Bad Astronomy 9 Jan 2019, 14:00 UTC Look, I'm not saying I hate air, but it does present certain problems. The advantages are obvious. The ability to fly kites, appreciate clouds, watch pretty sunsets, and oh yeah, breathe, all have their roots in the existence of this ocean of air over our heads. But for astronomers, it's something of a problem. One of the biggest issues we have with air is that it moves. Little packets of air kilometers above the ground swish to and fro, and that distorts our view of the heavens. These little packets act like lenses, bending the light from stars and other astronomical objects as it passes through. This causes the image to jump around, blurring out details in the telescope (and causing stars to twinkle). For historical reasons (and sometimes, I swear just to confuse people) astronomers call this condition seeing, and when you say "the seeing is bad" you mean that things are so bubbly up there that observations are compromised.
Universe Today 9 Jan 2019, 00:39 UTC The China National Space Administration (CNSA) accomplished a historic feat last week (Thurs. Jan. 3rd) by landing a robotic mission on the “dark side” of the Moon. Known as the Chang’e-4 mission, this lander-rover combination will explore the Moon’s South Pole-Aitken Basin as part of China’s ongoing effort to conduct lunar exploration.
Scientific American 8 Jan 2019, 18:15 UTC Bounty includes second known example of a repeating burst
Bad Astronomy 8 Jan 2019, 14:00 UTC As I (and many before me) have said many times, space is big. That's why we call it space. The sky is so big that by eye it's relatively rare that two objects are really close together. That's why we get excited when two planets pass near each other, or the Moon gets near one (also: it's very pretty when that happens). The handful of stars that are really close to each other by eye get a lot of attention too, like Albireo in Cygnus, and Mizar and Alcor in the handle of the Big Dipper. The odds of two stars actually overlapping are incredibly small; stars appear so small in our sky that only a handful can be seen as anything other than unresolved dots. But some objects are bigger. A lot bigger: Like, galaxies. These are enormous collections of billions or trillions of stars, and even though many are very far away indeed, their spatial extent is so big they can appear to overlap each other. This is actually rather common in nearby galaxies — Andromeda, for example, the nearest big spiral, has a satellite companion called M32 that is superposed against its disk.
Geekwire 8 Jan 2019, 03:11 UTC Less than a year after NASA’s TESS spacecraft was launched, the scientists behind the mission have unveiled their third confirmed planet, a weird alien world that’s between Earth and Neptune in size. And hundreds of additional potential finds are in the pipeline.
Science Blog from SDSS III 7 Jan 2019, 20:45 UTC The SDSS-IV MaNGA survey is providing the most comprehensive census of the stellar and ionized gas content of local galaxies to date, but there is another major component of galaxies the SDSS telescope does not see: the cold gas. Cold gas plays the key role of fueling the formation of new stars. Galaxies with ongoing star formation tend to have lots of cold gas, while those with no ongoing star formation have very little cold gas. Figuring out how and why galaxies acquire, consume, and/or lose their gas over time is fundamentally important to our understanding of galaxy evolution as a whole.
Geekwire 7 Jan 2019, 18:10 UTC The cigar-shaped object known as ‘Oumuamua may be the first interstellar interloper to be discovered, but it’s not likely to be the last. Statistics suggest that there are lots more space rocks like it out there.