Astronomy

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  • Ring Shadows

    Astronomy News
    Tom
    27 Nov 2014 | 9:11 pm
    Ring Shadows on Saturn. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute The Cassini – Saturn – Sun angles were just right for Cassini to capture this unusual picture. The rings of Saturn are edge on and their shadows are projected onto the planet. From the NASA caption: This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from slightly above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 14, 2014. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.7 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a…
  • Orion on Track at T MINUS 1 Week to First Blastoff – Photos

    Universe Today
    Ken Kremer
    27 Nov 2014 | 6:12 pm
    NASA’s Orion EFT-1 spacecraft atop Delta 4 Heavy Booster at Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida ahead of launch set for Dec. 4, 2014. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA’s new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long road towards sending Humans to Mars in the 2030s.(...)Read the rest of Orion on Track at T MINUS 1 Week to First Blastoff – Photos (621 words) © Ken Kremer for Universe Today,…
  • The Sky This Week - Thursday November 27 to Thursday December 4

    Astroblog
    25 Nov 2014 | 4:33 am
    The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday November 29.   Venus returns to the evening sky. Mars is easily visible in the early evening.  Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky. Comet C/2102 K1 PanSTARRS is still visible in small telescopes in the early evening.The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday November 29. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on November the 28th.Evening sky on Saturday November 29 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  The Moon is close to Jupiter. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the…
  • spin-orbit and spin-spin in GR

    Hogg's Research
    25 Nov 2014 | 8:59 pm
    Michael Kesden (UT Dallas) gave a great talk today about black-hole–black-hole binary orbits, and the spin–orbit and spin–spin interactions during inspiral. He showed that he can reduce the dimensionality of the spin interaction problem massively using invariants of the motion, and then obtained a regular, analytic solution for the spin evolution. This new solution will massively speed up post-Newtonian calculations of orbits and gravitational-wave waveforms and also will deliver new insight about relativistic dynamics. Along those lines, he found new resonances…
  • A slashing smudge across the sky

    Astronomy Cmarchesin
    27 Nov 2014 | 6:00 pm
    2MASX J01493473+3234464 - PGC 6700 -  UGC 1281Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASAAcknowledgement: Luca LimatolaThe galaxy cutting dramatically across the frame of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a slightly warped dwarf galaxy known as UGC 1281. Seen here from an edge-on perspective, this galaxy lies roughly 18 million light-years away in the constellation of Triangulum (The Triangle).The bright companion to the lower left of UGC 1281 is the small galaxy PGC 6700, officially known as 2MASX J01493473+3234464. Other prominent stars belonging to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and…
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    Astronomy News

  • Ring Shadows

    Tom
    27 Nov 2014 | 9:11 pm
    Ring Shadows on Saturn. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute The Cassini – Saturn – Sun angles were just right for Cassini to capture this unusual picture. The rings of Saturn are edge on and their shadows are projected onto the planet. From the NASA caption: This view looks toward the sunlit side of the rings from slightly above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on Aug. 14, 2014. The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.1 million miles (1.7 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a…
  • Bollide Map

    Tom
    26 Nov 2014 | 9:05 pm
    Bolide map 1994 – 2013. Image credit: Planetary Science via NASA Here’s a great map especially if you like fireballs as much as I do. As you will read below it is a map of small asteroid strikes. I find the distribution of daytime/nighttime remarkable. Sure it’s about 50/50 as you would expect but I’d think the daytime ones would be more difficult to detect – apparently not. Check out the links at the end of the article. From NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Program: A map released today by NASA’s Near Earth Object (NEO) Program reveals that small asteroids…
  • The Egg Nebula

    Tom
    25 Nov 2014 | 9:39 pm
    A Hubble look at the Egg Nebula. Copyright Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Acknowledgment: W. Sparks (STScI) & R. Sahai (JPL) Not a new image but always fun to look at is the Egg Nebula. I always think of ripples in a pond produced by tossing a pebble in and in a way it is. ars Planetary nebulas have nothing much to do with planets, rather they are how stars like our own sun will end their active life cycles. Planetary nebulas are varied in how they present themselves but all are beautiful sights to see. Treat yourself to a Planetary Nebula sampler. From ESA Space in…
  • Dusty Rover

    Tom
    24 Nov 2014 | 9:06 pm
    Dust buildup on Curiosity. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS An image from Curiosity’s Mastcam (left cam) showing surface texture on Mars. A thin coating of dust is starting to accumulate on Curiosity, but so far it looks pretty good. I am not sure of the image scale. The image was taken on 23 November 2014 in the Mount Sharp area where it has been driving around taking a look for good sites to examine. Second Time Through, Mars Rover Examines Chosen Rocks.
  • Futura Launch Replay

    Tom
    24 Nov 2014 | 2:02 am
    Here is a replay of yesterday’s beautiful Futura launch as the Soyuz TMA-15M left from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station. Terry Virts of NASA, Anton Shkaplerov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and Samantha Cristoforetti of the European Space Agency join Expedition 42 Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore of NASA and Alexander Samoukutyaev and Elena Serova of Roscosmos. Among the investigations during the mission involves “Space Headaches” which are often caused by intracranial pressure change. The goal is to come up with…
 
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    Universe Today

  • Orion on Track at T MINUS 1 Week to First Blastoff – Photos

    Ken Kremer
    27 Nov 2014 | 6:12 pm
    NASA’s Orion EFT-1 spacecraft atop Delta 4 Heavy Booster at Space Launch Complex 37 (SLC-37) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida ahead of launch set for Dec. 4, 2014. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA’s new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long road towards sending Humans to Mars in the 2030s.(...)Read the rest of Orion on Track at T MINUS 1 Week to First Blastoff – Photos (621 words) © Ken Kremer for Universe Today,…
  • NASA’s Van Allen Probes Spot Impenetrable Radiation Barrier in Space

    Matt Williams
    27 Nov 2014 | 12:37 pm
    Visualization of the radiation belts with confined charged particles (blue & yellow) and plasmapause boundary (blue-green surface). Credit: NASA/Goddard It’s a well-known fact that Earth’s ozone layer protects us from a great deal of the Sun’s ultra-violet radiation. Were it not for this protective barrier around our planet, chances are our surface would be similar to the rugged and lifeless landscape we observe on Mars. Beyond this barrier lies another – a series of shields formed by a layer of energetic charged particles that are held in place by the…
  • ‘Meteoric Smoke': Comet Siding Spring Could Alter Mars Chemistry Permanently

    Elizabeth Howell
    27 Nov 2014 | 8:00 am
    Observations of Comet Siding Spring Oct. 19 by the Mars Orbiter Mission. Credit: Indian Space Research Organisation Feeling lucky? Events such as the Comet Siding Spring approach by Mars in October only happen about once every eight million years, according to NASA. And after we were treated to spectacular views from the agency’s spacecraft (see Curiosity and Opportunity and MAVEN, for example), we now have fresh pictures this month from an Indian mission. Also, NASA has released science results suggesting that the chemistry of Mars’ atmosphere could be changed forever from the…
  • Venus Express Spacecraft, Low On Fuel, Does Delicate Dance Above Doom Below

    Elizabeth Howell
    27 Nov 2014 | 7:00 am
    Artist’s impression of Venus Express performing aerobreaking maneuvers in the planet’s atmosphere in June and July 2014. Credit: ESA–C. Carreau It’s been an interesting year for Venus Express. A few months ago, controllers deliberately dipped the spacecraft into the atmosphere of the planet — for science purposes, of course. The daring maneuver was approved because the spacecraft is near the end of its mission. It’s nearly out of fuel and will fall into Venus — sometime. Likely in 2015. No one knows exactly when, however. Until Dec. 30, European Space…
  • How Do Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving On The Space Station?

    Elizabeth Howell
    27 Nov 2014 | 6:00 am
    As Americans get ready for turkey feasts and other Thanksgiving goodies today, let’s take a few moments to think about the crew of six people on board the International Space Station. Two Americans, a European and three Russians are working there now and will be taking most of today (Nov. 26) off for the holiday. What the heck will they eat? The NASA interview above provides some clues, including a surprise about leftovers. More details below the jump. (...)Read the rest of How Do Astronauts Celebrate Thanksgiving On The Space Station? (249 words) © Elizabeth Howell for Universe Today,…
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    Astroblog

  • The Sky This Week - Thursday November 27 to Thursday December 4

    25 Nov 2014 | 4:33 am
    The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday November 29.   Venus returns to the evening sky. Mars is easily visible in the early evening.  Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky. Comet C/2102 K1 PanSTARRS is still visible in small telescopes in the early evening.The Last Quarter Moon is Saturday November 29. The Moon is at perigee, when it is closest to the Earth, on November the 28th.Evening sky on Saturday November 29 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  The Moon is close to Jupiter. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the…
  • The Sky This Week - Thursday November 20 to Thursday November 27

    18 Nov 2014 | 5:58 am
    The New Moon is Saturday November 22.   Mars is easily visible in the early evening and is visited by the crescent Moon on the 26th.  Jupiter is prominent in the morning sky. Comet C/2102 K1 PanSTARRS is visible in binoculars in the early evening.The New Moon is Saturday November 22.Evening sky on Wednesday November 26 looking west as seen from Adelaide at 21:00 (9:00 pm) ACDST in South Australia.  The Moon is close to Jupiter. Similar views will be seen elsewhere at the equivalent local time (click to embiggen). Venus is comes out the glare of the Sun by the end of the…
  • SmallestOne turns a prime number old

    15 Nov 2014 | 3:45 am
    In case you're wondering why I have not been posting on the historic Philae landing on comet 67P, I have been involved in SmallestOne's birthday party. SmallestOne is a prime number old, the sum of the two digits of his age is an even number and a prime number too. There was swimming, trampolining, table tennis and lots of screaming. We will return to astronomy tomorrow
  • Philae Made It! We have Landed ona a Comet!

    12 Nov 2014 | 1:59 pm
    The landing as seen by XKCD. After all the waiting and agonising, the Philae lander separated cleanly form Rosetta and made a slow, 7 hour journey to comet 67P.And landed. Story here. 
  • The Towering Cliffs of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko

    12 Nov 2014 | 5:02 am
    Agilkia, the Philae landing site, looks pretty okay in this image (image credit ESA). Click to embiggenBut with a different lighting angle you can see it (indicated by box) is perched near a pretty worrying cliff. (image credit ESA). Click to embiggenLighting angle can  make a huge difference to how a place looks. With the lighting above, Philae's landing environs look relatively smooth, with some scalloping. With the light at a different angle, the "scalloping" is revealed as terrifying cliffs.
 
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    Hogg's Research

  • spin-orbit and spin-spin in GR

    25 Nov 2014 | 8:59 pm
    Michael Kesden (UT Dallas) gave a great talk today about black-hole–black-hole binary orbits, and the spin–orbit and spin–spin interactions during inspiral. He showed that he can reduce the dimensionality of the spin interaction problem massively using invariants of the motion, and then obtained a regular, analytic solution for the spin evolution. This new solution will massively speed up post-Newtonian calculations of orbits and gravitational-wave waveforms and also will deliver new insight about relativistic dynamics. Along those lines, he found new resonances…
  • asteroseismology with Gaussian processes

    24 Nov 2014 | 8:59 pm
    After a low-research morning, Foreman-Mackey and I retreated to an undisclosed location to work on asteroseismology. We checked (by doing a set of likelihood evaluations) on behalf of Eric Agol (UW) whether there is any chance of measuring asteroseismological modes using a bespoke Gaussian process which corresponds to narrow Gaussians in the Fourier domain. The prospects are good (it seems to work) but the method seemed to degrade with signal-to-noise and sampling worse than I expected. Okay, enough playing around! Back to work.
  • new capabilities for Kepler and TESS

    23 Nov 2014 | 1:58 pm
    I worked a bit today on building new capabilities for Kepler and TESS and everything to follow: In one project, we are imagining getting parallax information about stars in Kepler. This has been tried before, and there are many who have foundered on the rocks. We (meaning Foreman-Mackey and I) have a new approach: Let's, on top of a very flexible light-curve model, permit a term proportional to the sine and the cosine of the parallactic angle. Then let's consider the amplitude-squared of those coefficients as something that indicates the parallax. The idea is similar to that of the "reduced…
  • exoplanet blast

    21 Nov 2014 | 8:59 pm
    Dave Charbonneau (Harvard) was in town today, to give the Big Apple Colloquium, which he did with flair. He emphasized the importance of exoplanets in any study of astrophysics or in any astrophysics group or department. He emphasized the amazing value of M-dwarfs as exoplanet hosts: Exoplanets are abundant around M-dwarfs, they are easier to detect there than around Sun-like stars, they are shorter-period at same temperature, and they tend to host small, rocky planets. He showed beautiful work (with Dressing) on the population statistics and also on the compositions of the small planets,…
  • ExoLab-CampHogg hack day

    19 Nov 2014 | 8:59 pm
    John Johnson (Harvard) came to NYU today along with a big fraction of his group: Ben Montet, Ruth Angus, Andrew Vanderburg, Yutong Shan. In addition, Fabienne Bastien (PSU), Ian Czekala (Harvard), Boris Leistedt (UCL), and Tim Morton (Princeton) showed up. We pitched early in the day, in the NYU CDS Studio Space, and then hacked all day. Projects included: Doing the occurrence rate stuff we do for planets but for eclipsing binaries, generalizing the Bastien "flicker" method for getting surface gravities for K2 data, building a focal-plane model for K2 to improve lightcurve extraction,…
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    Astronomy Cmarchesin

  • A slashing smudge across the sky

    27 Nov 2014 | 6:00 pm
    2MASX J01493473+3234464 - PGC 6700 -  UGC 1281Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASAAcknowledgement: Luca LimatolaThe galaxy cutting dramatically across the frame of this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image is a slightly warped dwarf galaxy known as UGC 1281. Seen here from an edge-on perspective, this galaxy lies roughly 18 million light-years away in the constellation of Triangulum (The Triangle).The bright companion to the lower left of UGC 1281 is the small galaxy PGC 6700, officially known as 2MASX J01493473+3234464. Other prominent stars belonging to our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and…
  • A Colourful Gathering of Middle-aged Stars

    26 Nov 2014 | 3:39 am
    PR Image eso1439aThe colourful star cluster NGC 3532 PR Image eso1439bThe location of the bright star cluster NGC 3532 in the constellation of Carina PR Image eso1439cWide-field view of the sky around the bright star cluster NGC 3532 Videos PR Video eso1439aZooming in on the colourful star cluster NGC 3532 PR Video eso1439bPanning across the colourful star cluster NGC 3532 The MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has captured a richly colourful view of the bright star cluster NGC 3532. Some of the stars still shine with a hot bluish colour, but many…
  • Measuring the Ancient Solar Nebula's Magnetic Field

    26 Nov 2014 | 2:17 am
    Chondrules are millimeter-sized constituents of primitive meteorites that formed in brief heating events in the young solar nebula. Scientists have succeeded in determining the ancient magnetic field strength by measuring the field recorded in chondrules like this one containing the mineral olivine. The scale shows a length of 0.2 millimeters.Credit: Wu et al. Astronomical observations of young protostars indicate that early planetary systems evolved from the dust in a protoplanetary disk very quickly - in under five million years. Such short timescales require very efficient mechanism(s) to…
  • The Egg Nebula

    24 Nov 2014 | 6:00 pm
    The Egg Nebula (CRL 2688)Copyright Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA). Acknowledgment: W. Sparks (STScI) & R. Sahai (JPL) This colourful image shows a cosmic lighthouse known as the Egg Nebula, which lies around 3000 light-years from Earth. The image, taken with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, has captured a brief but dramatic phase in the life of a Sun-like star.The Egg Nebula is a ‘preplanetary nebula’. These objects occur as a dying star’s hot remains briefly illuminates material it has expelled, lighting up the gas and dust that surrounds it.These…
  • Seeing into the Heart of Mira A and its Partner

    24 Nov 2014 | 4:17 am
    MiraCredit:  ESO/S. Ramstedt (Uppsala University, Sweden) & W. Vlemmings (Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden) Studying red giant stars tells astronomers about the future of the Sun — and about how previous generations of stars spread the elements needed for life across the Universe. One of the most famous red giants in the sky is called Mira A, part of the binary system Mira which lies about 400 light-years from Earth. In this image ALMA reveals Mira’s secret life.Mira A is an old star, already starting to throw out the products of its life’s work into space for…
 
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    The Urban Astronomer

  • Lunar Month Begins

    26 Nov 2014 | 7:46 am
    Lunar Month BeginsThanksgiving in the USA is accompanied by a young Moon,  a few days into the lunar cycle and the new lunar month. I enjoy the changing face of our nearest neighbor in the Solar System, a lovely sight early in its cycle. This week we'll see the Moon pass near Mars and then wander through the faint constellation Capricorn, en route to encounters with Neptune and Uranus. The San Francisco Bay Area is being graced with clear, crisp November nights so when the Sun sets after your Thanksgiving dinner, step outside and enjoy the view to the west, and a few hours later you'll…
  • Leonid Meteor Shower 2014

    15 Nov 2014 | 11:30 pm
    I enjoy the annual Leonids meteor shower for many reasons, not the least of which is that it is my birthday meteor shower, peaking on my birthday each year. The peak of the Leonids comes on the evening of November 17 into the early morning hours of November 18, and this year the Moon is a thin waning crescent in the early morning and won't disrupt the viewing of meteors. So, get a warm blanket and a clear view of the sky and enjoy this annual shower that promisesLeonid 'Radiant'Like all meteor showers, they are caused by a remnant of a celestial object, most often a comet or asteroid that…
  • Shiny Pre-Dawn Sky

    8 Nov 2014 | 8:05 pm
    The Moon and JupiterMornings are splendid this time of year, with plenty of darkness to make it easy to see the sky when you first get up, and so much to look at right now. Jupiter shines brightly high in the eastern and southern sky before sunrise, and all of the magnificent winter constellations dominate the sky to the south and above, glimmering in the quiet of the early morning. I savor the moments when I am up early and have a few minutes to take in the spectacle, starting my day on a good note.Over the coming week, the waning Moon graces the southern and eastern skies and passes near…
  • Amazing Sunset and Sunrise Colors

    31 Oct 2014 | 6:36 pm
    Every sunrise and sunset provides a wide range of visual effects, ranging from the elongation of the disk of the Sun as it hugs the horizon, to the amazing range of colors you see in the minutes before and after the Sun’s passage through the horizon. One of my favorite effects is the curious coloration of the opposite horizon from the sunrise or sunset where one sees a colorful and rapidly changing band of sky called the Belt of Venus. Belt of Venus at 35,000 FeetDespite the name, the effect does not have anything to do with Venus the planet. Rather, the effect is due entirely to the shadow…
  • What's Up in Astronomy and Space Exploration

    14 Oct 2014 | 4:47 pm
    Last night a friend asked me "what's up in space exploration and astronomy in the coming weeks?" and I wrote down this list. Enjoy!October 19 - Watching a comet from Mars with NASAOctober 23 - Partial Eclipse of the SunOctober 25 - Bay Area Science Festival astronomy nightNovember 12 - Rosetta probe to land on a cometNovember 17 - A meteor shower: the Leonids
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    sci.astro

  • God vs. Smithsonian showdown off again

    27 Nov 2014 | 8:47 pm
    WASHINGTON, DC. (Rueters) -- Almighty God's inspection tour of the Smithsonian on Friday has once again been postponed. The Institution had failed to tell The Man Above that it would be closed for the entire Thanksgiving holiday weekend. God was eager to find out on Black Friday if the Smithsonian w
  • VARIABLE SPEED OF LIGHT (EINSTEIN WRONG IN 1905)

    27 Nov 2014 | 4:33 am
    The speed of light (relative to the observer) varies with the speed of the light source, contrary to what Einstein postulated in 1905. This is evident from the following quotes: http://books.google.com/books?id=JokgnS1JtmMC "Relativity and Its Roots" by Banesh Hoffmann, p.92: "There are various re
  • Christmas Story with Chiron, Pluto and the Three Wise Men. (Banda Aceh)

    26 Nov 2014 | 4:56 pm
    Christmas Story with Chiron, Pluto and the Three Wise Men. (Banda Aceh) Three Capitals to Bethlehem, Palestinian Territories. Angkor Wat 4486 miles (destroyed) Banda Aceh 4266 miles (destroyed) Nanjing    4749 miles (demoted twice) 12 hours from Jupiteer midnight points to them. Only Herod points t
  • First Photo of the Interior of a BLACK HOLE

    26 Nov 2014 | 1:10 pm
    http://www.edconrad.com/wellread.html < http://www.edconrad.org < ==================== < Let a word to the wise be sufficient . . . < A common criticism of the Internet is that it is dominated by the crude, the uninformed, the immature, the smug, the untalented, the repetitious, the pathetic, the
  • EINSTEINIANS LEAVE THE SINKING SHIP

    26 Nov 2014 | 9:26 am
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfgTQkH2L38 Brian Greene Feb 26, 2014: "As a physicist to me he [Einstein] is the greatest most insightful intellect that our species has ever produced." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqoSLWLFjiU Nov 20, 2014: "Who do you consider the greatest of all physicists?
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    uk.sci.astronomy

  • Re: Comet lander (delayed) TV coverage in UK?

    14 Nov 2014 | 6:03 am
    I'd love to be a fly on the wall of the committee room currently discussing the pros/cons of deploying ptolomy versus battery life for "main sequence" experiments and chance of moving into more sunlit posistion, versus flipping over or off into space
  • Re: Comet lander (delayed) TV coverage in UK?

    12 Nov 2014 | 12:29 am
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30012854 Key timings for landing effort (GMT) • Rosetta delivery manoeuvre - shortly after 06:00 • Latest Go/No-go decision - before 07:35 • Philae separates from Rosetta - 08:35 • Confirmation signal at Earth of separation - 09:03 • Rosetta's pos
  • Re: Comet lander (delayed) TV coverage in UK?

    11 Nov 2014 | 10:27 am
    Make that 19:00 GMT (20:00 CET)
  • Re: Comet lander (delayed) TV coverage in UK?

    11 Nov 2014 | 7:44 am
    Webcasting on Livestream http://new.livestream.com/ESA/cometlanding Login required. Program starts 20:00 GMT on 11th Nov and runs for 24 hours Full schedule is apparently given here. http://www.esa.int/esatv/Television
  • Re: Comet lander (delayed) TV coverage in UK?

    10 Nov 2014 | 9:31 am
    It seems 08:35 is the release time of the lander and comet-fall is some hours after that
 
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    Big Picture Science

  • This Land Is Island

    SETI Institute
    24 Nov 2014 | 12:09 am
    There are many kinds of islands. There’s your iconic sandy speck of land topped with a palm tree, but there’s also our home planet – an island in the vast seas of space. You might think of yourself as a biological island … until you tally the number of microbes living outside – and inside – your body. We go island hopping, and consider the Scottish definition of an island – one man, one sheep – as well as the swelling threat of high water to island nations. Also, how species populate islands … and tricks for communicating with…
  • Surfeit of the Vitalest

    SETI Institute
    17 Nov 2014 | 7:04 am
    In the century and a half since Charles Darwin wrote his seminal On the Origin of the Species, our understanding of evolution has changed quite a bit. For one, we have not only identified the inheritance molecule DNA, but have determined its sequence in many animals and plants. Evolution has evolved, and we take a look at some of the recent developments. A biologist describes the escalating horn-to-horn and tusk-to-tusk arms race between animals, and a paleoanthropologist explains why the lineage from chimp to human is no longer thought to be a straight line but, instead, a bush. Also, New…
  • Skeptic Check: Are You Sure You're Sure?

    SETI Institute
    10 Nov 2014 | 7:21 am
    Nuclear fission powers the Sun. Or is it fusion? At any rate, helium is burned in the process, of that you are certain. After all, you read that article on astronomy last week*. You know what you know. But you probably don’t know what you don’t know. Few of us do. Scientists say we’re spectacularly incompetent at recognizing our own incompetency, and that sometimes leads to trouble. Find out why wrongness is the by-product of big brains and why even scientists – gasp! – are not immune. Plus, a peek into the trash bin of history: the biggest scientific blunders…
  • Sounds Abound

    SETI Institute
    3 Nov 2014 | 7:24 am
    The world is a noisy place. But now we have a better idea what the fuss is about. Not only can we record sound, but our computers allow us to analyze it. Bird sonograms reveal that our feathery friends give each other nicknames and share details about their emotional state. Meanwhile, hydrophones capture the sounds of dying icebergs, and let scientists separate natural sound from man-made in the briny deep. Plus, native Ohio speakers help decipher what Neil Armstrong really said on that famous day. And, think your collection of 45 rpm records is impressive? Try feasting your ears on sound…
  • Skeptic Check: Friends Like These

    SETI Institute
    27 Oct 2014 | 7:22 am
    We love our family and friends, but sometimes their ideas about how the world works seem a little wacky. We asked BiPiSci listeners to share examples of what they can’t believe their loved-ones believe, no matter how much they hear rational explanations to the contrary. Then we asked some scientists about those beliefs, to get their take. Discover whether newspaper ink causes cancer … if King Tut really did add a curse to his sarcophagus … the efficacy of examining your irises – iridology – to diagnose disease … and more! Oh, and what about string…
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    StarDate Online

  • Tadpole Galaxies

    damonddb
    27 Nov 2014 | 10:00 pm
    Almost two decades ago, Hubble Space Telescope unveiled a new class of galaxies, known as tadpoles. And recent observations from ground-based observatories suggest that tadpoles are well named — they seem to be young galaxies caught in the act of growing larger. A tadpole galaxy has a bright head, where new stars are forming, and a faint tail. Astronomers recently observed seven tadpoles that are within about 600 million light-years of Earth, which is close enough to study them in some detail. The observations revealed that most tadpoles rotate, just like disks of spiral galaxies like our…
  • Tadpole Galaxy

    damonddb
    26 Nov 2014 | 10:00 pm
    A dragon and a tadpole slither low across the northern sky this evening, curling around the North Star. The dragon is the long but faint constellation Draco. And the tadpole is the aftermath of a galactic collision that’s just below the dragon’s long, winding body. The Tadpole galaxy is about 400 million light-years away. An image from Hubble Space Telescope shows a bright “head” with a long, wiggly “tail” extending away from it. The head is the body of the galaxy itself — a spiral that’s perhaps a little bigger than our home galaxy, the Milky Way. The tail is a streamer of…
  • Galactic Tadpole

    damonddb
    26 Nov 2014 | 10:00 pm
    A colliding galaxy known as the Tadpole wiggles across space in this Hubble Space Telescope image. The galaxy was either hit or sideswiped by a smaller galaxy, disrupting the larger galaxy's disk and pulling out a "tail" of stars, gas, and dust that spans a quarter-million light-years. [NASA/H. Ford (JHU)/G. Illingworth (USCS/LO)/M. Clampin (STScI)/G. Hartig (STScI)/ACS Science Team/ESA] Text ©2014 The University of Texas at Austin McDonald ObservatoryFor more skywatching tips, astronomy news, and much more, read StarDate magazine.
  • Galaxy Mergers

    damonddb
    25 Nov 2014 | 10:00 pm
    Galaxies could use a set of traffic cops — they’re always running into each other. These galactic wrecks can produce some of the most beautiful objects in the universe. Mainly, though, they just make bigger galaxies. The collisions are the work of gravity. Galaxies contain anywhere from a few million stars to a trillion or more. Their combined gravity exerts a strong pull on the other galaxies around them, drawing the galaxies together. Most galaxy collisions involve a big galaxy gobbling up a smaller one. In fact, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is swallowing several small galaxies right…
  • Moon and Mars

    damonddb
    24 Nov 2014 | 10:00 pm
    One of the problems of long-distance travel is jet lag — the difference between the time at your destination and the time according to your body’s internal clock. It can take days to get the two rhythms in sync. Matching those rhythms will be especially vexing for the people who explore Mars. It’s not so much the trip that’ll be the problem, but the destination. A day on Mars lasts about 24 hours and 40 minutes. That’s close enough to an Earth day that explorers will want to follow the Martian cycle of day and night. But it’s far enough from the body’s normal rhythm that it’ll…
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    Remanzacco Observatory - Comets & Neo

  • New Comet: C/2014 W2 (PANSTARRS)

    Team
    21 Nov 2014 | 4:49 am
    CBET nr. 4019, issued on 2014, November 21, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~18.7) by PANSTARRS survey in four w-band CCD exposures taken with the 1.8-m Pan-STARRS1 telescope at Haleakala on Nov. 17. The new comet has been designated C/2014 W2 (PANSTARRS).We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp.  Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 120-sec each, obtained remotely on 2014, November 18.9 from I89 (iTelescope network - Nerpio) through a 0.43-m f/6.8 reflector + CCD, shows that this object is a comet: diffuse coma about 6" in…
  • PHILAE HAS LANDED!

    Team
    13 Nov 2014 | 3:58 am
    On 12 November 2014, Philae landed of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Actually looks like Philae landed 3 times on the comet's surface. In fact, magnetic field data from Philae’s ROMAP instrument revealed it touched the surface on  15:33UT, 17:26 and 17:33 UTC. In the weak gravity of the comet the first bounce took about 2 hours and now the lander is thought to be about 1 km away from the original landing site. Below you can find a selection of the most important images (click on each image for a bigger version) & info arriving from Philae and Rosetta in these exciting hours. For…
  • Possible Supernova in M61 (NGC 4303)

    Team
    30 Oct 2014 | 6:44 am
    Following the posting on the Central Bureau's Transient Object Confirmation Page about a possible Supernova in the barred spiral galaxy Messier 61 (or NGC 4303 - TOCP Designation: PSN J12215757+0428185) we performed some follow-up of this object through a 0.10-m f/5.0 astrograph + CCD from MPC Code H06 (iTelescope, New Mexico). On our images taken on October 30.5, 2014 we can confirm the presence of an optical counterpart with unfiltered CCD magnitude 13.2 and at coordinates:R.A. = 12 21 57.61, Decl.= +04 28 17.8(equinox 2000.0; UCAC-3 catalogue reference stars).   Our…
  • Close Approach of Asteroid 2014 SC324

    Team
    24 Oct 2014 | 7:49 am
    The asteroid 2014 SC324 was discovered (at ~ magnitude +21.4) on 2014, September 30.2 by Mt. Lemmon Survey (MPC code G96) with a 1.5-m reflector + CCD. 2014 SC324 has an estimated size of 40 m - 90 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=24.1) and it will have a close approach with Earth at about 1.5 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0038 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 1921 UT on 2014, October 24. This asteroid will reach the peak magnitude about +13.6 at close approach.We performed some follow-up measurements of this object on 2014, October 24.3 remotely from…
  • Comet C/2013 A1 & Mars - Images & Results

    Team
    24 Oct 2014 | 6:44 am
    Comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) was discovered by Australian observer R. H. McNaught with the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt telescope on 2013, Jan. 03 (discovery magnitude +18.6).  After its discovery, due to the uncertainty within the orbital calculations, there was thought to be a chance of a collision with Mars, but this possibility was excluded when its orbit was determined more accurately. Instead C/2013 A1 passed the planet Mars very closely on 2014, 19 October at 18:29UT. According to JPL website (With an observation arc of 733 days) the comet passed at a Nominal Distance of about 139,500…
 
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    Astronomy and Space News - Astro Watch

  • Weather Delays the Launch of Japanese Asteroid Hunter

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    27 Nov 2014 | 11:33 pm
    Iffy weather has dealyed the launch of H-IIA rocket with Hayabusa 2, Japan's newest asteroid probe. "The launch of the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 26 (H-IIA F26) with the Asteroid Explorer “Hayabusa2” onboard has been rescheduled as clouds including a freezing layer (please refer to the following figure) that exceeds the restrictions for suitable weather are forecast to be generated at around the scheduled launch time on November 30 (Sun.), 2014 (Japan Standard Time.)," Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said in a statement. The new launch day will be set after carefully examining the…
  • U.S. Hampers Russian Spektr-UV Telescope Project

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    27 Nov 2014 | 1:31 pm
    The United States is trying to block the implementation of a major international project on the creation of the Spektr-UV satellite observatory by banning the supply of certain technology to Russia, the Izvestia newspaper reported Thursday. The U.S. State Department imposed the ban on supplies to Russia of radiation-resistant components, which are used in radiation recording instruments. The ban affected the contract on producing radiation detectors that Russia had signed with E2V of the United Kingdom. "…this year, the United States introduced additional restrictions on the supply of…
  • UK Astronaut's Mission Logo Revealed

    Tomasz Nowakowski
    27 Nov 2014 | 12:56 pm
    In partnership with ESA and the UK Space Agency, the BBC’s Blue Peter programme asked schoolchildren to design a mission patch for astronaut Tim Peake and received more than 3000 entries. The astronaut will be launched to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2015 under the mission name of Principia. The name refers to Isaac Newton’s world-changing three-part text on physics, Naturalis Principia Mathematica, describing the principal laws of motion and gravity. “Principia refers to Isaac Newton’s principal laws of gravity and motion so I drew an apple because that is how he…
  • ‘Eye of Sauron’ Helps Measure Cosmic Distances

    Astro
    27 Nov 2014 | 4:56 am
    One of the major problems in astronomy is measuring very large distances in the universe. The current most common methods measure relative distances, but now research from the Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark led by Dr Sebastian Hoenig from the University of Southampton, UK, demonstrates that precise distances can be measured using supermassive black holes. The active galaxy NGC 4151 called the, ‘Eye of Sauron’ due to its similarity to the eye in the film Lord of the Rings, is a modest spiral galaxy. It has a supermassive black hole at its centre and this black hole is still active, that is…
  • Tests of Universal Launch Facility for Russian Angara-A5 Heavy Lift Rocket Completed

    Astro
    27 Nov 2014 | 3:01 am
    Complex testing of the universal launch facility for the heavy lift carrier rocket Angara-A5 has been completed and the rocket has been removed from the launch site of the Plesetsk spaceport, spokesman for the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces Colonel Alexey Zolotukhin told TASS on Wednesday. “The rocket has now been removed from the launch pad of the universal launch facility and taken to the operations and checkout building of the technical complex of the cosmodrome where experts started technological operations to prepare Angara-A5 for flight tests,” Zolotukhin said. According to him,…
 
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    Life of Controversy

  • Nobel Prize 2014 : Medicine and Physiology Front Runners & Winners

    Word Smith
    22 Nov 2014 | 9:54 am
     Dear ReadersFirstly I apologise for the extensive delay. My grandmother took ill and was hospitalized due to a pulmonary embolism. She’s recovering now, so all’s well that ends well I suppose, if you can call a brush with death being well.  Modern Medicine saved her life and I felt I needed to pay homage, give thanks and acknowledge its journey of continuous improvement and innovation. What more appropriate way is there to achieve this than to recognize the men and women whose unyielding efforts lead to the breakthroughs that improve the overall health of humankind. These…
  • Nobel Prize 2014 : Physics Front Runners & Winners

    Word Smith
    17 Oct 2014 | 3:01 am
    Dear Readers Yes! The Nobel Prize award ceremonies are just a couple of months off and from what I hear it’s going to be dynamite! (Pardon the ill choice of words)The prize winners were announced over the past couple of days as we gear up towards December. I decided to do a series of articles covering the Prize Categories  But where is the controversy? You may ask. Well firstly there will be the controversy as to why I’m writing about this seemingly non-controversial topic thus diverging from the central theme of the blog itself.Secondly competitions themselves are in their…
  • Release the KRAKEN: 20,000 leagues of controversy

    Word Smith
    3 Oct 2014 | 8:17 am
    Dear Readers My love and curiosity of the grandiose ocean realm began the day I picked up Jules Verne’s classic sublime masterpiece where we follow Professor Pierre Arronax as circumstance lands him in the bowels of the infamous Nautilus. Here we encounter the mystifying and frightful wonders of the deep sea and all its inhabitants including the mysterious Captain Nemo as they travel 20,000 leagues under the sea.Although that promo was “the bomb” we are here to talk about another equally thrilling enigma that happened to be one of the most memorable characters in the book. The…
  • HeForShe:The Peaceful Coexistence of the Sexes

    Word Smith
    25 Sep 2014 | 9:31 pm
    Dear Readers I’m sure by now you’ve all seen or heard of the UN pro-gender equality campaign #HeForShe, and especially the very eloquent Emma Watson‘s emotionally stirring speech.   The quiver in her voice I felt emphasized the direness of the situation and served to further strengthen the whole message.  Truly inspiring.This set me off on an exciting, gear crunching thought process. What is sexism derived from?Sexism stems from the biological differences between a male and a female, or in scientific terms the sexual dimorphism that arises due to the DNA…
  • Double O Desperation: Cloud Fall

    Word Smith
    8 Sep 2014 | 7:21 pm
    Dear readersLast week saw the fall from favour of the infamous cloud storage system.Some equally famous Celebrities have found themselves in an extremely awkward predicament as some sorry sexually frustratedSOBs caught them with their pants down……………literally. I’m slightly embarrassed to say that I too was subjected to this invasion of privacy as a..Ahem.. Slightly revealing photograph was released to a seedy part of the internet. But as internet amendment 34 states “If it exists…. Oh pardon me wrong amendment. I believe its amendment 43 that states “once it’s…
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