telescopes

The Lick Observatory's Newest Telescope Is An Exoplanet Hunting Robot

Exoplanets — planets orbiting stars that aren’t our Sun — seem to be popping out of the cosmic woodwork now that we know where and how to look for them. The Kepler mission alone has discovered 961 of them, and it’s only looking at a tiny sliver of distant space. Just think of how many we’ll find when the new James Lick robotic telescope comes online and starts surveying one thousand of our closest solar neighbours.


The World's Largest Telescope Is Finally Getting Underway

It’s been almost five years since Gizmodo first reported on the Thirty Meter Telescope, a mega-telescope with a resolution ten times that of the Hubble. Now, it seems the long-delayed project’s time has come: Hawaii has agreed to lease a parcel of land for the telescope, and officials say construction could begin as soon as April.


Lasers Create Ultra-Lightweight Mirrors From Styrofoam Beads

It’s much easier for a telescope to see deep into the universe when it doesn’t have to peer through the Earth’s atmosphere, but getting them into space is expensive. There is a much cheaper solution though, as researchers have actually found a way to make incredibly light mirrors using lasers and polystyrene — aka styrofoam — beads.


Monster Machines: This Foldable Space Telescope Would Put Big Optics In Small Rockets

For all the futuristic advancements packed into modern space-based telescopes, they all still rely on the same bulky, heavy glass optics that Galileo used centuries ago. But thanks to this DARPA project, future telescopes could eventually use optics as thin as saran wrap to peer into deep space.


Australia's Using Pop Radio To Track Space Junk

Space junk is a serious problem: it threatens satellites and spacecraft, and can plummet unpredictably to earth. Australia’s Murchison Widefield Array is a high-sensitivity radio telescope that tracks space debris as small as one metre across, by observing how the objects reflect FM signals from Australian radio stations. It’s listening to pop music from space.


How A Superconducting Camera Could Revolutionise Astrophysics

Over the past four decades, the field of astrophysics has enjoyed a pair of massive technological advances. First, we jumped from archaic photographic plates that relied on chemical emulsions to charge couple devices (CCDs). Now, the transition from CCDs to hyperspectral imaging devices that utilise exotic superconducting materials could change how we see the stars forever.


The Telescope That Told Us The Age Of The Universe Retires Today

The Planck deep space telescope is off to a warm retirement. After a four-year mission that revealed the universe is 80 million years older than scientists estimated, Planck is headed to a permanent parking spot orbiting the sun. Rest well, little traveller.


Supermassive Black Hole 'Indigestion' Is Super Gorgeous

On the other side of the universe, a supermassive black hole is devouring enormous quantities of matter and spewing material in a jet that’s 150 light-years long. One scientist identifies the situation as “black hole indigestion”, and boy is it pretty.


The World's Biggest Telescope Is Finally Online

With the arrival of the 54th — and final — 12m wide radio telescope, the single largest astronomical project humanity has ever under taken can finally begin peering into the heavens at full strength.


Monster Machines: The Giant Telescope That Helps Take The Sharpest Space Photos Yet

The Hubble Telescope has revolutionised our understanding of the cosmos but the venerable telescope has been orbiting for nearly a quarter century and is quickly nearing the end of its already-extended service life. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, telescope technology has advanced significantly since the Hubble went up in 1990. And by the end of the decade, we’ll have completed an all-seeing observatory with 10 times the Hubble’s resolution and none of its space-based complications.