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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

FaviconPolaris 23 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

Astronomers have been keeping a close eye on the North Star, Polaris, for centuries. That’s allowed them to compile an impressive dossier. They know that the system actually consists of several stars, for example — a brilliant one that’s visible to the eye alone, plus some fainter companions. They know that the bright star is a supergiant that’s much bigger and heavier than the Sun. And they know that it pulses in and out like a beating heart.

Even so, there are a lot of open questions about Polaris. One of the most important is its distance.

The most direct method for measuring a star’s distance is parallax. Astronomers look at the star when Earth is on opposite sides of the Sun. That lets them see the star shift back and forth a tiny bit against the background of more-distant stars. The size of that shift reveals the star’s distance — in this case, about 430 light-years.

Astronomers use other techniques to measure distances as well, and those don’t all agree with the parallax distance. One technique makes detailed measurements of the individual wavelengths of the star’s light and compares them to models of how stars behave. Using that technique, a study a couple of years ago came up with a distance of just 325 light-years.

Most astronomers go with the parallax measurement. Even so, there’s still a bit of wiggle room in measuring the distance to the North Star.

We’ll talk about another mystery of the North Star 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

FaviconSolar Eclipse 22 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

The afternoon sky will get a little darker than normal for most of the United States tomorrow. That’s because there’s a partial solar eclipse.

A solar eclipse occurs when the new Moon passes directly between Earth and the Sun. Most months, the Moon skims just above or below the Sun as seen from Earth, so there’s no eclipse at all.

This eclipse is only partial — the Moon will cover only a portion of the Sun’s disk. So the sky will resemble an early dusk, and the temperature may drop a little bit.

The eclipse begins when the Moon’s shadow first touches Earth, over Siberia, around 2:30 p.m. Central Time. The shadow then spreads to the southeast, crossing Alaska, Canada, then the Lower 48 states.

The eclipse will be deeper from points farther north and west. From Anchorage, for example, the Moon will cover more than half of the Sun’s disk at the point of greatest eclipse. Only a third of the Sun will be eclipsed from Los Angeles and Dallas, though, and only a tiny notch will be missing as seen from New York and Miami.

In fact, for those in the eastern third of the country, the eclipse will still be in progress at sunset.

Keep in mind that it’s not safe to look at the eclipse directly — the Sun is still bright enough to damage your eyes. Instead, look through dark welder’s glass. You can also track the eclipse by looking at the ground under a leafy tree, where the gaps in the leaves create neat little pictures of this celestial lineup.

 

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

FaviconPartial Solar Eclipse on Thursday, October 23, 2014 21 Oct 2014, 2:21 pm

The afternoon sky will get a little darker than normal for most of the United States Thursday. That’s because there’s a partial solar eclipse, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

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FaviconStar Time 21 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

The stars move across the sky with clockwork precision. So perhaps it’s not surprising that a company that made timepieces took advantage of the stars — to improve both its watches and its image.

The Elgin National Watch Company was established in Illinois in 1864 — 150 years ago — and it quickly became one of the world’s leading watchmakers. And in 1910, it built its own astronomical observatory to track the time.

The observatory used a transit telescope, which measured the precise time that bright stars crossed the meridian — the line across the sky that passes from due north to due south. Comparing those times with astronomical almanacs revealed the precise time at the company’s factory. That time was kept by a set of high-precision German clocks, which were sealed inside a climate-controlled room.

This method was accurate to within a tenth of a second. Time signals were transmitted to the factory to allow workers to precisely set new watches.

Elgin built its entire image around the observatory. The company’s ads featured pictures of it, and encouraged readers to “Go to the Stars for the Time.”

After World War II, though, atomic clocks began providing more accurate time, and less-expensive brands pushed Elgin watches aside. The company donated the observatory to the local schools in 1960, and it still stands today. The company, alas, does not. It shut its doors and sold off its name in 1968.

 

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

FaviconNew Names 20 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

Upsilon Andromedae might not dazzle the eye, but one fact really makes it sparkle: It’s one of the brightest stars in the night sky known to have four or more planets.

The star is bigger, brighter, and heavier than the Sun. It has a distant companion star that’s a faint cosmic ember.

The two stars are known as Upsilon Andromedae A and B. The planets orbit star A, so they’re known as Upsilon Andromedae A-b, A-c, A-d, and A-e. That’s a neat system for the astronomers who study planets in other star systems — it helps them know just where everything is.

For the rest of us, though, the system’s a bit dull. Such names have none of the appeal of Vulcan, Gallifrey, Arrakis, or many other planet names from science fiction. But that’s about to change.

The International Astronomical Union is holding a contest to name more than 300 exoplanets, including those of Upsilon Andromedae. Over the next few months, it’ll accept proposals for exoplanet names from astronomy-related groups, such as planetariums and museums. It’ll pick the best proposals next spring, and allow the general public to vote on the names. It’ll formally adopt the new names next summer — adding a little character to some distant worlds.

Upsilon Andromedae is about a third of the way up the east-northeast sky at nightfall, and stands directly overhead in the wee hours of the morning. Although it’s visible to the unaided eye, you’ll need a starchart to pick it out.

 

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 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.

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.

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.

FaviconNASA's Mars Odyssey Maneuvers to Image Comet Siding Spring 17 Oct 2014, 3:00 am



Mars program Chief Engineer Robert Shotwell describes Mars Odyssey's unprecedented view of comet Siding Spring as the comet sweeps by the Red Planet on Oct. 19 and how it will maneuver to take images.



FaviconThousands Explore the JPL Universe at Open House 2014 15 Oct 2014, 3:00 am



JPL hosted a record 45,000 visitors during its 2014 Open House event on Oct. 11 and 12, which showcased the laboratory's missions and science.



FaviconComet Siding Spring: A Close Encounter with Mars 9 Oct 2014, 3:00 am



Comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring will make a close flyby of Mars on Oct. 19. At a distance of only 87,000 miles, it's a near miss of the Red Planet.



FaviconRapidScat installation on the International Space Station 6 Oct 2014, 3:00 am



Time-lapse footage of the RapidScat "wind watcher" instrument being installed on the International Space Station, followed by reaction by the team after its activation.



FaviconWhat's Up - October 2014 30 Sep 2014, 3:00 am



What's Up for October? A lunar eclipse, a solar eclipse and Mars has a close encounter with a comet.