Launching satellites is an expensive business – at least for now. But satellites are necessary in astronomy for one major reason – it gets telescopes above the atmosphere. The Earth’s atmosphere and its associated weather patterns are a massive hindrance to collecting good images. If a stray cloud passes in front of the observational target once over the course of a few days, it could ruin the entire image. Which is why some of the most striking astronomical pictures come from space-based observatories like Hubble. But now, a team of researchers from Durham, Toronto, and Princeton Universities has come up with a new way to get above that atmosphere that doesn’t involve a launch into orbit. They want to use a balloon.Continue reading “A new Balloon-Based Observatory Could Produce Images as Fine as Hubble”
Well, just as the Hubble Space Telescope has successors, so do two of its most famous images. And those successors will come from one of Hubble’s successors, NASA’s Roman Space Telescope.Continue reading “The Roman Space Telescope’s Version of the Hubble Deep Field Will Cover a 100x Larger Area of the Sky”
Lately there has been a flood of interest in gravitational waves. After the first official detection at LIGO / Virgo in 2015, data has been coming in showing how common these once theoretical phenomena actually are. Usually they are caused by unimaginably violent events, such as a merging pair of black holes. Such events also have a tendency to emit another type of phenomena – light. So far it has been difficult to observe any optical associated with these gravitational-wave emitting events. But a team of researchers hope to change that with the full implementation of the Gravitation-wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO) telescope.Continue reading “The Kilonova-Chasing Gravitational-Wave Optical Transient Observer is About to be Watching the Whole Sky”
Everyone loves lasers. And the only thing better than a bunch of lasers is a bunch of lasers on one of the world’s (soon to be) largest telescopes, the E-ELT. Well, maybe a bunch of lasers on a time-travelling T. Rex that appears in your observatory and demands to know the locations and trajectories of incoming asteroids. That might be better. For the dinosaurs; not for us.Continue reading “A New Artist’s Illustration of the Extremely Large Telescope. So Many Lasers”
Ever wonder how modern astronomical observatories take such clear images of distant objects? Advances in mirror design have allowed for larger and larger primary mirrors. But adaptive optics play a huge role, too.Continue reading “The Carina Nebula. Seen With and Without Adaptive Optics”
Twinkling stars might make for spectacular viewing on a hot summer’s night, but they are an absolute nightmare to astronomers. That twinkling is caused by disturbances in the Earth’s atmosphere, and can wreak havoc on brightness readings, a key tool for astronomers everywhere. Those readings are used for everything from understanding galaxy formation to the detection of exoplanets.
Astronomers now have a new potential location to try to avoid the twinkling. Only one problem though: it’s really cold, especially this time of year. A team of astronomers from Canada, China, and Australia have identified a part of Antarctica as the ideal place to put observational telescopes. Now the challenge becomes how to actually build one there.Continue reading “Antarctica Is the Best Place On Earth for a Telescope, Is Also the Hardest Place to Put a Telescope”
The oldest stars in the Universe are cloaked in darkness. Their redshift is so high, we can only wonder about them. The James Webb Space Telescope will be our most effective telescope for observing the very early Universe, and should observe out to z = 15. But even it has limitations.
To observe the Universe’s very first stars, we need a bigger telescope. The Ultimately Large Telescope.Continue reading “What Telescope Will Be Needed to See the First Stars in the Universe? The Ultimately Large Telescope”
Japan has suspended its funding contribution to the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) in Hawaii. An international consortium is behind the TMT, which was proposed for the summit of Mauna Kea. Mauna Kea is one of the most desirable observing locations on Earth. It’s already host to several observatories, including the Subaru Telescope and the Keck Observatory. The $1.4 billion TMT would be the most powerful telescope there.Continue reading “Japan Suspends its Funding for the 30-Meter Telescope”
Put “James Webb Telescope launch” into your search engine and you’ll be flooded with links, some reaching back to the ‘scope’s first proposed launch date in 2010. The delayed launch of the space telescope is a running theme in the space community, even though we all know it’s going to be worth the wait. So nobody will be surprised by this latest development in the story of the world’s most anticipated telescope.Continue reading “It Looks Like James Webb’s Launch Date is Going to Slip to July 2021”
Meade Instruments, a company familiar to any backyard astronomer who’s drooled over their telescopes, has filed for bankruptcy. The company has fallen on hard times in recent years, as they’ve faced increasing competition. Meade also recently lost a lawsuit, which pushed them over the edge into bankruptcy.
The company is based in Irvine, California, and was founded in 1972. They started out selling small refracting telescopes. They expanded into Newtonian reflectors and Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes over the years. Now, they sell telescope models worth upwards of $10,000.Continue reading “Wow, Meade Instruments Just Filed for Bankruptcy Protection”