Professional Telescopes

Space and ground-based telescopes have not only transformed astronomical research, but they are impressive feats of engineering in themselves. The Hubble Space Telescope — the first large (2.5m) space-based telescope — can lay claim to some of mankind’s greatest discoveries.

But astronomers have multiple means of seeing the universe. They’ve equipped a Boeing 747 with a 2.5m telescope that looks out of a hole cut in the craft’s fuselage; they’ve placed 66 radio dishes on a plateau in the Chilean Andes, providing some of the sharpest views of the universe yet; and they’ve even designed telescopes no bigger than a loaf of bread. Sky & Telescope keeps you up to date on new ingenious methods of peering into the depths of space.

Here's the Wild Duck Cluster (Messier 11) as recorded with the USNO's just-released URAT1 survey. The magnitude limit is 19.0.U.S. Naval Observatory

New Ultra-Deep Star Catalog Released

With the initial release of the USNO's Robotic Astrometric Catalog (URAT1), astronomers now have precise positions for about 228 million stars in the northern sky. Given my love of stone walls, I've been thinking about building one in the backyard to enclose the flower beds. But I haven't had the gumption to actually buy...

Lick's Great Refractor

Lick Observatory Gets a Reprieve

Last year the University of California ordered its astronomers to make historic Lick Observatory self-supporting by 2018. Now there's been a change of heart, and the university will continue to pay for its operation.

Star before and after adaptive optics

Next-Gen Adaptive Optics

The Subaru Telescope has donned a new pair of glasses called Raven, a multi-object adaptive optics system that enables astronomers to correct for atmospheric turbulence over an unprecedented field of view.

Planck cosmic microwave background

Planck Spacecraft Shut Down

After four years of exquisite observations, the latest mission to study the universe's earliest light has been shuttered. But this end is a happy one and comes with a significant cosmological legacy.

XMM-Newton Slew Survey

Glimpse the X-ray Sky

Time and tide wait for no man. So the XMM-Newton space telescope is making every second count. As the telescope shifts its gaze from source to source, it's recording the X-ray sky.

magnetar

A Cosmic Sleight of Hand

Astronomers have been waiting for our galaxy’s slumbering supermassive black hole to stir for a snack. Instead, the universe handed them a different treat.