British astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus accidentally on March 13, 1781, with his telescope while surveying all stars down to those about 10 times dimmer than can be seen by the naked eye. One
British astronomer William Herschel discovered Uranus accidentally on March 13, 1781, with his telescope while surveying all stars down to those about 10 times dimmer than can be seen by the naked eye. One “star” seemed different, and within a year Uranus was shown to follow a planetary orbit.

The seventh planet from the Sun at 2.9 billion km (1.8 billion miles) or 19.19 AU, Uranus is a world tinted blue due to more methane in its mainly hydrogen and helium atmosphere than a similar gas giant like Mighty Jupiter or Spectacular Saturn.

Space & Astronomy Wiki – the planets in the solar system –

A year on Uranus, the amount of time it takes the planet to orbit the Sun, takes about 84 Earth-years to complete, but a day is only 17 hours in length. 27 moons of various sizes orbit this planet, which is just about the same in size as Neptune, moons name after characters from the works of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope.

Although it’s not as apparent looking at Uranus through a telescope, this light blue world does have a ring system, composed of narrow and dark inner rings and brightly colored outer rings. As you look at this far off world through a telescope, you’ll notice it’s tipped on its side, compared to the other planets. Some planetary space scientists believe this orientation could be due to a collision over 4.5 billions years ago, when the solar system was being formed.

This distant world has only been visited by one man made spacecraft, Voyager 2 flew by Uranus, and the other outer planets, before heading off out of the solar system. The majority of the facts we have concerning this amazing world are due to this flyby, and unfortunately humans presently have no missions to Uranus planned for the future.

You can learn more about Uranus here.

Learn more about planets found in star systems composed of four suns.

Read about the Rosetta spacecraft’s historic decade long voyage to a meeting with comet 67P/Churymov-Gerasimenko.

Learn more about calculating the possibility of intelligent life existing in the universe.

The Sun

NASA has just released five new videos called
NASA has just released five new videos called “Mysteries of the Sun“. The videos describe the science of the sun and its effects on the solar system and Earth. Scientists study the sun not only to better understand the orb that influences life, but also to study how it sends solar material out into space, filling up the bubble that defines the farthest reaches of the solar system. The sun can also impact Earth’s technology: solar storms can affect our communications satellites and cause surges in power lines. These movies cover the breadth of solar, heliospheric, and geospace science, a field known as heliophysics.

Space & Astronomy Wiki – the closest star to Earth –

Worshiped by every recorded human culture, the Sun – or Sol as the Romans called it – contains over 99.8 percent of the mass in the solar system, and is over a thousand times as massive.

Composed of 7.8 percent helium (He) and 92.1 percent hydrogen (H2) along with 0.1 percent oxygen and other elements, Sol looks solid in photographs, but its surface is a sea of hot 5,500 Celsius (10,000 degrees Fahrenheit) gas.

Called ‘Helios’ by the Greeks, the Sun is a stellar type G star called a main-sequence star but will change into a brighter, bigger and cooler red dwarf star around 5 billion years after its birth.

With a diameter over 100 times that of Earth at 1.4 million km (840,000 miles), the Sun is a common medium-sized yellow star you could fit over a million piles of earth inside.

Sitting at a distance of 149.6 million km (93 million miles) from our planet or 1 astronomical unit (AU), a distance which is used as a common measuring stick by astronomers viewing the solar system, the Sun transforms over 600 million tons of hydrogen into 596 tons of helium every second through nuclear fusion.

Dominating the gravity pool of the solar system, the mass of the Sun warps spacetime, which determines the orbits of the planets, and governs the movements of all mass bodies within the boundaries of the system.

For more information on the Sun go here.

Learn more about the connection between the Earth and Sun here.

To learn more about the Sun go here.

The Human Journey to the Beginning of Space and Time; Who are we?

Learn more about the search for habitable planets beyond Earth.

Learn more about the mysteries surrounding ultra-luminous X-ray sources.

Sol Emits First Recorded Solar Flare of 2015

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Space Observatory captures this stunning image of event 

Space news (January 13, 2015) the surface of the sun –

At 11:24 p.m EST yesterday NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught this breathtaking image of the first recorded solar flare for 2015.1-13-15_flare_171-131 (1)

The Solar Dynamics Observatory is tasked with continuously studying the sun and will capture images of the solar flares occurring this year.

Powerful bursts of radiation, extremely intense solar flares can temporarily alter the upper atmosphere, which can cause disruptions in signal transmissions for communications and GPS.

You can learn more about the mission of the Solar Dynamics Observatory here.

You can find more information on NASA and its mission to study and understand the sun here.

Learn how turbulence created by a black hole could prevent the birth of stars 

Learn about metal ions detected in ancient dust falling off of Oort Cloud comet and into the atmosphere of Mars

Read about ancient Peruvians thousands of years ago using 13 towers spread along the horizon to mark the rising and setting sun

Viewing the Moon Through Binoculars

The complete astronomer’s guide to viewing the Moon using binoculars

Compare sizes to prices and you'll see bigger is better and more expensive
Compare sizes to prices and you’ll see bigger is better and more expensive

People often ask me whether they can get great views of the solar system using even simple 7 x 35 binoculars and the answer is yes. It doesn’t matter if you’re using relatively expensive 7 x 35 Leitz Leica BA Trinovid binoculars or the less expensive Celestron 71300. The night sky will explode with visual gems invisible to the naked eye and the Moon will come alive with color when viewed through binoculars.

The view becomes even better when seen through binoculars like the Oberwerk 100mm giant binocular telescope. Numerous double stars can be seen using state-of-the-art astronomy binoculars, variable stars will noticeably fluctuate at times, and you’ll see stars the naked eye isn’t able to discern. The list of objects to view using binoculars is virtually endless, but let’s start with the Moon.

The Moon

A mere 238,000 miles distant, the Moon offers viewers on Earth more visual gems than any other object in the solar system. Soaring mountains, immense plains, insanely deep and wide valleys, and hundreds of craters are easily visible on the Moon using astronomy binoculars.

Selecting the best lunar phase for viewing the Moon is critical for people deciding to tour our closest neighbor using binoculars. Very little detail is often visible on the surface after a New Moon, but as the Moon rises further east night after night, more features of the surface come into view. During the First-Quarter phases of the Moon, an amazing variety of lunar surface terrain can be viewed through binoculars.

The huge plains of the lunar seas Serenitatis, Mare Crisium, Tranquillitatis, and Fecunditatis cover the equatorial regions of the Moon. Travel northward to view several large craters scattered across the landscape or south to view an area often called the “no man’s land” of the Moon. Experience the south polar region to be inspired by the rough beauty of a region with so many craters it’s often hard to tell them apart.

It’s always fascinating to view the line dividing the night and day on the Moon, which astronomers refer to as the Moon’s terminator (lunar terminator). Viewers can often see unusual lighting effects on the surface as the Sun rises and sets. If you view from the right angle, a crater can look like a bright, bottomless pit. Sunlight can often be seen traveling down the wall until it floods the bottom of the crater.

The best time to view a New Moon is normally April and May for viewers in the northern hemisphere, and October and November in the southern regions of the planet. Viewers north of the equator desiring to experience the Moon less than a day before New Moon should view during July and August, while those south of the equator will have better luck during January and February. During these times the Moon is higher in the sky, so if you slowly scan a point below the horizon directly under the Sun and the view is free of obstacles, you might experience an extremely thin crescent.

Modern astronomy binoculars offer grand and inspiring views of the Moon and solar system sure to open the mind to the usefulness of binoculars when viewing the universe. Make plans to check out the view they offer and we’re sure you’ll discover just how useful they’re.

Read about Albert Einstein and his space-time in “Space and Time, or Space-Time

Ever wonder what space archaeologists in the future if our civilization crumbles? Read “Earth Mission Discovers Something Unusual“.

Does life exist beyond the dusty ball of dirty water we call Earth? Read “The Possibility of Intelligent Lifeforms Existing in the Universe“.


Worshipping Sol

 The energy of the sun affects all life on Earth in ways we don’t even imagine

Three separate instruments aboard Hinode will study Sol

Humans have worshipped Sol for thousands of years

The original source of energy for all life on Earth, Sol has always ruled the lives and minds of human beings in many ways. The ruler of the daytime sky in ancient times and still today, Sol was worshipped by ancient humans of many cultures, and will always be a major force in the life of every human being on Earth. The Sumerians worshiped Utu as their sun god over two thousand years ago and modern humans worship the sun in their own way. We send spacecraft toward Sol, to study the lifecycle and physical and chemical characteristics of our sun, and determine everything we can about the sun.

Astronomy News – Hinode (Solar-B) is one spacecraft humans have sent out toward Sol in an attempt to delve deeper into the mysteries of the sun. A highly sophisticated observational satellite equipped with three solar telescopes, Hinode has recently revealed that the solar corona isn’t quite as static as solar scientists were first thinking. Hinode has surprised solar scientists of late with views of complex structures in the solar chromosphere, solar scientists use to think were static, but now believe to be dynamic structures flowing in time. This is making solar scientists rethink some of the previous ideas they had about the heating mechanisms and dynamics of the active solar corona.

Astronomers study the Sun continuously in an attempt to understand its mysteries

What questions will solar scientists working with Hinode try to answer next? They’ll be looking into why a hot corona exists above a cooler atmosphere? The origins and driving forces behind solar flares and the Sol’s magnetic field? The changes that the release of solar energy in its many forms has on interplanetary space in our solar system and life on Earth? The answers to these questions could be a key to eventually answering many of the questions the first stargazers and all humans have been asking for thousands of years. Solar scientists are also interested in knowing how magnetic changes near Sol’s surface effect the heliosphere, the outer atmosphere of Sol that extends beyond Pluto, and how severe changes in the heliosphere can cause satellites to malfunction and electrical blackouts on Earth.

Check out my latest astronomy site at http://astronomytonight.yolasite.com/.

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion

Cycle me This, Cycle me That

Cycles of Life

Astronomers studying the sun have found some interesting things
Everything cycles until death

Astronomy instruments designed to study the sun are specially designed for the job

Astronomy News – Astrophysicists studying stars use the closest star to Earth as their main test subject, Sol. Astronomers met recently during the American Astronomical Society meeting on May 26 in Miami to discuss the usefulness and reliability of three new techniques being used by current solar scientists to delve into the mysteries of the sun. “Scientists hope these three new techniques will help them predict the future behavior of Sol and jet streams, rhythmic oscillations, and magnetic activity all hold promise for solar scientists peering into the depths of the sun.”

David H. Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center used the meridional flow scientists studying Sol associate with an increase in the intensity of the solar cycle of Sol, to make a prediction that Sol’s current cycle will peak around 2013, although he thinks this peak will be about half the size of the past three solar peaks.

Sol has been keeping astronomers busy lately

Sol has been in a dark mood lately
Sol in a dark mood

Sushanta Tripathy and Frank Hill of the National Solar Observatory have been studying vibrations from Sol’s surface they call rhythmic oscillations. Their studies have found a strong correlation exists between rhythmic oscillations and the activity level of Sol. They used their data to show that during the present minimum activity period of Sol, a double minimum in solar activity occurred, which they think could in some way relate to Sol’s current in activity.

Julia Saba of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has been taking a look at the data collected concerning the activity of Sol’s magnetic field. Her work has helped her predict, up to 18 months ahead of time, when Cycle 24 would start, and to speculate that Cycle 24 will be weaker and longer in length than average.

Sol is expected to increase in activity

Read about NASA’s Messenger spacecraft and its mission to Mercury

Have you heard about the recent meteorite that exploded near the Ural Mountains

Read about the supernova astronomers are studying looking for a black hole they think was created during the explosion