The 8 Best Telescopes for Viewing Our 8 Planets (2021)

Even though your eyes are all you need to spot some of the planets in the solar system, you can’t see much with the naked eye. Observe them through one of the best telescopes for viewing planets, though, and the detailed view will blow your mind!

An astronomy telescope with a large aperture and a long focal length coupled with good eyepieces can open your eyes to the Cassini Division in Saturn’s rings, the cloud bands and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, the polar ice caps and dust on mars, and more.

However, determining what telescope will deliver the view you’re looking for can seem such a daunting task, especially if it’s your first telescope. Luckily, we’ve simplified the choosing process. Not only have we reviewed the best telescopes for viewing planets but we’ve also illuminated the specs and features that make the best telescope for planetary viewing.

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What is the Best Telescope for Viewing Planets?

Best Overall: Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

Celestron NexStar 8SE Telescope

Overview

Our top pick for viewing planets is the Celestron NexStar 8SE. It delivers mind-blowing views of the planets at a modest price point and in a lightweight and compact package.

Thanks to a long (2032mm) focal length and an 8-inch aperture, this telescope reveals all the elusive planetary details.

You can see the Cassini Division in Saturn’s rings, the pale orange color of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, and even make out the polar caps and dust storms on the red planet, Mars.

Key Features

  • 8 inch objective lens diameter
  • 2,032mm focal length
  • f/10 focal ratio
  • Computerized GoTo tracking

Pros

  • Excellent optics in a light, portable, and affordable package
  • Fairly easy to use, even for a beginner
  • Large 8 inch aperture delivers great views of planets
  • 2-year warranty and unlimited technical support

Cons

  • Not ideal for astro-photography, as it is an Altitude/Azimuth (ALT/AZ) telescope

Pricing

TheNexStar 8SE offers top-level optics at an economical price.

Bottom Line

The Celestron NexStar 8SE is the ultimate telescope for viewing planets. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced stargazer, this telescope will impress you.

It manages to hit the perfect balance in aperture and focal length on the one hand and affordability and portability on the other.

Best Bang for The Buck: Celestron NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope

Celestron NexStar 127SLT Computerized Telescope

Overview

A Maksutov Cassegrain telescope is known for delivering the best planetary views in a compact and affordable package. The Celestron NexStar 127SLT lives up to this reputation.

It’s accessibly priced, compact enough to easily fit in a car, and lightweight and easy to move around. Setting it up is also a piece of cake and the computerized mount makes it easy to pinpoint and track planets in the night sky.

Thanks to a five-inch mirror and a long focal length for planetary brewing, the views of the rings of Saturn, the polar ice caps on Mars, and the cloud belts on Jupiter are breathtaking.

Key Features

  • Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope
  • 127mm objective lens diameter
  • Computerized mount
  • Aluminum optical tube

Pros

  • Great balance of price, size, features, and performance
  • Very easy to use and one of the best options for beginners
  • Computerized mount makes tracking planets easy
  • Compact and lightweight thus easy to handle
  • Design seals out dirt and thermal currents

Cons

The included tripod is wobbly which means vibrations to deal with

Pricing

Bottom Line

The Celestron NexStar 127SLT is an impressive beginner scope for the money. It has the two essential features a telescope you will enjoy should: ease of use and great optics.

Best Budget: Gskyer 70mm Refractor Telescope

Gskyer 70mm Refractor Telescope

Overview

The Gskyer AZ70400 is accessible on a shoestring budget yet still has decent quality optics. It comes with a nice set of accessories including a nice carry case, a smartphone adapter, and 3x Barlow lens, sweetening the deal even further.

The images of the planets are pretty impressive for a low-cost starter telescope. The brightest planet Venus is easy to see and you can also make out some detail on Jupiter and Saturn’s Rings.

Key Features

  • 70mm(2.75″) objective lens diameter
  • Altazimuth Mount
  • 400mm focal length
  • f/5.7 focal ratio
  • Fully coated all-glass lens
  • 10mm and 25mm Eyepieces and 3X Barlow lens

Pros

  • Very affordable pricing at about $100
  • Easy for a novice to setup and use
  • Versatile and also useful for terrestrial viewing
  • Excellent balance between affordability and performance
  • Comes with a phone adapter for capturing photos
  • Portable size and a carry bag included

Cons

  • 70mm aperture, the bare minimum for planetary viewing

Pricing

Bottom Line

An inexpensive entry-level telescope that will serve kids, beginners, and casual hobbyists well.

Best Grab and Go: Zhumell Z114 Portable Reflector Telescope

Zhumell Z114 Portable Reflector Telescope

Overview

The Zhumell Z114 Tabletop Telescope is a great grab-and-go at a great price. Compact and lightweight, you can easily take it wherever you need it whether it’s the backyard or camping ground.

What makes it our choice of the best portable telescope for viewing planets is that you’re not compromising the quality of optics or construction for portability.

This tabletop Dobsonian is equipped with a 114mm parabolic primary mirror. You can Clearly see the planets and details like the rings of Saturn and Galilean moons. It also has a modular lens cap that comes in handy when viewing the planet Venus.

Key Features

  • 114mm objective lens diameter
  • Altazimuth Mount
  • 456 mm focal length
  • 17mm and 10mm eyepieces

Pros

  • Excellent optics and features in a portable package
  • Primary mirror comes already collimated
  • Built in carry handle makes it even easier to maneuver
  • Very easy to assemble and focus

Cons

  • Comes with a plastic focuser that is not good quality

Pricing

Bottom Line

The compact size of the Zhumell Z114 makes it ideal for beginning astronomers, kids, or even advanced amateur astronomers looking for a grab-and-go telescope without compromising too much on the viewing quality. 

Best for Imaging Planets: Sky-Watcher EvoStar ProED 120 APO Doublet Refractor Telescope  

Sky-Watcher EvoStar ProED 120 APO Doublet Refractor Telescope

Overview

Due to outstanding color correction and minimal aberrations, the Sky-Watcher EvoStar ProED 120 is the best option for both viewing the planets and photographing them.

From the big and brightest planets to the hard to view planets such as Mars and Uranus, this telescope delivers an awesome view of them all.

Key Features

  • 80mm, 100mm, 120mm aperture size options
  • Metallic high-transmission lens coatings
  • 5mm and 25mm long eye relief eyepieces

Pros

  • Excellent color correction for visual and imaging applications
  • Tack sharp optics with minimal aberrations
  • Comes in a nice foam-lined aluminum case
  • Great build quality, and compact and portable form factor
  • 2-speed focuser knobs allows for precise focusing

Cons

  • You will have to shell out more than you would with a reflector of the same aperture size

Pricing

Depending on your budget, you can choose between 80mm, 100mm, and 120mm aperture options.

Bottom Line

If you would like to try your hand at astrophotography, the Sky-Watcher EvoStar ED refractor is a great option without breaking the bank. You will be hard-pressed to a better package for an ED refractor!

Best for Beginners: Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 Classic Dobsonian Telescope

Overview

Owing to its combination of precision optics, simplicity, and rock-solid stability, the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 is the best astronomy telescope for a beginner. It combines a pleasant user experience with excellent optics. 

With the 8-inch diameter aperture, you will enjoy great views of the cloud belts and the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, the Jovian moons, Saturn rings, Mars, and Venus.

Key Features

  • 203mm objective diameter
  • Altazimuth Mount
  • 1200mm focal length
  • f/6 focal ratio

Pros

  • Optimal price quality ratio
  • Has a sturdy base that makes it kid-friendly
  • Use of springs eliminates balance issues
  • Lightweight and easy to move around
  • Convenient carry handle on the base
  • Focusing is smooth and adjustment is effortless
  • Easy to collimate by hand with included cap

Cons

  • The primary mirror isn’t very well configured, which limits the potential of the telescope
  • On the large side thus requires space for storage

Pricing

Bottom Line

The accessible pricing and stability make the Orion 8945 SkyQuest XT8 a great astronomy telescope for kids and beginners while the large aperture means it will also suit intermediate stargazers well.

Best for Intermediate Planet Watchers: Sky-Watcher Skymax 180mm Reflector Telescope

Sky-Watcher Skymax 180mm Reflector Telescope

Overview

The Sky-Watcher Skymax 180mm provides exactly what amateur astronomers need for stellar planetary detail: a large aperture, high contrast, a long focal length, and an aberration corrector plate. On top of this, it delivers lightweight portability making it a convenient choice.

With these kinds of features, this Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope is fantastic for both viewing and photographing planets. You can easily see and photograph the great red spot and cloud bands on Jupiter, identify Saturn rings, and even make out the Cassini Division.

Key Features

  • Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope
  • Aperture: 180mm aperture size
  • Barlow eyepiece included
  • Alt-alt-mount : Fully multi-coated
  • 2700 mm focal length
  • f/15 focal ratio

Pros

  • Delivers top quality optics and details
  • Comes collimated right out of the box
  • Great for both viewing and astrophotography
  • Impressively compact given how powerful it is
  • Corrector plate eliminates color aberration
  • One of the few 7 inch aperture telescopes available

Cons

  • The finder is not very good quality. You will want upgrade to a better one

Pricing

Bottom Line

All in all, the Sky-Watcher Skymax 180mm is an excellent value for money. The blend of a large aperture and a fairly compact package makes it an attractive choice for the intermediate astronomer who wants to upgrade the live viewing experience and also dabble in astrophotography.

Best for Kids: Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope

Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ Refractor Telescope

Overview

The award for the best kids telescope for viewing planets goes to the Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ. Being a refractor telescope, it’s ready to go at a moment’s notice as it doesn’t require collimating. The intuitive mount and panhandle also make it easy for kids to use. It’s also very affordably priced.

Even though it only has a 70mm aperture, it delivers good views of Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s moons, and more. As a bonus, it also works great for observing land-based objects during the day.

Key Features

  • 70mm objective diameter
  • Altazimuth Mount
  • 900mm (35”) focal length
  • f/13 focal ratio
  • 20mm and 10mm eyepieces

Pros

  • Easy to set up and no collimating required
  • Intuitive mount and pan handle makes it easy to use
  • Well-built and backed by a two years warranty

Cons

  • The objective size is on the low end for making out planetary details

Pricing

Bottom Line

The Celestron AstroMaster 70AZ is a solid telescope for kids and casual observers.

What Makes a Great Telescope for Seeing Planets?

Objective Lens Diameter: When it comes to telescopes for planetary observations, size is everything. For viewing planets, you need at least 70mm (2.8-inch) objective lens/mirror diameter. Telescopes with apertures between 100mm and 120mm will deliver great views. For the clearest, crispest, and most detailed views, invest in a telescope with an objective diameter of over 200m.

Focal length: The best telescopes for viewing planets have a long focal length that magnifies planet and reveals incredible details. Telescopes with a longer focal length generally have a higher focal ratio, which is ideal for planetary observations.

Eyepieces: A telescope will deliver different magnification levels depending on the eyepiece you’re using.

Magnification = Focal length of a telescope ÷ Focal length of the eyepiece.

For example, if your telescope has a 1000mm focal length, a 10mm eyepiece will deliver a 100x magnification while a 20mm eyepiece will deliver. 50x magnification.

However, the maximum effective magnification comes down to the size of the aperture. On average, the maximum effective magnification is about 50x per inch of the aperture.

To maximize the magnification of your telescope, use it with the most optimal eyepiece.

Optimal eyepiece focal length = focal length of the telescope ÷ maximum effective magnification.

Mount: Astronomy telescopes come with three different types of mounts:

  • Altazimuth mounts are the simplest and thus beginner friendly. They move up and down or side to side.
  • German Equatorial Mounts (GEM) require alignment with the Earth’s axis. While this takes some work, they do a fantastic job of keeping the target object centered. This makes them ideal for astrophotography.
  • A GoTo is a computerized mount that makes it easy to locate celestial objects so you can spend more time observing objects not searching for then in the night sky.

Ease of Use: If this is your first telescope, it’s best to get a beginner-friendly telescope that doesn’t require a complicated setup. An equatorial mount telescope is the most challenging to set up because you have to align it with the Earth’s axis. On the positive side, conquering this learning curve will leave you more knowledgeable about telescopes.

Size and Portability: A compact and lightweight grab-and-go telescope is ideal for on-the-go use. Even if you’re after a large Dobsonian for home-based observations, it should still be easy to maneuver to where you need to set it up.

Included Accessories: Most astronomical telescopes come with some essential accessories such as a tripod, a carry case, and a smartphone adapter. It’s a good idea to check what accessories you will get with your purchase and read user reviews to determine the quality of the included accessories.

Pro Tips

With even the best telescopes for viewing planets, you will need to purchase better eyepieces to make the most of your telescope. If you intend to get a view of Venus and Mercury, the planets closest to the sun, you will need solar filters as these two planets give out blinding light.

What type of telescope is best for viewing planets?

  • Both refractor and reflector telescopes are great for observing planets. However, the best refractors deliver the sharpest and crispest views for a given aperture size.
  • Compound telescopes that make use of both lens and mirrors work even better because they can achieve incredible clarity.
  • Maksutov-Cassegrain telescopes offer large objective diameters and long focal lengths for the least cost and in compact packages.

Are Dobsonian telescopes good for viewing planets?

Since a Dobsonian telescope has minimal color fringing issues, it delivers great views of the planets and their features.

How strong does a telescope have to be to see planets?

To view planets, you need magnification powers of between 20x and 200x. This is delivered by a good telescope with a long focal length and a wide aperture paired with a good short-length eyepiece.

What magnification do you need to see Venus?

Venus is a very bright planet. A small telescope with magnifications upwards of 50x magnification will show you great images of Venus and allow you to track its phases.

How much magnification do you need to see Mars?

A detailed view of Mars requires at least a 100x to 200x magnification power. A telescope with a high effective magnification power can even show the dust storms and ice caps on the planet.

What magnification do you need to see Jupiter?

Jupiter is clearly visible at 40x to 300x magnifications. At high magnifications, you even get to see the Great Red Spot and the cloud bands.

What telescope do I need to see the rings of Saturn?

Even a small telescope with a 25x magnification power will show you Saturn’s rings. However, the best telescope for seeing the rings of Saturn as distinct from the planet has at least a 3-inch aperture and 150x magnification power.

Can you see Pluto with a telescope?

To see Pluto, you would need a large telescope with a 10 inches aperture as a minimum. This is because Pluto is very far away from earth and a very faint object in the sky.

That’s A Wrap

As astronomers say, the best telescope is the one you use the most. It’s not the one with the highest magnification power or fancy bells and whistles. The best telescopes for observing planets should not only deliver top-tier optics but should also be easy to use. Hope you find a great astronomy telescope that delivers such great views of planets that you’re left wanting to see and learn more.

Best Monoculars for Stargazing

Do you ever see something fascinating in the night sky and wish you could take a closer look? Perhaps you’re out camping or just looking out the window in your house. A monocular can come in handy at such times.

It’s compact and lightweight so you can take it along wherever you go and as long as you select one of the best monoculars for stargazing, you will enjoy an enhanced view of astronomical phenomena.

A good one can reveal the craters on the moon, larger star clusters, the moons orbiting Jupiter, the rings of Saturn, and more celestial objects.

To help out, we’ve compiled a list of the best monoculars for astronomy below. Also, be sure to check out the specs to look out for so you can choose a monocular that will serve you well in your study of the universe.

The Best Monoculars for Stargazing

Gosky 12×55 Monocular Telescope

Thanks to the excellent light gathering capability of a 55mm objective lens diameter, the Gosky monocular telescope is one of the best monoculars for stargazing.

Featuring fully multi-coated optics and BAK4 Prism, it brings the distant heavens closer and reveals a lot of detail you usually can’t see with your naked eye.

The Monocular is sealed and 100% nitrogen filled to keep out water, dust, debris, and prevent fog build up. A rubber armor protects the monocular against impacts while also providing a sure grip.

A long eye relief and twist up eye cups mean you can use it whether you wear glasses or don’t. And it comes with a tripod mount and smartphone adapter.

Pros

  • Rubber armor provides an anti-slip grip
  • Has a smooth focusing mechanism
  • Great for even glass wearers
  • Rugged and weatherproof construction
  • Tripod and smartphone holders included

Cons

  • The objective lens is a little narrower than the stated 55mm

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 55mm
  • Magnification: 10X
  • Lens Coating: Multi-Coated
  • Prism: BAK4
  • Dimensions: 2.19 x 3.25 x 5.45 inches
  • Weight: 15.85oz

Wingspan Optics Explorer 12X50 Monocular

The Wingspan Optics Explorer is one of the most powerful hand held monoculars available on the market today.

Looking through it, you can see not just the texture of the craters on the moon but also star clusters and constellations. It has a built-in tripod mount and comes with a small tripod.

Though it’s a tad more expensive that the typical monoculars you will come across, both the clarity of optics and quality of construction are superior. And it comes with a lifetime warranty to boot.

Pros

  • Wide field of view and very precise focus
  • Delivers stunning clarity
  • Easy to hold and adjust one handed
  • Has a tripod mount integrated
  • Comes with a pouch, lens cap, and small tripod
  • Works great with glasses on

Cons

  • A bit bulky but this speaks to the quality of the unit
  • The included tripod is flimsy

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 12X
  • Weight: 11 Ounces
  • Prism: Bak4

Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 10×36

You can’t make a mistake with the Vortex Optics Solo Monocular 10×36 for amateur astronomical observations. It’s known for amazingly sharp and clear optics and shows the moons of Jupiter nicely.

This is thanks to the generous 36mm objective lens diameter, 10X magnification, and fully multi-coated lens.

Nitrogen purged and O-ring sealed, the Solo is waterproof and fog proof. A rubber armor provides durability and a non-slip grip. Plus you can’t beat the lifetime warranty for everything but intentional damage.

Pros

  • Superb viewing experience
  • Adjustable eyecup great with or without glasses
  • Comes with a utility clip and neck strap
  • Great quality with a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Does not come with protective lens covers and there’s no screw hole for tripod
  • Focus ring is on the stiff side at the beginning

Model Specs

  • Magnification: 10X
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 36mm
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Dimensions: 4.88 x 2.17 x 2.36 inches
  • Weight: 9.9 ounces

Orion 10×42 Monocular

With a nice 42mm wide objective lens and a 10X magnification, the Orion 10×42 monocular offers an up close view of the moon. You can also see the stars and the planets in much more detail than you can make out with the naked eye.

You will find it comfortable to use whether you wear glasses or not. It boasts a long 17mm eye relief and twist up eye guards. As any reliable monocular should be, construction is moisture, fog, and shock proof.

Pros

  • Generous objective lens diameter
  • Great quality optics
  • Great for glass wearers as well
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Waterproof and shockproof

Cons

  • The included case and strap are not of very good quality

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42 mm
  • Focus: Center
  • Lens Costing: Fully multi-coated
  • Prism: BAK-7
  • Length: 6.1 inches
  • Weight: 11 ounces

Pankoo 40X60 Monocular Telescope

At 40X60, there’s no doubt that the Pankoo monocular is a reliable instrument for amateur astronomy.

With specs like a 40X magnification power, 60mm objective lens, fully multi-coated (FMC) lens and BAK4 prism, you can expect that this monocular will reveal some great details of the night sky.

Reviews attest that it shows details of the features on the moon, opens up stars we can’t see with our naked eye, shows comets, Jupiter’s moons, and even the rings of Saturn.

However, this kind of magnification power requires that you attach the monocular to a tripod. Good thing that the Pankoo already has this covered. It comes complete with a tripod and a smartphone adapter allowing you to capture photos of what you see.

Pros

  • Incredible quality of optics
  • Easy to carry in a backpack or purse
  • Robust, waterproof and anti-fogging
  • Comes with tripod and smartphone holder
  • Ability to take pictures with your smartphone

Cons

  • High power magnification means it’s hard to hold still in the hand
  • Not really a night vision monocular

Model Specs

  • Magnification: 10X
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 60mm
  • Focus: Center System
  • Prism: BAK4
  • Lens Coating: FMC
  • Weight: 14 oz.
  • Dimensions: 6. 7 x 3. 6 x 3. 1 inches

Emarth High Power 10-30X50 Zoom Monocular

The best thing about the Emarth zoom monocular is that you can adjust the magnification power from 10x to 30x depending on what you’re viewing.

It features a 50mm fully multi-coated lens and BAK-4 crystal prism, enabling you to see the surface of the moon, the red planet (Mars), the rings of Saturn, and the Galilean moons.

It is both fog proof and waterproof and boasts a rugged external armor.

Pros

  • Portable zoom monocular
  • Variable 10x to 30x magnification
  • High-quality optics
  • Focusing is easy
  • Excellent value for money
  • Comes with a protective carry case

Cons

  • A little on the heavy side

Model Specs:

  • Objective Lens: 50mm
  • Magnification: 10x-30x
  • Focus: Zoom
  • Lens Coating: FMC
  • Prism: BAK-4
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 3.14 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 15.7 ounces

Eyeskey HD 10-30×50 Zoom Monocular

The Eyeskey HD 10-30×50 will allow you to take a closer look of the universe. The 50mm lens let’s in plenty of light, which is great for astronomy targets such as Jupiter’s satellites and the zoom comes in handy.

It’s also equipped with fully multi-Coated lens and BAK-4 prism so the optics are top-notch. It’s nitrogen gas purged and O-Ring sealed to prevent moisture, dust, and fogging.

Pros

  • Easy to focus with one hand
  • Wide lens and ability to zoom
  • Features twist-up eye cups
  • Rubber exterior provides anti-slip grip

Cons

  • Costs a little bit more but the performance is worth it

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 10-30x
  • Prism: BAK-4
  • Focus: Manual
  • Lens: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Prism: BAK-4
  • Weight: 0.95 Pounds

Xgazer Optics 10×42 Point View Monocular

With a power of 10×42, the Xgazer Optics 10×42 Point View monocular is powerful enough to serve the needs of an amateur astronomer.

With a steady hand, you can get a clear view of larger night sky objects such as the Pleiades, the Hyades, the Andromeda Galaxy and the moon.

With an 18.4 eye-relief and twist up eye cup, it’s also one of the best options for glass wearers. It’s weatherproof and well made with a rugged rubber armor that also provides a great grip.

Pros

  • Anti-reflective lens coating
  • Great quality and outstanding value
  • Very fine adjustment
  • Small enough to fit in a coat pocket
  • Large enough to be easy to handle
  • Fantastic eye relief for eyeglass wearers
  • Wrist strap and case provided

Cons

  • A little heavy but this makes it easy to hold steady

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • Prism: BAK4
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Focus: Diopter
  • Dimensions : 6 x 2 x 3 inches
  • Weight: 1.25 pounds

Starboosa 12×50 Monocular Telescope

The Starboosa monocular telescope has the magnification power and light gathering capability required for casual stargazing.

12x zoom brings long distance objects closer while the 50mm aperture lets in a lot of light to deliver bright images in low light settings.

Very good build quality too. The body of the monocular is protected by a hard rubber armor and the monocular is waterproof and nitrogen purged.

Pros

  • Provides clear and bright images
  • Unique twist-up eyecup
  • Waterproof Oxford cloth backpack
  • Easy to focus with one finger
  • Attaches to a tripod and smartphones

Cons

  • The powerful magnification means it can be hard to hold steady without using a tripod

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 50mm
  • Magnification: 12x
  • Lens Coating: FMC
  • Prism: BAK-4
  • Dimension: 6.4 x 3.22 x 2.4 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces

Opticron BGA 8×42 Monocular

The Opticron BGA 8×42 monocular has just the right combination of specs for stargazing. The 8X magnification is powerful yet easy to hold steady while the 42mm let’s in plenty of light for viewing objects in the night sky.

This monocular is well built and comes with a thirty years guarantee. It’s waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, and nitrogen gas filled to keep fog at bay. It’s easy to use with and without glasses.

Pros

  • Easy to hold steady
  • The wide lens delivers bright images
  • Full field of view while wearing glasses
  • Lens and eyepiece cover and pouch included
  • Backed by a thirty-year guarantee

Cons

  • Doesn’t have a tripod mount

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42 Millimeters
  • Magnification: 8X
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-Coated
  • Dimensions 5.4 x 1.8 x 1.7 inches
  • Weight  9.9 ounces

Celestron Nature 10×25 Monocular

The name Celestron is astronomy-related so it’s a good thing that the Celestron Nature monocular doesn’t disappoint when it comes to stargazing.

Adjust it right and keep your hand steady (or attach it to a tripod) and you will be able to study the craters on the moon in more details. The multi-coated lens delivers clear and bright optics.

With Celestron’s reputation for quality telescopes, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to durability. It’s waterproof, fog proof, protected by a rubber covering, and backed by a lifetime warranty.

Pros

  • Easy to hold and use
  • Fairly easy to bring into sharp focus
  • Great view with or without glasses
  • Came with a nice case and lanyard
  • Backed by a lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Focusing isn’t very easy as the focus ring is stiff and the lanyard mount gets in the way.

Model Specs

  • Magnification Power: 10X
  • Objective Lens Diameter: 25mm
  • Lens: Multi-Coated
  • Focus: Diopter Dial
  • Dimensions: 3 x 3 x 6 inches
  • Weight: 6 Ounces

Bushnell Legend Ultra HD 10×42 Monocular

The Bushnell Legend Ultra HD is truly a legend in the world of monoculars. It utilizes Bushnell’s top tier technologies such as ED Prime Glass and PC-3 chemical coating to eliminate chromatic aberration and color-fringing and deliver exceptional optics in low light conditions.

You can also mount it on a tripod or attach your smartphone and capture photos of the night sky. Beyond this, it comes with a mil-dot reticle for estimating range or size of objects.

The construction quality is reassuringly robust. It’s O-ring sealed and nitrogen purged to keep out moisture and fogging.

Pros

  • Comfortable twist-up eyecups
  • The precise and fluid focusing ring
  • Can also estimate size and range
  • Easy to hold and manipulate with one hand
  • Compatible with tripod and smartphones
  • Retail box, lanyard, and holster included

Cons

  • A little bulky and the included accessories are not very good quality

Model Specs

  • Objective Lens Diameter: 42mm
  • Magnification: 10x
  • Prism: BAK-4
  • Focus: Manual
  • Lens Coating: Fully Multi-coated
  • Weight: 0.83 Pounds

What Makes A Good Monocular for Astronomy?   

Magnification power

At least 7X magnification power is required for stargazing. The highest magnification power isn’t always good though. It can be hard to hold a high powered monocular steady with your bare hands.

High powered monoculars with magnification powers above 12X require a tripod or monopad to stabilize the monocular.   

Accessories

A protective pouch, a neck strap, and a cleaning cloth are all good. Also good are a tripod mount and a smartphone holder as they give you more options when studying the sky.

You can set up the monocular on a tripod to keep it steady and use your smartphone to capture photos of what you see.

Build Quality

A monocular is bound to get dropped or knocked every once in a while. It should have a solid build and a rubber armor to enable it to withstand impacts. It should also be sealed to keep out moisture and dirt and nitrogen purged to keep fogging at bay.

Objective Lens Diameter

The larger the objective lens, the more light that enters the monocular, and the brighter the images you can see.

Also look for BAK4 prism and multicoated lenses as they let in more light resulting in brighter and crisp clear images.

Can You Stargaze with a Monocular?  

Monoculars with a wide objective lens diameter and a magnification power of at least 7X are good for stargazing.

The optical quality of a good monocular is comparable to that of standard binoculars.

What Can You See In Space Using A Monocular?

Looking through a monocular, you can see the craters on the moon, planets such as Mars and Jupiter, star clusters and comets.

If you have a really good monocular, you might even be able to spot the Galilean moons, Saturn’s rings, galaxies, and nebulae.

Are binoculars or monoculars better for stargazing?

As long as they have a magnification power of at least 7X and a wide objective lens, both binoculars and monoculars can be used for stargazing.

The advantage a monocular has over a binocular or telescope is that it’s more compact and lightweight thus easy for use on the go.

Both are not sufficient for in-depth study of objects in the night sky though. You will need a telescopes for that.

Wrapping Up

Most people think that only binoculars and telescopes are suitable for astronomy observations but they are wrong.

With one of the best monoculars for stargazing, you can see the night sky in impressive details and even make out stars you’ve never seen before.

What good is the best telescope or binocular if you don’t have it exactly where and when you need it. Investing in a compact and waterproof monocular can cut down on missed observation opportunities.

History of Astronomy

The night sky, with its twinkling stars and shimmering lights, has fascinated human beings for generations.

The fascinating night sky

Prehistoric man studied the night sky with the naked eye and used his observations for timekeeping, agriculture, and navigation.

And from the dawn of civilization, human beings have sought to understand and predict how the universe works. In fact, astronomy is considered the first and oldest natural science.

In this article, you will get an overview of the history of astronomy starting from antiquity to the modern times.

Prehistory

astronomical artefact
The Nebra Sky Disk: A Bronze Age Artifact

The history of astronomy dates back to antiquity. Celestial phenomena played a big part in the beliefs and practices of prehistoric men and women.

With their naked eye, they could spot the sun, the moon, the stars, and other celestial phenomenon.

Even back then, people could relate these objects and their movements to seasons, rain, drought, and tides.

They used their observations for practical purposes such as telling time, determining the time to plant, timing spiritual practices, and for navigation.

Even though the stone age man didn’t have formal ways to document their observations, historical records such as rock drawings and petroglyphs show that the Native Americans, Central Americans, North Europeans, and early Chinese cultures all practiced astronomy. These records include:

  • Polyglyphs dating from the Bronze Age (2900–1800 BC) show images of the sun and the star group known as the Pleiades.
  • The Stonehenge monument, dated to about 3100-1520 BC, features multiple astronomical alignments indicating it may have been a stone age astronomical site. Some speculate that it may have even been used to track and predict eclipses.
  • The Nebra Sky Disk, a bronze age plate dated to about 1600 BC, bears images of the crescent moon, the sun, and the Pleiades cluster of stars.
  • In 1054 BC, the Chinese, the Anasazi, and the Native Americans all recorded the supernova explosion that resulted in the Crab Nebula.

Western Astronomy

Formal western astronomy originated in ancient Babylonia, in Central Time Mesopotamia.

From as early as the BC era, people were making efforts to try and understand the motions and characteristics of celestial bodies and to determine the size and structure of the universe.

Because astronomy played a significant part in religious matters, the first astronomers were priests.

These temple astronomers diligently kept diaries of their night to night observations.

As a result, they were able to make some accurate observations and predictions as follows.  

  • The planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn were discovered by Babylonian astronomers in the first and second millennia.
  • Thanks to their meticulous record keeping, the Babylonian astronomers were also able to predict the behavior of the moon and the five planets they could see.
  • During the  Hellenistic civilization that followed the conquest of Alexander the Great, Greek astronomers took over where the Babylonians had left. Using mathematical models, they were able to calculate the motions of the planets and predict eclipses.
  • In the 2nd century BC, Hipparchus compiled the first catalog of stars and named the constellations.
  • Plato, Aristotle, and Claudius Ptolemy proposed the geocentric model that placed the Earth at the center of the Universe with the planets orbiting the earth in circular orbits.
  • Aristarchus (~310-230 BC) came up with the controversial heliocentric model  that claimed that the sun, instead of the earth, was at the center of the solar system with the Earth and other planets orbiting it in a circular motion. Unfortunately, many records of astronomical data including his work were lost in the great fire in Alexandria.
  • Eratosthenes (276-197 BC) was able to estimate the circumference of the Earth with an impressive accuracy. His calculations yielded a circumference of 40,250 km, which is very close to the current value of 40,075 km!
  • The year 964 is when the Andromeda galaxy was first observed. This became the first documented observation of another galaxy, other than the milky way.

The Copernican Revolution

Before the renaissance period, it was generally accepted that the universe was perfect and that the Earth was the center of the universe with all other celestial bodies orbiting it in perfect circular motions.

This Philosophy was embraced by the church and became the foundation of Church doctrine and university instruction during medieval times.

The Renaissance period saw the rise of many revolutionary ideas that challenged these beliefs.

The Copernicus revolution is named after Polish astronomer Nikolas Copernicus (1473-1543) who in 1543 dared to challenge church doctrine by reintroducing the heliocentric model that had the sun at the center of the solar system.

During this period, Tycho Brahe (1546-1601), a Danish Noble and astronomer, became astronomy’s first true observer. Using sextants and quadrants he constructed himself (the telescope still had not been invented), he was able to measure positions of planets and stars with a whole new level of accuracy.

History of Modern Astronomy

A Portrait of Johannes Kepler in 1610

Modern astronomy only began in the 17th century with Johannes Kepler’s (1571-1630) discoveries.

Using Brahe’s precise observations, Kepler was able to deduce that the planetary orbits were indeed elliptical not perfect circles.

After developing the law of Universal Gravitation and the laws of accelerated motion and inventing calculus, Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) managed to explain why the planets move the way they do.

From the dawn of civilization until the Copernicus revolution, astronomical activities were dominated by the study of the motions of celestial bodies and the accurate predictions of their behavior.

With Kepler’s and Newton’s discoveries, the goal of accurate prediction was finally achieved.

1609 was the year the telescope was invented. After constructing his own telescope, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) became the first person to study the night sky through the lens of a telescope.

Of course, this means that he was able to observe much more details than was previously possible. His game changing discoveries included:

  • Craters on the moon
  • Spots on the sun
  • Venus had phases
  • Jupiter had moons

Having pioneered the use of telescopes to study the heavens, Galileo became the father of modern astronomical observation.

Sir Isaac Newton’s development of the theory of light and invention of the reflecting telescope were also game changers.

Astronomy in the 20th Century

Despite the long history of astronomy, most of our current knowledge of the universe was only gained during the 20th century.

Thanks to the use of imaging technology, faint objects could be observed and studied.

Improvements in satellite launch in the early 1960s also allowed astronomers to collect even more astronomical data.

NASA’s deep space probes such as Voyager and Voyager 2 have ventured further into space than ever before.

Some of the notable discoveries of the 18-20th century include:

  • Discovery of the outer planets
  • Proving the existence of other galaxies
  • Discovery that the universe is expanding as evidenced by the recession of the other galaxies from us

Astronomy Today

Today, astronomers collect data about celestial objects by using large telescopes on the ground or launched into space.

These modern telescopes are equipped with massive mirrors that allow astronomer to detect even very faint and faraway objects.

An example of such a telescope is the James Webb Space Telescope. Boasting a sheer 6.5-metre-diameter mirror and equipped with high precision instruments, it’s set to give astronomers a groundbreaking glimpse of the universe.

jameswebbtelescopemirrors
The Golden Mirrors of the State of the Art James Webb Telescope

To Wrap Up

Astronomy has come a long way since the pre-historic days. But while we know quite a bit now, a lot still remains to be discovered and studied.

Thankfully, we now have complex telescopes and advanced imaging technology to help us capture even faint and distant phenomena and study them in much more detail.

The future of astronomy definitely has a lot more exciting discoveries in store for us!

Astronomy vs Astrology: What is The Difference?

If you get confused about the difference between astronomy and astrology, you’re not alone.

Actually, these two fields were considered one and the same thing up until the Age of Reason.

So what caused the split between the two fields and what are the astronomy vs astrology differences?

Read on to find out.

Definition of Astronomy vs Astrology

Astronomy is a branch of science that studies the universe as a whole. This includes the sun, the stars, the planets and their moons, the asteroids, and the galaxies.

On the other hand, Astrology is the study of how the positions, motions, and properties of the sun, stars and planets affect people and events on Earth.

This quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson sums astrology best:

`Astrology is astronomy brought down to Earth and applied towards the affairs of men.’

The twelve signs of the Zodiac

The Similarities Between Astronomy and Astrology

The most obvious similarity is the common prefix ‘Astro’. The word means that both fields entail the observation of the stars and other celestial bodies.

Just like they share the prefix, the two also share a common origin.

During the ancient times, there was no distinction between the two fields.

The study of the heavens was done by priests, who served the role of both astronomer and astrologer.

Which Came First?

Even though the two practices were intertwined in the beginning, astrology is considered the older of the two.

Ancient humans only studied the heavens for one reason: to predict the seasons and determine the right timings for important events.

Still, the practice of astronomy was the foundation upon which astrology was based.

In fact, the quest to make more accurate predictions of future events played a major role in the development of astronomy.

When Did The Two Fields Separate and Why?

The split between the two areas of study happened during the “long 18th century” (the period between 1685-1815).

The separation began with Sir Isaac Newton’s explanation of some of the laws that govern the universe.

While celestial phenomena could be explained by these laws, astrology predictions couldn’t.

Astronomy was confirmed a true science, while astrology was demoted to a pseudoscience.

Differences Between Astronomy and Astrology

Astronomy is a Science, Astrology is a Pseudoscience

astronomy
Astronomy makes use of scientific instruments

Astronomy is a scientific practice in every way.

From the use of scientific instruments such as telescopes to make observations of celestial phenomena to the use of laws of physics, mathematics and peer reviews to explain and verify findings.

Astrology, however, does not follow the logical approach. Astrologers and other believers of astrology believe that:

  • Celestial objects such as stars possess a metaphysical or divine essence that influences events in the world.
  • How the stars and planets are aligned affects human behavior and personality traits.

Astrologers do rely on astronomical studies and use some scientific tools such as star charts to determine the positions of celestial bodies. But this is as far as their reliance on science goes.

Their assertions are based on mystical reasoning, symbolism, traditional folklore, and superstition. There’s no attempt to explain or back astrological predictions using the scientific method.

Both Fields Have Different Objectives

True, both astrology and astronomy entail the observation of the night sky.

However, the motivation behind the observation is not the same.

In astronomy, astronomers aim to identify celestial objects and understand their properties, motions, and relationship with each other.

Astrologers, on the other hand, use the positions and movements of celestial objects to predict human events and personal behavior.

Does Astrology Work? Why Is It Still Popular?

Despite being relegated to the realm of superstition, the practice remains popular to this date.

Millions of people around the world still consult astrologers and modern publications reserve a section for horoscope readings.

So why is this the case? Why didn’t people stop believing in star signs even though the practice isn’t backed by science?

First off, the practice was already ingrained in humanity. I mean, this is something that originated in antiquity.

And the predictions are tied to the heavens, where many believe their God to reside. It’s only natural for them to look for guidance and seek a sign from the heavens when making important life decisions.

The Barnum Effect or Forer Effect also works in favor of astrology. While astrologers make general predictions with multiple possibilities and behavior tendencies, people tend to find personal meaning in the predictions.

A example of a horoscope reading

What About Cosmology and Astrophysics?

Cosmology and Astrophysics are two other fields that are often confused with astronomy and astrology. Here is what these two terms mean:

  • Cosmology entails the study of the origin and development of the universe. Right now, the Big Bang Theory is the prevailing model.
  • Astrophysics applies the principles and laws of physics to explain how the stars, planets, galaxies, and the universe in general works.

To Wrap Up

Even though the two areas started as one, they are now two distinct fields.

Astronomy is a scientific and academic field, while astrology is now considered a form of divination and superstition.

Still, both of them remain popular practices even in the modern world.

If you’re interested in celestial objects such as stars, planets, comets, asteroids, nebulas, and galaxies, all these fall under astronomy and so do space travel and alien life.

But if you’d like to know your personality traits and how you’re likely to behave as dictated by your star sign, you will be operating in the realm of astrology.

Are Aliens Real?

Do they exist? Look at these images and videos. Then judge for yourself.

Super clear footage of UFO in Quebec

I believe this was recorded in Oct of 2018. The footage is jumpy but gets really good just after two minutes. You can pause the YouTube video then press period “.” or comma “,” to go forward or backward frame by frame.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujGL8QT0lVY

And below are some still frames I snapped of the object recorded from the above video which just blow my mind.

The object seems to rotate over the course of the video from straight on edge to on its side so we can see the shape. What do you think it is, balloon, secret human tech or… alien?

At first the object appears sort of on edge.

It then begin to rotate so we can start to better see its shape.

Now we can see the object a little more clearly and it has some kind of U shape.

The surface material on the object appears to reflect sunlight in a strange way, could be some kind of engines or just how the camera picks it up.

Now we can see it fully rotated and has a sort of head or curved part on the upper right of the object.

Another shot just a little closer.

Another close up shot of the object. What’s also interesting is the surface material is very reflective in that it produces different colors and even some small points of light of green or turquoise color can be seen.

Mystery Wire UFO Photos

And these more recent photos of UFOs from Mystery Wire, which are now confirmed by the US government as authentic photos and that they don’t know what those UFOs are, may get you thinking too…

The Metallic Blimp

This one is my favorite of the Mystery Wire photos. Because is shows the object is reflecting light from the sun, coming from the left. It’s not a heat signature, or a black and white blob. It has depth, color and light reflection. Cool!

And also you can see there are two small orbs or possible extensions with little speheres near the top left and bottom right, see below:

The Acorn UFO

Looks like an acorn, right? Why not.

The Sphere

I have no idea what this one is… could just be a cloud?

The Transmedium Sphere

Apparently there were more of these spehres on radar surrounding the USS Omaha in 2019. This one was filmed with a thermal video camera, black spots being hotter, and then it disappears into the water.

The Pyramid

Multiple triangular or pyramid shaped UFOs flying over the USS Russell. These photos were taken with night vision camera.

The Rotating UFO and the Speedy UFO

The rotating UFO is just weird because and apparently there were a fleet of these things according to the first words the pilot says in the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auITEKd4sjA

The Tic-Tac Incident from 2004

David Fravor and another pilot, actually four people in total (two jets, two people per jet), claimed to have seen a ~40 foot white smooth tic tac shaped object, sort of like a big propane tank, hovering and bouncing around just above the waters surface back in 2004 off the coast of San Diego while on a training exercise.

David approached the object from above and it appeared to mimic his flying pattern by approach him from below. Meaning the object was aware of his jet. When the two got close the tic-tac object sped off at incredible speed and nearly instantly was tracked 60 miles away on radar by the ship David’s jet belonged to.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ygB4EZ7ggig

The Full 60 Minutes Special

A 13 minute 60 minutes episode detailing some of the above UFO photos and pilot reactions. I’ve watched this a few times and it’s a fun clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBtMbBPzqHY

NASA Picks Four Potential Landing Sites for 2016 Mars Mission

Mars is the planet we have explored most in the solar system but we are not even close to uncovering the mysteries of the red planet.  NASA has an unmanned Mars lander mission scheduled for 2016. Currently, scientists are evaluating potential landing sites for the lander. From 22 potential landing sites, NASA has now narrowed down to four.

NASAs Mars Insight Lander

NASAs Mars Insight Lander Image Source

The four sites are located near each other in an equatorial plain located in the Elysium Planitia region of Mars. This choice wasn’t guided by the suitability of the site for mission objectives. Mission safety and survival were the main concerns.

These four sites are the safest for landing because of the smooth terrain which has a few rocks and little slope. All the four are located in an area near the equator to ensure that the lander’s solar array has adequate power all year round. The region also has low elevation to ensure there is sufficient atmosphere above the site for a safe landing.

What Is The Mission About?

The lander is known as InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport. It is set to launch in March 2016, travel to Mars for six months and land in September 2016.

The probe will explore the interior of Mars and not the surface. This study will help us gain a deeper understanding of the processes that formed and shaped the rocky planets of the inner solar system including Earth. Being a stationery lander, it will not move about on the surface of mars like the Mars Exploration Rovers.

Now NASA scientists will focus two of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s cameras to study the four sites and select the best site for the landing mission.

 

 

Weekly Space News Round-up, August 31-September 6

Researchers Observe an Exoplanet with a Water Rich Atmosphere  

As the search for Earth like and potentially habitable planets outside the solar system (exoplanets) continues, a Japanese Team of astronomers and planetary scientists has observed what seems to be a water rich atmosphere on an exoplanet.

Artists Concept of The Transit of GJ 1214b in Blue Light

Artists Concept of The Transit of GJ 1214b in Blue Light Image Source

This exoplanet is known as GJ 1214b. It is 40 light years from us and was discovered in 2009. Its mass and radius is larger than that of Earth but smaller than that of ice giants such as Neptune and Uranus making it a super earth.

The researchers made blue light observations of the light scattering of GJ 1214b’s transit around its star to determine whether its atmosphere is rich in water or hydrogen.

What they found hints that the planet has a water-rich atmosphere and their findings are consistent with findings from observations made in other colors. The researchers plan to make follow-up observations to confirm their findings.

Possibility to Observe Dark Energy Turn On

Our universe has been and is expanding. The force of gravity should be slowing down the rate of expansion but it is not. The universe is expanding much faster now.  The force accelerating the expansion remains a mystery but cosmologists have considered different possibilities. The most accepted theory is a mysterious force known as dark energy.

We cannot see dark energy directly but there is a possibility that astronomers will see it turn on and learn more about its nature in the Dark Energy Survey.

A five year mission to map an eighth of the sky in incredible detail creating a time lapse movie of the past 8 billion years of a section of the universe is going on at the Cerro Tololo astronomical Observatory in Chile.

On a moonless night, it gets so incredibly dark outside this observatory that you cannot see your feet or hands. If you hold your hands up to the sky in the pitch darkness, you see a hand shaped hole with no stars in it.

Supermassive Black Holes Keep Galaxies from Expanding

The universe is expanding. Galaxies are not. Scientists have always wondered why. Something mysterious must be regulating their rate of star formation and keeping them from growing more massive or overflowing with stars.

New observations have shown one supermassive black hole’s jets blowing huge amounts of potential star forming material clear out of its galaxy. These powerful jets keeping the raw material for star formation out of galaxies may be the reason why galaxies are not getting bigger. For example, the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy might be preventing our galaxy from expanding.

September Night Sky: See Venus and Moon Together on Sept 8

Get your telescopes ready this Sunday evening (Sept 8) to watch Venus and the Moon together in the sky. The crescent moon will pass near the dazzling planet Venus.

The best time to view this event is just before and after sunset. If you live in Argentina or Chile, you are especially lucky as you will have an opportunity to witness the spectacular event known as an occultation where the moon will actually pass in front of Venus.

NASA Prepares for First Virginia Space Coast Launch to the Moon

If you’ve never witnessed a launch to the Moon, here is good news for you. NASA is about to send a new probe to the moon. The new mission is not a landing mission but it is a great opportunity to witness a launch to the moon.

Artist Illustration of The LADEE Probe Orbiting the Moon

Artist Illustration of The LADEE Probe Orbiting the Moon Image Source

The probe is known as LADEE, which stands for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer. It is a small, car size robotic probe that has the innovative and budget friendly common bus design.

Final preparations to launch it on September 6 are ongoing. It will launch from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island aboard a US Air Force Minotaur V rocket, an excess ballistic missile converted into a space launch rocket. It will begin its mission and activities one month after launch.

The probe will study the structure and composition of the thin lunar atmosphere and investigate whether dust is being lofted into the lunar sky. Its findings will answer prevailing questions about the moon and give insights on other bodies in the solar system.

The Moon’s atmosphere is believed not to be so different from that of other bodies in the solar system. By understanding the characteristics and atmosphere of the moon, scientists will be able to understand other bodies in the solar system including other natural satellites, asteroids, comets and planets. It will also test the common bus design to inform its application on future missions.

A Mission of Many Firsts

The LADEE mission is a mission with many firsts. It is the first spacecraft designed, developed, built, integrated and tested by NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffat Field, California. It is the first flight of the Minotaur V rocket testing of a high data rate laser communication system. Finally, it is the first launch beyond Earth orbit from NASA’s Virginia space coast launch facility.

Weekly Space News Roundup, August 24-30

Magmatic Water Found on the Moon’s Surface

The discovery of liquid water anywhere else in the universe other than Earth is always a big deal because water is considered a necessity of life.

Scientists have detected magmatic water on the surface of our Moon. Magmatic water is water that comes from deep within the Moon’s interior, in the lunar crust and mantle.

This is the first time such a detection of this type of lunar water has occurred. For years, the rocks on the moon were believed to be completely dry. Some water was detected in Apollo samples but was assumed to be contamination from Earth.

Then a few years ago, the interior of the moon was revealed not be to be as dry as previously believed. Around the same time, a thin layer of water was found on the lunar surface. It was taken to result from solar wind interacting with the surface of the Moon.

The discovery published in the August 25 issue of Nature Geoscience adds to the understanding of lunar water and opens up possibilities for farther studies.

Prepare To Take a Peek of Comet ISON This September

Get ready to spot Comet ISON this September by keeping your telescope ready.

Astronomers are following this comet as it brightens. It will appear as a glowing dirty snowball. It could make just a good show or a spectacular show that will make history.

In early September, it will come within range of 8 inch telescope and 4-inch telescope at the end of the month.

Since it is approaching Earth from the morning side, it is best viewed two hours before sunrise as it lies low in the East before dawn.

For information on how best to view it and charts of its location go to Astronomy.com

Are We All Martians?

A team of researchers claim to have found evidence that we are all Martians supporting the long debated theory that life on Earth started on Mars then landed on Earth through rocks flung after massive collisions with asteroids or comets.

Professor Steven Benner, a reputable American chemist, presented the controversial theory on August 29 claiming that Earthlings are Martians. His claims are based on findings by his team of researchers and will probably raise debate and controversy on the origin of life.

The Mars Curiosity Roverfound evidence of liquid water on Mar’s past indicating that the red planet might have harbored life in the past. Additionally, about 120 asteroids whose origin is Mars have been found on Earth.

Our Galaxy’s Supermassive Black Hole is a Sloppy Eater

At the center our galaxy, the Milky Way, there is a supermassive black hole. It is like a monster; gigantic, dark and greedy. For a long time, it was believed to consume anything that comes near it. Not any more!

The Chandra X-ray Observatory has revealed that it is a sloppy eater. It does not consume everything that comes close to it. It spits back some of the material into space.

A cool image shows it capturing hot gas ejected by nearby stars and funneling it towards its event horizon indicating that it does not devour everything.

 

New Earth Size Exoplanet Discovered

700 light years from us is an Earth size planet where almost three years pass in the time it takes for Earth to rotate on its own axis. Welcome to Kepler 78b!

Kepler 78b Orbiting Its Star At A Very Close Distance

Kepler 78b Orbiting Its Star At A Very Close Distance Image Source: National Geographic

We just learnt of its existence this year when a team of astronomers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) detected the exoplanet when studying the data collected by the Kepler Space Telescope in its observation of more than 150,000 stars in a section of the galaxy to look for Earth size planets.

They named the new exoplanet Kepler 78b and the discovery was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Kepler 78b Has One of the Shortest Orbital Periods

When they made the discovery, the team was focused on finding Earth size planets that have extremely short orbital periods. They found one of the shortest orbital periods ever discovered.

The new exoplanet orbits its star in 8.5 hours. That is how short a year is there.

The fact that it is extremely close to its parent star means that it only has a little distance to cover in its orbit.

In fact, it is 40 times closer to its star than Mercury is to the sun.

Its star rotates at a speed more than twice that of the sun indicating that it is probably a relatively young star that has not had much time to slow down.

Kepler 78b is a small fireball of a planet

It is so near its star that its surface temperatures is likely to be as high as a scorching 3000 degrees Kelvin. Its surface is covered by a massive ocean of lava.

Scientists are planning to study the gravitational effect it has on its star given its close proximity and use the results to estimate its mass.

Kepler 78b is an Earth Size Exoplanet

The new exoplanet is the size of Earth. To determine its size, astronomers measured the light emitted by the planet and determined the amount by which the overall light dimmed when the planet passed behind the star.

This discovery marks the first time that astronomers managed to detect the light given off by a planet that small. The light is emitted by radiation from its heated surface and the light reflected by the lava and atmospheric vapor on its surface. By studying the light using advanced telescopes, we could learn more about the planet’s composition, surface and reflective properties.

Is Kepler 78b A Habitable Exoplanet?

Given its close proximity to its star and the scorching temperature, Kepler 78b is most likely not habitable.

Living there would be like living on a volcano. Its surface is covered by molten lava.