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Ask an Astronomer! @ Cornell University Podcast

We at Ask an Astronomer have been hard at work developing a NEW Series of Podcast episodes to spread our joy and excitement of astronomy to all of you visiting our website. We are a grassroots group of volunteer graduate students.

We still answer questions submitted by you, our readers, and we also discuss our favorite astronomy stories.

Take a listen of our latest episode: please click on the PODCAST banner above and subscribe to our podcast. (Your browser may prompt you to open iTunes on your computer if you have it installed; otherwise click "View in iTunes".)

By subscribing, iTunes will automatically download our new episodes when they are available (about once a month). (Want to listen, but can't right now? We'll send you a reminder for later.)

Please freely rate and comment on our iTunes page -- we need all your help to get this venture off the ground! Help us reach our goal of doubling our subscribers by June 30th!

We want your questions!

You can still submit your questions to receive email answers from Cornell astronomers, but if you would like to hear it answered on an upcoming episode of the podcast just include 'AAA Podcast' in the 'Background section' and along with your name and town.

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Welcome to Ask an Astronomer at Cornell University

Since they first stepped out of the proverbial cave, humans have always been intrigued by the beauty and wonder of the night sky and the almost infinite possibilities of space.

Indeed, astronomy is both the closest and the most distant science from common experience. Every curious person who gazes at the night sky becomes an astronomer, and yet the things we see in outer space are wholly outside our earthbound experience.

That is why astronomy is both the oldest and the youngest science of them all.

Oldest because almost every ancient culture, understanding the need to predict the coming of the seasons, became expert at tracking and predicting the motions of the sun, moon and planets. Many of the prehistoric monuments that still exist today are aligned in some astronomical direction or another. The Egyptian Pyramids, Stonehenge, and a panoply of Native American, Mayan and Aztec temples all are complex astronomical observatories designed for direction-finding or the prediction of the planets and seasons.

And yet astronomy is a young science, too. Only in the last century or so have we truly come to understand the size and age of the universe we live in; only in the last fifty or sixty years have we truly begun to understand the physics which drives the universe and makes exotic objects like black holes, neutron stars and a menagerie of other astronomical oddities possible. And finally, only in the last few years have we been able to find planets in orbit around other stars and the real possibility of life beyond the Earth.

It's no surprise, then, that students, writers of fiction and nonscientists in general are so interested in this particular scientific endeavor. That's why we, as astronomers, are so anxious to "get the word out," as they say.

And that's the purpose of this site. When you send an astronomy question to us, it will be forwarded to one of the participating scientists here at Cornell. Most of us are graduate students studying for PhDs in astronomy, and all of us are actively involved in astronomy research, but we love to take time out from our work to share our knowledge with those who are curious.

We hope you enjoy browsing our site!

Want to ask us a question? Find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

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