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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

FaviconLammas 1 Aug 2015, 1:00 am

For many of us in the modern-day United States, the beginning of August means that summer has a long way to go — there are many long, hot days before the first cool breath of autumn.

In the ancient British Isles, though, August 1st marked not the middle of summer, but its end. It was a time to start harvesting summer’s bounty — especially the grains that were used to make bread. And it was celebrated with feasts, games, and other festivities.

The celebration was one of four commemorated near the “cross-quarter” days — days that are roughly half way between a solstice and an equinox. The most famous of all these dates are associated with Groundhog Day and Halloween. The August cross-quarter celebration came about six weeks after the summer solstice, and seven weeks before the fall equinox.

The end-of-summer celebration isn’t especially well known today, but it has deep roots. It appears to have started in Ireland. It honored the Celtic god Lugh. He was known as “the Shining One” — perhaps indicating that he was thought of as a Sun god. He was certainly a god of the fields. The first cuttings of the new harvest were offered to him in thanks for summer’s bounty.

Later, the celebration spread to England, where it came to be known as Lammas — a shortened version of “loaf mass.” The first bread baked with the summer grains was presented to the Church — an offering with ancient roots, tied to the rise and fall of the seasons.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015

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

FaviconColorful Lagoon 31 Jul 2015, 1:09 am

A newly released image shows the Lagoon Nebula -- clouds of gas and dust surrounding a hot young star. The image combines visible and infrared views from Hubble Space Telescope. Infrared radiation penetrates the dust, providing views of newborn stars that otherwise would be hidden from view. Radiation from the central star, known as Herschel 36, sculpts much of the surrounding nebula, creating whorls and streamers of gas. The Lagoon Nebula is in the constellation Sagittarius. [NASA/ESA/J. Trauger (JPL)]

Hubble Space Telescope image of the Lagoon Nebula

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

FaviconDelta Cygni 31 Jul 2015, 1:00 am

The celestial swan climbs high across the southern sky on summer nights. It’s marked by its bright tail, the star Deneb, which is the lower left point of the wide-spread Summer Triangle. The swan’s body angles to the upper right of Deneb, as though the swan were taking off from a pond. Its long, graceful wings flank the swan’s body.

The brightest star of the top wing is known as Delta Cygni. It’s a system of at least three stars. Two of them are a good bit bigger, brighter, and heavier than the Sun, while the third is less massive than the Sun.

The two heavier stars orbit each other at an average distance of almost 15 billion miles — roughly 150 times the distance from Earth to the Sun. But the little guy is much farther out.

It’s possible that when the system was born, the third star was closer in. But as the stars danced their complex orbital ballet, they swapped some of their energy. The lightweight star was pushed outward, while the heavier stars spiraled closer together.

Those stars were pushed into a stretched-out orbit that looks a bit like an oval racetrack. It takes the two stars almost eight centuries to complete one lap around that track. But the lonely third member of the trio needs a bit longer. It takes many thousands of years to orbit its brighter companions.

Look for Delta Cygni above Deneb as darkness falls. It’s about a third of the way up from Deneb to brilliant Vega, the brightest member of the Summer Triangle.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015


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

FaviconBlue Moon 30 Jul 2015, 1:00 am

Folklore doesn’t have to be old to be popular. Consider, for example, the modern definition of Blue Moon: the second full Moon in a calendar month. Although that definition began as a mistake, it became popular more than two decades ago and has ingrained itself in skywatching lexicon.

And by that definition, there’s a Blue Moon the next couple of nights. There was a full Moon on July first, and there’s another early tomorrow morning — the second full Moon of the month.

Blue Moon already had several definitions, including the thirteenth full Moon in a calendar year, and the fourth full Moon in a calendar quarter. The phrase could also be taken literally. Under some rare atmospheric conditions — when there’s a layer of ash high in the air, for example — the Moon can actually look blue. And the phrase “once in a blue moon” is unrelated to the Moon itself, and simply means that an event is rare.

The “second-full-Moon-in-a-month” definition entered the culture in the 1980s, thanks to a mistake in a decades-old magazine article. It was popularized by both Star Date and the game Trivial Pursuit.

Some have tried to stamp out the definition, but it’s unlikely they’ll succeed. Like Super Moon, which is an unusually close full Moon, and Blood Moon — a reference to the Moon’s red color during an eclipse — Blue Moon is probably here to stay — a fun bit of modern folklore about the night sky.

Tomorrow: on the wing of the swan.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015


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

FaviconMore Charles Townes 29 Jul 2015, 1:00 am

Back in the 1980s, Charles Townes developed a laser system that helped infrared telescopes get a sharper view of the center of the Milky Way. Other astronomers then used that system to make the first measurement of the mass of the giant black hole at the galaxy’s heart.

It was a remarkable achievement. And it’s all the more interesting because Townes was one of the fathers of the laser. He developed its predecessor, known as a maser, and he obtained the first patents for the laser itself. He even won the Nobel Prize for those accomplishments.

Townes was born 100 years ago this week. During his long career, he pursued many interests. He helped develop new applications for radar during World War II. After the war, he studied microwaves and the structure of molecules — work that led to the maser and laser. He provided scientific advice for the Apollo missions to the Moon. Then he turned to astrophysics — an area he pursued until shortly before his death early this year.

Townes and others turned his inventions and discoveries into tools for exploring the universe. Astronomers use natural masers to probe the composition of other galaxies, and to plot the sizes of black holes. They use lasers to sharpen the view of stars and other objects. And they bounce laser beams off special reflectors on the Moon to study Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity — pursuing the secrets of the universe with beams of light.


Script by Damond Benningfield, Copyright 2015

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 74: Mapping the Southern Skies 30 Apr 2015, 5:00 am

ESOcast 74 looks at ESO’s pair of survey telescopes at Paranal: the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) and the VLT Survey Telescope (VST).

FaviconESOcast 73: Your ESO Pictures 19 Mar 2015, 7:00 am

ESOcast 73 looks at the "Your ESO Pictures" Flickr group, where amateurs and professionals alike contribute their photos related to ESO.

FaviconESOcast 72 – Looking Deeply into the Universe in 3D 26 Feb 2015, 6:00 am

The MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope has given astronomers the best ever three-dimensional view of the deep Universe. After staring at the Hubble Deep Field South region for a total of 27 hours the new observations reveal the distances, motions and other properties of far more galaxies than ever before in this tiny piece of the sky. But they also go beyond Hubble and reveal many previously unseen objects.

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.

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.

FaviconFive Ways Mariner 4 Changed Mars Exploration 10 Jul 2015, 3:00 am



Mariner 4 was the first spacecraft to fly by Mars and send home close-up images. Find out how the mission changed the way we explore the Red Planet.



FaviconRover's-Eye View of Marathon on Mars 2 Jul 2015, 3:00 am



Road trip! This compilation of images from hazard-avoidance cameras on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity between January 2004.



FaviconWhat's Up - July 2015 1 Jul 2015, 3:00 am



Take a grand tour of the Milky Way this month – with binoculars!



FaviconFirst Interplanetary CubeSat Mission 18 Jun 2015, 3:00 am



Two miniature satellites will be hitching a ride to the Red Planet to get a front row seat for InSight's landing on Mars.



FaviconAlien Ocean: NASA's Mission to Europa 17 Jun 2015, 3:00 am



Could a liquid water ocean beneath the surface of Jupiter's moon Europa have the ingredients to support life? Here's how NASA's mission to Europa would find out.