Category Archives: Astronomy

Five amateur astronomers honored for comet finding

Sky and Telescope reports on five amateur astronomers being recognized for their comet discoveries: Five Amateurs Share Edgar Wilson Award: Discovering a comet remains one of amateur astronomy’s greatest accomplishments, and five individuals are being honored for doing just that. –

Recently five amateurs were honored with the 2012 Edgar Wilson Award. Established in 1998, this award goes to those dedicated observers lucky enough to spot a comet using amateur-grade equipment. Below is the list of winners:

  • Leonid Elenin of Russia, who spotted comet P/2011 NO1 on July 7, 2011
  • Artyom Novichonok and Vladimir Gerke of Russia, co-discoverers of comet P/2011 R3 on September 7, 2011
  • Terry Lovejoy of Australia, for his discovery of comet C/2011 W3 on November 27, 2011
  • Fred Bruenjes of Warrenburg, Missouri, for his discovery of comet C/2012 C2 on February 11, 2012

Team of amateur and professional astronomers creates beautiful galaxy portrait

A collaboration between an amateur and a professional astronomer creates a grand image of a spiral galaxy using a mosaic of Hubble images:

February 5, 2013: Working with astronomical image processors at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., renowned astrophotographer Robert Gendler has taken science data from the Hubble Space Telescope archive and combined it with his own ground-based observations to assemble a photo illustration of the magnificent spiral galaxy M106.

Gendler retrieved archival Hubble images of M106 to assemble a mosaic of the center of the galaxy. He then used his own and fellow astrophotographer Jay GaBany’s observations of M106 to combine with the Hubble data in areas where there was less coverage, and finally, to fill in the holes and gaps where no Hubble data existed.


Earth-like exoplanets all around us

Earth-sized exoplanets in the habitable zones of their stars may not only be common but relatively close by: Earth-like Planets Are Right Next Door – Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics 

Cambridge, MA – Using publicly available data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope, astronomers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) have found that six percent of red dwarf stars have habitable, Earth-sized planets. Since red dwarfs are the most common stars in our galaxy, the closest Earth-like planet could be just 13 light-years away.

“We thought we would have to search vast distances to find an Earth-like planet. Now we realize another Earth is probably in our own backyard, waiting to be spotted,” said Harvard astronomer and lead author Courtney Dressing (CfA).


This artist’s conception shows a hypothetical habitable planet with two moons orbiting a red dwarf star. Astronomers have found that 6 percent of all red dwarf stars have an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone, which is warm enough for liquid water on the planet’s surface. Since red dwarf stars are so common, then statistically the closest Earth-like planet should be only 13 light-years away.
Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Video: Comet ISON imaged by Deep Impact probe

This video looks like something from a 1950’s sci-fi TV show but is actually made from images of the Comet ISON from the Deep Impact probe: NASA’s Deep Impact Spacecraft Eyes Comet ISON – NASA .

This series of images of comet C/2012 S1 (ISON) was taken by the Medium-Resolution Imager of NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft over a 36-hour period on Jan. 17 and 18, 2013. At the time, the spacecraft was 493 million miles (793 million kilometers) from the comet.