Meet the Largest Star Ever Discovered

uy scuti

Hello from the Southeastern Planetarium Association.  I’m currently at the SEPA 2015 and while I’m here I participated in a brief story-telling workshop where planetarians got together to share their favorite stories of the night sky.  I chose to tell the story of the largest star ever observed (so far): UY Scuti.

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NASA Predicts Finding Signs of Alien Life Within 10 Years

nasa predicts

I’ve always imagined that one day I’d get home, turn on the news, and see this big developing news story that evidence of life beyond our solar system had been discovered.  It’s typically the stuff of movies and comic books, but recently NASA’s chief scientist, Ellen Stofan, predicted that signs of alien life will be discovered by 2025 with even stronger evidence for extraterrestrials in the years that follow.

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Is The Milky Way Much Larger Than We Think?

is the milky way much larger than we think

Democritus was the first to claim that the Milky Way consisted of distant stars, but it was William Herschel in 1785 that made the first map of the Milky Way.  Herschel was the first to study and measure the distribution of stars in space, and when he counted the stars he came to a conclusion that they were grouped in a huge disk formation.  It is believed that this disk–our Milky Way Galaxy–is about 100,000 light years from tip to tip; however, recent evidence may suggest that it could be about 50 percent larger than we initially ever thought.

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Enceladus May Harbor a Warm Ocean, Life

warm ocean on Enceladus

Back in 2005, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft first revealed that Saturn’s moon, Enceladus, had active geologic activity.  It discovered an icy spray issuing out of the moon’s southern polar region as well as temperatures in that region that were higher than expected.  Currently, it is being suggested, that there also may be a 6-mile deep, 25 mile thick, ocean beneath the moon’s icy shell.

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Astronomers Discover a Black Hole as Massive as 12 Billion Suns

Astronomers Discover a Black Hole as Massive as 12 Billion Suns

In a galaxy far, far away (that is to say, about 12.8 billion light-years away) a supermassive black hole has been discovered that is estimated to weigh as much as 12 billion suns and is 420 trillion times brighter than the sun.  But it isn’t the weight and size that is baffling scientists–it’s how young it is.

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The Happiest Place in the Universe? How About SDSS J1038+4849

SDSS J1038+4849

The Hubble Space Telescope recently captured an image which looks remarkably like a smiling face in the sky.  It is SDSS J1038+4849, a galaxy cluster that resides just outside the constellation of Ursa Major.  But what makes this image look so close to a smiley face?

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