Today's observations suggest that our Milky Way contains hundreds of billions of stars — estimates go as high as 400 billion. If that doesn't make you feel small, then how about this: you can start counting plenty of those in this jaw-dropping 9-billion-pixel image that contains over 84 millions stars.
Uranus is surrounded by methane gas. This presents a problem for those of us who are interested in looking at it, since all that gas makes it hard to see what's really going on. Voyager and Hubble have the same problem, but new long-wavelength observations from the Keck II telescope in Hawaii have looked past the gas to examine Uranus in unprecedented detail.
Designing and building a new space telescope takes such a long time that even before Hubble 2.0 (the James Webb Space Telescope) has launched, astronomers are already working on Hubble 3.0, known right now as ATLAST.
Space. It's big, and it's deep, but as far as we humans here on Earth are concerned, it may as well be a perfectly flat picture painted up there across the sky. It's hard to get much in the way of depth through a telescope, but with a little bit of creativity and artistic license, it's possible to 3D-ify some truly beautiful nebulae.
Astronomers have found something more interesting at the center of our Milky Way galaxy than just a black hole: a star orbiting that black hole at the record-breaking speed of 3,100 miles per second. It takes less than twelve years to make one full orbit, but its speed isn't its only scientifically interesting aspect.
Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating? We're not quite sure. But like every other problem, we may be able to solve it with more megapixels. 570 megapixels seems like it might be enough, and Fermilab has just fired up its massive Dark Energy Camera to see what it can find.
We've seen some creative DIY projects over time, but this one could be moving to the top of the MacGyver leaderboard. Discovered by a Reddit exchange over some amazing space photos, it turns out the photos weren't taken by some mountaintop observatory, but rather by a regular guy, with a not-so-regular telescope worth $20,000 he built in his back yard.
Supposedly, this new high-energy telescope is not a gigantic death beam cannon thing. Supposedly. What we're supposed to believe instead is that it's a brand new gamma-ray telescope, designed to search the sky for the likes of supermassive black holes, supernovae and pulsars.
Not content to sit back and wait for an asteroid to obliterate all life on Earth, a group of scientists and space vets are launching their own telescope. Sentinel will be the world's first privately funded space telescope, and it will orbit the sun and map out the asteroids lurking around the interior of our solar system.
When Planetary Resources first announced its ambitious plan to start mining asteroids, the company also mentioned that the rest of us might get a little piece of the action with access to a network of space telescopes. Now, Planetary has announced that it might try and do it from the get-go, through Kickstarter.