Tag Archive: Astronomy


Solar Eclipse ‘Will Be Memorable’ – But Beware

 

 

Toatal Eclipse 3:20:15

 

 

 

” A near-total solar eclipse will occur in the skies above Britain this week, prompting warnings about the dangers of watching the spectacle without taking precautions.

  The eclipse will begin around 8.30am on Friday and last for two hours as the moon moves in front of the Sun. The proportion of the Sun covered by the moon will increase the further north you are.

  In London, 84% of the Sun will be covered, while in Edinburgh the proportion is 93%. The last solar eclipse of such significance took place in August 1999, when a total eclipse occurred.”

 

Sky News

 

Links to much more on the impending solar eclipse:

 

March 20, 2015 — Total Solar Eclipse

Total Solar Eclipse 20 March 2015

Total Solar Eclipse of 2015 Mar 20 – NASA Eclipse Web Site

Solar Eclipse 20 March – The Science Geek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Small Is Planet Earth !

 

 

 

Here is a video that very deftly illustrates the insignificance of man .

Young Black Hole Had Monstrous Growth Spurt

 

 

 

 

 

 

” A black hole that grew to gargantuan size in the Universe’s first billion years is by far the largest yet spotted from such an early date, researchers have announced. The object, discovered by astronomers in 2013, is 12 billion times as massive as the Sun, and six times greater than its largest-known contemporaries. Its existence poses a challenge for theories of the evolution of black holes, stars and galaxies, astronomers say.

  Light from the black hole took 12.9 billion years to reach Earth, so astronomers see the object as it was 900 million years after the Big Bang. That “is actually a very short time” for a black hole to have grown so large, says astronomer Xue-Bing Wu of Peking University in Beijing. He led an international collaboration that describes the discovery in Nature.

  For its age, this black hole “is really much more massive than anything else we have seen so far”, says Christian Veillet, director of the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.”

 

 

   Read more about this discovery that turns previous theories of the nature of black hole growth on it’s head at Nature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NASA – 5 Year Time-Lapse Of The Sun

 

   Here is the time-lapse video comprised of one still shot of the sun taken every eight hours from June of 2010 until February 2015 as recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory …

 

 

 

Published on Feb 11, 2015

” The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) celebrates its 5th anniversary since it launched on February 11, 2010. This time-lapse video captures one frame every 8 hours starting when data became available in June 2010 and finishing February 8, 2015. The different colors represent the various wavelengths (sometimes blended, sometimes alone) in which SDO observes the sun.

For more about SDO, please visit http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/ “

 

 

 

 

    While this video pays tribute to the fifth anniversary of the SDO and provides some spectacular film closeups of the sun , solar flares , corona dances and more … simply awe-inspiring …

 

 

 

NASA – SDO: Year 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published on Feb 11, 2015

” February 11, 2015 marks five years in space for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which provides incredibly detailed images of the whole sun 24 hours a day. Capturing an image more than once per second, SDO has provided an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the sun grow and erupt ever since its launch on Feb. 11, 2010. The imagery is also captivating, allowing one to watch the constant ballet of solar material through the sun’s atmosphere, the corona.

  In honor of SDO’s fifth anniversary, NASA has released a video showcasing highlights from the last five years of sun watching. Watch the movie to see giant clouds of solar material hurled out into space, the dance of giant loops hovering in the corona, and huge sunspots growing and shrinking on the sun’s surface.

  The imagery is an example of the kind of data that SDO provides to scientists. By watching the sun in different wavelengths – and therefore different temperatures – scientists can watch how material courses through the corona, which holds clues to what causes eruptions on the sun, what heats the sun’s atmosphere up to 1,000 times hotter than its surface, and why the sun’s magnetic fields are constantly on the move.

  Five years into its mission, SDO continues to send back tantalizing imagery to incite scientists’ curiosity. For example, in late 2014, SDO captured imagery of the largest sun spots seen since 1995 as well as a torrent of intense solar flares. Solar flares are bursts of light, energy and X-rays. They can occur by themselves or can be accompanied by what’s called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, in which a giant cloud of solar material erupts off the sun, achieves escape velocity and heads off into space. In this case, the sun produced only flares and no CMEs, which, while not unheard of, is somewhat unusual for flares of that size. Scientists are looking at that data now to see if they can determine what circumstances might have led to flares eruptions alone.

  Goddard built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The program’s goal is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.

  This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11742 “

 

 

Enjoy !

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Horizons Probe Eyes Pluto For Historic Encounter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” A Nasa probe is to start photographing the icy world of Pluto, to prepare itself for a historic encounter in July.

  The New Horizons spacecraft has travelled 5bn km (3bn miles) over nine years to get near the dwarf planet.

  And with 200m km still to go, its images of Pluto will show only a speck of light against the stars.

  But the data will be critical in helping to align the probe properly for what will be just a fleeting fly-by.

  Pluto will be photographed repeatedly during the approach, to determine the probe’s position relative to the dwarf planet, explained Mark Holdridge, from the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Baltimore.

” We then perform a number of correction manoeuvres to realign our trajectory with the reference trajectory, thus ensuring we hit our aim point to travel through the Pluto system,” he said.

  When New Horizons arrives at Pluto it will be moving so fast – at almost 14km/s – that going into orbit around the distant world is impossible; it must barrel straight through instead.

  One complication is that the seven different instruments aboard the spacecraft need to work at different distances to get their data, and so the team has constructed a very elaborate observation schedule for them all.

  But what this means is that very precise timing will be required to make sure the flyby runs smoothly.

  The closest approach to Pluto is set for around 11:50 GMT on 14 July – at a miss distance of roughly 13,695km from the surface.

  Mission planners want the exact timings nailed to within 100 seconds. New Horizons will know then where and when to point the instruments. “

 

 

BBC News

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mars Rover Opportunity Marks 11-Year Anniversary With Stunning Photo

 

 

Click here for full size image

 

 

” NASA’s Opportunity rover celebrated 11 years on Mars Saturday (Jan. 24), and the robot’s handlers are marking the occasion with a gorgeous panoramic photo that Opportunity took of its Red Planet home.

  Opportunity landed on Mars on the night of Jan. 24, 2004, a few weeks after its twin, Spirit, made its Red Planet debut. The rovers were tasked with three-month missions to search for signs of past water activity on the Red Planet. Both Spirit and Opportunity found plenty of such evidence, and then kept rolling long after their warranties expired.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Spirit stopped communicating with Earth in 2010 and was declared dead a year later, but Opportunity is still going strong. The robot has been exploring the rim of the 14-mile-wide (22 kilometers) Endeavour Crater since August 2011, and it crested a rise on the rim known as Cape Tribulation earlier this month. [Latest Mars Rover Photos from Opportunity & Spirit] “

 

Space.com has the whole story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mountain-Size Asteroid To Fly By Earth Monday: How NASA Will Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” A mountain-size asteroid will zoom past Earth Monday (Jan. 26), marking the closest pass by such a large space rock until 2027.

  Asteroid 2004 BL86, which is about 1,800 feet (550 meters) wide, will come within 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) of our planet Monday — about three times the distance between Earth and the moon. While this flyby poses no threat to Earth, it does present a rare opportunity to get a good look at a near-Earth asteroid, NASA officials say.

  Scientists are eager to study 2004 BL86 to pinpoint its orbit, observe its surface and even look for moons. The plan is to track the fast-moving asteroid using the 230-foot (70 m) dish-shaped Goldstone antenna at NASA’s Deep Space Network in California, as well as the 1,000-foot (305 m) Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. These radio dishes will beam microwave signals at the asteroid, which will then bounce off the target and return to Earth. [Photos: Potentially Dangerous Asteroids]

” For objects that get this close, that are this large, the radar observations are really analogous to a spacecraft flyby in terms of the caliber of the data that we can get,” said Lance Benner of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who is the principal investigator for the Goldstone observations of the asteroid.”

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NASA Releases Panoramic Picture Of Andromeda Galaxy: Largest Picture Ever With 1.5 Billion Pixels

 

 

 

 

” Using images from the Hubble Space Telescope, a bird’s-eye panoramic view of part of the Andromeda galaxy is the clearest, largest picture ever assembled by NASA of the galaxy next door.

  The Andromeda galaxy is located more than 2 million light-years away from Earth but the Hubble Space Telescope was powerful enough to capture part of it, bringing together 1.5 billion pixels representing a stretch of galaxy with a length of 61,000 light-years. Over 100 million stars were immortalized in the image as well, some of them seen in clusters of thousands.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

” The impressive photograph raises the bar for precision studies involving spiral galaxies dominating the universe as they number more than 100 billion. Astronomers have never been able to view stars so clearly yet so widespread in external spiral galaxies. “

 

Story continues

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Geminid Meteor Shower: Dust From An Asteroid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” The Geminid meteor shower of 2014 will peak overnight on Dec. 13 and 14, but the shower as a whole is active between Dec. 4 and Dec. 17. NASA is predicting between 100 and 120 meteors per hour for observer’s with optimum observing conditions (dark, clear skies away from city lights). Several webcasts by NASA, Slooh and others are available to watch the meteors. The best time to begin looking for Geminid meteors will be about 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. your local time, since the last quarter moon will rise around midnight. 

  The Geminids are a meteor shower that happens every December. NASA says astronomers consider it one of the “best and most reliable” showers of the year, but the shower actually did not start occurring until very recently (in astronomical and human terms).

  First reports of the shower emerged in the mid-1800s, but at the time there were only 10-20 meteors per hour. These days, it’s more like 120 meteors at the peak.

  Astronomers are puzzled about the number of meteors observed. While scientists have known for a generation about the source of the shower – an asteroid named 3200 Phaethon – the volume of the shower’s meteors is strange given the observed amount of debris.

  The Geminids appear to come from the constellation Gemini, but in reality it is fragments of 3200 Phaethon that cause the sky fireworks. The asteroid has a debris trail in orbit around the sun. Once a year, Earth runs into this dusty path, which intersects our planet’s path through space.”

 

Space.com

 

 

 

   NASA offers more information along with a webchat page and a Ustream link from a telescope at the Marshall Space Flight Center with a live stream for those whose view is obstructed by the weather .

 

 

NASA Geminids Ustream

 

 

 

   Fox News offers a viewing conditions guide as well as a link to Slooh live broadcasts:

 

 

 

” Those who do not have suitable viewing conditions for the Geminid Meteor Shower’s peak can view Slooh’s live broadcast of the event below, which is set to air on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 8:00 p.m. EST.”

  The event will broadcast from two locations beginning with Slooh’s flagship observatory at the Institute of Astrophysics, Canary Islands, and later from Prescott, Arizona, at Prescott Observatory.”

 

 

Slooh Geminids

 

 

” The Geminids are very strange because they hit Earth sideways,” Berman said. “These meteors hit us gently. While Summer’s Perseids strike Earth at 37 miles per second, that’s amazingly fast, and the Leonids are even a little bit faster, hitting us at just over 40 miles a second, these Geminids hit us at only 22 miles a second.” “

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October Skywatching: Lunar & Solar Eclipses, A Meteor Shower And More

 

 

October Skywatching

Vast Ocean Found Beneath Ice Of Saturn Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

” Scientists have uncovered a vast ocean beneath the icy surface of Saturn’s little moon Enceladus.

  Italian and American researchers made the discovery using Cassini, a NASA-European spacecraft still exploring Saturn and its rings 17 years after its launch from Cape Canaveral. Their findings were announced Thursday.

  This new ocean of liquid water – as big as or even bigger than North America’s Lake Superior – is centered at the south pole of Enceladus and could encompass much if not most of the moon. Enceladus (ehn-SEHL’-uh-duhs) is about 310 miles across.

  The data do not show if the ocean extends to the north pole, said the lead researcher, Luciano Less of Sapienza University of Rome. At the very least, it’s a regional sea some 25 miles deep under miles-thick ice. On Earth, it would stretch from our South Pole up to New Zealand – at the very least.”

 

 

Read more

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quadrantids 2014: Watch First Meteor Shower Of The Year Live Online

 

 

 

 

 

 

” The first meteor shower of the year will peak tonight (2 January) and tomorrow and will be visible across the Northern Hemisphere.

  The Quadrantids began on 28 December and will continue through to 12 January. At its peak, people should be able to see up to 80 meteorites per hour.

  Less known than its preceding meteor showers Perseids in August and Geminids in December, Quadrantids are often missed by stargazers as the peak intensity only lasts a few hours.

  According to Earth Sky, the best time to watch for people in North America will be between midnight and dawn on the morning of 3 January. People in Asia should watch at the same time the following day.”

 

 

Given the weather forecast for the northeastern US it might be a better bet to watch the show online :

 

 

” Anyone wishing to watch the meteor shower from the comfort of their homes can also see the Quadrantids live online. Nasa’s Marshall Space Flight Centre will be hosting a live Ustream view of the shower from the skies over Huntsville, Alabama, which can be found here.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astronomy Picture Of The Day

2013 December 22

 

 

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Tutulemma: Solar Eclipse Analemma 
Image Credit & Copyright: Cenk E. Tezel and Tunç Tezel (TWAN)

” Explanation: If you went outside at exactly the same time every day and took a picture that included the Sun, how would the Sun’s position change? With great planning and effort, such a series of images can be taken. The figure-8 path the Sun follows over the course of a year is called an analemma. Yesterday, the Winter Solstice day in Earth’s northern hemisphere, the Sun appeared at the bottom of the analemma. Analemmas created from different latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. With even greater planning and effort, the series can include a total eclipse of the Sun as one of the images. Pictured is such a total solar eclipse analemma or Tutulemma – a term coined by the photographers based on the Turkish word for eclipse. The above composite image sequence was recorded from Turkey starting in 2005. The base image for the sequence is from the total phase of a solar eclipse as viewed from Side, Turkey on 2006 March 29. Venus was also visible during totality, toward the lower right.”

 

HT/SETI Institute

 

 

 

 

 

 

From All That Is Interesting

 

 

 

 

” In 1996, scientists took a huge risk when they pointed the Hubble telescope to an inky field that they believed to be void of stars and planets. As images from Hubble are in constant demand, the worry was that devoting so much time to a black space would prove futile. Once the photons finally registered, though, that leap of faith proved fruitful: light from over three thousand galaxies illuminated the image. A few years and missions later, Hubble’s glimpse into what is known as the deep field has revealed that we are just one tiny part of a vast system comprising 100 billion galaxies.

And if you enjoyed this video, be sure to see our articles on the Hubble Telescopes’ most fascinating photographs and the six most interesting facts about space! “

 

Go to All That Is Interesting for much much more of interest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunar Eclipse Friday: Where To See It

 

N/A

 

 

” A partial lunar eclipse will be visible Friday into Saturday night for those living from eastern Canada and the upper Northeast to Africa and most of Europe.

At 23:51 UTC, the fullest coverage of the moon by Earth’s shadow will occur, lasting for 239 minutes.

The eclipse will be most visible for the United States and Canada at 7:50 p.m. EDT. Due to the timing of the eclipse, the moonrise will not be high enough for western parts of North America to view; its peak will not reach so far west and will only be visible for Africa and Europe.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Planet: Among Seven Found, Three Are In Habitable Zone

 

 

” Using new observation of Gliese 667C, astronomers found seven planets circling a star, including three super-Earths orbiting in the habitable zone. Gliese 667 is a triple-star system in the constellation of Scorpius that has masses smaller than Sun.

 
As published in Science Daily June 25, 2013, a team of astronomers has combined new observations of Gliese 667C with existing data from the High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) at La Silla’s European Southern Observatory (ESO) 3.6-metre telescope in Chile, to reveal a system with at least six planets. A record-breaking three of these planets are super-Earths lying in the zone around the star where liquid water could exist, making them possible candidates for the presence of life.

 

Gliese 667 lies at a distance of about 22 light years from Earth. To the naked eye, the system appears to be a single faint star. Gliese 667C is the smallest stellar component of this system, with only around 31% of the mass of the Sun and 42% of the Sun’s radius. This star is radiating only 1.4% of the Sun’s luminosity from its outer atmosphere at a relatively cool temperature.”

Most “Super” Supermoon Of 2013 On June 22-23

 

Photo credit: Alice Popkorn

 

 

” Full moon falls on June 23, 2013 at 11:32 UTC (6:32 a.m. CDT in the U.S.). Thus, for many, the moon appears about as full in the June 22 evening sky as it does on the evening of June 23. This full moon is not only the closest and largest full moon of the year. It also presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth for all of 2013. The moon will not be so close again until August, 2014. In other words, it’s not just a supermoon. It’s the closest supermoon of 2013.

We astronomers call this sort of close full moon a perigee full moon. The word perigee describes the moon’s closest point to Earth for a given month. Two years ago, when the closest and largest full moon fell on March 19, 2011, many used the term supermoon, which we’d never heard before. Last year, we heard this term again to describe the year’s closest full moon on May 6, 2012. Now the term supermoon is being used a lot.

How super is this supermoon? June 2013 presents the moon’s closest encounter with Earth until August 10, 2014, at which time the moon will be a scant 5 kilometers closer to Earth. The full moon will come even closer to Earth on September 28, 2015 (356,877 kilometers) and closer yet on November 14, 2016 (356,509 kilometers). November 2016 will feature the closest full moon until November 25, 2034! Maybe this helps you see that supermoons – while interesting – are fairly routine astronomical events.”

 

 

 

 

 

—-

May 2013 Guide To The Five Visible Planets

 

 

Planetary trio bedecks western sky after sunset May 25.

 

” Venus and Jupiter are both now visible after sunset. Venus is buried in deep twilight in mid-May but will become more visible as the month passes. Later in May, the planet Mercury will climb up out of the glare of sunset, to appear low in the west at dusk. In the last week of May, Jupiter, Venus and Mercury will form a spectacular planetary trio. Meanwhile, Saturn – shines noticeably bright in the May 2013 evening sky all month long. And Mars is officially in the morning sky in May 2013, but not visible, having passed behind the sun from Earth last month.”

 

 

 

Planetary Alignment Peaks With Celestial Show This Weekend

 

 

 

” Venus and Jupiter, the two brightest planets in the sky this month, will be joined by tiny Mercury for a rare celestial show this weekend.

Typically, Venus, the second-closest planet to the sun, and Jupiter, which orbits beyond Mars, are tens of millions of miles apart. But they have been cycling together while moving ever closer to each other this month, joined by the innermost planet Mercury.

The celestial show peaks on Sunday when the trio will appear as a bright triangle of light in the western sky beginning about 30 minutes after sunset.

Triple conjunctions are relatively rare, according to NASA. The last one was in May 2011 and the next one will not occur until October 2015.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Has the Right To Mine An Asteroid?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

” As PopMech has relentlessly covered, the race is on to tap the mineral wealth tucked away in the asteroids. But are these big space rocks free for the taking, or will asteroid miners find themselves bogged down in outer space red tape? Instapundit blogger and resident contrarian Glenn Harlan Reynolds investigates.

Suddenly, the idea of asteroid mining is everywhere. As a recent feature here in Popular Mechanics noted, asteroid mining has gone from a “someday” idea to a business plan for more than one company. As a professor who’s been writing, teaching, and practicing space law since the 1980s, I say, why not? Asteroids are valuable, they’re out there, and they are free for the taking.

Or are they?

Asteroids are certainly available, and they’re valuable. More than 750,000 asteroids measure at least 1 kilometer across, and millions of smaller objects are scattered throughout the solar system, mostly in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Even a comparatively small asteroid is potentially quite valuable, both on Earth and in space.

A 79-foot-wide M-type (metallic) asteroid could hold 33,000 tons of extractable metals, including $50 million in platinum alone. A 23-foot-diameter C-type (carbonaceous) asteroid can hold 24,000 gallons of water, useful for generating fuel and oxygen. Even 1 gallon of water, at 8.33 pounds per, can cost tens of thousands of dollars to launch into Earth orbit. Prices will probably come down now that SpaceX and other private launch companies are in the game. But the numbers would need to improve a lot for water launched from Earth to compete with water that’s already floating in space. “

 

 

 

Everything You Need To Know: Start Watching For Comet PANSTARRS Now

 

 

” There’s a lot of excitement about Comet ISON, which might become a very bright comet, visible across the globe, by the end of 2013. But don’t wait for Comet ISON to look outside for a comet. A fainter comet – called PANSTARRS – has been sighted already in Northern Hemisphere skies. It’s low in the west after sunset – and probably brightest around the time it’s closest to the sun on March 10, 2013. The Southern Hemisphere has been seeing PANSTARRS already for some weeks. skyandtelescope.com reported on March 8 on one of the first U.S. sightings:

Longtime amateur astronomer Jim Brant writes from Homestead, Florida, latitude 25° N: “I spotted the comet naked eye at 7 p.m. tonight (March 7). It is much fainter than recent photos from the Southern Hemisphere, which is expected as they are time exposures. It looks like a faint straight jet contrail, about a degree long and fainter than I expected. It’s a pretty sight in my f/6.25 80mm University Optics refractor at 11x. Thought you might like to know it’s finally visible here.”

In other words, for latitudes like those in the southern U.S., PANSTARRS is visible now. The latitudes where PANSTARRS can be seen low after sunset are moving northward each day. The comet is low in the west after sunset – perhaps not prominent in the midst of evening twilight – but there if your sky is clear to the horizon and unobstructed by trees or tall buildings.”

 

 

 

 

—-

Top 10 NASA Pics From January

 

 

” NASA has released some stunning images this month, and here are the top 10 most incredible visuals published online in January, ranging from pics of snow-covered deserts to a galaxy found in the Milky way.

NASA has long been known for being a digital pioneer, often making photos and videos available as soon as possible. Online, their pics are readily available with complete descriptions and fall under the public domain copyright (NASA is a government agency).”
This new view of the historical supernova remnant Cassiopeia A  located 11 000 light-years away  was...

“This new view of the historical supernova remnant Cassiopeia A, located 11,000 light-years away, was taken by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR. Blue indicates the highest energy X-ray light, where NuSTAR has made the first resolved image ever of this source”

Daily Video 1.22.13

How Many Stars Are There?

 

 … Just 12 Light Years Away

 

” One of the closest stars to our own, Tau Ceti, appears to have five planets, including one that’s in the so-called habitable zone and could be suitable for life.

 

 

 

 

Not only is Tau Ceti a near neighbor, at 12 light years away, it has the same spectral classification as our sun. Previously, the nearest planet believed to be capable of supporting life – found just last month – was 42 light years away. “