7
votes
1answer
147 views

Is it possible for a moon to orbit a planet floating free in the galaxy rather than orbiting a star

This article got me thinking, can a planet hold a moon in orbit if it is just floating in the galaxy by itself not as part of a star system? Can a celestial body even qualify as a planet if it is ...
8
votes
3answers
353 views

Why are orbits elliptical instead of circular?

Why do planets rotate around a star in a specific elliptical orbit with the star at one of it's foci? Why isn't the orbit a circle?
2
votes
0answers
35 views

Why the earth revolves? [duplicate]

Why do the earthor any other planet continue to revolve around the sun or a star in general and that also with constant time period?What is the reason behind it?Other than gravitational force is ...
14
votes
4answers
633 views

How can we tell that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy?

From Earth, we can distinguish the type of another galaxy very easily simply by observing the shape, colour, and structure of the galaxy when we image it. But since we are located inside the Milky ...
4
votes
1answer
113 views

Can I see the star of Bethlehem at Christmas? [closed]

In the Christian tradition the first Christians are believed to be three wise men who followed the star of Bethlehem to the stable where Jesus was supposed to be born. Is it with some accuracy known ...
11
votes
1answer
144 views

How stable are Lissajous orbits?

Now that the Gaia Space Telescope is on it's way to the Sun-Earth L2 Lagrangian point (SEL2), I start wondering about the stability of Gaia's orbit there. The Planck Telescope is already there, as was ...
6
votes
1answer
89 views

Did a piece of Halley's comet strike the Earth 1,500 years ago?

A friend showed me an article saying that there's evidence that a piece of Halley's comet may have struck the earth about 1,500 years ago. Is anyone here aware of such evidence?
4
votes
1answer
154 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
129 views

What can be seen with a 4.5" telescope

I just got a 4.5" Newtonian reflector. The skies haven't been clear where I live lately so I've only been able to use it to see the moon and Jupiter (I was also able to see the Galilean moons). A ...
5
votes
2answers
159 views

What can we expect from the first accurate image of a black hole? (wich will be taken soon)

From recent news from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy: The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded 14 Million Euros to a team of European astrophysicists to construct the first ...
5
votes
2answers
52 views

When is optical refraction important in astronomy?

What are commonly important astrophysical systems/models, where optical refraction is important or necessary to account for? I would kindly ask you not to consider refraction in Earth's atmosphere or ...
7
votes
2answers
341 views

What was the length of year 1 million years back?

We know that the universe is gradually expanding and this indirectly means that the gravitational force between sun, earth, planets and other stars (roughly anything in the universe) is gradually ...
7
votes
1answer
99 views

Timeline of falling into a blackhole

For some "average sized" black hole, how long would it take for a distant (spacesuit-wearing!) astronaut to: be able to see the gravitational lensing with the naked eye clearly feel the gravity ...
4
votes
2answers
132 views

What is the difference between solar wind and solar radiation?

Is there a difference between solar wind and solar radiation or are they just different ways of describing the same thing?
8
votes
1answer
50 views

On (minuscule) dark matter production in supernovae

It is believed that dark matter is made of particles, which interact with matter only weakly and gravitationally. One common candidate for dark matter are so called WIMPs. WIMPs, specifically, are ...
6
votes
2answers
154 views

How does the Milky Way look like above 66° North and below 66° South?

I read on Wikipedia: depending on the time of night and the year, the arc of Milky Way can appear relatively low or relatively high in the sky. For observers from about 65 degrees north to 65 ...
6
votes
2answers
107 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?
8
votes
6answers
600 views

Why don't we have 2 Summers and 2 Winters?

Due to Earth's elliptical orbit, its distance from Sun varies by almost 5 million Kilometers (147 million Kilometers at closest point & 152 million Kilometers at farthest point, i.e. almost 3% of ...
3
votes
1answer
70 views

Hypothetical beyond Neptune far away planets orbiting the Sun

The planet HD 106906 b was found at 650 AU from its home star, which is not a star much different from the Sun. Fomalhaut b is also a young planet that is orbiting very far away from its sun. These ...
1
vote
1answer
32 views

How do we know that the intrinsic brightness of Cepheid variables corresponds to their period?

As I understand it, beyond parallax the next way of estimating the distance to astronomical objects is by using a relationship between the period and intrinsic luminosity of Cepheid variables. How do ...
4
votes
1answer
84 views

Lunar Soil : what are those “bumps” and how they were formed ?

I was watching a video of the chinese lunar landing and saw the numerous bumps on the soil. What are they ? Is there any theory to explain how they came into existence ?
3
votes
4answers
257 views

If the hammer and feather move at the same speed why do comet and the tail particles move at different speeds?

From this exhibition by an astronaut on the moon dropping a hammer and a feather and showing they move at the same speed, why do the particles of the comets tail move away from the comet, slow down ...
2
votes
1answer
20 views

In India, what is the best time to view the geminid meteor shower in 2013

As of the time of writing this question, the meteors should have appeared, but so far I haven't seen any. What time would be the best to view them?
8
votes
1answer
85 views

How do we calculate the escape velocity of galaxies?

How do we calculate the escape velocity of galaxies? Do we have to know the total mass? What is the escape velocity for Milky Way?
4
votes
2answers
100 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
67 views

What's the smallest scale at which dark matter has been measured?

What is the smallest scale at which we have detected "dark matter" (more kinetic energy than would be predicted)? If you don't mind indulging a follow-up: Would its detection on smaller scales be ...
3
votes
2answers
74 views

Is there an orbit that could cause regular debris showers like in the movie Gravity?

[some spoilers] If you were in the ISS and orbiting the Earth roughly every 90 minutes, would it be possible for debris to be orbiting such that it passes you every 90 minutes? While Neil DeGrass ...
5
votes
1answer
89 views

Why are galaxies disk shaped?

I always see galaxies in "disk" shape in pictures. It is like, there is a rotational movement on a plane and the system is balanced by the pulling-in gravitational force which prevents the stars to ...
5
votes
1answer
59 views

Was comet ISON in a Kepler orbit prior to disintegrating?

Was comet ISON in a Kepler orbit prior to disintegrating? If so, it is possible over time that Kepler orbits can be altered by increases or decreases in the mass of of celestial bodies? For instance ...
3
votes
2answers
532 views

How to calculate Longitude from Right Ascension?

Considering that a star of certain declination is crossing the local meridian at the observer's zenith at an unknown location on the earth. Here, the declination of the star is equal to the observer's ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

Calculate apsides without knowing eccentricity

How would one go about determining the apsides of an orbit, knowing only the current distance between the 2 bodies, the orbital velocity, and the period? Every formula I've seen requires eccentricity, ...
7
votes
3answers
241 views

Is the Jupiter-Sun system considered a binary system of some type?

Since Jupiter is very massive, it is the only planet (in our solar system) that has a center of mass with the Sun that lies outside the volume of the Sun. (Source) If Jupiter was a star, they would ...
9
votes
3answers
185 views

How can the Earth's rotation speed up? [closed]

It is known as a fact that Earth's rotation is slowing every year, that's why we sometimes have 61 seconds long minutes. In the Java documentation of Time : ...
4
votes
1answer
76 views

Brightest Radio Source In the Universe

I would have assumed that the brightest radio source in the Universe is a quasar of some kind (perhaps 3C 273) given that the average pulsar has luminosity of $~10^{40} \text{Watts}$ and this is the ...
7
votes
2answers
32 views

Official registry of lunar placenames?

What's the definitive source for names of geographic objects on the moon? Reason: As a computer graphics project I've rendered a scene based on LROC terrain data. I want to know what I'm looking at. ...
4
votes
2answers
57 views

Is sundial time entirely dependent on solar azimuth?

I've visited several "how sundials work" sites and can't seem to get a clear answer to this: is "sundial time" just a linear function of solar azimuth? More specifically: When the sun is due ...
8
votes
1answer
414 views

Is there any telescope on Earth that can see the lunar rovers on the moon?

If I have the right numbers, it seems to me that even Hubble telescope might barely be able to make out a carcass of a blue whale on the surface of the moon, which puts objects as small as the lunar ...
5
votes
1answer
46 views

How can absolute value of azimuth exceed distance from pole?

I'm sure I'm just doing something dumb, but: Yildun has a declination of approximately 86.5. This puts it 3.5 degrees from the celestial north pole. Per the snapshot below, Yildun's azimuth can ...
4
votes
2answers
94 views

How many minutes does a sundial change every day?

I'm planning to create a sundial in Ghana (10° 28.852', 0° 26.032') in July 2014. I will stay there for about 3 weeks. Do I need to adjust the numbers anywhere in these 3 weeks? I know the shadow's ...
6
votes
1answer
70 views

Where did Mars water go?

Many sources indicate that there is ice water on Mars today, but it is mainly traces, here and there, but not that much. However, solid hypothesis state that there were oceans on Mars, see ...
3
votes
1answer
69 views

Coordinate transformations between reference frames in spherical astronomy

Suppose there are two observational frames of reference with origins $O$ and $O'$, respectively, separated by some constant distance. A body located at point $P$ has Cartesian coordinates ...
11
votes
3answers
156 views

Is it possible to measure galactic red shift using consumer telescope equipment?

I was wondering if it would be possible to measure red shift from distant galaxies using consumer grade telescope equipment and spectroscopy filters. (like this one) I imagine it would require a ...
6
votes
1answer
51 views

What are the current accepted theories of the formation of the Uranian moon Miranda?

Miranda, a moon of Uranus is unique in that it has a very fractured surface Source: University of Oregon The surface is said to be jagged and fractured, with comparatively large disjointed cliffs ...
8
votes
3answers
215 views

Is the rotation of the Sun and the rotation/orbit of the Moon around the Earth a coincidence?

While looking at sunspot information in connection with Amateur Radio, I found that the Sun rotates on a period from 27 days to 31 days. Its rotation is differential, at the equator it spins at a ...
4
votes
1answer
512 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
40 views

Is there a pattern between the mass of a body and the mass of orbiting objects around it?

I was looking at Wikipedia's Solar system page, and it says that Sun represents 99.86% of the whole solar system mass. I found that pretty huge. So i calculated ratio of masses : Earth / (Earth + ...
3
votes
2answers
176 views

Why do the planets in the Solar system stay in the same orbital plane?

An earlier question addressed why all planets formed in the same orbital plane, but how is this angle maintained? What prevents the planets from taking on a different orbital plane?
8
votes
1answer
198 views

How do people measure the distance between the earth and the moon?

How do people measure the distance between the earth and the moon? What methods were used? Where can I find the official data?
6
votes
1answer
65 views

What is the current accepted theory as to why Titan has retained its atmosphere?

Titan (moon of Saturn) is unique in that it possesses a very thick atmosphere. However, Titan is certainly is not the largest of the moons - Ganymede being larger. What is the current accepted ...
0
votes
1answer
555 views

How to build a powerful home made telescope [closed]

Simple, I fell in love with the sky when my parents were constructing our new house I was a kid then and one day I ventured out on the terrace, to my amazement it was a full moon, ever since I've felt ...

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