NASA's New Recoverable Telescope Will Float Above the Clouds by Balloon

Both terrestrial telescopes and their orbital counterparts have some pretty significant limitations—ground based observatories must deal with the obscuring effects of the Earth's atmosphere and space telescopes are incredibly expensive to launch. But NASA's newest telescope will deliver space-quality observations at a… » 9/30/14 11:40am 9/30/14 11:40am

The Plan to Make the Moon an Enormous Detector of Cosmic Rays

About once a century on any given square kilometer of Earth, a cosmic ray hits with mind-boggling intensity. The teeny tiny subatomic particle from space comes careening in with more than 10 million times the energy of particles shot out by the LHC. Where do these ultrahigh energy cosmic rays come from? Astronomers… » 9/05/14 2:23pm 9/05/14 2:23pm

The Future of Telescopes Is Looking Bigger and Brighter Than Ever

Astronomy has come a long way in the 405 years since Galileo's historic first survey of the night sky over Florence in 1609. The next generation of terrestrial telescopes are set to peer deeper into the cosmos and further back in time than ever before. We sat down with Dr. Patrick McCarthy, Director of the Giant… » 8/25/14 2:42pm 8/25/14 2:42pm

The World's First Fully Robotic Telescope Is Hunting for New Earths

Tracking down Earth-like exoplanets with a terrestrial telescope is no easy feat because our planet's atmosphere makes distant solar systems even harder to see. Adaptive optic technology can help make things go a little faster, but it does so at a snail's pace—requiring up to 10 minutes per target. The fully… » 8/12/14 12:18pm 8/12/14 12:18pm

The 5 Massive New Telescopes That Will Change Astronomy Forever

The biggest building boom in the history of astronomy is upon us. In Chile and Hawaii and in space, astronomers are getting powerful telescopes that dwarf the current state-of-the-art instruments. When the mountain blasting and the mirror polishing are all done, we will have the clearest and most detailed views of… » 7/25/14 9:00am 7/25/14 9:00am

How to Turn An Old Satellite Dish Into a Working Radio Telescope

Radio telescopes, which you may remember Jodie Foster intently listening to for signs of alien life in Contact, pluck out radio waves from far away space. Ordinary communications satellite dishes also pick up radio waves, but of manmade origin. So hmm, how easily can you convert one into another? It's totally… » 7/23/14 4:21pm 7/23/14 4:21pm

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