Portal:Astronomy

The Astronomy Portal

Introduction

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

Astronomy (from Greek: ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the 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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Io (/ˈ./), or Jupiter I, is the innermost and third-largest of the four Galilean moons of the planet Jupiter. Slightly larger than the Moon, Io is the fourth-largest moon in the Solar System, has the highest density of any moon, and has the lowest amount of water (by atomic ratio) of any known astronomical object in the Solar System. It was discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei and was named after the mythological character Io, a priestess of Hera who became one of Zeus's lovers.

With over 400 active volcanoes, Io is the most geologically active object in the Solar System. This extreme geologic activity is the result of tidal heating from friction generated within Io's interior as it is pulled between Jupiter and the other Galilean moons—Europa, Ganymede and Callisto. Several volcanoes produce plumes of sulfur and sulfur dioxide that climb as high as 500 km (300 mi) above the surface. Io's surface is also dotted with more than 100 mountains that have been uplifted by extensive compression at the base of Io's silicate crust. Some of these peaks are taller than Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth's surface. Unlike most moons in the outer Solar System, which are mostly composed of water ice, Io is primarily composed of silicate rock surrounding a molten iron or iron sulfide core. Most of Io's surface is composed of extensive plains with a frosty coating of sulfur and sulfur dioxide. (Full article...)

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Hubble Extreme Deep Field (full resolution).png
Cr: NASA / ESA / G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz / R. Bouwens, Leiden University / the HUDF09 Team

The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (HXDF), released on September 25, 2012, is an image of a portion of space in the center of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image. It covers an area of 2.3 arcminutes by 2 arcminutes, or approximately 80% of the area of the HUDF. The HXDF contains approximately 5,500 galaxies, the oldest of which are seen as they were 13.2 billion years ago.

Astronomy News

12 October 2021 – Discoveries of exoplanets
NASA astronomers announce the discovery of TIC 257060897b, a Hot Jupiter exoplanet that is 50% larger and 30% less massive than Jupiter. The discovery was made using the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite. (Science Times)
26 May 2021 – May 2021 lunar eclipse
A total lunar eclipse occurs, the second-shortest of the 21st century, with totality lasting for only 14 minutes. Nicknamed the Super Flower Blood Moon, the eclipse was visible over the Pacific Ocean and Oceania, with South and East Asia seeing the eclipse at moonrise, and the Americas seeing the eclipse at moonset. (Space.com)

October anniversaries

Space-related Portals

Astronomical events

All times UT unless otherwise specified.

6 October, 11:05 New moon
8 October, 03:50 Mars at conjunction
8 October, 17:28 Moon at perigee
9 October, 16:12 Mercury at inferior conjunction
20 October, 14:57 Full moon
21 October, 11:30 Peak of Orionids meteor shower
24 October, 15:30 Moon at apogee
25 October, 04:59 Mercury at greatest western elongation
29 October, 21:59 Venus at greatest eastern elongation

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