has recently achieved first light at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile.

FaviconESOcast: 70: Green Light for E-ELT Construction 4 Dec 2014, 6:00 am

The European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT for short, will be by far the largest optical and near-infrared telescope in the world. In early December 2014 the ESO Council gave the go-ahead for the first construction phase of the telescope.

FaviconESOcast 69: Revolutionary ALMA Image Reveals Planetary Genesis 6 Nov 2014, 7:00 am

ESOcast 69 presents the result of the latest ALMA observations, which reveal extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around the young star HL Tauri.

FaviconESOcast 68: ESO Opens its Doors 24 Oct 2014, 11:00 am

On 11 October 2014 the ESO Headquarters in Garching, Germany, once more opened their doors to the public. Some 3 300 people used this special opportunity of the Open House Day to visit the centre of the world's foremost astronomical organisation.

FaviconESOcast 67: ESO People at Work and Play 11 Sep 2014, 6:00 am

This new ESOcast features six specialists in different areas who work at ESO in Germany and in Chile. Get to know the work they do at ESO, but also learn about interesting hobbies they pursue in their free time and how these hobbies may be connected to their work.

HD - NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory

High-definition (HD) videos from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory feature the latest news on space and science findings from JPL and NASA. Topics include discoveries made by spacecraft studying planets in our solar system, including Mars, Saturn and our home planet, Earth. Missions also study stars and galaxies in our universe.

FaviconTechnical Origami 26 Jan 2015, 3:00 am



How do you develop the largest spinning antenna ever used on a NASA satellite? Testing, testing. . . .



FaviconAsteroid 2004 BL86 Has a Small Moon 26 Jan 2015, 3:00 am



This movie of asteroid 2004 BL86 was generated from data collected by NASA's Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, on Jan. 26, 2015. Twenty individual images were used.



Favicon11 Years and Counting: Opportunity on Mars 23 Jan 2015, 3:00 am



View the many unique areas that the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity traveled during its 11 year historic journey.



FaviconCrazy Engineering: Mars Helicopter 22 Jan 2015, 3:00 am



JPL engineers are working on a small helicopter that could 'scout' a trail for future Mars rovers, but getting a chopper that could fly in the Martian atmosphere is tricky.



FaviconFound: Mars Orbiter Locates Beagle 2 Lander 16 Jan 2015, 3:00 am



The Beagle 2 Lander, built by the United Kingdom, has been thought lost on Mars since Dec. 25, 2003, but has now been found in images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.