The Astronomy Portal


A man sitting on a chair mounted to a moving platform, staring through a large telescope.
Percival Lowell observing Venus from the Lowell Observatory telescope in 1914

Astronomy is a natural science that studies celestial objects and the phenomena that occur in the cosmos. It uses mathematics, physics, and chemistry in order to explain their origin and their overall evolution. Objects of interest include planets, moons, stars, nebulae, galaxies, meteoroids, asteroids, and comets. Relevant phenomena include supernova explosions, gamma ray bursts, quasars, blazars, pulsars, and cosmic microwave background radiation. More generally, astronomy studies everything that originates beyond Earth's atmosphere. Cosmology is a branch of astronomy that studies the universe as a whole.

Astronomy is one of the oldest natural sciences. The early civilizations in recorded history made methodical observations of the night sky. These include the Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Indians, Chinese, Maya, and many ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas. In the past, astronomy included disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, and the making of calendars.

Professional astronomy is split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of astronomical objects. This data is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented toward the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. These two fields complement each other. Theoretical astronomy seeks to explain observational results and observations are used to confirm theoretical results.

Astronomy is one of the few sciences in which amateurs play an active role. This is especially true for the discovery and observation of transient events. Amateur astronomers have helped with many important discoveries, such as finding new comets. (Full article...)

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The Kreutz sungrazers (/ˈkrɔɪts/ KROYTS) are a family of sungrazing comets, characterized by orbits taking them extremely close to the Sun at perihelion. At the far extreme of their orbits, aphelion, Kreutz sungrazers can be a hundred times farther from the Sun than the Earth is, while their distance of closest approach can be less than twice the Sun's radius. They are believed to be fragments of one large comet that broke up several centuries ago and are named for German astronomer Heinrich Kreutz, who first demonstrated that they were related. These sungrazers make their way from the distant outer Solar System to the inner Solar System, to their perihelion point near the Sun, and then leave the inner Solar System in their return trip to their aphelion.

Several members of the Kreutz family have become great comets, occasionally visible near the Sun in the daytime sky. The most recent of these was Comet Ikeya–Seki in 1965, which may have been one of the brightest comets in the last millennium. It has been suggested that another cluster of bright Kreutz system comets may begin to arrive in the inner Solar System in the next few decades. (Full article...)

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Credit: ESO / P. Vernazza et al./ MISTRAL algorithm (ONERA/CNRS)

Hygiea (minor planet designation: 10 Hygiea) is a major asteroid located in the main asteroid belt. It is the fourth-largest asteroid in the Solar System by both volume and mass.

Astronomy News

20 February 2024 –
Astronomers identify the most luminous object ever observed, QSO J0529-4351, a quasar that accretes around one solar mass per day. (The Guardian) (
24 November 2023 –
Astronomers at the Telescope Array Project in Utah, United States, observe the second largest cosmic ray ever detected, the so-called Amaterasu particle, with an energy of 244 EeV. (Cosmos Magazine)

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Space-related Portals

Astronomical events

All times UT unless otherwise specified.

6 April, 09:25 Moon occults Saturn
7 April, 08:11 Moon occults Neptune
7 April, 16:47 Moon occults Venus
7 April, 17:53 Moon at perigee
8 April, 18:18 New moon and Total Solar Eclipse
11 April, 22:53 Mercury at inferior conjunction
20 April, 02:09 Moon at apogee
22 April, 06:44 Lyrids peak
23 April, 23:49 Full moon



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