17
votes
2answers
1k views

Can you see man-made lights on the dark side of the Earth from the surface of the moon with the naked eye?

This question is prompted from a comment on this answer: Could a person on the surface of the moon see man-made lights on the dark side of the Earth with the naked eye? If not, how much magnification ...
14
votes
3answers
645 views

Why do (most of) the planets rotate counterclockwise, i.e. the same way the Sun does?

Referring to the mechanisms explaining the solar system formation and to the initial rotation of the gaseous cloud that collapsed, I understand easily why the planets orbit the Sun the same way this ...
9
votes
1answer
187 views

How did scientists determine an estimate of the number of planets greater than Sedna's size to exist in the Inner Oort Cloud?

In the article, New Dwarf Planet Found at Solar System's Edge, Hints at Possible Faraway 'Planet X' (Wall, 2014) where they report on research and observations performed by astronomers that discovered ...
9
votes
5answers
230 views

Orbiting around a black hole

Is it possible (for either a satellite or a planet) to orbit around a black hole? Do they attract everything around themselves into the center? Or they just affect gravitational force just like stars? ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Was the Milky Way ever a quasar?

Is there any evidence that the Milky Way could have been a quasar in it's early history? Is it thought that most galaxies come from quasars?
7
votes
2answers
382 views

Why do the Pleiades look clearer when viewed indirectly?

I've noticed that the Pleiades look bright in the sky, but when I look directly at the constellation, it suddenly goes dim and it's more difficult to make out the individual stars. Why does this ...
6
votes
3answers
229 views

Aren't there more naked-eye-visible stars in the Milky Way plane?

Most stars which are visible to the naked eye are within 1,000 light years. The Sun is inside the Orion arm which has a diameter of about 3,500 light years. Thus, all stars (with very few exceptions) ...
6
votes
4answers
279 views

Why is liquid water considered a requirement for life?

I`ve heard about different extremofiles living on earth. Is water a requirement for life because we have not seen life survive on earth without it, is it a chemical reason which makes life without ...
4
votes
1answer
216 views

Cancelling out earth rotation speed, Altazimuth mount

I have a Dobsonian telescope. It is using Altazimuth mount. Basic idea of using it is to target the object by moving telescope vertical axis perpendicular to the ground, and an elevation axis that ...
3
votes
1answer
175 views

Could a habitable satellite of a gas giant have a stable subsatellite?

I have set a science fiction story on a moon, orbiting a gas giant (which orbits its star at approximately the same orbit as the Earth around the Sun), and given this moon its own satellites. The ...
3
votes
2answers
514 views

What is the name of that which exists beyond the Universe?

"The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of existence" but that is more of a philosophical position. Empirically we know (or believe) that it is of finite size some believe it is expanding ...
2
votes
1answer
78 views

Distance of extra-galactic Classical Cepheids

There have been many questions and answers about finding the distance of a star from the earth. But as I did some research on the net, I found that we have specific approaches for finding the ...
2
votes
1answer
49 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
150 views

Years, Months, Day, and Weeks?

Sorry if this is a basic question. 1 year = earth revolution around the sun 1 month = moon revolution around the earth 1 week = 7 days = ??? 1 day = earth rotation about its axis Why do we ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

Why isn't the dark energy getting decreased?

AS the articles on the web suggest, Dark energy is the reason behind the expansion of universe. If so, why isn't it getting used up in doing so. And consequently, the rate of expansion should reduce! ...
0
votes
2answers
299 views

When we see the Sun, do we actually see its past?

The Sun's rays hit our eyes around 8 minutes after they are emitted from the Sun. Does this mean that the Sun that we see is always the Sun as it was some 8 minutes before? I strongly think this must ...
12
votes
3answers
206 views

What is there in the intergalactic space?

What bodies can be encountered way outside galaxies - far beyond the farthest edges of galaxies, in the deep space between them? Are there single, galaxy-less stars, giant clouds of gas more dense ...
11
votes
1answer
223 views

How long do planetary rings last?

I'm surprised that this question hasn't been asked before (here or on Physics), to the best of my knowledge. It's one that I might have asked when I was a bit younger, and one that I think other ...
11
votes
1answer
3k views

Is the moon moving further away from Earth and closer to the Sun? Why?

According to The NASA Moon Facts page: The moon is actually moving away from earth at a rate of 1.5 inches per year. Why is the moon moving further away from the Earth? Is this a result of the ...
10
votes
1answer
149 views

On what scale does the universe expand?

According to the theory (or my understanding of it), the universe is not only expanding, but speeding up. If the galaxies are moving apart, are the solar systems within them also moving apart from ...
9
votes
3answers
642 views

How can the 13.8 billion years old universe have a radius of 46 billion light years?

The universe is about 13.8 billion years old. Assume at the big-bang it starts from a small region and the maximum possible speed according Einstein is the speed of light how can the universe got a ...
8
votes
3answers
262 views

Planets and Pluto? Neptune?

If one of the rules to be a planet is that it needs to clear ALL objects from their orbit, does this also make Neptune a non-planet? Since it has thus far failed to clear Pluto (and based on an answer ...
8
votes
2answers
264 views

What is the difference between asteroids, comets and meteors?

Some celestial objects seem to be referred to as asteroids, some as comets, and some as meteors or meteorites. What is the distinction between all of these different objects? Are any of them the ...
6
votes
1answer
701 views

Why is the solar system often shown as a 2D plane?

Whenever I have learned about the solar system I always see the orbits displayed as a virtually flat plane. Are all of the orbits in the solar system really like this? If so, why? It seems like a ...
4
votes
2answers
115 views

Assuming a sufficient amount of mass above the density threshold, does the actual concentration of the mass matter in creating a black hole?

I've heard that the actual density of a black hole (within the volume of the event horizon) is pretty low - does that mean that any sufficiently large volume of mass over that density is also a black ...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

How did the Hulse-Taylor Pulsar Provide Confirming Evidence of General Relativity?

What measurements and observations of the Hulse-Taylor Pulsar agreed precisely with the predictions of general relativity, and how did these measurements support the theory?
3
votes
1answer
497 views

How likely and severe is the threat of a gamma ray burst to earth?

In the National Geographic article: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/04/090403-gamma-ray-extinction_2.html it is suggested that a gamma ray burst likely caused a mass extinction in earth's ...
1
vote
3answers
140 views

How fast is the universe expanding?

I've hear several theories stating that the universe is expanding faster than the speed of light, others claim that the universe expands faster the further away you measure it. Which of this is ...
1
vote
2answers
197 views

What happened before the big bang? [duplicate]

Was there space before big bang? Or who knows there might be different heavenly bodies that we might not perceive?
38
votes
4answers
6k views

Is the moon only 60 pixels?

In doing research on vision, I have learned that "20/20" vision corresponds to a visual acuity of being able to resolve details 1 arcminute in size, that most people have around 20/15 vision, and that ...
50
votes
3answers
2k views

Does the Sun rotate?

The planets rotate as an after effect of their creation, the dust clouds that compressed span as they did so and the inertia has kept it rotating ever since. It's fairly easy to prove that planetary ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

How many planets are there in this solar system?

So, in school (that's a long time age) they have been teaching us there are 9 planets in our solar system. Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto But every now and then I ...
18
votes
3answers
1k views

Pluto's orbit overlaps Neptune's, does this mean Pluto will hit Neptune sometime?

We know that the orbits of Pluto and Neptune overlap. This means that pluto sometimes crosses the orbit of Neptune; will Pluto hit Neptune in any circumstance?
11
votes
4answers
243 views

How does Titan maintain the atmosphere

Titan which is smaller than mars has an atmosphere but mars is not able to maintain atmosphere. Even Luna doesn't have an atmosphere.
19
votes
5answers
986 views

Can we (theoretically) spin the black hole so strong that it will be broken apart by centrifugal force?

I can't imagine the forces involved in black holes' lives. So please, help me to find out, if it is possible or not to destroy black hole in this specific way.
17
votes
3answers
892 views

Can small gas planets exist?

Most of the known gas planets (Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) are huge. They are even called "gas giants". is it possible to exist a gas planet around the size of Earth? If yes, why; if no, why?
14
votes
8answers
4k 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
359 views

Do moons have moons?

Have we discovered any natural satellites of natural satellites of planets or dwarf planets? Even very small, or relatively short-lived - e.g. ringlets around Saturn's moons, some meteorites orbiting ...
8
votes
4answers
268 views

How would we detect an Earth doppelganger planet?

With our current technology, or technology available in the near future (up to 2025), how would we detect a planet exactly like our own, and how close would it have to be to be detectable? Which ...
7
votes
2answers
307 views

Open problems in astronomy that an amateur (with a PhD in some other field) would have a chance of solving?

What are some open problems in astronomy that an amateur would have a chance of solving? Suppose the amateur has a PhD in some other field, owns a basic telescope, a set of filters, diffraction ...
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is our solar system “tipped” about 63° with respect to the plane of our galaxy?

Our own solar system is "tipped" by about 63 degrees with respect to the plane of the galaxy. Has it ever been researched or is there any scientific theory which could explain the reason why our solar ...
19
votes
2answers
439 views

What is a parsec and how is it measured?

Astronomical units of measurement are mostly pretty straight-forward: Astronomical Units refer to the mean Earth-Sun distance (~150 million km or 93 million miles) Light years are the distance light ...
11
votes
1answer
244 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
141 views

Detecting Deep Impact

There have been several accounts in media articles of asteroid near misses, many describe that the asteroid was not seen before the near miss. After reading the question and answer to How can we tell ...
1
vote
2answers
127 views

How do astronomers estimate the total mass of dust in clouds and galaxies?

As I understand it astronomers estimate the mass of stars by studying the orbits of their companions (other stars or planets). This helps them to derive relationships between the luminosities and ...
21
votes
2answers
406 views

How do I calculate the inclination of an object with an amateur telescope?

Suppose I would like to calculate the inclination of a satellite from the ecliptic. Would it be possible to do this with an amateur telescope? How would I go about doing so? Note: A good answer ...
20
votes
1answer
318 views

How could a hobbyist astronomer determine apparent magnitude of a star?

Apparent magnitude is a rather complex way to determine the brightness of a star. Quoting the introduction text from the linked to Wikipedia page: The apparent magnitude (m) of a celestial body is ...
13
votes
4answers
3k views

Is Jupiter made entirely out of gas?

I heard that Jupiter is made out of gas. But in school I learned that Jupiter has gravity which is 2.5 times that of Earth (Gravity that can tear apart a comet) and gravity is proportional to mass. ...
12
votes
1answer
155 views

Dark Matter Particle Candidates

Dark matter appears to dominate the matter component of the universe as compared to luminous, or baryonic, matter. Though it does not interact electromagnetically (it doesn't absorb, scatter, or emit ...
9
votes
1answer
292 views

Why does a planet rotate and revolve?

Why do planets rotate and revolve in the universe?

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