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February 24, 2012 | By Ralph Vartabedian and W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times
In deep, cold space, nearly a million miles from Earth, a giant telescope later this decade will scan for the first light to streak across the universe more than 13 billion years ago. The seven-ton spacecraft, one of the most ambitious and costly science projects in U.S. history, is under construction for NASA at Northrop Grumman Corp.'s space park complex in Redondo Beach. The aim is to capture the oldest light, taking cosmologists to the time after the big bang when matter had cooled just enough to start forming the first blazing stars in what had been empty darkness.
December 11, 2011 | By Mike Anton, Los Angeles Times
The paparazzi staked out a spot in the Hollywood Hills before dawn. The western sky was the red carpet, the moon the day's celebrity. That was the scene early Saturday at the Griffith Observatory, where several hundred people gathered in the dark with binoculars, cameras and telescopes to watch a total lunar eclipse — the last one until 2014. "It's a celestial festival out here," Capm Petersen, 39, said as he set up his camera before the big event. The crowd began gathering on the observatory's lawn shortly after 4 a.m. in anticipation of "totality" — the moment when the Earth fully blocks the sun, leaving the moon in its shadow.
September 10, 2011 | By Mark K. Matthews, Washington Bureau
The cost of NASA's two flagship programs — a new space telescope and its next rocket — is poised to devour much of the agency's shrinking budget in coming years, putting at risk many smaller efforts such as developing futuristic spacecraft and returning rocks from Mars, scientists and congressional insiders warn. At a time when budgets are being slashed throughout government, price estimates for the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA's new rocket and crew capsule have increased by billions of dollars or are at risk to do so, according to internal NASA documents and external evaluations.
September 6, 2011 | By James Bullock
Walk through the halls of UC Irvine's astronomy wing after dinner on a weeknight and you will find roomfuls of young graduate students, crammed into small desks, solving equations, writing computer code and developing innovative ways to analyze data. They do not have to be here. These are people with career options. They are scary-smart, creative and hardworking. Yet they have come here from all over the country and the world to sit in windowless offices and make a fifth of the money they could make back home or up the street.
May 7, 2011 | By Louis Sahagun, Los Angeles Times
Software engineer Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill sat alone in an observatory in this volcanic valley near Mt. Shasta, staring out a picture window at storm clouds gathering over the world's largest instrument to search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He had reason to look forlorn, surrounded by empty bookshelves, unmarked chalkboards and rows of tables where scientists from around the world once argued over the best direction to aim 42 radio telescopes designed to act as an enormous ear capable of scanning more than a million stars over 10 billion radio frequencies.
February 13, 2011 | By David Freeman, Special to the Los Angeles Times
If any best-picture contender was going to face questions about taking liberties with the facts this Oscar season, it seemed likely it would be "The Social Network. " But now that screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg have tactfully retreated a bit from their initially contentious stands, the accuracy debate has shifted to "The King's Speech. " "The King's Speech" is being sold as a feel-good tale of how a friendship between a royal and a commoner affected the course of history.
January 17, 2011 | By Jay Jones, Special to the Los Angeles Times
The stars will be gathering for a big party later this month, but revelers will need to travel nearly 300 miles from Hollywood to take part.  The Las Vegas Astronomical Society and park rangers are hosting the 10th annual Star Party at Death Valley National Park in California , a site about as far as possible from disruptive city lights. The event will be held Friday, Jan. 28, and Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Furnace Creek airport. Observation will begin around 5:30 each evening.
July 30, 2010 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Astronomer Leonard Searle, a former director of the Carnegie Observatories whose observations provided crucial information in determining the conditions of the Big Bang that created the universe and helped explain how heavy elements are produced in stars, has died. He was 79. Searle died July 2 at his home in Pasadena, according to the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C. No cause of death was released. Searle also played a crucial role in the construction of the twin 6.5-meter (255-inch)
March 19, 2010 | By Glenn Whipp
The spectacular new Imax film "Hubble 3D" will be studied by astronomers, academics and Hollywood special effects artists for years to come. It's a movie that not only puts you in space but lets you travel through it with a speed and wonder that would make James T. Kirk go a little weak in the knees. The 43-minute documentary follows the crew of the space shuttle Atlantis on their May 2009 mission to repair and upgrade the Hubble Space Telescope. A 700-pound Imax 3-D camera accompanied them, anchored in the cargo bay, loaded with a mile of film.
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