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Questions tagged [observational-astronomy]

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

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Why does moon's highest altitude change during the year

I came across a question in which moon's highest altitude had to be calculated as seen from a certain latitude, also the month and the hour and the constellation in which moon would be in had to be ...
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On finding yesterday's star setting time if today's rising and culmination time is given

A star will rise today at 14h 56m and will culminate at 21h 49m. At what time yesterday did the star set? The refraction and horizon lowering can be disregarded.
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Does interstellar cloud obstruct or reduce the visibility?

We just pictured a medium distant black hole by combining data from various observatories around the world. That's when I wondered if interstellar cloud blocks the visibility at multiple position in ...
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Do the “schwarzschild metric” or the “isotropic metric” fit the Event Horizon telescope data on Messier 87 better?

The "Schwarzschild solution" in "Schwarzschild metric" looks like: $$\text -c^2d\tau^2=-\left(1-\frac{2GM}{rc^2}\right)c^2dt^2+\left(1-\frac{2GM}{rc^2}\right)^{-1}dr^2+r^2(d\theta^2+\sin^2\theta\,d\...
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Why the chosen orientation for the M87 black hole image?

By now we are all familiar with the official image of the black hole in M87: Now, in the universe, as far as I know, there is no up and down, nor left and right. All is relative. Hence my question: ...
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M87. What was the black hole before?

10 seconds before the M87 black hole was a black hole, what was it? A star 10 times the size of our solar system?
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How does the BRITE satellites compare to Kepler and TESS satellites?

I may be biased, however, there is not much information out there about the BRITE constellation as there is about the satellites Kepler and TESS. I would appreciate if someone could tell me how the ...
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What to observe with a remote telescope close to sunrise time?

I have an access to a remote telescope at 05.15-05.45 am at Hawaii time. The sun rises at 06.15 am. I will use this telescope for educational purposes for high school students. I wonder 30 mins is ...
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Examples of radio correlations over times much longer than interferometric baselines?

Very Long Baseline Interferometry or VLBI such as the Event Horizon Telescope or JPL's delta-DOR (see below) uses baselines of the order of the Earth's diameter. Spacecraft position determination ...
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Are quasars simply AGNs that are viewed from a particular angle?

I found the picture below in an answer to the post "Was the Milky Way ever a quasar". The picture is published on a website belonging to "NASA/IPAC Extragalactic Database". In the answer that has 16 "...
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Are astronomers waiting to see something in an image from a gravitational lens that they've already seen in an adjacent image?

@RobJeffries' answer to the question Does gravitational lensing provide time evolution information? points out that there can be a substantial different in arrival times of light from a given source ...
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Finding angle between a given sky position and ecliptic pole

Given a right ascension in degrees and declination in degrees (say, 88 degrees RA, -63 degrees DEC) I want to find the angle between that location and the ecliptic pole (90 degrees RA, -66 degrees DEC....
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What values can a color index variable get?

I am a statistician with love and passion for astronomy. I try to explain some outliers I found in the values of quasars - color indexes. I found four (4) values close to twenty (20). Is that ...
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Sunset on [Mountain] from [Viewing Point]

How do I get the days in this year when the sun will set exactly on top of Fuji as viewed from Enoshima. I shamefully admit that I just want to take a nice picture of Fuji.
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What's wavelength of the hydrogen atom determines the speed of the gas orbiting at the outer edge of the Milky Way?

The 21-cm spectral line emitted by the hydrogen atom is used to study the structure of the Milky Way because the wavelength is too long to be blocked by the dust in interstellar space. What ...
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What is the highest angle the moon ever makes above the horizon at the North Pole?

The question is in the title. I'd like to find out the maximum angle the moon ever makes above the horizon at the North Pole. By "the horizon at the North Pole," I mean the tangent plane to the earth ...
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Moon's path as seen from Earth

As observed from the surface of Earth: Will the moon ever repeat the same path (trajectory)? If yes, what is the period of repetition? And also will the moon cover the night sky with its path ...
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Where can I find data on Mercury's orbit to fit a model to? [duplicate]

I have a project in which a Monte-Carlo method is used to find the optimal parameters for some model that is fit to a data set. I want to fit a model for the orbit of Mercury using this methods, but I ...
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calculating stellar visibility

Please could you let me know a (basic) formula for calculating at what time a star would become visible of an evening in clear weather conditions. I presume the formula would involve the stars ...
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When would we detect a tiny meter size natural satellit in a geostationary orbits?

A natural, tiny (meters-size, maybe 10.000kg mass) natural satellite could be trapped in a geostationary orbit. I wondered for quite some time: When and how are we able to detect these satellites? ...
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Making sense of the lomb-scargle periodogram

I am trying to use the periodogram to tell when a signal is periodic or not by following the tutorial for the astropy Lomb-scargle periodogram here. http://docs.astropy.org/en/stable/stats/...
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What was the first astronomical measurement which demonstrated that “the Earth is surrounded by vacuum”?

The question Who was the first to realize that the Earth is surrounded by vacuum? was closed because some users felt it was answered by answers to a different question in an different SE site: Who was ...
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Why does the author believe that the central mass that gas cloud HCN-0.009-0.044 orbits is smaller than our solar system?

Phys.org's Hiding black hole found says: A research team led by Shunya Takekawa at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan noticed HCN-0.009-0.044, a gas cloud moving strangely near the ...
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Calculate the true diameter of stars from photographic plate

I am reading the book "Fourier Analysis" from T. W. Körner, and in chapter 95, he explains how you can compute the diameter of stars on a photographic plate. He says that "Since observations of the ...
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What I can observe with a 80/900 refractor telescope? What can I study?

Recently I bought a telescope after a very good conversation with an astronomer friend of mine. The main goal is to see planets. However, Mars is so difficult and is far to find it in opposition. I ...
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Are galaxies moving in each direction with same speed?

All galaxies are moving away from each other (us) because of the expansion of the universe. Are they moving with same speed in each direction?
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Asteroid identification in fits image

I have a fits image, and I need to identify an asteroid. What characteristics do I look out for?
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What causes random irregularities in the earth's rotation accounted for by dynamical time

I read in a book that the earth's rotation sometimes shows unpredictable irregularities(not caused by precession, nutation, tidal forces) which are accounted for using dynamical time. What would be ...
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1answer
171 views

Is this a black hole?

While researching about galaxies in Google sky, I came upon a strange area. Co-ordinates: 11h 6m 15.0 seconds | -77° 22' 9.8" A lot of space around this body is empty, is there a possibility that ...
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How does one “use” the Pan-Starrs data?

I've seen that a large block of Pan-Starrs data has been released and is available on-line and how the distributors of the data expect professionals and the general public to use the data in their ...
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Is it possible to see a spacecraft orbiting the moon with a pair of binoculars?

On this clear early morning over London, I was studying the moon with a pair of binoculars and noticed a tiny dot of light that appeared to trace a slow orbit around the moon. I reckon it moved ...
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How do we know distant stars still exist

The Pleiades are 450 light years away. Thus when we see the twinkle in the night sky the light that hits our retina emanates from the year 1569 or so. On that proviso; how can we be sure that the star ...
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How can gravitational lensing makes a quasar appear brighter?

How can gravitational lensing makes a quasar brighter than it would in the absence of a foreground galaxy?
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Cases of gravitational lensing resulting in a recognizable image of an extended object?

There are several different classifications of gravitational lensing phenomenon. Here I am asking for any examples of strong lensing where the lensed image of an extended object is magnified and ...
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Circumpolar Equation Derivation

Edit: Geometric answer from Math.stackexchange I am trying to understand where the circumpolar equation comes from. $\delta \geq \frac{\pi}{2} - l$ I can understand that the sort of "rotation" of ...
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Meteor shower shooting stars

Shooting stars are actually meteors falling down on the surface of earth. How come some of them appear shooting up and not down?
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Jupiter-Venus conjunction is vertically aligned. I'm at 49° N. How is this possible?

The very beautiful Jupiter Venus conjunction of ~ 2019-01-20 (practically something out of "2001 A Space Odyssey") is seen as "vertically aligned" in the dawn sky, Venus "above" Jupiter. See this ...
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Simulating Noise in Astronomical Images

I want to add realistic noise to a simulated image but I am a little confused about the process. I want to have some Gaussian random noise representing the readout noise and to also add Poisson noise ...
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How far away was the binary black hole that produced GW170729?

GW170729 was gravitational wave signal's detected by the Virgo and LIGO detectors. I read the following in a news report: Known as GW170729, in accordance with the date of its discovery (in US ...
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What is the dimensions of the smallest object detectable by an optical fiber from a specific distance?

Optical fibers are well-known to observe astronomical objects, say, galaxies, to generate massive spectroscopic surveys. The galaxies are often very far from the optical fibers of a telescope. However,...
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76mm reflector vs 70mm refractor? Both are at sale at $200

I'm starting my astronomy hobby and looking for a beginner telescopes to start with. I've searched couple websites and found these 2 within my budget. I know for a fact that refractors gives you ...
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When astronomers “look into the past” are they accounting for the expansion of space?

Every time astronomers look "13 billion" years into the past, not only is there more space than there normally would be at that instant which increases from observation to observation, but there was ...
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Advice on first Telescope (refractor vs reflector), Barlow lens

I am planning on buying my first telescope. I am getting an 80mm refractor and a 114mm reflector for the same price range. Which would be a better option? Further, would a Barlow lens solve the ...
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How are exoplanets with 10,000 day periods discovered with the radial velocity method?

The radial velocity technique has apparently been used to discover exoplanets with extremely long orbital periods of ~10,000 days. For example, see this link: https://exoplanetarchive.ipac.caltech....
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What area of Proxima Centauri would need to be occluded for the effect to be observable on Earth?

One of ideas of how Breakthrough Starshot could communicate data from Proxima Centauri is to have a massive swarm of the solar sail powered craft to pivot (with their sails) synchronously, taking ...
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What would the night sky look like from a planet at the centre of a ring galaxy?

If there were an observer on a planet in the centre of a ring galaxy (omitting the galactic core) what could they expect to see in their night sky? I am currently under the impression that their night ...
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Can we learn anything from observing galaxies edge-on, like the Spindle Galaxy?

I was reading about NGC 5866, sometimes referred to as the Spindle Galaxy. It's notable because of its inclination relative to Earth; we see the disk from the side, rather than face-on. The difference ...
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Impact of Atmospheric Water vapour on Optical Observations

I would like to ask; how does Water Vapour in the atmosphere interfere with astronomical observations? Is it in the same manner as Carbon dioxide? What brought this to mind is the following: A ...
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Why do default coordinates from IR-optical observatories are usually not trustworthy, while from radio interferometers they usually are?

I have noticed in my experience that the coordinate solution within the headers of default reduced images from radio interferometers are commonly trustworthy to the arcsecond or less. From IR and ...
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Distance between two planets [closed]

Planet A and Planet B orbit a sun-like star. Planet A has a semi-major axis of 1 AU from the star. Planet B has an albedo of .8 and has the same radius as Jupiter. When Planet B is observed from ...