Category Archives: Learn

Learn about space and astronomy

What is a radio telescope?

Many stars give off radio waves along with light on various spectrum. Astronomers are able to use large radio receiving dishes to collect and study these radio waves that are being sent out by the stars. Most people associate magnifying lenses and mirrors with telescopes but in the radio telescopes, the saucer shaped radio reflectors are the equivalent of the “mirrors”.

Radio telescope
Australian Radio Telescope Array in rural New South Wales. Mercury, Venus, and the Moon happened to be aligned above the array.

Radio telescopes allowed us to tune into distant stars, galaxies and celestial bodies that do not give off any visible light to be seen by optical telescopes. Radio telescopes also allow astronomers to “see through” other obstructions like clouds, cosmic dust and various gases found in space. The world’s largest single-aperture radio telescope is found at the SRI International operated Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and its bowl is 1,000 feet across.  The Arecibo Observatory sustained some damage during a 6.4 magnitude earthquake on January 13, 2014 which required emergency repairs.


What is an eclipse?

An eclipse occurs when two planetary bodies are in line with the Sun. The body farther away from the Sun is in the shadow of the one closer. For us here on Earth, we can have eclipses of both the Sun (solar eclipse) and the Moon (lunar eclipse).

Lunar Eclipse of the Moon
Lunar Eclipse from November 2003

A lunar eclipse happens when the Earth comes between the Sun and the Moon, thereby rendering our satellite in darkness as it passes through our planet’s shadow. Lunar eclipses occur on a full moon and are visible anywhere on Earth that happens to be in night time. Like solar eclipses, there are also many myths and superstitions associated with lunar eclipses.

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“A long time ago…In a galaxy far, far away…”

Those words hold immense meaning for those of a certain age who have grown up with George Lucas’ Star Wars saga. Lucas introduced us to a fascination with space – something that minds seek out and devour with its treasure trove of exhilarating discoveries and mysteries of the unknown. This fascination has long existed throughout human history and is a natural result of Earth bound humans, looking up in the sky with wonder, amazement, fear and questions.

Secrets of Space will hope to add to this treasure hunt for all things space…deep space…outer space…our infinite universe.