Questions tagged [observational-astronomy]

Questions about the techniques and practice of observing the night sky.

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60 views

We should be seeing more than 59% of the Moon

It is said that we see about 59% part of the Moon due to libration. However we must be seeing more than that. My logic is as below. Since the Moon's orbit is inclined to the plane of Sun-Earth by 5 1/...
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When exactly star Sirius shines into the queen's chamber of Great Pyramid?

I read that Great Pyramid was built to resonate with Sirius by aligning an airshaft that connected to queen's chamber. That is, the light of Sirius going through the shaft would be able to shine into ...
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When can the Sun, Moon and the five naked-eye planets all be in Leo?

What are the possible dates for the seven (classical/mediaeval) planets (Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus) all being in Leo? I’m not sure how to figure this out on my own. I’m ...
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Co-ordinate System of Celestial bodies in space [closed]

My question is How can One Understand what is Azimuthal, Right Ascension, Declination,etc? I had tried understanding but failed.
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Saw 8 stars moving in same direction one by one [duplicate]

I saw 8 stars moving in the same direction one by one and then at the same point they faded or you can say disappear. The speed was not too fast but not too slow either. I am more curious because ...
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How is length of meridian calculated in 1793?

I was studying metrology and came across it. Kindly help me with this query? In 1793 the length of meter was realized using the length of the meridian passing through Paris divided by 10 raised to 7....
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47 views

How are small objects automatically identified and their locations determined in digital images?

I have a large quantity of old digital images of low energy electron diffraction (LEED) patterns that I must process to identify and locate small, sometimes elongated gaussian-like blobs of a few ...
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1answer
116 views

Exposure details for this now (in)famous image from Lowell Observatory?

IAU's announcement 19035 IAU Statement on Satellite Constellations, 03 June 2019 links to 19035a Trails made by Starlink satellites which contains the image shown below. Question: Is it possible to ...
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What is the LSST now?

Space.com's It's Official: Vera Rubin Observatory Named to Honor Dark Matter Scientist says: "We're here today to focus on the major renaming of the facility after a pioneering astronomer, that is ...
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1answer
189 views

How Will Starlink Affect Observational Astronomy?

I have recently found that people around the world have been posting observations of a line of moving objects in the sky which is very likely to be a part of Starlink satellite constellation, such ...
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34 views

Identifying consecutive flying objects [duplicate]

First of all, sorry for my complete lack of knowledge in the field! The event I'm describing left me puzzled and I'm looking for possible explanations, and I thought I'd start here. I saw a number of ...
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Name of extra-terrestrial “moon's” orbital period? [duplicate]

Is there a commonly used alternative to "month"? Or does that work for any moon?
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170 views

How bright is the Crab Pulsar's 30 Hz modulation in visible light? What color is it?

This answer to Has great eyesight been necessary for astronomers? mentions Astronomer Jocelyn Bell Burnell's recounting of a likely first visual observation of a pulsar. This can be found for example ...
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36 views

How can one determine the declination range of stars visible for a certain amount of time above a specific airmass at a certain location?

Let's assume you want to observe stars at Kitt Peak (32 degrees North) at an airmass above 2, for 2 hours (30 degrees of Earth rotation). My attempt: The angle between the zenith and celestial ...
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Has great eyesight been necessary for astronomers?

In a different (but somewhat related) field, some baseball stars have been known to have "baseball eyes." That is, an exceptional ability to visually follow the trajectory of a 90+ mph baseball to a ...
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1answer
141 views

Does the dimming of Betelgeuse present any observational opportunities?

Recent photometry suggests that Betelgeuse has been dimming over the past three or so months, reaching the faintest V-band magnitude seen in modern observations. The changes are apparently even ...
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48 views

How can I get the exact time of each zodiac every year?

I want to make a calculator for Chinese New Year calendar. There is a rule that a leap year happens if the eclipse happens before each zongqi (equivalent to the middle of zodiac sign, ie. 15º, 45º, ...
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95 views

How can I hear (or at least detect) a pulsar at home?

Scott Manley's video Using Relativistic Raytracing &X-Rays To See Detail on Surface Of Neutron Star talks about X-ray measurements using the NICER X-ray telescope attached to the International ...
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Anecdote of an astronomer looking for correlations in antipodal pairings of stars; what am I remembering?

The question Are the stars distributed in uniform distribution, on the celestial dome, with respect to brightness? brings to mind a different study that I vaguely remember hearing about a while ago, ...
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20 views

Millisecond pulsar timing analysis on fits file

I'm amateur to astronomy and I just want to calculate the spinning period of a pulsar (for example MAXI J0911-655) from lightcurve of it. I found Xamin then I collected data for MAXI J0911-655. Using ...
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2answers
72 views

How do I find the signs that planets are in during any given date?

Say for example I wanted to know where the planets were on December 19th, 1664, at 1am; how do I figure that out?
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1answer
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What is the difference between emission line and recombination line?

When an electron jumps from higher level to lower level a photon is emitted. This is seen as an emission line. But what exactly is a recombination line? I found them similar. Can you please tell me ...
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2answers
59 views

Position of a star on the HR diagram

Does the position of a star on a HR diagram depend on the magnitude system/color index used? I made a CMD of a particular cluster using HST WFC3/UVIS data, and when I plotted $F275W vs F275W - F606W$...
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What are optical counterparts?

There surprisingly no proper definition of this term available on google. There are many research papers that are based on "finding the optical counterparts". What exactly are optical counterparts ...
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60 views

Is there a reason two interstellar objects were found in the solar system in such a short period of time?

ʻOumuamua was discovered on October 19, 2017, and 2I/Borisov was discovered on August 30, 2019. Has something changed about observation techniques or equipment that made it possible to find these ...
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Did nobody in the Astronomy community think 12,000 new satellites in LEO might be a problem?

This answer to Can / should the Starlink satellites be blackened? mentions Space News' SpaceX working on fix for Starlink satellites so they don’t disrupt astronomy where SpaceX chief operating ...
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48 views

Relationship between Color Index and Temperature

Is there an exact relationship between color indices and temperature? I have seen some numerical formulas relating B - V color index to temperature, of the form $B - V = a_1 + \frac{a_2}{T} $ . I ...
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Aligning of 7 unidentified objects in the sky, what are they? What did I see? [duplicate]

So this morning (4th December 2019, 0518hrs) I was out turning my horses out in the fields and noticed a strange arrangement of what I perceive to be stars, only I’ve never seen it before and wondered ...
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1answer
52 views

How to calculate parallactic angle from a fixed alt-az position?

Say we have an observer at a specified latitude and longitude on Earth who would like to observer a specific fixed alt-az sky position (rather than RA and dec), for example to look at geosynchronous ...
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1answer
27 views

Align multiple fits images without WCS for future aperture photometry analysis

Recently I have got a bunch of raw fits images (2048x2048 pixels) of the same sky region without WCS to process in iraf. However, those images are not well-aligned. There would be around 4~5 pixels' ...
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1answer
56 views

When is the best time to observe M81 from the Northern Hemisphere?

I have read that the best time to view M81 is during the spring. Considering its RA is ~10h and Dec. is +69°, wouldn't February 21st be the best time to view it since this is about when it transits my ...
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How to determine Az-El pointing of a telescope spiral scan?

I am writing a simulation of an automated telescope observation program. One part of this is to run a spiral scan pattern on and around objects of interest. I would like to tile this scan pattern so ...
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1answer
36 views

How can I check if we can observe a certain star (given its equatorial coordinates) from a certain location on Earth (given its DMS coordinates)?

I am given the equatorial coordinates of a star (e.g. Sirius has RA: 6h45m8.9s and Dec = -16°42'52.1"). Now my question is: can we observe this star from a specific location on Earth (e.g. from ...
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1answer
53 views

How much does the stellar radius change if seen through different filters?

I know that the radius of a star should be different depending on the filter being used to do the observation. That is, the bluer the filter, the smaller the measured stellar radius. I know this ...
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689 views

How exactly will DESI simultaneously capture individual spectra from 5,000 galaxies using optical fibers?

The BBC News article Telescope tracks 35 million galaxies in Dark Energy hunt says: The aim of the five-year programme is to shed light on Dark Energy - the mysterious force thought to drive an ...
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What is an “Off Rowland-circle Telescope”?

The NASA Goddard news item NASA to Demonstrate New Star-Watching Technology with Thousands of Tiny Shutters says: The technology, called the Next-Generation Microshutter Array (NGMSA), will fly for ...
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1answer
64 views

How will microshutter arrays be used in the James Webb and future space telescopes?

Question: How will microshutter arrays be used in the James Webb and future space telescopes? Are they acting as a sort of moving pinhole or slit, or is the pattern more complicated, like a coded ...
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61 views

IRAF: Identify task

I am trying to perform wavelength calibration on an image but I am stuck by the identify task under the longslit package. So when I type :go on the command line after I set the parameters (see the ...
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2answers
235 views

Venus-Saturn conjunction in Sagittarius on Dec 11, 2019 - How often does this happen?

Venus and Saturn will be approximately two finger widths apart in the constellation Sagittarius on December 11, 2019. I was wondering: how often do Venus and Saturn come together in the sky like this? ...
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118 views

What is a black hole's “shadow” and the best angle to view it to measure the spin?

This excellent answer mentions several ways to try to observationally measure the spin of a rotating black hole. The third one is intriguing, but I don't understand how this works: The spin of a ...
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35 views

Any night sky image databases

I was wondering if there were any available databases for photos of the night sky. It doesn't have to feature pictures of any particular star, just has to be a large collection of photos from the ...
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1answer
37 views

What equipment do I need to measure the spectrum of a star?

For an amateur astronomer, is it possible to measure the spectrum of a star? I can easily take a photo of a star just by putting a camera on one end of a telescope and over exposing it. But I would ...
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52 views

Can the patterns in the CMB be detected by off-the-shelf antennas/sensors?

I recently wrote a paper (will attach soon if feasible) for an astronomy class that analyzed the usefulness of the Cosmic Microwave Background as a static reference for attitude determination. The ...
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1answer
112 views

More recent data and simulations of “Milkomeda”, the collision of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies?

The Space.com headline Hubble Telescope Spots Two Galaxies in a Doomed (but Dazzling) Dance; The galaxies will ultimately crash into each other was probably overstated as seems to be policy in some ...
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101 views

What is the meaning of ellipticity of a galaxy being more than 1?

I was recently doing a project on calculating ellipticities of galaxies using SDSS data. I downloaded the stokes parameter values (q and u) from data $e = 1 - \frac{b}{a} = 1 - \frac{1 - \sqrt{Q^2 + ...
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1answer
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How did they estimate the mass of Sgr A*'s companion G2 without knowing what it was?

Gizmodo.com's Astronomers Spot Unprecedented Flashes From Our Galaxy's Black Hole mentions Sgr A*'s companion gas cloud G2. That Wikipedia article says: First noticed as something unusual in ...
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1answer
54 views

Are red dwarfs (M dwarfs) known to be strong infrared sources?

If so, why? Are they known to be surrounded by large amounts of dust? Do they typically flare?
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80 views

SDSS Image Download: Swarp returns all zeros

In the CASJOBS Server, I created the following query for galaxies(DR12) ...
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1answer
66 views

What is the significance of minus sign in the expression of apparent magnitude?

The apparent magnitude of a distant object in the sky is measured as m=(-)2.5 log (I/I0) Where I is the intensity of the object whose apparent magnitude is to be measured and I0 is the reference ...
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1answer
42 views

Can we observe changes in the CMB (surface of last scattering) over time? [duplicate]

It is hard to determine the age of the Sun, because it won't change much over 100 million years or so. But what about the cosmic microwave background radiation, that is being mapped with ever better ...