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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

FaviconHalloween 31 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

For the most part, astronomers aren’t a superstitious lot. And they certainly don’t believe in ghosts. Yet it would be hard to blame them for getting a few chills on a lonely Halloween night, when the motors groan and the dome rattles in the blustery wind — especially when there are graves right outside the door — or even below the dome itself.

Until well into the 1900s, it wasn’t uncommon for astronomers to be buried at their observatories. In part, that’s because many of the observatories were privately built and owned. So one of America’s first astronomers, David Rittenhouse, was buried beneath the observatory he built in Pennsylvania.

That observatory has long since vanished. But several that are still around feature the graves of early astronomers or patrons. Percival Lowell, for example, is buried on the grounds of the observatory he founded in Flagstaff, Arizona. A crypt beneath Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh holds the ashes of some of its early astronomers and their family members. And James Lick, who founded the Lick Observatory in California, is buried in the base of the giant refracting telescope he provided for.

So if you happen to be an astronomer who ventures into the dark dome on this autumn night, don’t worry about those odd little bumps and groans. They’re not the work of ghosts — it’s just Halloween.

 

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

FaviconMorning Mercury 30 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

The only spacecraft ever to orbit the planet Mercury has gotten especially close to it over the past few months — as close as 15 miles. It’s moving back away from the planet right now as it nears the end of its mission.

Messenger was launched 10 years ago, and entered orbit around Mercury in 2011. During roughly 3,500 orbits, it’s clicked off more than a quarter of a million pictures of the solar system’s tiniest planet. They reveal impact craters, volcanic plains, and fault lines edged by cliffs that are miles high. Messenger has also mapped the mineral and chemical makeup of the surface, and it’s probed conditions inside the planet as well.

It should produce an even better look at Mercury’s interior in its final months. Lowering its altitude will allow Messenger to map the planet’s gravitational and magnetic fields in much greater detail. Among other things, those observations will reveal more about Mercury’s core.

The craft also will get a closer look at some of the more interesting features on Mercury, including deposits of ice at its poles.

Messenger will end its mission next March, when it’ll slam into the planet it’s told us so much about.

And Mercury is just peeking into view in the morning sky. It’s quite low in the east-southeast as twilight paints the sky, so you need a clear horizon to spot it. Although it looks like a bright star, it’s tough to find through the twilight. It’ll remain in view for a couple of weeks.

 

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 30 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

A bright, fresh impact crater gleams at the top left corner of this image of Mercury from the Messenger spacecraft, which has been orbiting the planet since 2011. Flight controllers briefly lowered its orbit to as close as 15 miles, which will allow scientists to map Mercury's gravitational field in greater detail. Messenger is expected to end its mission next spring. [NASA/JHUAPL]

Messenger view of the surface of Mercury

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

FaviconLocal Bubble 29 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

Ten million years ago, some massive stars close to our own solar system blew themselves to bits. These exploding stars carved a big bubble in space and filled it with superhot gas. And today, our solar system is plowing through that bubble — a peanut-shaped region that’s about 300 light-years long.

By earthly standards, the space between the stars is a hard vacuum — there’s just not much there. But there are a few atoms and molecules, known collectively as the interstellar medium.

Shock waves from the exploding stars swept away most of the material around them. So the interstellar medium in this region, known as the Local Bubble, is especially thin — no more than a few percent as dense as the typical stretch of interstellar space. But it’s also especially hot, with its gas heated to a million degrees.

As the bubble expands, it may squeeze denser clouds of gas and dust around it. Eventually, the clouds could break up into smaller clumps, which could collapse to form new stars. And those stars would be enriched by some of the material forged by the exploding stars — heavy elements like iron and nickle and even gold.

Many of those heavier elements are key ingredients for planets like Earth. So cosmic destruction — the exploding stars that cleared out the Local Bubble — could someday lead to acts of creation — forging new worlds in the vastness of interstellar space.

Tomorrow: getting close to a small world in our own solar system.

 

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 Distance 28 Oct 2014, 1:00 am

Measuring the distances to astronomical objects is hard work. But it’s critical for understanding the universe. Unless you know how far away an object is, you can’t know its brightness, its size, its gravity, or anything else about it.

An example of just how tough the job is is the Pleiades star cluster — also known as the Seven Sisters. It climbs into good view in the east by around 10 p.m., and looks like a tiny dipper.

Astronomers have been studying the Pleiades since the invention of the telescope. Even so, measuring its distance hasn’t been easy.

The most accurate technique is called parallax. Astronomers look at the stars of the Pleiades when Earth is on opposite sides of the Sun. That produces a tiny shift in the position of the stars. The angle of the shift reveals their distance — about 430 light-years according to most studies.

Recently, though, a team of astronomers used a network of radio telescopes to make new measurements. The network produces images that are unusually sharp, helping overcome the blurring effects of Earth’s atmosphere. Those measurements place the Pleiades a bit farther than the accepted value — about 443 light-years.

That difference isn’t very big — or, for most things, very significant. Yet the fact that astronomers keep measuring the distance to this prominent star cluster shows just how important it is to get it right, and find a definitive distance to the Seven Sisters.

 

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 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.

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.

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.