Astronomers Invent New Telescope by Tying Telephoto Lenses Together

A team of Yale astronomers got a little crafty recently. In an attempt to see parts of space that their big fancy telescopes weren't showing them, they tied eight telephoto lenses together to create their own little homemade array. And then, thanks to their new invention, they quickly discovered seven new galaxies. » 7/14/14 11:27am 7/14/14 11:27am

The World's Biggest Telescope Is Finally (Really) Complete

Though the massive 66-antenna ALMA array in Chile's Atacama desert has been online since last October when the last of its 54, 12-meter radios was installed, the system has only been operating at a fraction of its potential resolution. But with the delicate delivery of 12 additional 7-meter radio dishes—the last of… » 6/16/14 2:20pm 6/16/14 2:20pm

Stadium-Sized "Beast" Asteroid Will Nearly* Smash Into Earth Tomorrow

Asteroid 2014 HQ 124, a.k.a. The Beast, is a football stadium-sized behemoth, estimated at nearly a quarter of a mile wide. And on Sunday, it's gonna come perilously close to our beloved home planet. How close? Just a mere 777,000 miles away. In space terms, that's about as close as it gets. » 6/07/14 3:00pm 6/07/14 3:00pm

The Lick Observatory's Newest Telescope Is an Exoplanet Hunting Robot

Exoplanets—planets orbiting stars that aren't our Sun—seem to be popping out of the cosmic woodwork now that we know where and how to look for them. The Kepler mission alone has discovered 961 of them, and it's only looking at a tiny sliver of distant space. Just think of how many we'll find when the new James Lick… » 3/28/14 5:40pm 3/28/14 5:40pm

Lasers Create Ultra-Lightweight Mirrors From Styrofoam Beads

It's much easier for a telescope to see deep into the universe when it doesn't have to peer through the Earth's atmosphere, but getting them into space is expensive. There is a much cheaper solution, though, as researchers have actually found a way to make incredibly light mirrors using lasers and polystyrene—aka… » 1/22/14 2:20pm 1/22/14 2:20pm

This Space Surveillance Telescope Tracks Wayward Satellites

As nations around the world launch more and more satellites into geosynchronous orbit above the Earth, the danger of them accidentally colliding and creating a Gravity-esque cascade of destruction increases exponentially. To keep tabs on everything zooming around 22,000 miles above the surface, DARPA's developed this… » 12/09/13 11:40am 12/09/13 11:40am

This Foldable Space Telescope Would Put Big Optics in Small Rockets

For all the futuristic advancements packed into modern space-based telescopes, they all still rely on the same bulky, heavy glass optics that Galileo used centuries ago. But thanks to this DARPA project, future telescopes could eventually use optics as thin as saran wrap to peer into deep space. » 12/05/13 3:40pm 12/05/13 3:40pm

Australia's Using Pop Radio to Track Space Junk

Space junk is a serious problem: it threatens satellites and spacecraft, and can plummet unpredictably to earth. Australia's Murchison Widefield Array is a high-sensitivity radio telescope that tracks space debris as small as 1 meter across, by observing how the objects reflect FM signals from Australian radio… » 11/30/13 6:00pm 11/30/13 6:00pm

How a Superconducting Camera Could Revolutionize Astrophysics

Over the past four decades, the field of astrophysics has enjoyed a pair of massive technological advances. First, we jumped from archaic photographic plates that relied on chemical emulsions to charge couple devices (CCDs). Now, the transition from CCDs to hyperspectral imaging devices that utilize exotic… » 11/14/13 11:40am 11/14/13 11:40am

The Giant Telescope That Helps Take the Sharpest Space Photos Yet

The Hubble Telescope has revolutionized our understanding of the cosmos but the venerable telescope has been orbiting for nearly a quarter century and is quickly nearing the end of its already-extended service life. That's not a bad thing, mind you, telescope technology has advanced significantly since the Hubble went… » 8/30/13 11:30am 8/30/13 11:30am

New Camera Lets Astronomers Take Sharpest Ever Photos of the Universe

An international team of astronomers are having a blast with a new type of camera that can take photos of space that are twice as sharp as those taken by the Hubble Telescope. The technology's been in the works for over 20 years, and when you see the pictures you can see why they were worth the wait. » 8/23/13 9:53am 8/23/13 9:53am

Let's Get Caught Up on Five Years of Fermi Space Porn

At this very moment, NASA's Fermi space telescope is up in the sky, zooming around Earth, and doing space stuff like sidestepping Soviet space junk and spotting mysterious galactic soap bubbles. For its (roughly) five year anniversary, NASA put out a little montage of the 'scopes stellar achievements so far, and the… » 8/21/13 2:51pm 8/21/13 2:51pm

Behold the Glowing Glory of a Sunspot In Unprecedented Detail

When you stare at the sun it just looks like pain. But when the New Solar Telescope (NST) does, it can catch glimpses of truly mesmerizing solar activity, and all without going blind. Here, for example, is the most precise picture of a sunspot ever taken, in all its flaming glory. It's like a solar black hole in a… » 8/07/13 4:40pm 8/07/13 4:40pm

This Telescope Shoots Lasers to Unlock the Mysteries of the Cosmos

Ground-based telescopes have long struggled to achieve the image clarity and resolution of their orbiting cousins due in large part to atmospheric distortions. That's why we build observatories on mountain tops: to minimize the amount of atmosphere between the telescope and incoming starlight. But with the help of a… » 7/04/13 11:00am 7/04/13 11:00am