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


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

Here Comes The Sun


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


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


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

Off To The Races With Venus And Jupiter


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

FaviconMessier Clusters 25 Jul 2014, 1:00 am

One of the first items on almost any amateur astronomer’s “to-do” list is completing the Messier marathon — looking at all 110 objects cataloged by Charles Messier. Messier himself began the first marathon 250 years ago.

Charles Messier ca. 1770Charles Messier ca. 1770Messier was most interested in finding comets. Indeed, the French astronomer discovered one in January of 1764. Not long afterward, though, he discovered something that looked like a comet but wasn’t. Today, we know that it’s a globular cluster — a tight grouping of ancient stars. All Messier knew, though, was that it was in the way of his comet hunting.

So he set out to compile a catalog of similar comet-like objects. He’d already logged a couple, although he found that they’d already been discovered by others. But the globular cluster had never been recorded by anyone — it was Messier’s first discovery of a deep-sky object.

During the summer of 1764, he scanned the skies in and around Sagittarius. The constellation is in the southeast at nightfall, with its brightest stars forming the outline of a teapot.

Among Messier’s discoveries in Sagittarius are a pair of young star clusters known as M21 and M25, and another globular cluster, M22. All three stand above the teapot, and are visible through binoculars.

By the end of 1764, Messier’s catalog listed 40 objects — putting him more than a third of the way through the first Messier marathon.

We’ll talk about another Sagittarius cluster 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

FaviconBusy Galaxy 24 Jul 2014, 2:27 am

The Milky Way forms a glowing arch that passes high overhead on summer nights, outlining the flat disk of our home galaxy. This view, toward the center of the galaxy, shows vast fields of stars, dark dust lanes, glowing clouds of gas and dust that are giving birth to new stars, and much more. The colorful wisps at right include the nebula Rho Ophiuchi and the region around Antares, the bright orange star at the heart of Scorpius, the scorpion. Two nebulae, the Lagoon the Trifid, are at upper right. [ESO/S. Guisard]

A view of the busy Milky Way

Text ©2014 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

FaviconSagittarius 24 Jul 2014, 1:00 am

A big, steaming teapot floats across the southern horizon on summer evenings: the constellation Sagittarius, the archer. To modern eyes, its brightest stars form a teapot, with the handle to the left and the spout to the right.

The pot looks like it’s steaming because it’s immersed in the Milky Way — the combined glow of millions of stars in the disk of our Milky Way galaxy. You need dark skies to see it; city lights overpower its subtle glow.

But if your skies are dark enough for you to see the Milky Way, then you can look for some of the most prominent star clusters and nebulae in all the night sky. That’s because Sagittarius marks the heart of the galaxy. When we look that way, we’re looking into the most heavily populated region of the galaxy, so there are lots of beautiful sights.

A few of these objects are visible to the unaided eye. But they’re faint and spread out, so they look like small puffs of cloud or smoke. Binoculars enhance the view, while small telescopes show much more detail.

One of these objects is a big cluster of geriatric stars. But other objects are at the opposite end of the stellar life cycle. They’re stellar nurseries — regions where clouds of gas and dust are collapsing to give birth to new stars.

Look for all of these beautiful objects floating above the teapot, which is low in the southeast in early evening, and due south around midnight.

We’ll have more about Sagittarius tomorrow.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2007, 2014

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

FaviconMoon and Venus 23 Jul 2014, 1:00 am

There’s nothing like a trip to the mountains to escape the summer heat — whether you’re here on Earth or on Venus, our nearest planetary neighbor. The coolest place on the entire planet is its tallest mountain range, Maxwell Montes. Of course, cool is a relative term — temperatures on the mountain peaks probably top 700 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Maxwell Montes range is more than 500 miles long, and its highest peaks extend almost seven miles above the surrounding volcanic plains. The mountains may have formed as portions of the crust pushed together, forcing the rock between them upward.

The average surface temperature on Venus is more than 850 degrees, and atmospheric pressure is 90 times greater than at the surface of Earth. On the mountain peaks, though, the pressure is only half that, and temperatures are appreciably cooler — perhaps cool enough for snow.

An orbiting spacecraft revealed a highly reflective coating on the mountaintops that looks like snow. Instead of frozen water, though, it’s probably made of a frozen metal. The material forms a gas at lower, hotter altitudes. But as it rises through the atmosphere it cools and condenses — eventually forming a layer of snow atop the “cool” mountains of Venus.

And Venus is in good view at first light tomorrow. The planet shines as the brilliant “morning star,” close to the left of the beautiful crescent Moon.

Tomorrow: a “steaming” teapot in the southern 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

FaviconOutcast Star 22 Jul 2014, 1:00 am

The star that anchors the Big Dipper’s handle is a bit of an outcast. The five stars that make up the dipper’s middle are members of the same family — the Ursa Major Moving Group. They were born from the same cloud of gas and dust, and they move through space together.

The stars at the ends are different. Tens of thousands of years from now, they will have moved a good distance from the others as seen from here on Earth, pulling the “dipper” apart.

Alkaid is the end of the dipper’s handle. It’s farther away than the members of the moving group — 100 light-years. And it’s only about 10 million years old, which is far younger than the members of the moving group.

Ten million years isn’t long on the astronomical time scale — the Sun is four-and-a-half billion years old. Even so, Alkaid is getting well along in life because it’s more than six times as massive as the Sun.

The cores of heavy stars are much hotter than those of lighter stars, which revs up their nuclear reactions. They consume their nuclear fuel at a much faster rate, so they burn out much more quickly. Alkaid, for example, will live a “normal” lifetime of less than a hundred million years, versus 10 billion years for the Sun — a short life for a stellar outcast.

Look for Alkaid in the north as night falls, with the rest of the dipper hanging below it. The dipper rotates down toward the northern horizon during the night, ready to scoop up a dipperful of 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

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 66: A Groundbreaking Event for the E-ELT 2 Jul 2014, 9:00 am

On 19 June 2014, a major milestone on the road to the construction of the European Extremely Large Telescope was reached. Part of the 3000-metre peak of Cerro Armazones was blasted away as a step towards levelling the summit. This paves the way for the largest optical/infrared telescope in the world.

FaviconESOcast 65: The Chilean Sky in Ultra High Definition 30 May 2014, 12:00 pm

In the Spring of 2014, a team of ESO Photo ambassadors embarked on a pioneering expedition to ESO's three observatories in Chile. Their mission was to capture a wide range of images and time-lapses of the magnificent Chilean night sky and landscape in crisp Ultra High Definition. Join our heroes in their adventures in the arid Atacama Desert as they bring our Universe closer than ever before.

FaviconESOcast 64: First Ring System Around Asteroid 26 Mar 2014, 2:00 pm

This ESOcast shows how observations at many sites in South America, including ESO's La Silla Observatory, have made the surprise discovery that the remote asteroid Chariklo is surrounded by two dense and narrow rings.

FaviconESOcast 63: Flexible Giants — The Evolution of Telescope Mirrors 19 Feb 2014, 5:00 am

The clear night sky offers one of the most beautiful views in nature. The eye adapts to the dark and the pupil widens to collect more light and thus allow fainter stars to become visible. But the light-collecting area of the human eye is tiny. To peer much deeper into the night sky astronomers need telescopes with enormous primary mirrors to do a much better job.

FaviconESOcast 62: Three planets found in star cluster 15 Jan 2014, 6:00 am

In this ESOcast we look at how astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67. Although more than one thousand planets outside the Solar System are now confirmed, only a handful have been found in star clusters. Remarkably one of these new exoplanets is orbiting a star that is a rare solar twin — a star that is almost identical to the Sun in all respects.

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.

FaviconFlash from Curiosity Rover's Laser Hitting a Martian Rock 16 Jul 2014, 3:00 am

The sparks that appear on the baseball-sized rock result from the laser of the ChemCam instrument on NASA's Curiosity Mars rover hitting the rock.

FaviconNEOWISE Spies Comet Pan-STARRS Against Galaxy Backdrop 3 Jul 2014, 3:00 am

NASA's NEOWISE mission captured a series of infrared images of comet C/2012 K1 -- also referred to as comet Pan-STARRS -- as it swept across our skies in May 2014.

FaviconLDSD Test Vehicle Returns 2 Jul 2014, 3:00 am

NASA's saucer-shaped test vehicle, the Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) was recovered from the ocean and returned to Port Allen, Kauai, on June 29, 2014

FaviconWhat's Up - July 2014 30 Jun 2014, 3:00 am

Spot Pluto and see the Milky Way and planets all month long.

FaviconCassini Arrival at Saturn 24 Jun 2014, 3:00 am

A look back at Cassini's arrival at Saturn.