Portal:Astronomy

The Astronomy Portal

Introduction

A man sitting on a chair mounted to a moving platform, staring through a large telescope.

Astronomy (from Ancient Greek ἀστρονομία (astronomía) 'science that studies the laws of the stars') is a natural science that studies celestial objects and phenomena. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates beyond Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy that studies the universe as a whole.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. The early civilizations in recorded history made methodical observations of the night sky. These include the Babylonians, Greeks, Indians, Egyptians, Chinese, Maya, and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the past, astronomy included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars. Nowadays, professional astronomy is often said to be the same as astrophysics.

Professional astronomy is split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects. This data is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. These two fields complement each other. Theoretical astronomy seeks to explain observational results and observations are used to confirm theoretical results.

Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs play an active role. This is especially true for the discovery and observation of transient events. Amateur astronomers have helped with many important discoveries, such as finding new comets. (Full article...)

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The Hubble Deep Field

The Hubble Deep Field (HDF) is an image of a small region in the constellation Ursa Major, constructed from a series of observations by the Hubble Space Telescope. It covers an area about 2.6 arcminutes on a side, about one 24-millionth of the whole sky, which is equivalent in angular size to a tennis ball at a distance of 100 metres. The image was assembled from 342 separate exposures taken with the Space Telescope's Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 over ten consecutive days between December 18 and 28, 1995.

The field is so small that only a few foreground stars in the Milky Way lie within it; thus, almost all of the 3,000 objects in the image are galaxies, some of which are among the youngest and most distant known. By revealing such large numbers of very young galaxies, the HDF has become a landmark image in the study of the early universe. (Full article...)

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STS-134 International Space Station after undocking.jpg
Cr: NASA

The International Space Station is photographed by an STS-134 crew member on the space shuttle Endeavour after the station and shuttle began their post-undocking relative separation. Undocking of the two spacecraft occurred on May 29, 2011.

Astronomy News

9 August 2022 – Discoveries of exoplanets
Radio astronomers have discovered a newborn, Jupiter-size exoplanet orbiting the star AS 209, using the Atacama Large Millimeter Array telescope in Chile. (Space.com)
26 April 2022 –
In the morning, the Moon, Jupiter, and Venus are seen aligning with each other. (Space.com)
4 April 2022 – Discoveries of exoplanets
Astronomers announce the discovery of K2-2016-BLG-0005Lb, an exoplanet that is said to resemble Jupiter. The discovery was made using the now-retired Kepler space telescope. (ScienceAlert)
30 March 2022 –
The Hubble Space Telescope observes the most distant single star ever. The star, named Earendel by astronomers, is 28 billion light-years away. It is the farthest detection of a star, dating back 900 million years after the Big Bang. This discovery surpasses Hubble's record from 2018, when it discovered a star that existed when the universe was roughly four billion years old. (CNN)
21 March 2022 – Discoveries of exoplanets
NASA announces that they have discovered their 5000th exoplanet since 1992, when astronomers Aleksander Wolszczan and Dale Frail announced the discovery of two exoplanets orbiting PSR B1257+12. (Science News)

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All times UT unless otherwise specified. Portal:Astronomy/Events/August 2022

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