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By Frank D. Roylance, The Baltimore Sun | October 3, 2011
Congressional wrangling over the future of the overdue, over-budget James Webb Space Telescope has split astronomers in a struggle over billions in funding. Astrophysicists worry that action in the U.S. House to eliminate funding for the Webb project, which already employs hundreds of people in Greenbelt and Baltimore, would extinguish a century-long quest for knowledge about the origins of the universe, just as it seemed to be headed for new triumphs. "The project is the core of astronomy; not only astrophysics, and not just in the U.S., but in the world," said astrophysicist Alan Dressler of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.
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By Steve Jones, For The Baltimore Sun | February 3, 2014
Stephanie Todd, 8, smiled broadly as she talked about the pink telescope that sits in her home. But she's even more excited about the opportunity to look through a telescope that has some history. "The first thing I'm going to look for is [the constellation] Orion," she said, "which is the kind of star that I see outside, and is always so noticeable. " If everything goes as planned for the Howard Astronomical League, Stephanie will be gazing at Orion through the Paul Watson telescope - a device built by a renowned Johns Hopkins University professor that will be the main attraction at Howard County's new observatory.
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NEWS
By Dennis O'Brien and Dennis O'Brien,Sun reporter | April 25, 2007
European astronomers have found what could be the first habitable planet outside our solar system, a sphere a bit bigger than Earth covered by rocks or oceans, 20.5 light-years away. Researchers aren't sure whether the planet has oxygen, carbon or other essential building blocks of life. But it orbits at the right distance from its star to make conditions ripe for an essential ingredient to life as we know it. "The temperature is right to have water," said Stephane Udry, an astronomer at the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland and lead author of the report published today as a letter to the editor in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.
NEWS
By Nayana Davis | January 23, 2014
An astronomy observatory is among the new additions coming to Alpha Ridge Park in Marriottsville. The observatory is part of the Howard Astronomical League's public outreach efforts to encourage the community to learn more about astronomical science in a direct, hands-on manner, according to a release announcing the project. It will feature a dome 15 feet in diameter, Watson telescope and an observing platform. One of the structure's four walls will be used as a projection screen to view live images captured by the telescope and for educational presentations.
NEWS
By Los Angeles Times | September 29, 1994
The universe is a far younger and smaller place than anyone suspected, two independent teams of distinguished astronomers announced yesterday. In fact, the universe may be only about half as old as the oldest stars and galaxies it contains.That fundamental paradox -- sure to keep philosophers, theologians and astronomers awake at night -- is one byproduct of the newest and most accurate estimates of the size and age of the universe.Taken together, the new findings promise to startle the astronomical world by challenging some long-held assumptions about the properties of the universe, which encompasses all known matter and space, since it evolved from a primeval fireball.
NEWS
By Douglas Birch | December 12, 1991
Scientists may get one of their last chances today to solve the stubborn puzzle of a tiny, unidentified object now more than a half-million miles from Earth.Steve Ostro, an astronomer with NASA, will try to use radio telescopes in its Deep Space Network in Goldstone, Calif., to bounce radar waves off the 30-foot-long object, which is drifting behind the planet like a cork in the wake of an ocean liner.Donald K. Yeomans, another scientist with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said Dr. Ostro has also arranged to try again Dec. 20, using the world's largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.
NEWS
By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE | May 14, 2000
WASHINGTON - Poor Albert. For 89 years, Albert has been lost - in space. The 2-mile-wide asteroid was discovered in 1911, but when later generations of astronomers looked for it, it wasn't where it was supposed to be. Of the 14,788 asteroids that have been found, numbered and plotted for two centuries, a handful have gotten lost. All were rediscovered, except for Albert 719."Let's say it would have been in the cold-case file by now," said Gareth Williams, the camera-shy astronomer who helped track down Albert.
NEWS
By Doug Birch and Doug Birch,Sun Staff Writer | September 23, 1994
Call it the case of the noisy neighbor.Since the nearby galaxy Cygnus A was first discovered in the 1960s, scientists have puzzled over how it churns out tremendous amounts of radio energy, making it the second strongest source of radio waves in the cosmos.Now three astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have stumbled onto evidence that a quasar -- a mysterious object that can emit a trillion times as much energy as the sun -- nestles at Cygnus A's core, broadcasting all that radio babble.
NEWS
By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE | July 11, 2003
In new observations of a distant region of primitive stars, astronomers have found the oldest known planet, a huge gaseous object almost three times as old as Earth and nearly as old as the universe. The discovery, based on measurements by the Hubble Space Telescope, challenged scientists to rethink theories of how, when and where planets form. It is tantalizing evidence, astronomers said, that planets began appearing billions of years earlier than previously thought and therefore might be more abundant.
NEWS
By Frank D. Roylance and Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF | December 8, 1998
After just five days of observations at their New Mexico observatory last summer, astronomers discovered what they say are the two most distant quasars ever observed, plus another now ranked No. 4.A member of the international Sloan Digital Sky Survey team, which includes the Johns Hopkins University, where news of the discovery was released yesterday, said the new quasars were ** detected at perhaps 15 billion light-years from Earth -- so distant that...
NEWS
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | December 5, 2013
Scientists are still hoping to learn much from Comet ISON, but as it fizzles, sky watchers who were hoping to see it can get a glimpse of Comet Lovejoy instead. Lovejoy, officialy known as C/2013 R1, came its closest to Earth on Nov. 19, about 37 million miles away, according to EarthSky.org . It is near the constellation Bootes and the bright star Arcturus just over the northeast horizon in the early mornings in December, and you can see it with binoculars. It will get closer to the horizon and harder to spot as the month goes on. Despite the fact that ISON is no longer expected to be bright enough to see with the naked eye, scientists are tracking it as it moves away from the sun. Those at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore plan to observe it with the Hubble Space Telescope once it moves far enough from the sun's glare.
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By Arthur Hirsch, The Baltimore Sun | November 22, 2013
In a room with concrete block walls from which he can barely see the sky, Drake Deming explores the heavens. Several days a week he can be found in his office at the University of Maryland, College Park, surrounded by three computer screens, analyzing information about planets outside our solar system. In these remote regions - no closer than four light years - roughly 24 trillion miles - and as far as hundreds of light years away - scientists hope one day to find an Earth-like world capable of supporting life.
HEALTH
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | September 10, 2013
A comet looping behind the sun right now could emerge this fall as a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle that shines in the sky so brightly, it is visible with the naked eye around the world - if it survives. Comet C/2012 S1, dubbed Comet ISON in honor of the network of observatories responsible for spotting it, is expected to pass about 40 million miles from Earth in December. As it grazes the sun, it could glow on the early morning and evening horizons from November into January if it survives that close-up encounter.
NEWS
By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun | October 17, 2012
Gart Westerhout, an internationally known radio astronomer who established the astronomy department at the University of Maryland, College Park and was scientific director at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, died Sunday of congestive heart failure at the Charlestown retirement community in Catonsville. He was 85. The son of an architect and a writer, he was born and raised in The Hague, Netherlands, where he also graduated from high school. Dr. Westerhout earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics, physics and astronomy in 1950 from the University of Leiden, and earned his master's degree in the discipline in 1954.
NEWS
By Scott Dance | June 6, 2012
Did you watch the transit of Venus last night? Clouds threatened, but it sounds like they cleared in time for most to see the transit. Check out the photos above and to the left to see how others saw it. Or if you have your own to share, upload them here . Was it all you thought it would (or wouldn't) be? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather with your reaction. Read more about the transit in my  story from Sunday's paper : When Venus passed between Earth and the sun 251 years ago Tuesday, scientists scribbled downobservations that helped calculate a rough estimate of the size of our solar system.
NEWS
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | June 2, 2012
When Venus passed between Earth and the sun 251 years ago Tuesday, scientists scribbled down observations that helped calculate a rough estimate of the size of our solar system. Using crude telescopes, they watched the yellow planet move across the sun's face as a tiny black disk. There is little more the same rare phenomenon, known as a transit of Venus, will reveal about our closest neighbors in space when it occurs again Tuesday. But astronomers will be watching nonetheless, hoping it will teach them to better discover and investigate planets that are much farther away and could sustain life.
NEWS
By Frank D. Roylance and Frank D. Roylance,SUN STAFF | November 28, 2001
Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope say they have for the first time detected the atmosphere of a planet outside our solar system. What they found wasn't very appealing - sodium, in an atmosphere hot enough to melt pocket change. But scientists were delighted they could learn anything at all about the environment on a planet 150 light-years away. And they're hoping their discovery will be the first in a series that will compare the atmospheres of a host of "extra-solar" planets, perhaps eventually leading them to one that is hospitable to life.
NEWS
By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE | October 11, 2003
CLEVELAND - Astronomers said yesterday that they had determined the time in cosmic history when a mysterious force, "dark energy," began to wrench the universe apart. Some 5 billion years ago, said Adam Riess, an astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the universe experienced a "cosmic jerk." Before then, he said, the combined gravity of the galaxies and everything else in the cosmos was resisting the cosmic expansion, slowing it down. Since the jerk, though, the universe has been speeding up. The results were based on observations by a multinational team of astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope to search out exploding stars known as Type 1a supernovae, reaching back in time three-quarters of the way to the big bang in which the universe was born.
NEWS
By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun | May 2, 2012
It's rare to witness the entirety of a murder. But that's how some local scientists investigated exactly what happened during a fatal attack in 2010. The victim? A star — a massive red giant — 2.7 million light-years away that had lost its outer layers in previous brushes with its attacker. The perpetrator was a massive black hole that swallowed the star and spewed its guts out into space over the course of a year. A team led by a Johns Hopkins University researcher conducted the probe, and astronomers say its findings could lead to discoveries that shed new light on the central role black holes may play in the growth of galaxies.
NEWS
October 4, 2011
Tuesday's announcement that Hopkins astronomer Adam G. Riess will share this year's Nobel Prize in physics acknowledges his huge contribution to scientific knowledge. From the study of giant exploding stars millions of light-years from Earth, Mr. Riess and his colleagues, Saul Perlmutter of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and Brian P. Schmidt of the Australian National University in Australia, deduced the astonishing hypothesis that our universe is being violently blown apart by an immensely powerful, previously unsuspected force.
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