Questions regarding the action or process of observing a single object carefully to glean information.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

37
votes
4answers
5k views

How does the Earth move in the sky as seen from the Moon?

I just want to be sure I am visualizing this correctly, because it seems odd. The Moon is tidally locked to the Earth but there are wobbles to its motion due to libration. So from a point on the ...
29
votes
5answers
5k views

Why hasn't the “9th Planet” been detected already?

In the comments to this question, there was considerable doubt placed as to the subject of if the so called "9th planet" really exists. That wasn't really the intent of the previous question, so I ask ...
16
votes
8answers
5k views

Why can't we see distant galaxies with the naked eye?

If light keeps travelling in a straight line, why can't we see distant galaxies with the naked eye? Surely if you stared long enough, the light from them would eventually hit your eye? I apologize if ...
14
votes
2answers
382 views

How long should it take for us to observationally determine if Caltech's Planet Nine is really there?

Caltech just released a report that says there is possibly a large (10 earth mass) planet in a remote orbit (10 - 20 thousand year) that explains a lot of observations of Kuiper Belt objects. How long ...
13
votes
2answers
689 views

At what distance from Earth would our Sun be the same apparent magnitude as the next brightest star in the sky?

When I stand outside looking at the night sky, to my untrained eye, everything except the moon looks like a star. I know intellectually that some are planets circling our sun, and some are entire ...
13
votes
3answers
361 views

How can I safely observe a Solar Flare?

Solar Flares obviously release extreme amounts of energy and extend thousands of miles out into space. Because they are so big I would like to be able to observe some of these events through a ...
13
votes
1answer
133 views

How often do comets survive passage by the Sun?

I had heard that comet ISON might not survive a close pass by our Sun, and I was curious about the odds of how other comets had fared. So, how often do other comets survive a close pass by our sun? ...
12
votes
4answers
844 views

Why can't we observe the Oort cloud with a telescope?

The Oort cloud is a hypothetical structure based on our observation of long-period comets. There are currently proposals to design probes to confirm the existence of the Oort cloud. Now, sending a ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What wavelength to best detect the “9th planet”?

We know that the reflected sunlight will make detecting the 9th planet very difficult in the visible light. Is there another band that will be more likely to detect it? What is the surface temperature ...
12
votes
1answer
149 views

Have we ever observed a body, such as a large asteroid, “hitting” the Sun?

Some other SE questions about launching ICBM's into the sun got me wondering whether we have ever observed an object on a path that intersected with the Sun? How close did it get?
12
votes
1answer
368 views

Has Hawking Radiation Ever Been Observed?

I know Hawking Radiation has firm theoretical footing, but has a signal ever actually been observed? What observational research is being done to attempt to see this effect? Is it simply too tall an ...
11
votes
4answers
308 views

How would I measure that I'm at a pole?

How would a person measure that he is at a planetary pole? My first inclination is to use a sextant to ensure that the Sun remains at a constant inclination. However, due to the orbit around the Sun ...
11
votes
1answer
274 views

What is the object in this photo?

What object is in this photo? View coordinates: $47.25103 \ \ 38.81697$ Time: $2013$-$11$-$23 ~21$:$00 +4 ~UTC$ Sony $A580, \ 50mm f/1.4 15"$
10
votes
2answers
434 views

How does angular resolution of a telescope translate to its parallax precision?

We can often read in the scientific and also more casual reader literature and articles about the angular resolution of various telescopes and other optical equipment, be it ground based or onboard ...
10
votes
1answer
218 views

How do I build a stargazing aficionado's Sun funnel to observe our nearest star safely?

How do I observe the Sun safely, with tools I could build myself and without breaking the bank? If I wanted to build a Sun funnel on my own and use it on my enthusiast grade telescope, how would I do ...
10
votes
1answer
118 views

What percent of planets are in the position that they could be viewed edge-on from Earth? (and thus able to undergo transits)

Star number 12644769 from the Kepler Input Catalog was identified as an eclipsing binary with a 41-day period, from the detection of its mutual eclipses (9). Eclipses occur because the orbital ...
9
votes
3answers
920 views

Why can you see the space station on some days but not on others?

In my area, from December 17th - 26th, you can see the space station every day, twice But from December 27th - January 6th, you can only see it twice My question is, why does it appear for ...
9
votes
2answers
114 views

How can the orbit of a Kuiper Belt Object be differentiated from the transit of a rogue planet?

Related to the question "Are any Pluto-sized objects remaining to be discovered in the Kuiper Belt?" and the fact that most of the Kuiper Belt objects have very elliptical orbits, the question begs, ...
8
votes
1answer
405 views

Why does the moon sometimes appear giant and a orange red color near the horizon?

I've read various ideas about why the moon looks larger on the horizon. The most reasonable one in my opinion is that it is due to how our brain calculates (perceives) distance, with objects high ...
8
votes
3answers
226 views

How Would a Neutron Star Actually Appear?

Having seen many pictures produced by artists of neutron stars and planets that orbit some of them, I was wondering how a pulsar would appear to a human being, in visible light (assuming the intense ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Are satellites orbiting around earth visible to the naked eye?

I was just lying under the sky trying to possibly see some meteorites, unfortunately never seeing any I might add, but I saw three objects all moving at about the same speed( all at different times). ...
7
votes
1answer
185 views

How can we tell the difference between matter and antimatter by observation in space?

I just was wondering and searching on the internet with little luck in the topic. On Antimatter Wiki they tell the observable universe is built up by matter. I read antimatter can be detected in ...
7
votes
2answers
92 views

Present distances between planet. How can I find them?

It's "commonly known" how distant are our solar system planets from Sun. But we can't easily say that about planets, which distances can differ greatly, without some observations (or simulations, ...
7
votes
1answer
92 views

How do astronomers find interesting events?

I always wondered how those tiny dots representing moving stars or whatever forming an interesting event (supernova explosions, stars being sucked into black holes etc.) get caught in the huge solid ...
7
votes
1answer
103 views

How can an amateur astronomer verify the position of near Earth objects?

Sometimes, hobby-astronomers use rather professional means to observe the big voids of space. Every now and then (think in months, not days) even I can locate an NEO (near Earth object). Now, I'm ...
7
votes
1answer
66 views

Is it possible to observe if there is traces of life on an exoplanet?

We can observe exoplanets, but is it possible with today's technology to observe if there is life as we know it on an exoplanet? What do you look for when doing this kind of observation?
7
votes
1answer
41 views

What observational constraints are there in detecting the presence of volcanism on exoplanets?

This question is somewhat related to my earlier question How are the compositional components of exoplanet atmospheres differentiated?, but this about a specific surface-atmospheric phenomena - ...
6
votes
1answer
97 views

What is in the brightest area of the night sky?

When I look up in the night sky, I assume the brightest area, commonly known as "The Milky Way", is the Galactic Center of our home galaxy. But then I stumbled upon this illustration, which seems ...
6
votes
2answers
585 views

How to calculate the altitude of the Moon?

With the known latitude coordinate of the observing position, how to find the altitude of the moon when it is high, i.e when it crosses the local meridian?
6
votes
1answer
390 views

If we were to see the Sun with our naked eyes from the Orion belt, would all planets be encompassed inside the star? Is this calculable?

When we see a star it looks much bigger in diameter to us than it really is, this picture (extracted from here) explains what I mean: Notice that the point we see in the skynight, represented by ...
6
votes
1answer
44 views

When do Mercury/Venus reach greatest elevation at sunset/twilight for a given location?

On what day does Mercury reach its greatest elevation (in degrees from the horizon) at sunset a given location? The obvious answer is the day of Mercury's greatest elongation from the Sun, but, ...
6
votes
0answers
76 views

Does CIBER Experiment from Caltech suggest that there can be lots of stars which are not in any galaxy?

My question is about the implications of the observations recently made by the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment, or CIBER, from Caltech. I've read at Caltech web site: "The total light ...
5
votes
2answers
297 views

Can I look at the sky and find the day of the week?

Suppose I wake up from a coma on a desert island in the 19th century (i.e. we already use the Gregorian calendar but have no satellites yet). I have a clear view of the sky and a couple of days to ...
5
votes
3answers
226 views

How are rogue planets discovered?

Planets are usually found by observing a star and waiting for the light level to drop when a planet passes in front of it, but what about rogue planets that don't have host stars?
5
votes
1answer
110 views

Open data for satellites positions

Is there a site / service where I can get the data for the positions of satellites (I mean artificial satellite, ISS, etc.)? I know that some sites provide a visualization of these positions, but I'm ...
5
votes
1answer
151 views

Planned telescope to detect alien waste-heat

I remember watching a talk by someone who designed a telescope to view a single star at a time. The purpose of the telescope was to detect waste-heat which would presumably be emitted by any ...
5
votes
1answer
136 views

How often are new astronomical objects (variable stars, supernovae, comets, etc) discovered by amateurs?

How often are new astronomical objects (variable stars, supernovae, comets, etc) discovered by amateurs? Where could one report new findings?
5
votes
1answer
509 views

Solar Noon: meridian crossing time versus time of maximum elevation

According to the first paragraph of the Noon Wikipedia page, solar noon is the moment when the Sun crosses the meridian and is at its highest elevation in the sky. The wording there suggests that ...
5
votes
1answer
104 views

What good evidence exists for the 9th planet as spoken of by Caltech?

I'm sure Caltech has answered this in some way, but I think it's a good question have on this site. What good evidence exists for the 9th planet as spoken of by Caltech? As I see it, Caltech has ...
5
votes
1answer
57 views

Why do some artificial satellites decrease and increase in brightness multiple times?

I just observed a satellite almost directly above me travel for a few minutes while constantly dimming and then getting brighter. It did this for about 3 minutes until it faded out. I also observed a ...
4
votes
1answer
83 views

Could Venus or Mercury have a moon that we haven't detected?

Let's consider Mars' two moons for a moment. They're small, not even spherical, and most likely are captured asteroids. They weren't discovered until the late 1800's. Telescopes are much more powerful ...
4
votes
2answers
530 views

How did Kepler determine the orbital period of Mars?

As I understand it, Kepler used the orbital period of Mars, along with observational data of Mars' and the sun's position in the sky to derive the orbits of Earth and Mars. (As described, here: ...
4
votes
2answers
164 views

What are some night sky objects I could see with my Celestron UpClose 20x50 Porro Binocular?

I bought this binocular because I've read countless times that one should start with a pair of binoculars before diving into telescopes. I've seen details of the moon and I can notice Venus round ...
4
votes
1answer
88 views

What's the distribution curve for meteor sightings?

I know that meteor showers have a "peak" observation time. What does the distribution in time look like? Is one side of the peak steeper/shallower or longer/shorter than the other side, and if so, ...
4
votes
1answer
69 views

Perception of an objects history passing as an observer moves toward it

If a star is 20 light-years away and I look at it through a telescope, what I'm observing is what the star was doing 20 years ago yes? So, if I fix my sight on the star and move toward it (for ...
4
votes
1answer
55 views

How much did we know about asteroids at the beginning of the 20th century?

When was the nature and size of asteroids discovered? I was under the impression that it was not until the 1980s or 1990s with deeper space probes and Hubble imagery that we learned the nature of ...
4
votes
1answer
75 views

Why would the Earth's solar analemma would be still a figue eight even if Earth's orbit was circular?

The Earth's solar analemma is a diagram showing the deviation of the Sun from its mean motion in the sky, as viewed from a fixed location on the Earth. ... For [a planet] with a circular orbit but ...
4
votes
1answer
115 views

What it would look like to observe people with a different time flows?

As I learned, that the bigger gravity source you are influenced by the more slow time ticks for you, the farther away you are from a gravity source the faster times ticks. So Imagine two different ...
4
votes
1answer
39 views

Save current state in ds9?

After fooling around with a FITS file(s) (e.g. setting scale, changing color) is it possible to save the session such that there is a file associated with all those tweaks the next time I open it up? ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

How to measure the altitude and azimuth of a star?

Given that the star is crossing the local meridian line in a certain location, I've tried calculating the altitude of a star by finding the difference between the declination of the star and the ...