Astronomy

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  • Rosetta Update

    Astronomy News
    Tom
    29 Mar 2015 | 6:40 am
    Really a general ESA update with the focus on Rosetta. Video by
  • Year in Space Flight for Russian/American Crew Starts With Spectacular Night Launch and Station Docking

    Universe Today
    Ken Kremer
    27 Mar 2015 | 7:36 pm
    The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen as it launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 43’s NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) onboard Friday, March 27 (Saturday, March 28 Kazakh time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls The first ever ‘One-Year Mission’ to the International Space Station (ISS) started with a bang today, March 27, with the spectacular night time launch of the Russian/American crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in…
  • Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 Rebrightens (a bit)

    Astroblog
    28 Mar 2015 | 7:56 am
    Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 in the lid of the teapot of Sagittarius. This is a stack of 10x15 second exposures, ASA 400, 3x Zoom with my Canon IXUS, taken on 21 March at 5:10 am, click to embiggen24 March, stack of 8 images, same conditions a the 21st.28 March, stack of  10 images, same conditions a the 21st. Light curve of  Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2. It has faded then rebrightened, and may be fading againFollowing Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 has been a bit frustration as there have only been a few days without cloud. Up the top is a series of 3 images from the 21st, 24th and…
  • Simons Center for Data Analysis

    Hogg's Research
    23 Mar 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Bernhard Schölkopf arrived for a couple of days of work. We spent the morning discussing radio interferometry, Kepler light-curve modeling, and various thing philosophical. We headed up to the Simons Foundation to the Simons Center for Data Analysis for lunch. We had lunch with Marina Spivak (Simons) and Jim Simons (Simons). With the latter I discussed the issues of finding exoplanet rings, moons, and Trojans.After lunch we ran into Leslie Greengard (Simons) and Alex Barnett (Dartmouth), with whom we had a long conversation about the linear algebra of non-compact kernel matrices on the…
  • Don’t Blink: A Light Show in a Dynamic Stellar Nursery

    Astronomy Cmarchesin
    29 Mar 2015 | 8:00 pm
    The region of Re50 and Re50N observed in 2006 with SuprimeCam at the Subaru telescope, and in 2014 with the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) at the Gemini South telescope. A [SII] filter was used for both images. The seeing was in both cases 0.5 arcsec. Each image is about 3 arcmin wide. North is up and east is left.  Changes in the universe don’t often happen on human timescales.In the cosmic “blink of an eye,” astronomers have detected rapid changes in brightness and appearance of a restless stellar nursery in Orion. The luminous cloud of gas, going by the designation…
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    Astronomy News

  • Rosetta Update

    Tom
    29 Mar 2015 | 6:40 am
    Really a general ESA update with the focus on Rosetta. Video by
  • Nanoflares

    Tom
    28 Mar 2015 | 6:25 am
    Another theory to explain why the corona of the Sun is hotter than the surface, a solar thermocline if you will. Video The Soyuz launch replay is on the previous post. by
  • Launch Day

    Tom
    26 Mar 2015 | 10:05 pm
    A security helocopter surveys the area aound the launch pad for the Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft before its arrival. Photo Credit (NASA/Bill Ingalls) Mission: One Year in Space Spacecraft: Soyuz TMA-16M Crew: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka Launch Day / Time: 27 March 2015 at 19:42 UTC / 15:42 EDT Launch site: Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan Note: Crew members Kelly and Kornienko will be aboard the ISS until March 2016. The long duration is to study how the body reacts and adapts to life in space. The research is needed for future missions say…
  • Jupiter’s Aurora

    Tom
    25 Mar 2015 | 10:05 pm
    Credit: JAXA Last week we had a beautiful display of the aurora courtesy of a solar storm. Other planets are known to have auroral activity. Jupiter included, however the giant planet has auroral activity that isn’t always due to solar storms The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) using their Hisaki satellite detected flare-ups get started by the interaction with the Jupiter moon Io and the planet. The results of two months observing Jupiter with Hisaki were published in a paper by Tomoki Kimura of JAXA and his colleagues in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American…
  • Waiting for Philae

    Tom
    24 Mar 2015 | 10:05 pm
    Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credits ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0 A Rosetta NAVCAM image of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko from 81.4 km / 50.6 miles. ESA did a nice job of processing the image in order to bring out some of the outflow. The outflow should become more evident over time and give 67P/G-C the classic comet look. In the mean time Rosetta is intermittently sending radio signals to the Philae lander to establish contact. So far nothing has been heard from the little lander. Possibly the solar panels have not built up enough power in the systems to function or maybe it…
 
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    Universe Today

  • Year in Space Flight for Russian/American Crew Starts With Spectacular Night Launch and Station Docking

    Ken Kremer
    27 Mar 2015 | 7:36 pm
    The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen as it launches to the International Space Station with Expedition 43’s NASA Astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) onboard Friday, March 27 (Saturday, March 28 Kazakh time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls The first ever ‘One-Year Mission’ to the International Space Station (ISS) started with a bang today, March 27, with the spectacular night time launch of the Russian/American crew from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in…
  • Weekly Space Hangout – March 27, 2015: Dark Matter Galaxy “X” with Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti

    Fraser Cain
    27 Mar 2015 | 2:00 pm
    Host: Fraser Cain (@fcain) Special Guest: Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti, Lead Investigator for team that may have discovered Dark Matter Galaxy “X”. Guests: Morgan Rehnberg (cosmicchatter.org / @MorganRehnberg ) Dave Dickinson (@astroguyz / www.astroguyz.com) Brian Koberlein (@briankoberlein) (...)Read the rest of Weekly Space Hangout – March 27, 2015: Dark Matter Galaxy “X” with Dr. Sukanya Chakrabarti (335 words) © Fraser for Universe Today, 2015. | Permalink | One comment | Post tags: Alzheimer's research, Asteroids, colliding stars, dream chaser, dwarf galaxies,…
  • Historic 1 Year ISS Mission with Kelly and Kornienko Launches Today – Watch Live

    Ken Kremer
    27 Mar 2015 | 9:01 am
    Soyuz Spacecraft Rolled Out For Launch of One-Year Crew The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft is seen after having rolled out by train to the launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Wednesday, March 25, 2015. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station in the Soyuz at 3:42 p.m. EDT, Friday, March 27 (March 28, Kazakh time). Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls Watch live on NASA TV link below At long last, the first ever crew embarking on a 1 year…
  • No, a Giant Asteroid Isn’t Going to “Skim” Earth on Friday

    Jason Major
    26 Mar 2015 | 11:21 am
    Asteroid 2014 YB35 will safely pass Earth at 4.5 million km on the morning of Friday, March 27. (Composite image by J. Major showing asteroid Lutetia imaged by ESA’s Rosetta, Earth and Moon imaged by NASA’s Galileo, and the Milky Way imaged by ESO and Serge Brunier.) There are ways to report on occasional close approaches by near-Earth objects (NEOs) that convey the respectful awareness of their presences and the fact that our planet shares its neighborhood with many other objects, large and small… and that sometimes their paths around the Sun bring them unnervingly close…
  • Using 19th Century Technology to Time Travel to the Stars

    Nancy Atkinson
    25 Mar 2015 | 1:41 pm
    This image of a spiral galaxy, taken on a glass photographic plate, is one in a series of photos taken over decades. From the Harvard Plate collection. Image courtesy American Museum of Natural History. In the late 19th century, astronomers developed the technique of capturing telescopic images of stars and galaxies on glass photographic plates. This allowed them to study the night sky in detail. Over 500,000 glass plate images taken from 1885 to 1992 are part of the Plate Stacks Collection of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and is is the largest of its kind in the…
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    Astroblog

  • Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 Rebrightens (a bit)

    28 Mar 2015 | 7:56 am
    Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 in the lid of the teapot of Sagittarius. This is a stack of 10x15 second exposures, ASA 400, 3x Zoom with my Canon IXUS, taken on 21 March at 5:10 am, click to embiggen24 March, stack of 8 images, same conditions a the 21st.28 March, stack of  10 images, same conditions a the 21st. Light curve of  Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2. It has faded then rebrightened, and may be fading againFollowing Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 has been a bit frustration as there have only been a few days without cloud. Up the top is a series of 3 images from the 21st, 24th and…
  • Aurora Watch (28-30 March)

    28 Mar 2015 | 12:40 am
    Still another Aurora Watch issued by the Australian IPS for the 28th (yes tonight) to the 30th due to increased solar wind speed from a Coronal Hole. The 29th seems the most likely time (although that might be in the early morning of the 29th). Geomagnetic activity is rate at only "unsettled to active" rather than storm levels but sub storms may occur, and aurora, if they occur, are likely to be seen only in Tasmania (possibly Victoria if there is a substorm).Aurora can occur at any time after nightfall (although around midnight or just after seems to be common). Dark sky sites have the best…
  • Total Lunar Eclipse, April 4, 2015

    25 Mar 2015 | 7:12 am
    Eastern horizon as seen from Sydney on  4 April at 9:15 pm AEDST. The eclipse is just about to begin. Click to embiggenEastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on  4 April at 8:45 pm ACDST . The eclipse is just starting. Click to embiggenEastern horizon as seen from Perth on  4 April at 6:15 pm AWST. The eclipse is about to start. Click to embiggenAbove the North-Eastern horizon as seen from Sydney on  4 April at 10:54 pm AEDST. The total eclipse has just begun . Click to embiggenNorth-Eastern horizon as seen from Adelaide on  4 April at 10:24 pm ACDST. The total eclipse…
  • The Sky This Week - Thursday March 26 to Thursday April 2

    24 Mar 2015 | 7:18 am
    The First Quarter Moon is Friday March 27. Venus is prominent in the twilight evening sky. Mars is lost in the twilight. Jupiter is the brightest object in the evening sky once Venus has set. Jupiter is visited by the Moon on the 30th. Saturn is in the head of the Scorpion and now visible in the evening. Mercury is lost to view.The New Moon is Friday March 20. The Moon is at apogee, when it is furthest from the Earth, on April 1st.Evening sky on Saturday March 28 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 20:00 (8:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  Mars is low in the twilight, with Venus above…
  • Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 Still Bright

    23 Mar 2015 | 6:42 am
    Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 in the lid of the teapot of Sagittarius. This is a stack of 10x15 second exposures, ASA 400, 3x Zoom with my Canon IXUS, taken on 21 March at 5:10 am, click to embiggenChart of the same area showing the reference stars. click to embiggen and compare with the actual image.PNV J18365700-2855420, is now Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2 (because there was an earlier nova in Sagittarius). It is a classic nova based on its spectrum.Light curve of  Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2.There were reports of it being magnitude 4.4, which makes it one of the brightest nova since nova…
 
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    Hogg's Research

  • Simons Center for Data Analysis

    23 Mar 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Bernhard Schölkopf arrived for a couple of days of work. We spent the morning discussing radio interferometry, Kepler light-curve modeling, and various thing philosophical. We headed up to the Simons Foundation to the Simons Center for Data Analysis for lunch. We had lunch with Marina Spivak (Simons) and Jim Simons (Simons). With the latter I discussed the issues of finding exoplanet rings, moons, and Trojans.After lunch we ran into Leslie Greengard (Simons) and Alex Barnett (Dartmouth), with whom we had a long conversation about the linear algebra of non-compact kernel matrices on the…
  • health

    20 Mar 2015 | 8:59 pm
    I took a physical-health day today, which means I stayed at home and worked on my students' projects, including commenting on drafts, manuscripts, or plots from Malz, Vakili, and Wang.
  • robust fitting, intelligence, and stellar systems

    19 Mar 2015 | 8:59 pm
    In the morning I talked to Ben Weaver (NYU) about performing robust (as in "robust statistics") fitting of binary-star radial-velocity functions to the radial velocity measurements of the individual exposures from the APOGEE spectroscopy. The goal is to identify radial-velocity outliers and improve APOGEE data analysis, but we might make a few discoveries along the way, a la what's implied by this paper.At lunch-time I met up with Bruce Knuteson (Kn-X) who is starting a company (see here) that uses a clever but simple economic model to obtain true information from untrusted and anonymous…
  • Blanton-Hogg group meeting

    18 Mar 2015 | 8:59 pm
    Today was the first-ever instance of the new Blanton–Hogg combined group meeting. Chang-Hoon Hahn (NYU) presented work on the environmental dependence of galaxy populations in the PRIMUS data set and a referee report he is responding to. We discussed how the redshift incompleteness of the survey might depend on galaxy type. Vakili showed some preliminary results he has on machine-learning-based photometric redshifts. We encouraged him to go down the "feature selection" path to start; it would be great to know what SDSS catalog entries are most useful for predicting redshift! Sanderson…
  • #astrohackny, CMB likelihood

    17 Mar 2015 | 8:59 pm
    I spent most of #astrohackny arguing with Jeff Andrews (Columbia) about white-dwarf cooling age differences and how to do inference given measurements of white dwarf masses and cooling times (for white dwarfs in coeval binaries). The problem is non-trivial and is giving Andrews biased results. In the end we decided to obey the advice I usually give, which is to beat up the likelihood function before doing the full inference. Meaning: Try to figure out if the inference issues are in the likelihood function, the prior, or the MCMC sampler. Since all these things combine in a full inference, it…
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    Astronomy Cmarchesin

  • Don’t Blink: A Light Show in a Dynamic Stellar Nursery

    29 Mar 2015 | 8:00 pm
    The region of Re50 and Re50N observed in 2006 with SuprimeCam at the Subaru telescope, and in 2014 with the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph (GMOS) at the Gemini South telescope. A [SII] filter was used for both images. The seeing was in both cases 0.5 arcsec. Each image is about 3 arcmin wide. North is up and east is left.  Changes in the universe don’t often happen on human timescales.In the cosmic “blink of an eye,” astronomers have detected rapid changes in brightness and appearance of a restless stellar nursery in Orion. The luminous cloud of gas, going by the designation…
  • Chemical fingerprints of ancient supernovae found Carnegie Institution of Washington

    28 Mar 2015 | 8:00 pm
    The Sculptor dwarf galaxy composed from data from the Digitized Sky Survey 2, courtesy of ESO/Digitized Sky Survey 2. A larger version is available herePasadena, CA— A Carnegie-based search of nearby galaxies for their oldest stars has uncovered two stars in the Sculptor dwarf galaxy that were born shortly after the galaxy formed, approximately 13 billion years ago. The unusual chemical content of the stars may have originated in a single supernova explosion from the first generation of Sculptor stars. The team, which includes Carnegie’s Josh Simon, Ian Thompson, and Stephen…
  • Astronomers Upgrade Their Cosmic Light Bulbs

    27 Mar 2015 | 8:00 pm
    A new study analyzes several sites where dead stars once explodedImage credit: SDSS› Full image and captionThe brilliant explosions of dead stars have been used for years to illuminate the far-flung reaches of our cosmos. The explosions, called Type Ia supernovae, allow astronomers to measure the distances to galaxies and measure the ever-increasing rate at which our universe is stretching apart.But these tools aren't perfect. In the cosmic hardware store of our universe, improvements are ongoing. In a new report, appearing March 27 in the journal Science, astronomers identify the best,…
  • A galaxy on the edge

    26 Mar 2015 | 8:10 pm
    NGC 5023 Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASAThis NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows an edge-on view of the spiral galaxy NGC 5023. Due to its orientation we cannot appreciate its spiral arms, but we can admire the elegant profile of its disc. The galaxy lies over 30 million light-years away from us.NGC 5023 is part of the M51 group of galaxies. The brightest galaxy in this group is Messier 51, the Whirlpool Galaxy, which has been captured by Hubble many times. NGC 5023 is less fond of the limelight and seems rather unsociable in comparison — it is relatively isolated from the other…
  • Hubble and Chandra Discover Dark Matter Is Not as Sticky as Once Thought

    26 Mar 2015 | 8:00 pm
    Six Cluster Collisions, with Dark-Matter Maps (Hubble and Chandra — Annotated)The clusters shown here are, from left to right and top to bottom: MACS J0416.1-2403, MACS J0152.5-2852, MACS J0717.5+3745, Abell 370, Abell 2744, and ZwCl 1358+62.Science Credit: NASA, ESA, D. Harvey (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; University of Edinburgh, UK), R. Massey (Durham University, UK), T. Kitching (University College London, UK), and A. Taylor and E. Tittley (University of Edinburgh, UK).  Image Credit: NASA ESA STScI, and CXC.   Release Images Astronomers using…
 
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    The Urban Astronomer

  • The Spring 2015 Eclipse Season

    22 Mar 2015 | 5:07 pm
    We are in an Eclipse Season, a period of time approximately every six months when we experience 2 or 3 eclipses in a short period of time. Just a few days ago Europe experienced a Total Solar Eclipse far in the north of the continent, and by coincidence I was in the region on a business trip and experienced a partial eclipse. Being there reignited the love I have for eclipses and now that I am back in San Francisco, I am counting down the days to the next Total Lunar Eclipse on the early morning hours of April 4th. This is the third in a 'Tetrad of Total Lunar Eclipses' that started in 2014…
  • Saturn and Scorpius in the morning

    9 Mar 2015 | 3:51 pm
    Saturn and ScorpiusWith the onset of daylight savings time, there is plenty of darkness in the morning to step outside and appreciate the view to the south, with the constellation Scorpius dominating the southern horizon. Over the past months, the planet Saturn has slowly moved from Libra into Scorpius where it will spend the next two years on a slow journey eastward across the constellation. The Moon joins the pair for the next few days in a lovely showing in the pre-sunrise sky.Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.
  • Comet Lovejoy still visible

    6 Mar 2015 | 3:53 pm
    Path of Comet LovejoyComet Lovejoy has been a good target for binoculars over the past months. It remains a nice celestial object this month, gradually heading north toward Polaris. In the coming weeks you can find it in the northern constellation Cassiopeia, a faint but distinctive smudge of light that glows against the background stars. I have seen Lovejoy over the past months and enjoy the glow of its coma and tail. Comets don't often remain visible for this long, so if you have a moment and clear skies to the north, enjoy!Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.
  • A Fantastic Conjunction: Moon, Mars and Venus

    20 Feb 2015 | 9:20 pm
    ConjunctionThis evening three celestial objects form an impressive tight grouping: Venus, Mars and the Moon. On Friday they are all in a group, and on Saturday the Moon moves on but Venus and Mars are even more closely aligned in a conjunction. All you need is a clear western horizon and the rest will take care of itself.More details on Sky & Telescope's website. Image courtesy of Sky & Telescope.
  • The King of the Night Sky

    7 Feb 2015 | 10:48 pm
    Jupiter has taken its place as the dominant object in the night sky, outshining everything else around it for the coming months. It just reached 'opposition' as it has its closest approach to the Earth for the next year. At opposition, Jupiter and the Earth and Sun are in a straight line, and Jupiter is visible for the entire night, rising in the east as the Sun sets in the west, towering high overhead during the night, and setting in the west just as dawn breaks.Details of JupiterThe disk of Jupiter is at its maximum visible size, a clear ball with dominant cloudtops in backyard telescopes,…
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    sci.astro

  • Re: NASA scientist: California will run out of water in a year

    29 Mar 2015 | 5:55 pm
    In article , rgregoryclark@gmSPAMBLOACKail.com says... > > The *original* charter for NASA from 1958 did not include provisions for > Earth studies: > > National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Unamended). > [Editorial Headnote: "National Aeronautics and Spac
  • Re: NASA scientist: California will run out of water in a year

    29 Mar 2015 | 9:14 am
    The *original* charter for NASA from 1958 did not include provisions for Earth studies: National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 (Unamended). [Editorial Headnote: "National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958," Public Law #85-568, 72 Stat., 426. Signed by the President on July 29, 1958, Record
  • Re: EINSTEIN'S ILLEGITIMATE CONCLUSIONS

    28 Mar 2015 | 8:10 am
    Another illegitimate conclusion: http://www.bartleby.com/173/23.html Albert Einstein: "An observer who is sitting eccentrically on the disc K' is sensible of a force which acts outwards in a radial direction... (...) The observer performs experiments on his circular disc with clocks and measu
  • EVOLUTIONISTS NO LONGER MAKING A MONKEY OUT OF US

    25 Mar 2015 | 7:03 am
    http://www.aspencountry.com/assets/product_images/product_lib/34000-34999/34513.jpg http://edconrad.com/Welcome%20to%20edconrad.com_files/body_data/body_short_r01_c2.gif http://www.edconrad.com/canals/index_files/hooton.gif http://www.edconrad.com/oldascoal/index_files/body_data/quotesnew.gif
  • Perhaps our own solar system is an outlier due to Jupiter?

    25 Mar 2015 | 5:46 am
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/bridaineparnell/2015/03/24/jupiter-smashed-the-super-earth-version-of-our-solar-system/ "Our Solar System may have once been made up of a number of super-Earths – until Jupiter came barrelling through the planetary system like a wrecking ball. A new study by Caltech
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    Big Picture Science

  • Hidden History

    SETI Institute
    28 Mar 2015 | 4:12 pm
    Archeologists continue to hunt for the city of Atlantis, even though it may never have existed. But, what if it did? Its discovery would change ancient history. Sometimes when we dig around in the past, we can change our understanding of how we got to where we are. We thought we had wrapped up the death of the dinosaurs: blame it on an asteroid. But evidence unearthed in Antarctica and elsewhere suggests the rock from space wasn’t the sole culprit. Also, digging into our genetic past can turn up surprising – and sometimes uncomfortable truths – from ancestral origins to genes that code…
  • Power to the People

    SETI Institute
    23 Mar 2015 | 8:01 am
    ENCORE  Let there be light! Well, it’s easy to do: just flip a switch. But it took more than the invention of the light bulb to make that possible. It required new technology for the distribution of electricity. And that came, not so much from Thomas Edison, but from a Serbian genius named Nikola Tesla. Hear his story plus ideas on what might be the breakthrough energy innovations of the future. Perhaps hydrogen-fueled cars, nuclear fusion electrical generators or even orbiting solar cells? Plus, a reminder of cutting-edge technology back in Napoleon’s day: lighthouses. Guests: •W.
  • Microbes: Resistance is Futile

    SETI Institute
    16 Mar 2015 | 8:04 am
    You are what you eat. Whether you dine on kimchi, carnitas, or corn dogs determines which microbes live in your stomach. And gut microbes make up only part of your total microbiome. Find out how your microbes are the brains-without-brains that affect your health and even your mood. Also, why you and your cohorts are closer than you thought: new research suggests that you swap and adopt bugs from your social set. Plus, the philosophical questions that are arise when we realize that we have more microbial DNA than human DNA. And a woman who skipped soap and shampoo for a month to see what would…
  • Mars-Struck

    SETI Institute
    9 Mar 2015 | 7:44 am
    You love to travel. But would you if doing so meant never coming home? The private company Mars One says it will land humans on the Red Planet by 2026, but is only offering passengers one-way tickets. Hundreds of thousands of people volunteered to go. Meet a young woman who made the short list, and hear why she’s ready to be Mars-bound. Also, why microbes could be hiding in water trapped in the planet’s rocks. And, how a wetter, better Mars lost its atmosphere and became a dry and forbidding place. Plus, why Kim Stanley Robinson, author of a famous trilogy about colonizing and…
  • Skeptic Check: The Me in Measles

    SETI Institute
    2 Mar 2015 | 7:45 am
    Wondering whether to vaccinate your children? The decision can feel like a shot in the dark if you don’t know how to evaluate risk. Find out why all of us succumb to the reasoning pitfalls of cognitive and omission bias, whether we’re saying no to vaccines or getting a tan on the beach. Plus, an infectious disease expert on why it may take a dangerous resurgence of preventable diseases – measles, whooping cough, polio – to remind us that vaccines save lives. Also, a quaint but real vaccine fear: that the 18th century smallpox vaccine, made from cowpox, could turn you into a cow!
 
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    StarDate

  • Hot Lake

    damonddb
    28 Mar 2015 | 11:00 pm
    A giant lake of molten rock forms a dark horseshoe on the surface of Io, one of the big moons of Jupiter, in this view from the Galileo spacecraft. Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. Loki Patera (just below center) is the largest of its volcanic features — a lake that covers about 7,000 square miles. Fresh lava bubbles up from below to fill its basin. [NASA/JPL] Text ©2015 The University of Texas at Austin McDonald ObservatoryFor more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
  • Moon and Jupiter

    damonddb
    28 Mar 2015 | 10:00 pm
    A giant lake spreads across the surface of Io, one of the big moons of Jupiter. You wouldn’t want to take a dip in it, though — it’s a pool of molten rock that sizzles at up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Io is about the same size as our own moon. But while the Moon is almost completely dead, Io is the most volcanically active body in the solar system. It’s heated by a gravitational tug-of-war between Jupiter and some of its other big moons. This conflict pulls and twists Io’s interior, melting some of its rock. Some of the molten rock pushes its way to the surface through volcanic…
  • Moon in the Middle

    damonddb
    27 Mar 2015 | 10:00 pm
    The gibbous Moon passes through the middle of a triangle of bright astronomical objects tonight: the planet Jupiter, the star Procyon, and the “twins” of Gemini. The brightest point of the triangle is Jupiter, which is to the left of the Moon as darkness falls. Only the Moon and the planet Venus outshine it, so it’s easy to find. Jupiter shines so brightly because it’s the biggest planet in the solar system — about 11 times wider than Earth. And it’s wrapped in clouds that reflect about half of the sunlight that strikes them back out into space — giving this hefty planet a hefty…
  • Narrow Escape

    damonddb
    26 Mar 2015 | 10:38 pm
    An object known as G2 whips around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy in this series of images from the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope. Astronomers originally predicted that the black hole would flare brightly as it ingested material from G2, which was identified as a large gas cloud. No such fireworks materialized, however, suggesting that G2 is a compact cloud of gas and dust surrounding a dense object in its core. These infrared images, which are color coded to show G2's location at different times, demonstrate that G2 was not…
  • African Astronomy III

    damonddb
    26 Mar 2015 | 10:00 pm
    A worldwide consortium will soon decide where to build a globe-spanning telescope array that could study some of the most energetic objects and events in the universe. If everything goes as planned, it’ll consist of a network of more than a hundred telescopes. About 20 of them will be in the northern hemisphere — in Arizona, Mexico, or the Canary Islands. But most will be in the southern hemisphere — in either Chile or Namibia. CTA — the Cherenkov Telescope Array — is designed to study gamma rays. They’re produced by exploding stars, hot gas around black holes, and other powerful…
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    Remanzacco Observatory - Comets & Neo

  • New Comet: C/2015 F2 (POLONIA)

    Team
    26 Mar 2015 | 3:44 pm
    CBET nr. 4083, issued on 2015, March 26, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~17) by R. Reszelewski, M. Kusiak, M. Gedek and M. Zolnowski on CCD images taken on 2015, March 23 with a remote-controlled 0.1-m f/5 astrograph of the Polonia Observatory at San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, in the course of their comet-search program. The new comet has been designated C/2015 F2 (POLONIA). We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 14 unfiltered exposures, 30 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2015, March 23.8 from Q62 (iTelescope…
  • Bright Nova in Sgr - (PNV J18365700-2855420)

    Team
    16 Mar 2015 | 6:43 am
    Following the posting on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page about a possible bright Nova in Sgr (TOCP Designation: PNV J18365700-2855420) we performed some follow-up of this object remotely through a 0.61-m f/6.5 astrograph + CCD) of  iTelescope network (MPC Code  U69 - Auberry, California - USA).On our images taken on March 16.5, 2015 we can confirm the presence of an optical counterpart with R-CCD magnitude 5.9 at coordinates:R.A. = 18 36 56.85, Decl.= -28 55 40.0 (equinox 2000.0; UCAC-4 catalogue reference stars).Our wide-Field colour image of Nova Sagittarii…
  • Possible Nova in Sco - (PNV J17032620-3504140)

    Team
    13 Feb 2015 | 11:10 am
    Following the posting on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page about a possible Nova in Sco (TOCP Designation: PNV J17032620-3504140) we performed some follow-up of this object remotely through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer) of iTelescope network (MPC Code  Q62 - Siding Spring).On our images taken on February 13.7, 2015 we can confirm the presence of an optical counterpart with R-CCD magnitude 8.6 at coordinates:R.A. = 17 03 26.19, Decl.= -35 04 18.1(equinox 2000.0; UCAC3 catalogue reference stars).Our annotated confirmation image. Click on it…
  • Close Approach of Asteroid (357439) 2004 BL86

    Team
    23 Jan 2015 | 7:26 am
    The asteroid (357439) 2004 BL86 was discovered  (at ~ magnitude +18.6) on 2004, January 30 by Linear Survey (MPC code 704) with a 1.0-m f/2.15 reflector + CCD.Asteroid (357439) 2004 BL86 has an estimated size of 420 m - 940 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=19.0) and it will have a close approach with Earth at about 3.1 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0080 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) on 2015, January 26 at 16:20UT. This asteroid will reach the peak magnitude about +9.0 between Jan 26 & 27. Astronomers at Goldstone will try to observe it "as the…
  • Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) puts on a show

    Team
    19 Jan 2015 | 4:18 am
    Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy) was discovered (at magnitude +14.8) by T. Lovejoy (Birkdale, Qld., Australia) on 17 August 2014 on CCD images obtained with a 20-cm f/2.1 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. It is the fifth comet discovered by Terry Lovejoy.On 7 January 2015, comet C/2014 Q2 passed 0.469 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) from Earth and it will reach the perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) on 30 January 2015 at a distance of 1.29 AU from the Sun. Comet Lovejoy reached few days ago its peak brightness at about magnitude +3.8, as bright as it should get, making it a naked-eye object.
 
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    Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch

  • ESA’s IXV spaceplane Test Flight a Complete Success, Says the Spacecraft Operations Manager

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    29 Mar 2015 | 12:49 pm
    European Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle (IXV) was launched on a Vega rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana on Feb. 11. The spacecraft was then released into a suborbital trajectory, and flew autonomously, reentering and splashing down into the Pacific Ocean after 100 minutes. This crucial test for ESA has exceeded scientists’ expectations as IXV behaved flawlessly, responding to conditions so precisely and promptly. “The launch was a complete success, all parameters collected so far confirm that the vehicle behaved well, as planned,” Stephane Dussy, IXV Spacecraft…
  • India Successfully Launches IRNSS-1D Navigation Satellite

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    29 Mar 2015 | 8:25 am
    ISRO's Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, PSLV-C27, successfully launched the 1425 kg IRNSS-1D, the fourth satellite in the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System (IRNSS) on Saturday (Mar. 28, 2015) at 5:19 p.m. (local time) from Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota. This is the twenty eighth consecutively successful mission of the PSLV. The 'XL' configuration of PSLV was used for this mission. Previously, the same configuration of the vehicle was successfully used seven times. “We will now be able to make use of our receivers to locate ourselves independently,” ISRO Chairman…
  • Russia, US to Jointly Prepare Mars, Moon Flight Road Map

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    29 Mar 2015 | 6:59 am
    The Russian Federal Space Agency Roscosmos and its US counterpart NASA will jointly hammer out a "road map" program on flights to Mars and the Moon, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said on Saturday. Bolden, who is currently on a tour of Russia's Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, added that he had discussed joint efforts to send missions to the Red Planet with Roscosmos head Igor Komarov, including time frames and funding. "Our area of cooperation will be Mars. We are discussing how best to use the resources, the finance, we are setting time frames and distributing efforts in order to avoid…
  • NASA and Roscosmos Agree to Build New Space Station

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    29 Mar 2015 | 2:14 am
    Russia’s space agency Roscosmos and its US counterpart NASA have agreed to build a new space station to replace the current International Space Station (ISS) when its life cycle expires. The operation of the ISS was prolonged until 2024. "We have agreed that Roscosmos and NASA will be working together on the program of a future space station," Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov told a news conference on Saturday. The talks were held at Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.The two agencies will be unifying their standards and systems of manned space programs, according to Komarov. “This is very…
  • One Year Crew Arrives at Space Station

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    28 Mar 2015 | 5:02 pm
    The Soyuz TMA-16M spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Gennady Padalka docked with the International Space Station (ISS) at 9:33 p.m. EDT, over the western coast of Colombia, six hours after its launch from Baikonur space center. "Contact and capture," NASA TV commentator Dan Huot said as the Soyuz spacecraft arrived at ISS. "The one-year crew has arrived." The crew opened the air lock approximately two hours after docking and moved into the ISS. On board the ISS they were welcomed by NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Russian cosmonaut Anton…
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    Insight Observatory

  • Astronomical Sketching

    Michael Petrasko
    28 Mar 2015 | 10:20 am
    Lunar Crater Gassendl Sketched by Achim RoheI guess its valid to say that this post is a follow-up to one of my most recent posts called "Keeping an Observing Log". Recently, I was searching for some good RSS Feed content for our Insight Observatory's blog and stumbled upon a website that is similar to NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day website. The difference is that its entitled "Astronomy Sketch of the Day" and features astronomical sketches of astronomical objects or phenomena observed in detail submitted by amateur astronomers around the globe. As I may have mentioned before in one…
  • Cloudy Sky Blues and a Visit to the Planetarium

    Muir Evenden
    14 Mar 2015 | 2:48 am
    Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium, Warsaw, PolandI needed a little inspiration: too many cloudy days here this winter in Poland...what else should I expect? Luckily relief was not too far behind. In early February I found myself on a trip to Warsaw with my wife to explore the city and it's culture, including a visit to the new Copernicus Science Center, and most importantly to their Heavens of Copernicus Planetarium. It was my first visit to one of the newer style of planetariums that utilize a number of digital projectors (no large Zeiss or Spitz dumbbell projector here), as well as a…
  • Astronomy Bingo Games

    Michael Petrasko
    8 Mar 2015 | 12:14 pm
    Recently I was browsing the Las Cumbres Global Telescope Network's education section of their website and came across an entertaining and fun way for students to participate in astronomy education... Play Bingo with Charles Messier. Charles Messier was an astronomer who lived in Paris in the 18th century. He wanted to become famous by discovering comets. When he looked through his telescope he often re-discovered objects which were already known and were not comets. So he didn't waste time, each time he found an object that did not move in the sky he catalogued it.As I read more on…
  • Old Dogs and New Tricks

    Harry Hammond
    2 Mar 2015 | 6:33 am
    Celestron 8" Telescope Prime Focus Astrophotography SetupCirca 1995 - Photograph by Jefferey R. CharlesAs Mike Petrasko shared in "A Pilgrim's Progress" right here on Insight Observatory, we recently had the pleasure of delivering a talk at a local library, outlining our experiences with amateur astronomy over the last 30-plus years. While composing the astrophotography content of the talk, one thing was glaringly apparent: things have changed! So, at the risk of  sounding like the old-timer who laments "well, back in MY day....", it might be worth noting the differences between taking…
  • Keeping an Observing Log

    Michael Petrasko
    22 Feb 2015 | 10:04 am
    Jupiter Observation from 1991.Sky and Telescope magazine writer, Bob King, recently posted a great article on the Sky and Telescope website entitled "Pleasures of Keeping an Astro Journal". I could relate my experiences with keeping an astro journal myself in so many ways with his article. I started keeping an observing log back when I was in my early teens at the same time I purchased my Astroscan 4.25" telescope from Edmund Scientific. The company had a special "bundle" deal with the telescope that included an observer's notebook. After reading Mr. King's article, I pulled out the old…
 
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