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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planetary Nebula NGC 2818 from Hubble

    07/13/2014 6:09:41 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | July 13, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: NGC 2818 is a beautiful planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star. It could well offer a glimpse of the future that awaits our own Sun after spending another 5 billion years or so steadily using up hydrogen at its core, and then finally helium, as fuel for nuclear fusion. Curiously, NGC 2818 seems to lie within an open star cluster, NGC 2818A, that is some 10,000 light-years distant toward the southern constellation Pyxis (the Compass). At the distance of the star cluster, the nebula would be about 4 light-years across. But accurate velocity measurements show...
  • Comet Jacques Is Back! Joins Venus and Mercury at Dawn

    07/12/2014 12:21:23 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | July 12, 2014 | Bob King on
    Comet C/2014 E2 Jacques has returned! Before it disappeared in the solar glow this spring, the comet reached magnitude +6, the naked eye limit. Now it’s back at dawn, rising higher each morning as it treks toward darker skies. Just days after its July 2 perihelion, the fuzzball will be in conjunction with the planet Venus tomorrow morning July 13. With Mercury nearby, you may have the chance to see this celestial ‘Rat Pack’ tucked within a 8° circle.
  • Scientists ‘Have No Handle On’ Radio Bursts Coming From Deep Space

    07/12/2014 9:55:31 AM PDT · by shove_it · 42 replies
    CBSTampaBay ^ | 11 jUL 2014 | Benjamin Fearnow
    Arecibo, Puerto Rico (CBS TAMPA) – A succinct blip of radio waves detected from far beyond the Milky Way Galaxy amid deep space has left scientists saying they “really have no handle on” the mysterious “fast radio burst.” The split-second burst of radio waves discovered through the Arecibo radio telescope has given scientists new evidence of the rare, mysterious pulses emanating from deep outer space – well beyond the ends of the galaxy. Published July 10 in The Astrophysical Journal, the “fast radio burst” is the first of similar sounds to be detected by an installation other than the Parkes...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- SN 1006 Supernova Remnant

    07/12/2014 4:20:54 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | July 12, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A new star, likely the brightest supernova in recorded human history, lit up planet Earth's sky in the year 1006 AD. The expanding debris cloud from the stellar explosion, found in the southerly constellation of Lupus, still puts on a cosmic light show across the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, this composite view includes X-ray data in blue from the Chandra Observatory, optical data in yellowish hues, and radio image data in red. Now known as the SN 1006 supernova remnant, the debris cloud appears to be about 60 light-years across and is understood to represent the remains of a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spotty Sunrise over Brisbane

    07/10/2014 9:26:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | July 11, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this composite cityscape, dawn's first colors backdrop the lights along Brisbane's skyline at the southeastern corner of Queensland, Australia, planet Earth. Using a solar filter, additional exposures made every 3.5 minutes follow the winter sunrise on July 8 as planet-sized sunspots cross the visible solar disk. The sunspots mark solar active regions with convoluted magnetic fields. Even as the maximum in the solar activity cycle begins to fade, the active regions produce intense solar flares and eruptions launching coronal mass ejections (CMEs), enormous clouds of energetic particles, into our fair solar system.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M51: X-Rays from the Whirlpool

    07/10/2014 8:36:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | June 10, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What if we X-rayed an entire spiral galaxy? This was done (again) recently by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory for the nearby interacting galaxies known as the Whirlpool (M51). Hundreds of glittering x-ray stars are present in the above Chandra image of the spiral and its neighbor. The image is a conglomerate of X-ray light from Chandra and visible light from the Hubble Space Telescope. The number of luminous x-ray sources, likely neutron star and black hole binary systems within the confines of M51, is unusually high for normal spiral or elliptical galaxies and suggests this cosmic whirlpool has experienced...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- How to Identify that Light in the Sky

    07/10/2014 8:33:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | June 09, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is that light in the sky? Perhaps one of humanity's more common questions, an answer may result from a few quick observations. For example -- is it moving or blinking? If so, and if you live near a city, the answer is typically an airplane, since planes are so numerous and so few stars and satellites are bright enough to be seen over the din of artificial city lights. If not, and if you live far from a city, that bright light is likely a planet such as Venus or Mars -- the former of which is constrained...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Open Cluster NGC 290: A Stellar Jewel Box

    07/10/2014 8:29:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | June 08, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Jewels don't shine this bright -- only stars do. Like gems in a jewel box, though, the stars of open cluster NGC 290 glitter in a beautiful display of brightness and color. The photogenic cluster, pictured above, was captured recently by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Open clusters of stars are younger, contain few stars, and contain a much higher fraction of blue stars than do globular clusters of stars. NGC 290 lies about 200,000 light-years distant in a neighboring galaxy called the Small Cloud of Magellan (SMC). The open cluster contains hundreds of stars and spans about 65...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M16 and the Eagle Nebula

    07/10/2014 8:26:31 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | June 07, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A star cluster around 2 million years young, M16 is surrounded by natal clouds of dust and glowing gas also known as The Eagle Nebula. This beautifully detailed image of the region includes cosmic sculptures made famous in Hubble Space Telescope close-ups of the starforming complex. Described as elephant trunks or Pillars of Creation, dense, dusty columns rising near the center are light-years in length but are gravitationally contracting to form stars. Energetic radiation from the cluster stars erodes material near the tips, eventually exposing the embedded new stars. Extending from the left edge of the frame is another...
  • Solar Notch-Delay Model Released (Dr. David Evans Mpdel --from Australia)

    07/10/2014 1:30:40 PM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 9 replies
    wattsupwiththat.com ^ | July 8, 2014 | by Anthony Watts
    Readers may recall the contentious discussions that occurred on this thread a couple of weeks back. Both Willis Eschenbach and Dr. Leif Svalgaard were quite combative over the fact that the model data had not been released. But that aside, there is good news. David Archibald writes in to tell us that the model has been released and that we can examine it. Links to the details follow.While this is a very welcome update, from my viewpoint the timing of this could not be worse, given that a number of people including myself are in the middle of the ICCC9...
  • Record levels of solar ultraviolet measured in South America (in the Tropical Andes)

    07/10/2014 12:48:53 PM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 19 replies
    wattsupwiththat.com ^ | July 8, 2014 | by Anthony Watts
    From FrontiersA team of researchers in the U.S. and Germany has measured the highest level of ultraviolet radiation ever recorded on the Earth’s surface. The extraordinary UV fluxes, observed in the Bolivian Andes only 1,500 miles from the equator, are far above those normally considered to be harmful to both terrestrial and aquatic life. The results are being published in the open-access journal Frontiers in Environmental Science.“These record-setting levels were not measured in Antarctica, where ozone holes have been a recurring problem for decades,” says team leader Nathalie A. Cabrol of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. “This...
  • Picture: The Great Lakes from the Space Station

    07/10/2014 12:30:04 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 32 replies
  • Missing Light Crisis: 'Something is Amiss in the Universe'

    07/10/2014 6:57:55 AM PDT · by shove_it · 40 replies
    IBTimes ^ | 10 Jul 2014 | Hannah Osborne
    There is a "missing light crisis" taking place in the universe with a huge deficit on what there should be and what there actually is, astronomers have said. In a statement, experts from the Carnegie Institution for Science said "something is amiss in the universe" with 80% of the light missing. Lead author of the study Juna Kollmeier said: "It's as if you're in a big, brightly-lit room, but you look around and see only a few 40-watt lightbulbs. Where is all that light coming from? It's missing from our census." Published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, scientists found that the...
  • Astronomy: Planets in chaos. Standard ideas of Planet formation are being demolished

    07/08/2014 2:09:26 PM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 19 replies
    NATURE ^ | 07/02/2014 | Ann Finkbeiner
    The discovery of thousands of star systems wildly different from our own has demolished ideas about how planets form. Astronomers are searching for a whole new theory. Not so long ago — as recently as the mid-1990s, in fact — there was a theory so beautiful that astronomers thought it simply had to be true. They gave it a rather pedestrian name: the core-accretion theory. But its beauty lay in how it used just a few basic principles of physics and chemistry to account for every major feature of our Solar System. It explained why all the planets orbit the...
  • Would the Real ‘SuperMoon’ Please Stand Up?

    07/08/2014 10:59:09 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | July 8, 2014 | David Dickinson on
    What’s happening this summer: First, here’s the lowdown on what’s coming up. The closest Full Moon of 2014 occurs next month on August 10th at 18:11 Universal Time (UT) or 1:44 PM EDT. On that date, the Moon reaches perigee or its closest approach to the Earth at 356,896 kilometres distant at 17:44, less than an hour from Full. Of course, the Moon reaches perigee nearly as close once every anomalistic month (the time from perigee-to-perigee) of 27.55 days and passes Full phase once every synodic period (the period from like phase to phase) with a long term average of...
  • Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World

    07/08/2014 10:32:53 AM PDT · by robowombat · 18 replies
    Space Daily ^ | Jun 05, 2014
    Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World by Staff Writers Pasadena CA (JPL) Jun 05, 2014 An artist's conception shows the Kepler-10 system, home to two rocky planets. In the foreground is Kepler-10c, a planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. Planet formation theorists are challenged to explain how such a massive world could have formed. Image courtesy Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and David Aguilar. Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery...
  • Dwarf planet 'Biden' identified in an unlikely region of our solar system

    07/08/2014 10:39:32 AM PDT · by robowombat · 24 replies
    Voice of Russia ^ | Mar 28, 2014
    Moscow (Voice of Russia) Mar 28, 2014 A newly discovered planet-like object, dubbed "Sedna" is seen in this artist's concept released by NASA March 26, 2014. Image courtesy Reuters/NASA/JPL-Caltech / Handout via Reuters. Astronomers believe they have discovered a dwarf planet beyond Pluto, 7 billion miles from Earth. The new discovery is already causing scientists to reconsider everything they know about our solar system. The planetary body was discovered in the outer regions of space, which scientists long believed was populated by nothing more than floating chunks of matter, until they discovered a dwarf planet in 2003. That dwarf planet,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Manhattanhenge: A New York City Sunset

    07/05/2014 10:42:01 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | July 06, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This coming Saturday, if it is clear, well placed New Yorkers can go outside at sunset and watch their city act like a modern version of Stonehenge. Manhattan's streets will flood dramatically with sunlight just as the Sun sets precisely at each street's western end. Usually, the tall buildings that line the gridded streets of New York City's tallest borough will hide the setting Sun. This effect makes Manhattan a type of modern Stonehenge, although only aligned to about 30 degrees east of north. Were Manhattan's road grid perfectly aligned to east and west, today's effect would occur on...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M106 Across the Spectrum

    07/04/2014 9:25:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | July 05, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The spiral arms of bright, active galaxy M106 sprawl through this remarkable multiwavelength portrait, composed of image data from radio to X-rays, across the electromagnetic spectrum. Also known as NGC 4258, M106 can be found toward the northern constellation Canes Venatici. The well-measured distance to M106 is 23.5 million light-years, making this cosmic scene about 60,000 light-years across. Typical in grand spiral galaxies, dark dust lanes, youthful star clusters, and star forming regions trace spiral arms that converge on a bright nucleus. But this composite highlights two anomalous arms in radio (purple) and X-ray (blue) that seem to arise...
  • How Big is Rosetta’s Comet?

    07/04/2014 4:47:19 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    Universe Today via Phys.org ^ | Thursday, July 03, 2014 | Jason Major
    ...while it's one thing to say that the nucleus of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is about three by five kilometers in diameter, it's quite another to see it in context with more familiar objects. Think about it—a comet as tall as Mt Fuji! At the time of this writing Rosetta is 35 days out on approach to Comet 67P/C-G, at a distance of about 51,000 km (31,700 miles) and closing. Three "big burn" maneuvers have already been performed between May 7 and June 4 to adjust the spacecraft's course toward the incoming comet, and after smaller ones on June 18 and July...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- OCO-2 Night Launch

    07/04/2014 2:59:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | July 04, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In this alluring time exposure, star trails arc across the night sky above foggy Monterey Bay and the lights of Santa Cruz, California in the United States of America. Since the exposure began around 2:56am PDT on July 2 it also records the trail of a Delta II rocket lofting NASA's OCO-2 spacecraft into orbit. Seen from a vantage point 200 miles north of the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site, the trail represents the first five minutes of the rocket's flight along a trajectory south and west over the Pacific to join the A-Train in polar orbit around...
  • A Brief History Of Gliese 581d and 581g, The Planets That May Not Be

    07/04/2014 10:52:46 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | July 4, 2014 | Elizabeth Howell on
    Two potentially habitable planets in the Gliese 581 system are just false signals arising out of starstuff, a new study said. Gliese 581d and 581g are (study authors said) instead indications of the star’s activity and rotation. It’s the latest twist in a long tale about the system as astronomers struggle to understand how many planets could be orbiting the star. “Our improved detection of the real planets in this system gives us confidence that we are now beginning to sufficiently eliminate Doppler signals from stellar activity to discover new, habitable exoplanets, even when they are hidden beneath stellar noise,”...
  • Ancient Asteroid Destroyer Finally Found, And It's a New Kind of Meteorite

    07/03/2014 2:15:20 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    livescience.com ^ | | June 27, 2014 08:31am ET | Becky Oskin, Senior Writer
    For 50 years, scientists have wondered what annihilated the ancestor of L-chondrites, the roof-smashing, head-bonking meteorites that frequently pummel Earth. Now, a new kind of meteorite discovered in a southern Sweden limestone quarry may finally solve the mystery, scientists report. The strange new rock may be the missing "other half" from one of the biggest interstellar collisions in a billion years. "Something we didn't really know about before was flying around and crashed into the L-chondrites," said study co-author Gary Huss of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. ... Researchers have nicknamed the new meteorite the "mysterious object" until its...
  • The Universe Shouldn't Be Here, According to Higgs Physics

    07/03/2014 11:34:01 AM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 47 replies
    Live Science ^ | 06/23/2014 | Tia Ghose
    The universe shouldn't exist — at least according to a new theory. Modeling of conditions soon after the Big Bang suggests the universe should have collapsed just microseconds after its explosive birth, the new study suggests. "During the early universe, we expected cosmic inflation — this is a rapid expansion of the universe right after the Big Bang," said study co-author Robert Hogan, a doctoral candidate in physics at King's College in London. "This expansion causes lots of stuff to shake around, and if we shake it too much, we could go into this new energy space, which could cause...
  • Physicist suggests speed of light might be slower than thought

    07/03/2014 11:28:55 AM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 50 replies
    PHYS.ORG ^ | 07/01/2014 | Bob Yirka
    Physicist James Franson of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County has captured the attention of the physics community by posting an article to the peer-reviewed New Journal of Physics in which he claims to have found evidence that suggests the speed of light as described by the theory of general relativity, is actually slower than has been thought. The theory of general relativity suggests that light travels at a constant speed of 299,792,458 meters per second in a vacuum. It's the c in Einstein's famous equation after all, and virtually everything measured in the cosmos is based on it—in short,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Along the Cygnus Wall

    07/03/2014 3:59:35 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 03, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The prominent ridge of emission featured in this vivid skyscape is known as the Cygnus Wall. Part of a larger emission nebula with a distinctive shape popularly called The North America Nebula, the ridge spans about 10 light-years along an outline that suggests the western coast of Mexico. Constructed from narrowband image data, the cosmic close-up maps emission from sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms to red, green, and blue colors. The result highlights the bright ionization front with fine details of dark, dusty forms in silhouette. Sculpted by energetic radiation from the region's young, hot, massive stars, the dark...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 4651: The Umbrella Galaxy

    07/03/2014 3:55:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | July 02, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Image : : Explanation: Spiral galaxy NGC 4651 is a mere 62 million light-years distant, toward the well-groomed northern constellation Coma Berenices. About the size of our Milky Way, this island universe is seen to have a faint umbrella-shaped structure that seems to extend (left) some 100 thousand light-years beyond the bright galactic disk. The giant cosmic umbrella is now known to be composed of tidal star streams - extensive trails of stars gravitationally stripped from a smaller satellite galaxy. The small galaxy was eventually torn apart in repeated encounters as it swept back and forth on eccentric orbits...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Wolf-Rayet Star 124: Stellar Wind Machine

    07/01/2014 4:25:05 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 01, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Some stars explode in slow motion. Rare, massive Wolf-Rayet stars are so tumultuous and hot that they slowly disintegrating right before our telescopes. Glowing gas globs each typically over 30 times more massive than the Earth are being expelled by violent stellar winds. Wolf-Rayet star WR 124, visible near the above image center spanning six light years across, is thus creating the surrounding nebula known as M1-67. Details of why this star has been slowly blowing itself apart over the past 20,000 years remains a topic of research. WR 124 lies 15,000 light-years away towards the constellation of Sagitta....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Peculiar Elliptical Galaxy Centaurus A

    07/01/2014 4:21:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 30, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happened to the center of this galaxy? Unusual and dramatic dust lanes run across the center of elliptical galaxy Centaurus A. These dust lanes are so thick they almost completely obscure the galaxy's center in visible light. This is particularly unusual as Cen A's red stars and round shape are characteristic of a giant elliptical galaxy, a galaxy type usually low in dark dust. Cen A, also known as NGC 5128, is also unusual compared to an average elliptical galaxy because it contains a higher proportion of young blue stars and is a very strong source of radio...
  • 19th century math tactic gets a makeover—and yields answers up to 200 times faster

    06/30/2014 10:09:28 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 14 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 06-30-2014 | Provided by Johns Hopkins University
    A relic from long before the age of supercomputers, the 169-year-old math strategy called the Jacobi iterative method is widely dismissed today as too slow to be useful. But thanks to a curious, numbers-savvy Johns Hopkins engineering student and his professor, it may soon get a new lease on life. With just a few modern-day tweaks, the researchers say they've made the rarely used Jacobi method work up to 200 times faster. The result, they say, could speed up the performance of computer simulations used in aerospace design, shipbuilding, weather and climate modeling, biomechanics and other engineering tasks. Their paper...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Galaxy Cove Vista Revisited

    06/29/2014 3:09:02 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | June 29, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To see a vista like this takes patience, hiking, and a camera. Patience was needed in searching out just the right place and waiting for just the right time. A short hike was needed to reach this rugged perch above a secluded cove in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in California, USA. And a camera was needed for the long exposure required to bring out the faint light from stars and nebulae in the background Milky Way galaxy. Moonlight illuminated the hidden beach and inlet behind nearby trees in the above composite image taken last month. Usually obscured McWay...
  • BIG NEWS VIII: New solar theory predicts imminent global cooling

    06/28/2014 9:42:48 PM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 15 replies
    joannenova.com.au ^ | June 27th, 2014 | Joanne
    New solar theory predicts imminent global cooling To recap — using an optimal Fourier Transform, David Evans discovered a form of notch filter operating between changes in sunlight and temperatures on Earth. This means there must be a delay — probably around 11 years. This not only fitted with the length of the solar dynamo cycle, but also with previous independent work suggesting a lag of ten years or a correlation with the solar activity of the previous cycle. The synopsis then is that solar irradiance (TSI) is a leading indicator of some other effect coming from the Sun...
  • BIG NEWS Part VII — Hindcasting with the Solar Model

    06/28/2014 9:33:50 PM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 2 replies
    joannenova.com.au ^ | June 24th, 2014 | Joanne
    The Solar Series: I Background   |  II: The notch filter  |  III: The delay  |  IV: A new solar force?  |  V: Modeling the escaping heat.  |  VI: The solar climate model   |  VII — Hindcasting (You are here)   | VIII — PredictionsAll models are wrong, some are useful. That’s how all modelers speak (except perhaps some climate scientists).The barriers to making a good climate model are many. The data is short, noisy, adjusted, and many factors are simultaneously at work, some not well described yet. Climate modeling is in its infancy, yet billions of dollars rests...
  • Was Einstein wrong all along? Controversial theory suggests the speed of light is SLOWER...

    06/28/2014 12:14:35 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 73 replies
    dailymail.co.uk ^ | : 06:57 EST, 27 June 2014 | Ellie Zolfagharifard
    The University of Maryland physicist believes the delay could have been because the light was in fact slowed as it travelled due to something known as 'vacuum polarisation'. During this phenomenon, photons break down to something known as ‘positrons’ and electrons for a split second. before combining together again. When they split, quantum mechanics creates a gravitational potential between the pair of ‘virtual’ particles. Dr Franson argues that the process might have a gradual impact on the speed of the photon, meaning that over 168,000 light years, the photons may have suffered a near five-hour delay. If the physicist is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion Arising

    06/28/2014 5:40:14 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | June 28, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Orion's belt runs just along the horizon, seen through Earth's atmosphere and rising in this starry snapshot from low Earth orbit on board the International Space Station. The belt stars, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka run right to left and Orion's sword, home to the great Orion Nebula, hangs above his belt, an orientation unfamiliar to denizens of the planet's northern hemisphere. That puts bright star Rigel, at the foot of Orion, still higher above Orion's belt. Of course the brightest celestial beacon in the frame is Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. The station's Destiny Laboratory module...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Martian Anniversary Selfie

    06/28/2014 5:37:37 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | June 27, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: June 24th marked the first full Martian year of the Curiosity Rover's exploration of the surface of the Red Planet. That's 687 Earth days or 669 sols since its landing on August 5, 2012. To celebrate, consider this self-portrait of the car-sized robot posing next to a rocky outcrop dubbed Windjana, its recent drilling and sampling site. The mosaicked selfie was constructed with frames taken this April and May using the rover's Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI), intended for close-up work and mounted at the end of the rover's robotic arm. The MAHLI frames used exclude sections that show...
  • Ceres and Vesta Converge in the Sky on July 5: How to See It

    06/26/2014 7:28:57 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | June 26, 2014 | Bob King on
    In April, we reported that Ceres and Vesta, the largest and brightest asteroids respectively, were speeding through Virgo in tandem. Since then both have faded, but the best is yet to come. Converging closer by the day, on July 5, the two will make rare close pass of each other when they’ll be separated by just 10 minutes of arc or the thickness of a fat crescent moon. ... Both asteroids are still within range of ordinary 35mm and larger binoculars; Vesta is easy at magnitude +7 while Ceres still manages a respectable +8.3. From an outer suburban or rural...
  • Has the Cosmology Standard Model become a Rube Goldberg Device?

    06/26/2014 11:37:15 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 10 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | June 26, 2014 | Tim Reyes on
    So why ask the question, are physicists constructing a Rube Goldberg device? Our present understanding of the Universe stands upon what is called “the Standard Model” of Cosmology. At the Royal Astronomical Society meeting this week, the discussions underfoot could be revealing a Standard Model possibly in a state of collapse or simply needing new gadgets and mechanisms to remain the best theory of everything. Also this week, new data further supports the discovery of the Higg’s Boson by the Large Hadron Collider in 2012, the elementary particle whose existence explains the mass of fundamental particles in nature and that...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Conjunction by the Sea

    06/25/2014 9:47:52 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 26, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Early morning risers were treated to a beautiful conjunction of Venus and waning Crescent Moon on June 24, captured in this seaside photo near Belmar, New Jersey, USA, planet Earth. The serene celestial pairing is seen above the Atlantic Ocean horizon as the eastern sky grows brighter with dawn's early light. Wispy, scattered clouds appear in silhouette. But the exposure also reveals the night side of the lunar orb in the arms of the sunlit crescent. That shadowed part of the Moon, with hints of the smooth, dark lunar seas or maria, is illuminated by Earthshine, sunlight reflected from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Hercules Cluster of Galaxies

    06/25/2014 9:43:55 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | June 25, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These are galaxies of the Hercules Cluster, an archipelago of island universes a mere 500 million light-years away. Also known as Abell 2151, this cluster is loaded with gas and dust rich, star-forming spiral galaxies but has relatively few elliptical galaxies, which lack gas and dust and the associated newborn stars. The colors in this remarkably deep composite image clearly show the star forming galaxies with a blue tint and galaxies with older stellar populations with a yellowish cast. The sharp picture spans about 3/4 degree across the cluster center, corresponding to over 6 million light-years at the cluster's...
  • New Theory Suggests The Universe Shouldn't Even Exist

    06/24/2014 2:21:50 PM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 54 replies
    Business Insider ^ | 06/24/2014 | TIA GHOSE, LIVESCIENCE
    The universe shouldn't exist — at least according to a new theory. Modeling of conditions soon after the Big Bang suggests the universe should have collapsed just microseconds after its explosive birth, the new study suggests."During the early universe, we expected cosmic inflation — this is a rapid expansion of the universe right after the Big Bang," said study co-author Robert Hogan, a doctoral candidate in physics at King's College in London. "This expansion causes lots of stuff to shake around, and if we shake it too much, we could go into this new energy space, which could cause the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Iris Nebula in a Field of Dust

    06/24/2014 3:29:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | June 24, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What flowers in this field of dark star dust? The Iris Nebula. The striking blue color of the Iris Nebula is created by light from the bright star SAO 19158 reflecting off of a dense patch of normally dark dust. Not only is the star itself mostly blue, but blue light from the star is preferentially reflected by the dust -- the same affect that makes Earth's sky blue. The brown tint of the pervasive dust comes partly from photoluminescence -- dust converting ultraviolet radiation to red light. Cataloged as NGC 7023, the Iris Nebula is studied frequently because...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Four Lasers over Mauna Kea

    06/24/2014 3:28:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | June 23, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Are lasers from giant telescopes being used to attack the Galactic center? No. Lasers shot from telescopes are now commonly used to help increase the accuracy of astronomical observations. In some sky locations, Earth atmosphere-induced fluctuations in starlight can indicate how the air mass over a telescope is changing, but many times no bright star exists in the direction where atmospheric information is needed. In these cases, astronomers create an artificial star where they need it -- with a laser. Subsequent observations of the artificial laser guide star can reveal information so detailed about the blurring effects of the...
  • Observing Challenge: The Moon Brushes Past Venus and Covers Mercury This Week

    06/23/2014 11:48:34 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | June 23, 2014 | David Dickinson on
    The summer astronomical action heats up this week, as the waning crescent Moon joins the inner planets at dawn. This week’s action comes hot on the tails of the northward solstice which occurred this past weekend, which fell on June 21st in 2014, marking the start of astronomical summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern. This also means that the ecliptic angle at dawn for mid-northern latitude observers will run southward from the northeast early in the morning sky. And although the longest day was June 21st, the earliest sunrise from 40 degrees north latitude was June...
  • BIG NEWS part VI: Building a new solar climate model with the notch filter

    06/22/2014 4:26:28 PM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 17 replies
    joannenova.com.au ^ | June 20th, 2014 | Joanne
    Open Science live — The story so far: Dr David Evans is building the O-D notch-delay solar model. It’s a much simpler big-picture approach than Global Climate Coupled Models. They use an ambitious bottom-up system where the models add up every small aspect in every small cell of the Earth’s climate atmosphere and oceans and try to predict everything, but the trap is the errors — small errors in 10,000 calculations add up to big-mush. David’s approach is top-down. He looks at the whole system from the outside, and doesn’t try to understand or predict each individual part. It’s a...
  • Has Hillary Clinton let slip that Chelsea is expecting a boy?

    06/22/2014 1:28:28 PM PDT · by upchuck · 24 replies
    the telegraph ^ | June 22, 2014 | Rosa Prince
    has apparently let slip the sex of her unborn grandchild after referring to the baby as “him” during an interview. The former First Lady, New York senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate will become a grandmother in the autumn, when daughter Chelsea is due to give birth to her first child. Asked what hopes she had for the baby, Mrs Clinton told the Observer she wanted the child to feel: “optimistic, positive, can-do. That it was really up to him.” Following her apparent slip of the tongue, she insisted, however, that she was just using the male pronoun to cover...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Persistent Saturnian Auroras

    06/22/2014 10:19:18 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | June 22, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Are Saturn's auroras like Earth's? To help answer this question, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Cassini spacecraft monitored Saturn's South Pole simultaneously as Cassini closed in on the gas giant in January 2004. Hubble snapped images in ultraviolet light, while Cassini recorded radio emissions and monitored the solar wind. Like on Earth, Saturn's auroras make total or partial rings around magnetic poles. Unlike on Earth, however, Saturn's auroras persist for days, as opposed to only minutes on Earth. Although surely created by charged particles entering the atmosphere, Saturn's auroras also appear to be more closely modulated by the...
  • Anyone else see the fireball meteor over NJ tonight?

    06/21/2014 7:55:36 PM PDT · by heartwood · 38 replies
    6/21/2014 | self
    About 10 pm, WNW in the sky from central Jersey, moving right to left, split trail, dimming and brightening, biggest one I've ever seen. Probably visible in Eastern PA also.
  • FCC to Fine Chinese Jammer Retailer $34.9M for Online U.S. Sales (Signal Jammers)

    06/21/2014 3:29:59 PM PDT · by equalator · 18 replies
    GPS World ^ | 6-20-2014 | Staff
    The Federal Communications Commission plans to issue the largest fine in its history against C.T.S. Technology Co., Limited, a Chinese electronics manufacturer and online retailer, for allegedly marketing 285 models of signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers for more than two years. Signal jammers are radio frequency transmitters that intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized communications, such as cellphone calls, GPS systems, Wi-Fi networks, and first responder communications. It is a violation of federal law to market, sell, import, or use a signal jammer in the United States and its territories, except in very limited circumstances involving federal law...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Lisbon Honey Moon

    06/21/2014 1:46:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | June 21, 2014 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Sun set on Friday the 13th as a full Honey Moon rose, captured in this well-planned time-lapse sequence. Lisbon, Portugal's Christ the King monument is in the foreground, about 6 kilometers distant from camera and telephoto lens. During the days surrounding today's solstice (June 21, 10:51 UT) the Sun follows its highest arc through northern hemisphere skies as it travels along the ecliptic plane. At night the ecliptic plane is low, and the Full Moon's path close to the ecliptic was also low, the rising Moon separating more slowly from the distant horizon. Northern moon watchers were likely...