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Astronaut's photo shows a rare 'sprite' in Earth's atmosphere caused by lightning shooting up toward space

A sprite captured from the ISS. ESA/NASA-T. Pesquet Thomas Pesquet, an astronaut on the ISS, photographed a flash of red light in the upper atmosphere. The phenomenon, called a sprite, can be seen above a thunderstorm. The picture is a "very rare occurrence," Pesquet said. An astronaut onboard the International Space Station has captured a rare image of a red "sprite" above Europe while recording a timelapse from space.The picture, which was taken on September 9, is a "very rare occurren...
Tags: Europe, Space, Science, India, Trends, Nasa, Earth, International Space Station, News UK, European Space Agency, Storm, Astronauts, Iss, Columbus, Thomas Pesquet, Andreas Mogensen


A stunning photo shows both red-sprite and blue-jet lightning in the skies above Hawaii

Two types of lightning, a red sprite and a blue jet, in the skies above Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii. International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/A. Smith Sometimes during a thunderstorm, you can glimpse red and blue lightning in the sky. These types of lightning, called red sprites and blue jets, are tricky to photograph.  The Gemini Observatory in Hawaii snapped a stunning picture with both types in the same frame. Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories. In a sto...
Tags: Space, Texas, Science, News, India, Trends, Nasa, Earth, Hawaii, International Space Station, Lightning, Mauna Kea, Hilo, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Bay of Bengal, Gemini Observatory


Texas Astronomers Revive Idea For 'Ultimately Large Telescope' On the Moon

A group of astronomers from The University of Texas at Austin has revived an idea shelved by NASA to build a lunar liquid-mirror telescope on the moon to study the first stars in the universe. "The team, led by NASA Hubble Fellow Anna Schauer, will publish their results in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal," reports Phys.Org. From the report: These first stars formed about 13 billion years ago. They are unique, born out of a mix of hydrogen and helium gasses, and likely tens or 100 ...
Tags: Tech, Nasa, University Of Arizona, Roger Angel, Astrophysical Journal, The University of Texas at Austin, Schauer, UT Austin, McDonald Observatory, Anna Schauer, Lunar Liquid Mirror Telescope LLMT NASA, Niv Drory


Did I just see a giant red jellyfish in the sky? Maybe.

Red sprites are high-altitude companions to thunderstorms.They exist for milliseconds, so the best way to "capture" one is on video.They can reach 60 miles up from the top of a thundercloud. The thought-provoking and ultimately mind-bendingly great movie "Arrival" is the story of a human linguistics expert seeking to communicate with massive alien heptapods suspended, tentacles hanging down, behind a thick window. If you've seen the film and just happened to catch the briefest impression of s...
Tags: Weather, Science, Nasa, Earth, Nature, Innovation, Electricity, Locke, Hummel, McDonald Observatory, Red sprite, Sky monster, Arrival movie, Stephen Hummel, Mount Locke Texas, Davis Sentman


Testing Einstein

Like bowlers trying to pick up a spare, physicists keep trying to knock down general relativity — Albert Einstein’s theory of gravity. But they keep throwing gutter balls. The theory has withstood every test. Einstein developed the theory in the early 1900s. It passed its first big test 100 years ago yesterday, during a solar eclipse. Relativity predicted that the light of stars that appeared near the Sun would be deflected a bit by the curvature of space around the Sun. Astronomers observed t...
Tags: Space, Earth, Albert Einstein, Einstein, Damond Benningfield, McDonald Observatory


Astronomers from UCI, other institutions use new technique to find extrasolar planets

Scientists from the University of California, Irvine and other institutions have begun using the Habitable Planet Finder, a spectrograph coupled with the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas, to hunt for exoplanets at M-dwarf stars.
Tags: Texas, Science, UCI, University of California Irvine, McDonald Observatory, Hobby Eberly Telescope


Golden Anniversary

Stars trail behind the dome of the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory. The dome and its 107-inch telescope were dedicated during a winter storm on November 26, 1968. [Ethan Tweedie Photography] New Telescope
Tags: Space, McDonald Observatory, Ethan Tweedie, Harlan J Smith Telescope


New Telescope

Golden Anniversary Stars trail behind the dome of the Harlan J. Smith Telescope at McDonald Observatory. The dome and its 107-inch telescope were dedicated during a winter storm on November 26, 1968. [Ethan Tweedie Photography] Heavy snow was falling over the Davis Mountains of West Texas. But the raw weather could do little to dampen the spirits of astronomers and visitors from across the country. Fifty years ago today, t...
Tags: Space, Texas, Nasa, Smith, University of Texas, Observatory, McDonald Observatory, Damond Benningfield Keywords, Ethan Tweedie, Davis Mountains of West Texas, Harlan J Smith Telescope, Harlan J Smith, Harlan Smith, AstronomyMcDonald Observatory StarDate


Van Biesbroeck’s Star

Stars come in all types, from brilliant to feeble. The brilliant ones are easy to see. But the feeble ones are a challenge just to discover, let alone study. This month marks the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the most feeble star then known. Georges Van Biesbroeck was an astronomer at Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin. He specialized in double stars — two stars locked in a mutual orbit around each other. He measured the positions of known double stars, and discovered new ones. In 1940, he t...
Tags: Space, Wisconsin, Aquila, McDonald Observatory, Yerkes Observatory, Ken Croswell Keywords, Van Biesbroeck, Georges Van Biesbroeck, Moon Van Biesbroeck, AstronomyMcDonald ObservatoryRed Dwarfs StarDate


40 Years and Counting!

StarDate is radio’s longest-running nationally aired science program. It began in 1977 as a daily telephone message service by McDonald Observatory. It was picked up by Austin radio station KLBJ-FM, and aired as “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight” beginning in June 1977. With a grant from the National Science Foundation the program became “Star Date,” and began airing nationally, seven days per week, on October 1, 1978. It quickly reached more than 1,000 radio stations across the country.The progr...
Tags: Space, Earth, Austin, National Science Foundation, StarDate, Damond Benningfield, Observatory, NSF, Byrd, McDonald Observatory, Tom Barnes, McDonald Observatory It, Deborah Byrd, KLBJ, Joel Block an Austin, Sandra Preston


McDonald Observatory

What a day it was here on our first full day outside Big Bend National Park. We had two close calls that could have ended our trip but both turned out well. Within minutes of arriving here our Maggie got a little too close to a cactus before Mi Hyon coul
Tags: Travel, Maggie, Big Bend National Park, McDonald Observatory, Mi Hyon


Giant Magellan Telescope

New Giant The fading sunlight reflects off the mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope, which is under construction in Chile, in this artist's concept. The mirrors, with a combined area larger than a tennis court, will allow astronomers to see deep into the early universe and to take pictures of planets orbiting other stars. McDonald Observatory is one of several partners in the telescope. [GMTO] When it comes to seeing de...
Tags: Space, Chile, Damond Benningfield, Giant Magellan Telescope, McDonald Observatory, Atacama Desert of Chile


New Giant

The fading sunlight reflects off the mirrors of the Giant Magellan Telescope, which is under construction in Chile, in this artist's concept. The mirrors, with a combined area larger than a tennis court, will allow astronomers to see deep into the early universe and to take pictures of planets orbiting other stars. McDonald Observatory is one of several partners in the telescope. [GMTO] Giant Magellan Telescope
Tags: Space, Chile, Giant Magellan Telescope, McDonald Observatory


Twilight

A Civil Sky Evening twilight descends on McDonald Observatory and the Davis Mountains of West Texas. This depicts civil twilight, when the Sun is no more than six degrees below the horizon, and the sky is still fairly bright. Full astronomical twilight, when the Sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon, will come later, providing skies that are dark enough to allow astronomers to begin staring into the depths of the universe. [Damond Benningfield] ...
Tags: Space, United States, Damond Benningfield, McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains of West Texas


A Civil Sky

Evening twilight descends on McDonald Observatory and the Davis Mountains of West Texas. This depicts civil twilight, when the Sun is no more than six degrees below the horizon, and the sky is still fairly bright. Full astronomical twilight, when the Sun is between 12 and 18 degrees below the horizon, will come later, providing skies that are dark enough to allow astronomers to begin staring into the depths of the universe. [Damond Benningfield]
Tags: Space, Damond Benningfield, McDonald Observatory, Davis Mountains of West Texas


Spying on Supernovae

A project that’s beginning this month will compile dossiers on hundreds of supernovae. That should give astronomers a better picture of the types of stars that explode, how supernovae interact with their surroundings, and how they seed the cosmos with chemical elements. The Global Supernova Project is a collaboration of about 150 astronomers around the world. It’ll use about 30 telescopes to monitor supernovae after other projects discover them. The backbone of the project is the Las Cumbres Obs...
Tags: Space, Damond Benningfield, McDonald Observatory, Modern Observatories StarDate, Las Cumbres Observatory, McDonald ObservatorySupernovaTelescopes


Outdoors adventures in Texas

1. Hiking at Big Bend National Park. Photo: Michael Hirsch Big Bend National Park, one of the few N.P.’s in Texas, is hundreds of miles away from major cities, in the southern part of the state along the Rio Grande River. You could easily spend a season or a year or more hiking, exploring and camping here. If you’re not looking for a long hike, the Boquillas Hot Springs are accessible less than a mile from the Hot Springs Road trailhead. Meanwhile, one of the best places in Texas for a sunse...
Tags: Travel, Outdoors, Texas, Mexico, US, Austin, Adventures, Dallas, Houston, Jupiter, Grand Canyon, San Antonio, All, South Padre Island, Marfa, South East


HETDEX

A New Era Astronomers and friends are gathering at McDonald Observatory on April 9 to rededicate the giant Hobby-Eberly Telescope, which has undergone an extensive upgrade. New optics provide a wider view of the sky, while new instruments will enable searches for dark energy, planets in other star systems, and other wonders of the universe. [Ethan Tweedie Photography] Astronomers and friends are gathering at McDonald Obser...
Tags: Space, Damond Benningfield, Het, West Texas, McDonald Observatory, EnergyMcDonald Observatory StarDate, Hobby Eberly Telescope, Ethan Tweedie


A New Era

Astronomers and friends are gathering at McDonald Observatory on April 9 to rededicate the giant Hobby-Eberly Telescope, which has undergone an extensive upgrade. New optics provide a wider view of the sky, while new instruments will enable searches for dark energy, planets in other star systems, and other wonders of the universe. [Ethan Tweedie Photography] HETDEX
Tags: Space, McDonald Observatory, Hobby Eberly Telescope, Ethan Tweedie


Where to go in Texas

Photo: Skeeze Texas usually conjures images of cowboys, riding off into the great unknown with the sun on their backs and mountains in the distance. The truth is not quite up to snuff, but beautiful nonetheless. The Lone Star State has several distinct ecosystems, each providing a number of natural wonders for its residents to enjoy. From out of the way places to cool off in the summer to landscapes with no sign of civilization, here are some spots that prove Texas is as impressive as you thi...
Tags: Travel, Texas, Travel Planning, Mexico, Austin, Louisiana, Google Maps, Grand Canyon, All, Travelstoke, East Texas, Lone Star State, Seminole, Jacob, West Texas, Llano


Quick guide to the 7 regions of Texas

Photo: Sturt Seeger Texas is so massive it can easy fit several other states inside its borders, so wouldn’t you expect to find regions with unique cultures, attractions, and ecosystems? There’s more to the Lone Star State than just transiting through DFW or partying it up during SXSW. We’ve got more food, people, and history to make anywhere else in the south blush. 1. The Panhandle   Palo Duro Canyon State Park Canyon, United States One of the most scenic spots in the panhandle, if n...
Tags: Travel, Texas, Travel Planning, Mexico, Austin, Arkansas, Dallas, Louisiana, Houston, Southwest, Dallas Museum Of Art, Texas Tech University, Austin City Limits, East Texas, Amarillo, Lone Star State


NGC 1600

At first glance, there’s nothing remarkable about the galaxy NGC 1600. It’s a little bit bigger than our home galaxy, the Milky Way, but it looks plain and uninspiring. It’s an elliptical galaxy, which means it looks a bit like a glowing, fuzzy rugby ball. When astronomers peered deep into the heart of NGC 1600, though, they found something that is remarkable: one of the biggest black holes yet seen. It’s about 4,000 times the mass of the black hole at the center of the Milky Way. The astronomer...
Tags: Space, Orion, Damond Benningfield, Rigel, NGC, McDonald Observatory


War Work

As 1941 neared its end, McDonald Observatory was riding high. It had been dedicated just two and a half years earlier, and its astronomers were making amazing discoveries with the world’s second-largest telescope. But 75 years ago this week, things changed. FRANKLIN ROOSEVELT: December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the empire of Japan. With the United States entering the war, there wer...
Tags: Space, Japan, Mexico, United States, United States of America, McDonald, Damond Benningfield, Franklin Roosevelt, West Texas, McDonald Observatory


Off to War

A Japanese pilot recorded this picture of the early stages of the attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. The United States declared war the following day. Astronomy contributed to the war effort, with astronomers teaching celestial navigation, designing optics for bomb sights, and working on radar and other technologies. Observatories drastically scaled back their research during the war, although many, including McDonald Observatory, carried on with limi...
Tags: Space, United States, PEARL HARBOR Hawaii, McDonald Observatory


Celebrating the Sandi/ys

Two key players in the StarDate and McDonald Observatory public outreach programs are celebrating milestones in July. Sandy Wood (left) is commemorating her 25th anniversary as the voice of StarDate radio. Her first recording session was on July 23, 1991. And Sandi Preston is retiring from McDonald Observatory on July 4. She is the Observatory's assistant director for education and outreach, and executive producer of StarDate radio.
Tags: StarDate, Observatory, Sandi, McDonald Observatory


The Great War, IV

Otto Struve was destined to be an astronomer. His great-grandfather had established Pulkovo Observatory in Russia, and his grandfather and father were astronomers as well. And Struve enrolled in a Russian university to study astronomy and mathematics. But thanks to World War I, he became an astronomer not in his native Russia, but in the United States. Struve enlisted in the Russian army in 1916. He was an artillery officer, and served on the Turkish front. Russia signed a peace treaty with Germ...
Tags: Germany, Russia, Turkey, United States, University Of Chicago, Damond Benningfield, University of Texas, McDonald Observatory


Getting Across Country: Thoughts on Pace, Routing & Balance as Full Time RVers

Life on the road doesn’t always have clear chapters or segments. Sometimes we might be stationary for a bit, sometimes we might be roaming around a general region for a season, sometimes we might feel we’re on a slow roll.. and sometimes we might be focused on getting from Point A to Point B. Rest Break along one of Texas’ many picnic areas. We’ve made a lot of cross country repositionings over the years. They may not all be full coast to coast routes, but anytime there’s a clear Point B  and...
Tags: Travel, Florida, Texas, Featured, Austin, Arizona, New Orleans, Jasper, Chris, Rving, Don, Spring Hill, Desert Hot Springs, Star Party, Barrington Hills, Tonopah


Eastward Bound: A Visit to Davis Mountains State Park

Last we checked in, we had just left Arizona to start our eastward trek to Florida. We’ve done this cross country repositioning many times over the years, and are always looking for new-to-us routes across the great state of Texas. Beep beep! Fun roadside art at a Las Cruces rest stop. One place we’ve never been is Big Bend, and we really had it in our intentions to explore it this spring. However, with the book re-write taking longer than anticipated – we just didn’t feel we had the time ava...
Tags: Verizon, Florida, Texas, Austin, Arizona, New Orleans, Prada, New Mexico, Jupiter, Travelogues, Marfa, El Paso, Texas Hill Country, LAS CRUCES, Willcox, Deming


Newly discovered planet in the Hyades cluster could shed light on planetary evolution

University of Texas at Austin astronomer Andrew Mann and colleagues have discovered a planet in a nearby star cluster which could help astronomers better understand how planets form and evolve. The discovery of planet K2-25b used both the Kepler space telescope and the university's McDonald Observatory, and is published in a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
Tags: Astronomy, Austin, University of Texas, Andrew Mann, McDonald Observatory