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July 5, 2013 | By Shan Li and Ronald D. White, Los Angeles Times
Directors of Meade Instruments Corp., which has helped foster the consumer market with its easy-to-use telescopes and binoculars since 1972, may be tipping their hand by Monday on whether to recommend selling the company, plow ahead alone or possibly seek bankruptcy protection. The Irvine company, fighting a sharp drop in sales, is weighing two buyout offers, one from a Chinese company and another from a San Jose venture capital firm. Meade said that if the deals are rejected, the company may opt to file a bankruptcy petition.
May 15, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
Is NASA's Kepler planet-hunting telescope dead? That was the rumor circulating Wednesday, nearly a week after the space telescope went into safe mode. NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. Pacific time “to discuss the status of the agency's Kepler Space Telescope.” To some, it sounds ominous. “Not sure I like the sound of this,” tweeted Nancy Atkinson, a senior writer and editor for Universe Today. PHOTOS: Kepler's discoveries “Kepler, we have a problem,” added Paul Crowther, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Sheffield in Britain.
May 15, 2013 | By Amina Khan, Los Angeles Times
Planet-hunting scientists were dealt a major blow Wednesday when NASA officials announced that a crucial wheel on the Kepler space telescope had ceased to function and that the craft had been placed in safe mode. Even as NASA officials raised the possibility that they could get the telescope back up and running, scientists began mourning the potential loss of a spacecraft that they said had fundamentally altered our understanding of alien planets in the Milky Way - and Earth's place in an increasingly crowded galaxy.
April 29, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Astronomers knew this day would come. The Herschel Space Observatory has run out of coolant and ceased looking into the cold, distant universe. Without liquid helium to keep the instruments chilled to minus 456 degrees Fahrenheit, the European Space Agency telescope began to run a fever and went blind, leading scientists on Monday to shutter this floating window into space. Launched in 2009, the European Space Agency telescope fixed its infrared eyes on cold, distant regions of the universe, picking up the glow from far-off objects that would have remained invisible otherwise.
April 4, 2013 | By Geoffrey Mohan
Einstein was right about relativity, again. NASA's Kepler space telescope has beamed back the latest evidence that light can be bent by gravity, an element of the theory of general relativity. It's not that astrophysicists expect observations to contradict Albert. But the findings represent the first time the phenomenon has been detected in a binary star system, according to NASA. In this case, a dead star, known as a white dwarf, bent the light from its partner, a small “red dwarf.”  The density of the much smaller white dwarf is far greater than that of its partner.
March 20, 2013 | By Eryn Brown
Is it possible to crowdsource an old telescope? The Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., is about to find out. Built by the astronomer Percival Lowell in 1894, the 24-inch Alvan Clark Telescope has been in continuous use for 117 years. About the turn of the 20th century, Lowell used it to study Mars - famously arguing (incorrectly) that “canals” he saw on the planet's surface were evidence of intelligent life. Astronomer V.M. Slipher discovered galactic redshifts there in 1912; the Apollo program used the instrument to prepare for moon missions.
March 8, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Braving the rain, scientists and engineers have rolled out a full scale model of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope at South by Southwest. The public will get an up-close look at the telescope, which will look deep into the cosmos for starlight from the most distant galaxies to learn about the origins of the universe. "We call ourselves a time machine," said Scott Willoughby, James Webb program manager at Northrop Grumman, where the telescope is being built. "We can look and actually find, further than Hubble did, the first light that came out after the big bang.
February 25, 2013 | By Larry Harnisch, Los Angeles Times
One night on Mt. Wilson about 1908, a short, powerfully built man with a handlebar mustache looked through the largest telescope in the world. What he saw transformed him, and would put Los Angeles at the forefront of a movement to make astronomy the people's science. We may never know whether Col. Griffith J. Griffith saw the rings of Saturn or another celestial object with the then-new 60-inch reflector telescope, but we can be sure that it inspired his vision of a world-class observatory for the people of Los Angeles, allowing the masses a glimpse of the heavens.
February 20, 2013 | By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
NASA scientists have discovered a faraway planet that's smaller than Mercury - far tinier than they expected they could find when they launched the Kepler space telescope nearly four years ago. The hot, rocky world orbits a sun-like star that's about 210 light-years from Earth. Astronomers are excited about it because it's smaller than any planet in our solar system, said astrophysicist Thomas Barclay of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. "This is the smallest exoplanet that's ever been found," said Barclay, lead author of a report on the discovery published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
January 8, 2013 | By Amina Khan
Astronomers may have to brace for a much humbler astrophysics mission following the planned launch of the James Webb Space Telescope in 2018, a NASA official told a ballroom full of astronomers Tuesday. Under current budget constraints and with future funding uncertain, such a mission might have to be small enough to cost $1 billion or less, NASA astrophysics division director Paul Hertz told astronomers gathered for a town hall at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach.
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