Astronomy

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  • Watching Pluto

    Astronomy News
    Tom
    29 Jul 2015 | 3:41 am
    Seeing Pluto from Earth can be tough enough. Seeing Pluto occulting a distant star and doing it from a plane is exponentially more difficult that takes an amazing amount of planning and skill. SOFIA or the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy was up to the challenge and successfully observed Pluto with an infrared telescope, here’s how they did it: by
  • What Are These Strange Scarlet Streaks Spotted on Tethys?

    Universe Today
    Jason Major
    29 Jul 2015 | 10:24 am
    Enhanced-color image from Cassini showing red streaks on Saturn’s moon Tethys (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) Resembling what the skin on my arms looks like after giving my cat a bath, the surface of Saturn’s moon Tethys is seen above in an extended-color composite from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showing strange long red streaks. They stretch for long distances across the moon’s surface following the rugged terrain, continuing unbroken over hills and down into craters… and their cause isn’t yet known. (...)Read the rest of What Are…
  • Comet C/2014 Q1 from Australia (30 July - 6 August 2015)

    Astroblog
    29 Jul 2015 | 7:05 am
    The evening sky at 700 pm ACST looking west as seen from Adelaide from 30 July to 6 August.  The circles show successive positions of Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS every two days. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at equivalent local times. (click on image to embiggen).Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS is climbing higher in the sky, and is now visible after Astronomical twilight.Unfortunately it is fading (current estimates are around magnitude 7) and the Moonlight is increasing as the Moon heads towards a blue Moon on the 31st.  After this the sky will be darker, but the…
  • #streams2015, day 3

    Hogg's Research
    22 Jul 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Today was the half-day at the meeting (hike in the afternoon). The highlight for me was the talk by Carl Grillmair (IPAC), who talked about finding and tracing streams, observationally. Grillmair is the discoverer or co-discoverer of more than half of all the known Milky-Way streams. He showed us some of the visualizations that help him find them. He said that we should replace his by-eye work with automated methods, but (to my knowledge) no-one is close right now.After Grillmair, Sesar (MPIA) showed a beautiful analysis of the new Ophiuchus stream, where he measures everything via…
  • First Detection of Lithium from an Exploding Star

    Astronomy Cmarchesin
    29 Jul 2015 | 4:57 am
    PR Image eso1531aNova Centauri 2013 PR Image eso1531bNova Centauri 2013 seen from La Silla PR Image eso1531cThe location of Nova Centauri 2013PR Image eso1531dThe sky around the location of Nova Centauri 2013 PR Image eso1531eThe Milky Way and Nova Centauri 2013 Videos  PR Video eso1531aZooming in on Nova Centauri 2013 The chemical element lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 made using telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, and near Santiago in Chile, help to explain the mystery of why many young stars seem…
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    Astronomy News

  • Watching Pluto

    Tom
    29 Jul 2015 | 3:41 am
    Seeing Pluto from Earth can be tough enough. Seeing Pluto occulting a distant star and doing it from a plane is exponentially more difficult that takes an amazing amount of planning and skill. SOFIA or the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy was up to the challenge and successfully observed Pluto with an infrared telescope, here’s how they did it: by
  • Ceres Elevation Map

    Tom
    28 Jul 2015 | 10:05 pm
    From JPL: The color scale extends 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) below the surface in purple to 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) above the surface in brown. The brightest features (those appearing nearly white) — including the well-known bright spots within a crater in the northern hemisphere — are simply reflective areas, and do not represent elevation. There is an animated version of the image and links to beautiful wallpaper versions for your computer – at the Dawn website Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA/PSI by
  • Tethys

    Tom
    28 Jul 2015 | 3:56 am
    In June we saw a nice image of crater Odysseus a huge crater compared the the size of the Saturn moon Tethys – see here. This image is from almost from the opposite direction and the impact crater seems a different color than the surrounding terrain. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute From the Cassini site (click for more image options): With the expanded range of colors visible to Cassini’s cameras, differences in materials and their textures become apparent that are subtle or unseen in natural color views. Here, the giant impact basin Odysseus on…
  • Rosetta’s Comet Seen From Earth

    Tom
    27 Jul 2015 | 10:05 pm
    What a really great image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko! The image was taken from the 2 meter Liverpool Telescope on 19 July 2015 (Credit: Colin Snodgrass / Geraint Jones / Liverpool Telecope). The tail is estimated to be 120,000 km / 75,565 miles. There ia an excellent Q&A titled: CHASING A COMET FROM EARTH – UPDATE ON THE PROFESSIONAL OBSERVING CAMPAIGN on the Rosetta Blog. Definately worth the visit. Rosetta Blog will be updating the  Amateur Observation Campaign in the near future. by
  • Pluto in a Minute – The Haze

    Tom
    27 Jul 2015 | 3:41 am
    The New Horizons informative video about the haze seen in the atmosphere and shown a few posts back. Video by
 
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    Universe Today

  • What Are These Strange Scarlet Streaks Spotted on Tethys?

    Jason Major
    29 Jul 2015 | 10:24 am
    Enhanced-color image from Cassini showing red streaks on Saturn’s moon Tethys (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute) Resembling what the skin on my arms looks like after giving my cat a bath, the surface of Saturn’s moon Tethys is seen above in an extended-color composite from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft showing strange long red streaks. They stretch for long distances across the moon’s surface following the rugged terrain, continuing unbroken over hills and down into craters… and their cause isn’t yet known. (...)Read the rest of What Are…
  • Ceres Resembles Saturn’s Icy Moons

    Jason Major
    28 Jul 2015 | 9:16 am
    Topographic elevation map of Ceres showing newly-named craters. The highest regions are in red, the lowest in blue. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA. Ceres’ topography is revealed in full (but false) color in a new map created from elevation data gathered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, now nearly five months in orbit around the dwarf planet orbiting the Sun within the main asteroid belt. With craters 3.7 miles (6 km) deep and mountains rising about the same distance from its surface, Ceres bears a resemblance to some of Saturn’s frozen moons. “The craters we…
  • Faces of the Solar System

    David Dickinson
    28 Jul 2015 | 8:02 am
    Move over, Pluto… Disney already has dibs on Mercury as seen in this MESSENGER photo. Image credit: NASA/JHAPL/Carnegie institution of Washington “Look, it has a tiny face on it!” This sentiment was echoed ‘round the web recently, as an image of Pluto’s tiny moon Nix was released by the NASA New Horizons team. Sure, we’ve all been there. Lay back in a field on a lazy July summer’s day, and soon, you’ll see faces of all sorts in the puffy stratocumulus clouds holding the promise of afternoon showers.(...)Read the rest of Faces of the Solar System (803 words) © David…
  • Blues for the Second Full Moon of July

    David Dickinson
    27 Jul 2015 | 11:52 am
    An artificially created ‘Blue Moon,’ using the white balance settings on the camera. Image credit and copyright: John Chumack Brace yourselves for Blue Moon madness. The month of July 2015 hosts two Full Moons: One on July 2nd and another coming right up this week on Friday, July 31st at 10:43 Universal Time (UT)/6:43 AM EDT. In modern day vernacular, the occurrence of two Full Moons in one calendar month has become known as a ‘Blue Moon.’ This is a result of the synodic period (the amount of time it takes for the Moon to return to a like phase, in this case Full back to Full)…
  • See Pluto’s Icy Flow Plains and Mountains Revealed in Highest Resolution Flyover Mosaic and Movie

    Ken Kremer
    26 Jul 2015 | 3:02 pm
    Highest resolution mosaic of ‘Tombaugh Regio’ shows the heart-shaped region on Pluto focusing on ice flows and plains of ‘Sputnik Planum’ at top and icy mountain ranges of ‘Hillary Montes’ and ‘Norgay Montes’ below. This new mosaic combines the seven highest resolution images captured by NASA’s New Horizons LORRI imager during history making closest approach flyby on July 14, 2015. Inset at right shows global view of Pluto with location of mosaic and huge heart-shaped region in context. Annotated with place names. Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI/ Marco Di Lorenzo/Ken…
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    Astroblog

  • Comet C/2014 Q1 from Australia (30 July - 6 August 2015)

    29 Jul 2015 | 7:05 am
    The evening sky at 700 pm ACST looking west as seen from Adelaide from 30 July to 6 August.  The circles show successive positions of Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS every two days. Similar views will be seen elsewhere in Australia at equivalent local times. (click on image to embiggen).Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS is climbing higher in the sky, and is now visible after Astronomical twilight.Unfortunately it is fading (current estimates are around magnitude 7) and the Moonlight is increasing as the Moon heads towards a blue Moon on the 31st.  After this the sky will be darker, but the…
  • Pluto Surface Texture for Celestia

    28 Jul 2015 | 7:59 am
    Pluto simulated in Celestia with the Pluto Global Map used to generate the Pluto texture. Click to embiggenThe Pluto Global Map has just been released, so I resized it (1024x512) and conveyed it to a 71 DPI png to use as a texture for  Celestia.You need to copy the texture file  pluto_surface1.png  to the textures/medres folder in the Celestia directory, then edit the solarsys.ssc file in the data folder (make a backup copy first) to replace the texture name in the Pluto definition section with that of the new texture, save it and you are good to go."Pluto:134340 Pluto" "Sol"{…
  • The Sky This Week - Thursday July 30 to Thursday August 6

    28 Jul 2015 | 7:27 am
    The Full Moon is Friday July 31. This is a Blue Moon. Venus is brilliant low in the twilight evening sky with bright Jupiter below it. Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS is visible in binoculars above Venus. Mercury Joins Venus and Jupiter late in the week. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and is easily visible in the evening.The Full Moon is Friday July 31. This is a Blue Moon, the second full Moon in a month (the previous was July 2). The Moon is at perigee (closest to Earth) on August 2.Early evening sky on Wednesday August 5 looking north-west as seen from Adelaide at 18:15 ACST showing…
  • The ISS and Venus and Jupiter (July 27-29, 2015)

    26 Jul 2015 | 7:51 am
    The ISS passes between Venus and Jupiter, as seen from Melbourne on the evening of Wednesday July 29 at 18:17 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes above Venus and Jupiter, as seen from Adelaide on the evening of Tuesday July 28 at 18:39 ACST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.The ISS passes passes above Venus and Jupiter, as seen from Sydney on the evening of Monday July 27 at 18:29 AEST. Simulated in Stellarium (the ISS will actually be a bright dot), click to embiggen.All sky…
  • Celestia Files for Kepler 452b (the "so called" Earth 2.0)

    26 Jul 2015 | 6:56 am
    Kepler-452b and Kepler-452 simulated in Celestia (click to embiggen).Friday's announcement from the Kepler mission of the discovery of Kepler 452b had the media galvanised, with some calling it "Earth 2.0".Kepler 452b is earth-like, and in a habitable zone, but that doesn't meant that it is Earth's twin. Similarly, not being Earth's twin does not make it disappointing.   Kepler-452b is in the habitable zone of it's star, with a radius 1.6 times that of Earth (technically making it a super Earth). While there is a lot of to-do about habitable zones, it simply means the zone where liquid…
 
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    Hogg's Research

  • #streams2015, day 3

    22 Jul 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Today was the half-day at the meeting (hike in the afternoon). The highlight for me was the talk by Carl Grillmair (IPAC), who talked about finding and tracing streams, observationally. Grillmair is the discoverer or co-discoverer of more than half of all the known Milky-Way streams. He showed us some of the visualizations that help him find them. He said that we should replace his by-eye work with automated methods, but (to my knowledge) no-one is close right now.After Grillmair, Sesar (MPIA) showed a beautiful analysis of the new Ophiuchus stream, where he measures everything via…
  • #streams2015, day 2

    21 Jul 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Today was a great day at the meeting; many good and lively talks and discussions. This is a healthy field! Here are some personal highlights for the day:In his opening talk, Wyn Evans (Cambridge) gave credit to Koposov, Hogg, & Rix for fitting the GD-1 stream with a (trivial, wrong) orbit model (that is, not a physically correct stream model): The orbit model seems to return the correct potential. The authors of the paper refused this credit, since it appears to be luck rather than skill that obtained this coincidence. A few talks later, Bovy disagreed with Evans; he showed that as the…
  • #streams2015, day 1

    20 Jul 2015 | 8:59 pm
    I am at the Stellar Streams in the Local Universe meeting at Ringberg Castle. The meeting is small and workshop-like, so we are trying various experiments. One is to keep a running, completely public web document where everyone is encouraged to take notes on the talks and sessions. The first day was extremely lively. Here are some unfair and impressionistic thoughts:Bovy opened the meeting, with his summary of the scientific subject of stellar streams in the Milky Way Halo, which range from dynamical modeling of the Milky Way to inferring the dark-matter and star-formation properties of…
  • fast likelihood evaluations for the CMB?

    17 Jul 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Mike O'Neil and I worked on the real-space covariance function for the cosmic microwave background radiation. He summed the Legendre polynomials to convert the C_ell spectrum into an angle-space kernel or covariance matrix. He plotted the real-space covariance and it is very pretty; it shows the baryon acoustic feature and oscillates at huge angle. He then looked at some symmetries of the matrix: It can be expressed as a sparse sum of outer products. Because of this, it is possible that he can develop a fast method for matrix factorization, linear-algebra solve operations, and (log)…
  • momentum-driven winds, enfastening stellar models

    16 Jul 2015 | 8:59 pm
    At Galaxy Coffee, Jonathan Stern (MPIA) showed an analysis of quasar momentum-driven winds in the context of AGN feedback for galaxy evolution. He finds that the quasar radiation is not sufficient to drive the wind. In the discussion of the point Joachim Bestenlehner (MPIA) pointed out that Wolf–Rayet stars can have momentum-driven winds that exceed the naive radiation pressure L/c by a factor of five-ish. It relates to the fact that there are multiple scatterings of the radiation. Andrea Macció's (MPIA but soon NYU-AD) showed some nice work on simulations of small galaxies that are…
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    Astronomy Cmarchesin

  • First Detection of Lithium from an Exploding Star

    29 Jul 2015 | 4:57 am
    PR Image eso1531aNova Centauri 2013 PR Image eso1531bNova Centauri 2013 seen from La Silla PR Image eso1531cThe location of Nova Centauri 2013PR Image eso1531dThe sky around the location of Nova Centauri 2013 PR Image eso1531eThe Milky Way and Nova Centauri 2013 Videos  PR Video eso1531aZooming in on Nova Centauri 2013 The chemical element lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 made using telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, and near Santiago in Chile, help to explain the mystery of why many young stars seem…
  • What happens when Cosmic Giants meet Galactic Dwarfs?

    28 Jul 2015 | 8:00 pm
    Cosmic Giants Meet Galactic Dwarfs in GAMA A still from the animation available on Dropbox Animation movieWhen two different sized galaxies smash together, the larger galaxy stops the smaller one making new stars, according to a study of more than 20,000 merging galaxies. The research, published today, also found that when two galaxies of the same size collide, both galaxies produce stars at a much faster rate.Astrophysicist Luke Davies, from The University of Western Australia node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), says our nearest major galactic…
  • NOAO: Hiding in Plain Sight: Undergraduates Discover the Densest Galaxies Known

    28 Jul 2015 | 5:33 am
    Fig 1: Two ultra-dense galaxies (insets) have been discovered orbiting larger host galaxies. The compact systems are thought to be the remnants of once normal galaxies that were swallowed by the host, a process that removed the fluffy outer parts of the systems, leaving the dense centers behind. Image credit: A. Romanowsky (SJSU), Subaru, Hubble Legacy ArchiveFig 2: Artist's depiction of the night sky as seen from a planet at the heart of an ultracompact galaxy. More than a million stars are visible with the naked eye, in contrast to the few thousand visible from Earth. Image credit: NASA,…
  • Born-again planetary nebula

    27 Jul 2015 | 8:00 pm
    Born-again planetary nebulaCopyright: ESA/XMM-Newton/J.A. Toalá et al. 2015Hi-res image Beneath the vivid hues of this eye-shaped cloud, named Abell 78, a tale of stellar life and death is unfolding. At the centre of the nebula, a dying star – not unlike our Sun – which shed its outer layers on its way to oblivion has, for a brief period of time, come back to echo its past glory.Releasing their outer shells is the usual fate for any star with a mass of 0.8–8 times that of the Sun. Having exhausted the nuclear fuel in their cores after burning for billions of years, these stars collapse…
  • Finding O2

    27 Jul 2015 | 9:05 am
    An infrared image of the Orion Nebula; the circled area shows the region where shocks and emission from molecular oxygen are found. Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-CaltechOxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen and helium) and of course it is important: all known life forms require liquid water and its oxygen content. For over thirty years, astronomers have been searching for molecular oxygen, O­2, as part of an accounting of cosmic oxygen atoms. Despite early predictions that O­2 should be abundant in the molecular clouds that form new stars and planetary…
 
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    The Urban Astronomer

  • Southern Summer Skies

    21 Jul 2015 | 8:30 pm
    Facing South in the SummerFacing south in the summer reveals a rich region of the night sky featuring the heart of the Milky Way and several excellent zodiac constellations. If you have a clear horizon to the south, the constellation Scorpius dominates the space with a long curving shape that winds around the horizon back to the tip of the tail of the scorpion, a feature called the Cat's Eyes, Shaula and Lesath.For the next few months, Saturn is lurking next to the head of the scorpion, adding a bright highlight to the pattern. Scorpius and neighboring Sagittarius (to the east) are found…
  • Pluto and New Horizons

    13 Jul 2015 | 3:47 am
    As an amateur astronomer, Pluto is a tantalizing target to find, but one that is quite out of reach for all except the most committed amateur astronomers with the best possible equipment. And even if you locate it in a telescope it will be an extremely faint pinprick of light. So it has never entered my interest until this week. Instead of viewing it from a distance, humanity has finally launched a probe to fly by the planet (ok, dwarf planet) and offer up a close-up during its close passage.Almost 10 years after launching, New Horizons arrives at Pluto this week. The initial pictures are…
  • The Great Conjunction

    29 Jun 2015 | 10:50 pm
    The Great ConjunctionWhen the two brightest celestial objects in the night sky (excepting the Moon) pass next to each other, this is a grand event on an astronomical scale. Jupiter and Venus are doing just that, passing less than a Moon's diameter from each other in a great conjunction, peaking on Tuesday June 30th. A casual spectator should have no trouble seeing the pair, particularly after the glare of sunset subsides (around 9:00 pm or later on the west coast of the USA).Enjoy this rare and beautiful pairing, made more special by the fact that it's the Queen of Love and the King of the…
  • Three Summer Stars in the Milky Way

    27 Jun 2015 | 2:41 pm
    The arrival of the warm and long days of summer also marks the return of the Summer Triangle and three of the brightest stars in the night sky, Deneb, Altair and Vega. I wax poetically about these sparkling gems when I give a star talk during warm summer nights, with each of the three stars bringing us a unique perspective. All three are in or near the band of the Milky Way, so a close up look at these through binoculars reveals the depths of our home galaxy. This week the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) featured detailed descriptions of these stars and an excellent photograph shown here.
  • Approaching a Conjunction

    18 Jun 2015 | 2:15 pm
    Evening TrioEach day the planets Venus and Jupiter are drawing closer together in the evening sky, as Jupiter gradually sinks into the western twilight and Venus holds course. The two will have a close encounter (conjunction) on June 30th, but already the two are a striking pair in the evening sky, made more interesting by the waxing crescent Moon this weekend. Look for the trio just after sunset (around 8:45 pm in San Francisco) and watch them become more and more brilliant as the sunset sky turns to dusk and eventually to darkness.Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.
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    sci.astro

  • Re: SPLAT! STAR THWACKED, GUTS flung into space at 15 per cent of LIGHTSPEED * The Register

    29 Jul 2015 | 10:47 am
    be > interesting in 2018: > > Earth To See Galactic Fireworks Display In 2018 With Collision Of Pulsar > With Its Companion Star. > By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times | July 6, 10:44 AM > "Astronomers now prepare to witness high-energy cosmic fireworks set to > occur in early 2018 when a city-sized
  • Re: SPLAT! STAR THWACKED, GUTS flung into space at 15 per cent of LIGHTSPEED • The Register

    29 Jul 2015 | 7:53 am
    I don't know if this is covering the same stellar collision but it will be interesting in 2018: Earth To See Galactic Fireworks Display In 2018 With Collision Of Pulsar With Its Companion Star. By Rhodi Lee, Tech Times | July 6, 10:44 AM "Astronomers now prepare to witness high-energy cosmi
  • Re: Monaco as a model for global development

    29 Jul 2015 | 6:48 am
    A central tenet of Ray Kurzweil, Peter Diamandis and other futurists is technological change is occurring at an exponentially increasing rate. However, since humans typically think in a linear fashion, the degree by which these changes occur is unanticipated and unexpected to most people. Even c
  • Re: EINSTEINIANS AS PATHOLOGICAL LIARS

    28 Jul 2015 | 1:06 pm
    Einsteinians teach that the Pound-Rebka experiment both proved and did not prove Einstein's general relativity: http://discovermagazine.com/2015/april/12-putting-relativity-to-the-test "The Gravitational Redshifting of Light. Along with the two prior predictions, this third example rounds out
  • Re: HOW EINSTEIN KILLED TIME

    27 Jul 2015 | 2:23 pm
    The consensus in physics (tacitly) rejects Einstein's idiotic "malleable fabric" and accepts Newton's universal time: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20026831.500-what-makes-the-universe-tick.html "Newton and Leibniz debated this very point. Newton portrayed space and time as existing in
 
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    StarDate

  • More Charles Townes

    damonddb
    28 Jul 2015 | 10:00 pm
    Back in the 1980s, Charles Townes developed a laser system that helped infrared telescopes get a sharper view of the center of the Milky Way. Other astronomers then used that system to make the first measurement of the mass of the giant black hole at the galaxy’s heart. It was a remarkable achievement. And it’s all the more interesting because Townes was one of the fathers of the laser. He developed its predecessor, known as a maser, and he obtained the first patents for the laser itself. He even won the Nobel Prize for those accomplishments. Townes was born 100 years ago this week.
  • Last Round

    damonddb
    27 Jul 2015 | 11:08 pm
    A dying star has rejuvenated itself in this combined X-ray and optical image. Known as Abell 78, the system consists of a white dwarf -- the dead core of a once sun-like star -- surrounded by a glowing bubble of gas. The star expelled most of its outer layers of gas as it died, forming the spherical bubble. But a thin layer of helium re-ignited, producing one final round of nuclear fusion reactions. The rejuvenated star is particularly hot, so it emits strong, high-speed winds. Those winds have carved an elongated structure within the expanding bubble of gas, creating a cavity. Eventually,…
  • Charles Townes

    damonddb
    27 Jul 2015 | 10:00 pm
    There’s nothing like a spring day to clear the little gray cells and let the imagination wander. In fact, a spring day in 1951 in Washington, DC, helped lead to the development of the laser. Charles Townes was a physicist at Columbia University. He’d been trying to develop powerful beams of radiation, but he wasn’t having any luck. But as Townes recalled last year in this interview from the University of California, after a meeting in DC, it came to him. TOWNES: I thought about it and I thought about it, and I sat on a bench in a park. Oh, hey! I got an idea — this is the way to do…
  • Noctilucent Clouds

    damonddb
    26 Jul 2015 | 10:00 pm
    If you live at high northern latitudes, you might see some eerie clouds at this time of year. They show up for a little while in deep twilight, and shine electric blue. And they appear to have a connection to both meteors and our planet’s changing climate. Noctilucent clouds were first reported in 1885. That sighting may have been related to the eruption of Krakatoa, a powerful volcano in Indonesia. Tiny grains of ash from the explosion may have drifted to the top of the atmosphere — altitudes of 45 to 50 miles. Molecules of water then latched on to the ash particles, forming ice…
  • Moon, Saturn, Antares

    damonddb
    25 Jul 2015 | 10:00 pm
    The gibbous Moon anchors a pretty triangle this evening. The triangle’s other points are the planet Saturn, which is to the right of the Moon, and the star Antares, about the same distance below the Moon. Antares is the 15th-brightest star system in the night sky. In the stellar brightness scale, it’s ranked at almost exactly first magnitude. Astronomers have been using that scale for many centuries, although they’ve refined it to take advantage of the precise measurements possible with modern instruments. Originally, the brightest stars of all were described as first magnitude, the…
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    Remanzacco Observatory - Comets & Neo

  • New Horizons’ Pluto flyby on 14 July

    Team
    13 Jul 2015 | 5:56 am
    After a 9½ years journey, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft will visit tomorrow 14 July 2015 the dwarf planet Pluto. This will be the first ever flyby of Pluto and its largest moon Charon.During the fly-by (a 24-hour event), New Horizons will collect photographs and scientific data on Pluto’s surface, atmosphere and environment. New Horizons is intended to pass within 12,500 km (7,800 miles) of Pluto, with this closest approach date estimated to occur on July 14, 2015 at 11:50 UTC. New Horizons will have a relative velocity of 13.78 km/s (49,600 km/h; 30,800 mph) at its closest approach,…
  • Amor Asteroid (2015 KQ154)

    Team
    1 Jun 2015 | 6:16 am
    The MPEC 2015-K126 issued on May 28, 2015 announced the discovery of a new Amor-type asteroid officially designated 2015 KQ154. This asteroid (~ magnitude 16) was discovered by C. Jacques, E. Pimentel & J. Barros through a 0.28-m f/2.2 astrograph + CCD telescope of SONEAR Observatory (MPC code Y00), on images obtained on May 25.1, 2015. According to the preliminay orbit, 2015 KQ154 is an Amor type asteroid. Amor asteroids are a group of Near-Earth objects with orbits similar to that of 1221 Amor (1.017 AU < q < 1.3 AU). They approach the orbit of Earth from beyond, but do not…
  • New Comet: C/2015 K4 (PANSTARRS)

    Team
    27 May 2015 | 12:43 am
    CBET nr. 4108, issued on 2015, May 27, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~18) by PANSTARRS survey in three w-band exposures taken with the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS1 telescope at Haleakala on May 24.5 UT. The new comet has been designated C/2015 K4 (PANSTARRS).We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 20 unfiltered exposures, 30-sec each, obtained remotely on 2015, May 26.3 from U69 (iTelescope network - Auberry California) through a 0.61-m f/6.5 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a ill-defined central…
  • New Comet: C/2015 G2 (MASTER)

    Team
    10 Apr 2015 | 1:04 pm
    CBET nr. 4092, issued on 2015, April 10, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~11) on R-band images taken by P. Balanutsa et al. with the MASTER (Mobile Astronomical System of the Telescope-Robots) 0.4-m f/2.5 reflector at the South African Astronomical Observatory.  The new comet has been designated C/2015 G2 (MASTER).We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 30-sec each, obtained remotely on 2015, April 08.8 from Q62 (iTelescope network - Siding Spring) through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD +…
  • New Comet: C/2015 F4 (JACQUES)

    Team
    31 Mar 2015 | 2:56 am
    CBET nr. 4085, issued on 2015, March 31, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~16) by C. Jacques on CCD images taken on 2015, March 27.2  by C. Jacques, E. Pimentel and J. Barros with a 0.28-m f/2.2 astrograph at the SONEAR Observatory (Oliveira, Brazil).  The new comet has been designated C/2015 F4 (JACQUES).We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 14 unfiltered exposures, 60-sec each, obtained remotely on 2015, March 27.7 from Q62 (iTelescope network - Siding Spring) through a 0.43-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD, shows…
 
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    Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch

  • First Detection of Lithium from an Exploding Star

    Astro
    29 Jul 2015 | 5:04 am
    The chemical element lithium has been found for the first time in material ejected by a nova. Observations of Nova Centauri 2013 made using telescopes at ESO’s La Silla Observatory, and near Santiago in Chile, help to explain the mystery of why many young stars seem to have more of this chemical element than expected. This new finding fills in a long-missing piece in the puzzle representing our galaxy’s chemical evolution, and is a big step forward for astronomers trying to understand the amounts of different chemical elements in stars in the Milky Way. The light chemical element lithium…
  • National Transportation Safety Board Determines the Cause of 2014 SpaceShipTwo Crash

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    28 Jul 2015 | 3:35 pm
    The National Transportation Safety Board determined the cause of the Oct. 31, 2014 in-flight breakup of SpaceShipTwo, was Scaled Composite’s failure to consider and protect against human error and the co-pilot’s premature unlocking of the spaceship’s feather system as a result of time pressure and vibration and loads that he had not recently experienced. SpaceShipTwo was a commercial space vehicle that Scaled Composites built for Virgin Galactic. The vehicle broke up during a rocket-powered test flight, seriously injuring the pilot and killing the co-pilot.The feather system, which was…
  • Fertility Deities on Dwarf Planet Ceres

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    28 Jul 2015 | 3:14 pm
    Acting on behalf of the NASA Dawn mission team, researchers from the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) chose 17 of approximately 150 fertility deities to name the most prominent craters on Ceres, which they presented to the International Astronomical Union (IAU). These names were chosen because the dwarf planet bears the name of the Roman goddess of agriculture. Now, deities from five continents – from Hawaii's Haulani and Occator, the Roman god of the harrow, to the German goddess Gaue – populate the dwarf planet's extremely varied surface.
  • Researcher Bakes Asteroids to Find Water

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    28 Jul 2015 | 2:59 pm
    A Missouri University of Science and Technology researcher is cooking up something new in the lab – baking meteorites to learn how to produce water and other easily evaporated compounds from asteroids. Dr. Leslie Gertsch, an associate professor of geological engineering at Missouri S&T, hopes to find a sustainable way for near-Earth objects (NEOs) like asteroids and comets to produce consumable materials in space instead of pushing them up from the Earth’s surface.To investigate the possibility of this industrialization for space travel, Gertsch heats real and artificial meteorites in…
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Preparing for Mars Lander's 2016 Arrival

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    28 Jul 2015 | 2:48 pm
    With its biggest orbit maneuver since 2006, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) will prepare this week for the arrival of NASA's next Mars lander, InSight, next year. A planned 77-second firing of six intermediate-size thrusters on July 29 will adjust the orbit timing of the veteran spacecraft so it will be in position to receive radio transmissions from InSight as the newcomer descends through the Martian atmosphere and touches down on Sept. 28, 2016. These six rocket engines, which were used for trajectory corrections during the spacecraft's flight from Earth to Mars, can each produce…
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    Telescope Observer

  • Review: Celestron Regal M2 65ED Spotting Scope (52304)

    Telescope Review Guide
    28 Jul 2015 | 3:10 pm
    The Regal 65ED from Celestron is one of the company’s line of M2 spotting scopes. These viewing instruments are some of Celestron’s higher-end offerings, promising superior optical capabilities and reliable construction for a price that is still affordable for consumers on a budget. Intended for long distance viewing, birding, target shooting, and some limited astronomy,… Read more The post Review: Celestron Regal M2 65ED Spotting Scope (52304) appeared first on Telescope Observer.
  • Review: Celestron Regal M2 80ED Spotting Scope (52305)

    Telescope Review Guide
    21 Jul 2015 | 5:38 am
    The Celestron Regal is one of the company’s higher-end spotting scopes. Designed for durability, performance, and affordability, it offers unique design features, such as an ED objective lens, and a lightweight yet sturdy construction. Its unique combination of high-end optics, high-quality construction, and low price will appeal to any serious nature viewer or target shooter.… Read more The post Review: Celestron Regal M2 80ED Spotting Scope (52305) appeared first on Telescope Observer.
  • Celestron 52252 Review: 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope

    Telescope Review Guide
    18 Jul 2015 | 8:43 am
    The Celestron Ultima Zoom spotting scope provides an appealing combination of value and performance for anyone wishing to enjoy nature views, go bird watching, or participate in target shooting. Designed to offer the best light gathering abilities of the Ultima line, it provides clear views and a high quality construction for a reasonable price. (click… Read more The post Celestron 52252 Review: 100mm Ultima Zoom Spotting Scope appeared first on Telescope Observer.
  • Celestron SkyProdigy 90 Automatic Alignment Computerized Telescope

    Telescope Review Guide
    14 Jul 2015 | 10:33 am
    The SkyProdigy 90 from Celestron is one of the company’s largest scopes from its SkyProdigy line. As part of this line, it provides fully computerized alignment and star finding capabilities. As a result, it is designed to offer even first-time scope owners a hassle free and automatic way to set up and begin to view… Read more The post Celestron SkyProdigy 90 Automatic Alignment Computerized Telescope appeared first on Telescope Observer.
  • Sky-Watcher 12in. Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope Review

    Telescope Review Guide
    13 Jul 2015 | 11:01 am
    The huge-aperture collapsible Dobsonian telescope from Sky-Watcher is a breathtakingly powerful instrument for exploring deep-sky objects in detail. Designed for intermediate astronomers, this telescope offers light-gobbling capabilities that allow it to provide clear views of deep-sky objects that are barely visible to other telescopes. In addition, its collapsible features and portability make it easy to… Read more The post Sky-Watcher 12in. Collapsible Dobsonian Telescope Review appeared first on Telescope Observer.
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    Insight Observatory

  • Astronomy Questions and Answers

    Dale Alan Bryant
    27 Jul 2015 | 5:12 am
    M66 Imaged by Adam Block.I'd like to thank Mike Petrasko for inviting me here to share some my experiences in astronomy, which, more often than not, included Mike himself! I'm an Amateur Astronomer with something like 35 years of experience being bent over the eyepiece of a telescope (and boy is my neck sore!) Mike and myself have had, probably some of the most interesting, sometimes bizarre (but usually entertaining) experiences in the history of observational astronomy. I will share them with you here as I recall them... After having read my recent article on supernova SN1989B, my brother…
  • Remembering Clyde Tombaugh While New Horizons Visits Pluto

    Michael Petrasko
    24 Jul 2015 | 1:37 pm
    Dale Bryant, Clyde Tombaugh and I at AstroAssembly - 1987.On the afternoon of July 14, 2015, just hours after the first images from the New Horizons spacecraft were transmitted back to earth from it's close flyby encounter with Pluto, a fond memory came back to me as I stared at the images of the dwarf planet. This memory I am writing about is the day I had the honor of meeting Pluto's discoverer, Clyde W. Tombaugh. The event took place on crisp fall day back in the early fall of 1987. Mr. Tombaugh was the keynote speaker for AstroAssembly, an astronomy convention put on annually by the…
  • Pluto's Craters

    Dale Alan Bryant
    22 Jul 2015 | 7:16 am
    I processed this image to emphasize, that (contrary to popular belief), there actually ARE craters on Pluto! Apparently, there is some geological activity going on at the surface involving ice - and, possibly, some degree of erosion. It is my opinion that, since Pluto wasn't one of the original planets of the solar system during its formation but, rather, was gravitationally captured at some point afterwards, (evidenced by its highly inclined orbital plane), that it didn't experience the early period of bombardment by rogue asteroids and other debris (remnants of the solar system's…
  • An Astrobiologist's (brief) View on Life - Here, There and Everywhere

    Dale Alan Bryant
    21 Jul 2015 | 8:02 am
    What are lifeforms here on Earth made of? What are celestial objects, like other planets, comets, asteroids and stars made of?As can be shown by an instrument known as a mass spectrometer, they all bear the same fundamental chemistry of Earth and surrounding planets. All of these are made from the common chemicals, minerals and metals that are found in and on the Earth. Living organisms - animal, bacterial, fungal and floral, are composed of these elements which express themselves in various molecular arrangements and can be found in the "Periodic Table of the Elements". The myriad of…
  • Environmental Science Camp Receives Observatory

    Michael Petrasko
    16 Jul 2015 | 7:24 am
    Insight Observatory staff measure for the telescope mount.The staff at Insight Observatory has recently taken on a new project at Camp Bournedale, an environmental and science located in Plymouth, Massachusetts. A foundation known as the S.T.E.P (Science, Technology, Engineering of Plymouth) also based in Plymouth, MA raised funds and generously donated a complete setup for a remote robotic observatory for astronomy education. The equipment consists of a 3 foot in diameter domed observatory, 10" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain Telescope, SBIG CCD Camera and a computer in which the equipment will be…
 
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    Space Facts

  • Pluto Size, Composition, Distance from Sun & Moons

    Chris
    22 Jul 2015 | 12:44 pm
    Size: The New Horizons mission has verified that Pluto is the largest of the dwarf planets with a diameter 2,370 kilometres give or take a 20 km margin of error. Composition: There is still lot to learn from New Horizons about Pluto’s exact internal structure, but we know it is comprised of water ice around […] The post Pluto Size, Composition, Distance from Sun & Moons appeared first on Space Facts.
  • Pluto Facts

    Chris
    8 Jul 2015 | 1:48 pm
    Discovered in 1930, Pluto is the second closest dwarf planet to the Sun and was at one point classified as the ninth planet. Pluto is the largest dwarf planet but only the second most massive, with Eris being the most massive. Pluto Dwarf Planet Profile Mass: 13,050,000,000,000 billion kg (0.00218 x Earth) Diameter: 2,372 km […] The post Pluto Facts appeared first on Space Facts.
  • Phobos Facts

    Chris
    7 Jul 2015 | 5:38 am
    Phobos is one of the two moons of Mars. It is the larger of the two moons, and is heavily cratered and appears to have grooves and streaks of material along its sides. Phobos Moon Profile Diameter: 22 km Mass: 1.06 x 10^16 kg Orbits: Mars Average Distance from Mars: 5,989 km Length of Orbit: […] The post Phobos Facts appeared first on Space Facts.
  • Deimos Facts

    Chris
    7 Jul 2015 | 5:38 am
    Deimos is the smaller of the two moons of Mars. Like its sibling moon Phobos, it has a dusty “regolith” covered surface, and is made of rocky material. Deimos Moon Profile Diameter: 12.4 km Mass: 1.4762×1015 kg Orbits: Mars Average Distance from Mars: 23,455 km Length of Orbit: 30 hours Surface Temperature: ~233 K (-40.15 […] The post Deimos Facts appeared first on Space Facts.
  • Charon Facts

    Chris
    22 Jun 2015 | 5:40 am
    Charon is the largest and innermost moon of Pluto. It was discovered in 1978 by astronomer James Christy and is nearly 1/8 the mass of Pluto. It orbits a common centre of gravity with Pluto, and the two worlds are tidally locked together as they orbit. Charon Moon Profile Diameter: 1,208 km Mass: 1.52 x […] The post Charon Facts appeared first on Space Facts.
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    GALAXYTHREADS

  • Could These Be The 10 Weirdest Stars In The Universe?

    Galaxy Threads
    9 Jul 2015 | 3:24 am
    To manipulate the quote from the wildly popular series of books and television show Game of Thrones; “The Universe is Dark and Full of Terrors”… Well that’s certainly true in many senses, and these 10 weird stars along with their mysteries are certainly going to either frighten your brains out or make you imagination run riot. So What Are The 10 Weirdest Stars In The Universe? Let’s find out… 10. The Star That Shouldn’t Exist. In 2011 a group of European astronomers discovered the star that shouldn’t exist in the constellation Leo. A small star…
  • The Ultimate Beginners Guide For Choosing The Right Telescope

    Galaxy Threads
    3 Jul 2015 | 1:22 am
    When you begin skywatching at night the first thing you want to do is pick a telescope. In this ultimate beginners guide we’re going to show you how to find the best telescope for beginners which’ll give you a whole new sense of wonder for the night-skies around us! Telescopes For Beginners: Regardless of if you’re seriously contemplating grabbing a telescope or you’re considering it still this guide will help you narrow down your choices and make the best decision for your needs. Orion 8945 XT8 Review | Orion 10014 XT4.5 Review | Sky-Watcher 8″ Review An…
  • 10 Incredible Photos Of Our Universe

    Galaxy Threads
    1 Jul 2015 | 2:22 am
    Our universe can be incredibly beautiful, with more stars than grains of sand on every beach on our planet we could never possibly see it all. Though thanks to astronomers and space telescopes we’ve begun to see more than we ever have. Here are just 10 of those incredible photos of our universe!   1. The Ant Nebula The Horsehead Nebula is a cloud of ionized-hydrogen in the constellation Orion. These clouds are lit from within by young, hot stars. The interstellar dust absorbs the light from part of the ionized cloud creating this beautiful contrast.     2. The Spaghetti…
  • 10 Reasons Why Interstellar Travel Shouldn’t Happen

    Galaxy Threads
    24 Jun 2015 | 12:15 am
    The stars above us are a beauty that men have fashioned whole mythologies around. They are truly a sight to behold, and now that we have extended our reach to the moon, the natural progression is that we might want to travel ‘to the stars’. Such travel is a basic part of countless science fiction stories and films, and many might come away with the impression that interstellar travel is an easy task, perhaps just around the corner for the wit of man. Sadly, there are a few serious problems which must be addressed first. 10. Faster than Light. Many stories include zany explanations…
  • What You Should Know About The First Female Commander Of The Space Shuttle

    Galaxy Threads
    17 Jun 2015 | 6:33 am
    Lt. Colonel Eileen Collins is the second woman known to have graduated as a test pilot and the first woman to pilot a space shuttle mission. She was selected as an astronaut in the 1990 and her first space shuttle mission was the Discovery’s visit to the Russian-Mir Space Station in the 1995. She had completed a total of 419 hours in space. She is also looked upon as one of the pioneers in the world of aviation. Here are some astounding facts about Lt. Col. Collins. 1. Collins was born in Elmira in New York in 1956 to a working class family of little means. 2. Eileen wanted to become a…
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