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Astronomy

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Tue, January 15 2013

Reflections on "Explore the Universe" 2001-2012

One of the jokes I inherited from my student years is the final exam question "Describe the Universe" which was followed by "and give two examples."

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Magellanic Clouds
Mon, January 7 2013

Minor Planet 4262 DeVorkin

David DeVorkin is a curator in the Space History Department of...

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Fri, November 2 2012

Going Three Billion Miles at the Public Observatory

At our evening observing sessions at the Public Observatory, we’ve shared views of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, and other astronomical objects with thousands of visitors. But Neptune, the most distant planet in the Solar...

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Public Observatory
Mon, June 4 2012

Why should you care about the Transit of Venus?

Astronomy enthusiasts around the world are gearing up for Tuesday’s celestial show: the transit of Venus across the face of the Sun.  The small black dot of Venus, silhouetted against the bright Sun, will be visible with safe solar telescopes and, to those with especially good vision, with the naked eye when protected by eclipse glasses.

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Why should you care about the Transit of Venus?
Fri, May 11 2012

Transit of Venus on June 5th, 2012

If you visit the Public Observatory during its daytime hours in May (1–3pm on Wednesday through Saturday, weather permitting), you can use the 16” telescope to observe an object which looks a lot like the Moon.  Hanging in a blue sky, it shines with yellowish reflected sunlight. 

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Venus
Wed, January 18 2012

Shedding Light on a Common Problem

If you've been to any of the nighttime observing sessions at our Public Observatory, you might have wondered why we mostly view the planets and the Moon. After all, the Observatory...

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Public Observatory
Fri, September 30 2011

Mapping Everything

The universe is about 13.7 billion years old and has expanded since its beginning at the Big Bang. Because distant objects appear to be receding as the universe expands, the light from them is “stretched” out, altering its wavelength to the red part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This “redshift” can be measured for every object in deep space. 

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Galaxies
Thu, August 4 2011

The Perseids Are Coming!

The Perseids are coming!  The most consistently best meteor shower of the year, the “Perseids,” (PER-see-ids) will reach their peak next week.

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Composite of 2010 Perseid Meteors
Thu, July 28 2011

Astronomy Night at the Museum

The night opened with few clouds and a bright waxing gibbous moon. Alex and I, interns at the National Air and Space Museum, stood outside with Sean O'Brien, astronomy educator at the Museum and Albert Einstein Planetarium technician, to survey the sky and anticipate the night. This was my first star party at the Museum. As we set up, the first line of visitors formed outside the door of the Public Observatory waiting for 6 p.m. — opening time. We set up the Tele Vue telescope first. The view was spectacular. Along the terminator, the line between the dark and light sides of the Moon, craters popped between the stark white of the moon and the blue of the sky.

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Sun - January 19, 2011
Fri, June 17 2011

From Earth to the Solar System

For the month of June, 30 beautiful images of the solar system are on display on the terrace by the Independence Avenue entrance.  They are part of the From Earth to the Solar System exhibition developed by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory/Chandra with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

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