Tag: Telescopes and Observatories

An Interstellar Comet, in Time for the Holidays

That maybe-comet from another star really is a comet from another star, and now it has a name and a date with destiny. On Dec. 7, the newly named comet 2I/Borisov will make its closest approach to the sun and then begin a journey back outward through the southern sky in December and January. This […]

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Congratulations, You Survived Black Hole Week

With everything else that has been going on lately down here on this planet, you might not have noticed that there has been a lot of news lately about black holes, those Einsteinian monsters that can swallow light and everything else, behaving badly. Black holes eating stars, or whole gangs of them. Black holes burping […]

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The Maybe Comet From Another Star

The universe comes calling. Astronomers around the world are sitting on the edges of their seats right now, waiting to see if yet another comet from another sun has invaded the solar system. The first such interstellar invader ever detected, a cigar-shaped rock called Oumuamua, caused a sensation when it was seen streaking away from […]

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Why Are Native Hawaiians Protesting Against a Telescope?

A last-ditch effort by Native Hawaiians to stop construction at a culturally significant site on Hawaii’s Big Island has begun to attract national attention — echoing in some ways the protests by Native Americans in 2016 and 2017 against the Dakota Access pipeline project. Here is what you need to know about the dispute in […]

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Hawaiian Elders Arrested Trying to Block Telescope Construction

Construction was set to begin this week on a giant telescope on the barren summit of Mauna Kea, a volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, considered the best observatory site in the Northern Hemisphere. The project, however, has long drawn the opposition of those who say it would desecrate the mountain’s sacred ground. On Wednesday, that […]

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This World Is a Simmering Hellscape. They’ve Been Watching Its Explosions.

On hundreds of clear nights over the last five years, giant telescopes on a dormant, sacred volcano in Hawaii have trained their gaze across space toward active volcanoes on a simmering hellscape of a moon that orbits Jupiter. It’s called Io. “You just see so many volcanoes. It’s incredible,” said Katherine de Kleer, a planetary […]

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The Land Where the Internet Ends

GREEN BANK, W.Va. — A few weeks ago, I drove down a back road in West Virginia and into a parallel reality. Sometime after I passed Spruce Mountain, my phone lost service — and I knew it would remain comatose for the next few days. When I spun the dial on the car radio, static […]

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In Hawaii, Construction to Begin on Disputed Telescope Project

Governor David Ige of Hawaii announced on Thursday that a “notice to proceed” had been issued for construction of a giant, long-contested telescope on Mauna Kea, the volcano on the Big Island that 13 major telescopes already call home. Construction could start as soon as July. “We are all stewards of Mauna Kea,” Gov. Ige […]

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So Long, Exoplanet HD 17156b. Hello … Sauron?

One benefit of discovery is that you get to name the things you discovered. Astronomy is blessed in this regard. There are more stars in the observable universe than grains of sand on Earth, trillions upon trillions — enough to name a galaxy for every human who ever did or will live and every god […]

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To Map a Coral Reef, Peel Back the Seawater

Coral reefs comprise just 1 percent of the ocean floor yet they are home to 25 percent of the world’s marine fish, a growing source of protein for people. But reefs are imperiled by a range of threats including warming waters, acidifying seas, destructive fishing methods, and agricultural and other runoff. Moreover, scientists have only […]

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After SpaceX Launch, a Fear of Satellites That Outnumber All Visible Stars

Last month, SpaceX successfully launched 60 500-pound satellites into space. Soon amateur skywatchers started sharing images of those satellites in night skies, igniting an uproar among astronomers who fear that the planned orbiting cluster will wreak havoc on scientific research and trash our view of the cosmos. The main issue is that those 60 satellites […]

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