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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Long Lovejoy and Little Dumbbell

    02/27/2015 4:58:58 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 1 replies
    NASA ^ | February 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Buffeted by the solar wind, Comet Lovejoy's crooked ion tail stretches over 3 degrees across this telescopic field of view, recorded on February 20. The starry background includes awesome bluish star Phi Persei below, and pretty planetary nebula M76 just above Lovejoy's long tail. Also known as the Little Dumbbell Nebula, after its brighter cousin M27 the Dumbbell Nebula, M76 is only a Full Moon's width away from the comet's greenish coma. Still shining in northern hemisphere skies, this Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is outbound from the inner solar system some 10 light-minutes or 190 million kilometers from Earth....
  • Suspected Israeli nationalists torch Christian seminary in Jerusalem

    Suspected Israeli nationalists set fire to a Christian seminary in Jerusalem and vandalized an elementary school in Nablus on Thursday, officials said. The attacks, which came a day after a similar group burned a mosque near Bethlehem, have been characterized as hate crimes by Israeli officials and "terrorism" by Palestinians. According to local media reports, the assailants poured flammable liquid into a bathroom window of the Greek Orthodox seminary and ignited it. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said "anti-Christian" slogans were scribbled in Hebrew on the seminary's walls — including “Jesus is a son of a whore” and “the redemption of...
  • Earth's other 'moon' and its crazy orbit could reveal mysteries of the solar system

    02/26/2015 6:29:41 AM PST · by Red Badger · 47 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 02-25-2015 | by Duncan Forgan
    We all know and love the moon. We're so assured that we only have one that we don't even give it a specific name. It is the brightest object in the night sky, and amateur astronomers take great delight in mapping its craters and seas. To date, it is the only other heavenly body with human footprints. What you might not know is that the moon is not the Earth's only natural satellite. As recently as 1997, we discovered that another body, 3753 Cruithne, is what's called a quasi-orbital satellite of Earth. This simply means that Cruithne doesn't loop around...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Love and War by Moonlight

    02/26/2015 6:11:35 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Venus, named for the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the war god's namesake, came together by moonlight in this lovely skyview, recorded on February 20 from Charleston, South Carolina, USA, planet Earth. Made in twilight with a digital camera, the three second time exposure also records earthshine illuminating the otherwise dark surface of the young crescent Moon. Of course, the Moon has moved on from this much anticipated triple conjunction. Venus still shines in the west though as the evening star, third brightest object in Earth's sky, after the Sun and the Moon itself. Seen here within almost...
  • NASA:Coverage of U.S. Spacewalk # 30

    02/25/2015 7:14:01 AM PST · by yoe · 1 replies
    NASA TV on Ustream ^ | February 25, 2015
    6 a.m., Wednesday, February 25 - Coverage of U.S. Spacewalk # 30 (Spacewalk scheduled to begin at 7:10 a.m. ET; Wilmore and Virts) (all channels)
  • Astroquizzical: What happens when Betelgeuse explodes?

    02/25/2015 6:57:23 AM PST · by C19fan · 31 replies
    Starts with a Bang! ^ | February 24, 2015 | Jillian Scudder
    Question: If Betelgeuse explodes right now, could we see it with naked eye? It is over 400 light years away, so you might think that people would see it long after it actually happens? Betelgeuse is already one of the brightest stars in the night sky, sitting somewhere around the 8th or 9th brightest star in the night sky. (These lists don’t include the Sun, which is somewhat obviously always the brightest object in the sky.) It sits in the constellation Orion, along with a number of other bright stars, and makes up the left hand shoulder of the warrior....
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Rosette Nebula in Hydrogen and Oxygen

    02/25/2015 5:25:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Rosette Nebula is not the only cosmic cloud of gas and dust to evoke the imagery of flowers -- but it is the most famous. At the edge of a large molecular cloud in Monoceros, some 5,000 light years away, the petals of this rose are actually a stellar nursery whose lovely, symmetric shape is sculpted by the winds and radiation from its central cluster of hot young stars. The stars in the energetic cluster, cataloged as NGC 2244, are only a few million years old, while the central cavity in the Rosette Nebula, cataloged as NGC 2237,...
  • World’s Most Powerful Camera Receives Funding Approval

    02/24/2015 6:17:46 PM PST · by MeshugeMikey · 51 replies
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory ^ | January 9, 2015 | No Attribution
    Menlo Park, Calif. — Plans for the construction of the world’s largest digital camera at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have reached a major milestone. The 3,200-megapixel centerpiece of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will provide unprecedented details of the universe and help address some of its biggest mysteries, has received key “Critical Decision 2” approval from the DOE.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Unusual Plumes Above Mars

    02/24/2015 2:18:41 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    NASA ^ | February 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What is creating unusual plumes on Mars? No one is sure. Noted and confirmed by a global contingent of amateur astronomers on photos of the red planet in March 2012, possibly similar plumes have now been found on archived images as far back as 1997. Since the plumes reach 200 kilometers up, they seem too high to be related to wind-blown surface dust. Since one plume lasted for eleven days, it seemed too long lasting to be related to aurora. Amateur astronomers will surely continue to monitor the terminator and edge regions of Mars for new high plumes, and...
  • Could there be another planet behind the sun?

    02/24/2015 11:08:07 AM PST · by Red Badger · 71 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 02-24-2015 | by Fraser Cain, Universe Today
    If you've read your share of sci-fi, and I know you have, you've read stories about another Earth-sized planet orbiting on the other side of the Solar System, blocked by the Sun. Could it really be there? =========================================================== Color illustration showing the scale of planets in our solar system, focusing on Jupiter and Saturn. Credit: NASA =========================================================== No. Nooooo. No. Just no. This is a delightful staple in science fiction. There's a mysterious world that orbits the Sun exactly the same distance as Earth, but it's directly across the Solar System from us; always hidden by the Sun. Little do...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Milky Way Over the Arizona Toadstools

    02/23/2015 4:01:33 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | February 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Which is older -- the rocks you see on the ground or the light you see from the sky? Usually it's the rocks that are older, with their origin sentiments deposited well before light left any of the stars or nebulas you see in the sky. However, if you can see, through a telescope, a distant galaxy far across the universe -- further than Andromeda or spiral galaxy NGC 7331 (inset) -- then you are seeing light even more ancient. Featured here, the central disk of our Milky Way Galaxy arches over Toadstool hoodoos rock formations in northern Arizona,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Dark River to Antares

    02/22/2015 8:59:45 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | February 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Connecting the Pipe Nebula to the colorful region near bright star Antares is a dark cloud dubbed the Dark River, flowing from the picture's left edge. Murky looking, the Dark River's appearance is caused by dust obscuring background starlight, although the dark nebula contains mostly hydrogen and molecular gas. Surrounded by dust, Antares, a red supergiant star, creates an unusual bright yellowish reflection nebula. Above it, bright blue double star Rho Ophiuchi is embedded in one of the more typical bluish reflection nebulae, while red emission nebulae are also scattered around the region. Globular star cluster M4 is just...
  • A close call of 0.8 light years [Nibiru?]

    02/22/2015 7:43:37 AM PST · by Red Badger · 36 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | Provided by University of Rochester
    A group of astronomers from the US, Europe, Chile and South Africa have determined that 70,000 years ago a recently discovered dim star is likely to have passed through the solar system's distant cloud of comets, the Oort Cloud. No other star is known to have ever approached our solar system this close - five times closer than the current closest star, Proxima Centauri. In a paper published in Astrophysical Journal Letters, lead author Eric Mamajek from the University of Rochester and his collaborators analyzed the velocity and trajectory of a low-mass star system nicknamed "Scholz's star." The star's trajectory...
  • Planet you've probably never heard of

    02/21/2015 5:39:50 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 61 replies
    cnn.com ^ | 8:56 PM ET, Fri February 20, 2015 | Amanda Barnett, CNN
    (CNN)Way out beyond Mars, but before you get to Jupiter, is a planet. You read that right. There's a planet between Mars and Jupiter. You may not have heard of it, but it was discovered in 1801 -- 129 years before Pluto. It originally was called a planet, then later an asteroid and now it's called a dwarf planeIts name is Ceres (pronounced like series) and you'll likely be hearing a lot more about it in the coming weeks.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 45 Days in the Sun

    02/21/2015 8:26:45 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    NASA ^ | February 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From January 11 to February 25 2013, a pinhole camera sat in a field near Budapest, Hungary, planet Earth to create this intriguing solargraph. And for 45 days, an old Antonov An-2 biplane stood still while the Sun rose and set. The camera's continuous exposure began about 20 days after the northern hemispere's winter solstice, so each day the Sun's trail arcs steadily higher through the sky. These days in the Sun were recorded on a piece of black and white photosensitive paper tucked in to the simple plastic film container. The long exposure produced a visible color image...
  • Thunderbolts.info — Rosetta Mission Update | 67P's Mysterious Water Production

    02/21/2015 2:30:22 AM PST · by Swordmaker · 5 replies
    CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR THE VIDEO REPORT: Video Report on the Electric Universe Explanation for the findings on 67P's Mysterious Water Production
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Evening Sky Conjunction

    02/20/2015 2:29:54 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | February 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Eight years ago, an evening sky held this lovely pairing of a young crescent Moon and brilliant Venus. Seen near the western horizon, the close conjunction and its wintry reflection were captured from Bolu, Turkey, planet Earth on February 19, 2007. In the 8 Earth years since this photograph was taken Venus has orbited the Sun almost exactly 13 times, so the Sun and Venus have now returned to the same the configuration in Earth's sky. And since every 8 years the Moon also nearly repeats its phases for a given time of year, a very similar crescent Moon-Venus...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Palomar 12

    02/19/2015 5:27:30 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | February 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Palomar 12 was not born here. The stars of the globular cluster, first identified in the Palomar Sky Survey, are younger than those in other globular star clusters that roam the halo of our Milky Way Galaxy. Palomar 12's position in our galaxy and measured motion suggest its home was once the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy, a small satellite of the Milky Way. Disrupted by gravitational tides during close encounters the satellite galaxy has lost its stars to the larger Milky Way. Now part of the Milky Way's halo, the tidal capture of Palomar 12 likely took place some...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Dark Craters and Bright Spots Revealed on Asteroid Ceres

    02/19/2015 5:22:59 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | February 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those bright spots on asteroid Ceres? As the robotic spacecraft Dawn approaches the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt, the puzzle only deepens. Sharper new images taken last week and released yesterday indicate, as expected, that most of the surface of dwarf planet Ceres is dark and heavily cratered like our Moon and the planet Mercury. The new images do not clearly indicate, however, the nature of comparatively bright spots -- although more of them are seen to exist. The enigmatic spots were first noticed on Texas-sized Ceres a few weeks ago during Dawn's approach. The intriguing...
  • Saudi Preacher Bandar Al-Khaybari Demonstrates: The Earth Does Not Revolve around Itself

    02/18/2015 3:31:24 PM PST · by DeoVindiceSicSemperTyrannis · 78 replies
    MEMRI TV ^ | Jan 28-31, 2015
    Following are excerpts: Bandar Al-Khaybari: Someone is asking whether the Earth moves or whether it is fixed in place. Does it move or remain fixed? The Truth, as described by our scholars Imam Ibn Baz and Sheik Saleh Al-Fawzan, is that the Earth is fixed and does not move. This is in keeping with the Quranic text, and it makes sense as well. [...] There is ample Quranic evidence that it is the sun that revolves around the Earth. As for evidence based on reason... The [Westerners] present all kinds of theories, but we Muslims also have theories and brains....
  • New Horizons spots Pluto’s smaller moons for the first time

    02/18/2015 1:24:13 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    washingtonpost.com ^ | Rachel Feltman
    It's not exactly a clean shot, but it's certainly a timely one: 85 years to the day after Pluto's discovery, NASA has released fresh images from New Horizons that show two of its smaller moons. The long-exposure images, which were taken between Jan. 27 and Feb. 8 from a distance of 125 to 115 million miles, show Hydra and Nix -- moons too small to show up in previous shots. Hydra is enclosed in a yellow diamond with Nix in orange. The image on the right has been specially processed to reduce the center glare, a result of the over-exposure...
  • Star Blasted Through Solar System 70,000 Years Ago

    02/18/2015 1:11:46 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 113 replies
    discovery.com ^ | Ian O'Neill
    Highlighted by astronomers at the University of Rochester and the European Southern Observatory, the star — nicknamed “Scholz’s star” — has a very low tangential velocity in the sky, but it has been clocked traveling at a breakneck speed away from us. In other words, from our perspective, Scholz’s star is fleeing the scene of a collision with us. “Most stars this nearby show much larger tangential motion,” said Eric Mamajek, of the University of Rochester. “The small tangential motion and proximity initially indicated that the star was most likely either moving towards a future close encounter with the solar...
  • Laser 'ruler' holds promise for hunting exoplanets

    02/18/2015 6:20:37 AM PST · by Red Badger · 5 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 02-17-2015 | Provided by Institute of Physics
    The hunt for Earth-like planets around distant stars could soon become a lot easier thanks to a technique developed by researchers in Germany. In a paper published today, 18 February, in the New Journal of Physics, the team of researchers have successfully demonstrated how a solar telescope can be combined with a piece of technology that has already taken the physics world by storm—the laser frequency comb (LFC). It is expected the technique will allow a spectral analysis of distant stars with unprecedented accuracy, as well as advance research in other areas of astrophysics, such as detailed observations of the...
  • Dawn Approaches: Two Faces of Ceres

    02/17/2015 5:09:59 PM PST · by cripplecreek · 9 replies
    http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov ^ | February 17, 2015 | NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA
    February 17, 2015 Image Advisory—Craters and mysterious bright spots are beginning to pop out in the latest images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft. These images, taken Feb. 12 at a distance of 52,000 miles (83,000 kilometers) from the dwarf planet, pose intriguing questions for the science team to explore as the spacecraft nears its destination. “As we slowly approach the stage, our eyes transfixed on Ceres and her planetary dance, we find she has beguiled us but left us none the wiser,” said Chris Russell, principal investigator of the Dawn mission, based at UCLA. “We expected to be surprised;...
  • Saudi Cleric: The Sun Revolves Around the Earth

    02/17/2015 2:43:13 PM PST · by Olog-hai · 89 replies
    INN ^ | 2/17/2015, 10:36 AM | Tova Dvorin
    The sun revolves around the Earth, a Saudi cleric insisted to a student panel Sunday—prompting a social media storm. Sheikh Bandar al-Khaibari told a student that the Earth is “stationary and does not move,” according to Al-Arabiya, justifying the statement with religious texts and statements. But then he tried to debunk the common knowledge about the Earth’s rotation using “logic,” in a visual demonstration that prompted the speech to go viral. “First of all, where are we now?” he asked. “We go to Sharjah airport to travel to China by plane, clear?!” Khaibari argued, confusingly, that the Earth cannot rotate...
  • Catch a ‘Conjunction Triple Play’ on February 20th as the Moon Meets Venus & Mars

    02/17/2015 11:38:46 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 17 replies
    universetoday.com/ ^ | David Dickinson
    The first sighting opportunities for the slim waxing crescent Moon will come Thursday night on February 19th. And don’t miss the main event on Friday, February 20th when Mars, Venus and the two day old waxing crescent Moon all fit within a two degree diameter circle — about four Full Moon diameters — prior to sunset. You can’t miss brilliant Venus, shining at -4th magnitude as the 3rd brightest natural object in the sky next to the Sun and the Moon. Through a telescope, Venus presents an 88% illuminated disk 12” in size and growing, while Mars shines at +1.3...
  • Russian Meteor's Origin Remains Mysterious 2 Years Later

    02/17/2015 5:55:47 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    space.com ^ | February 15, 2015 01:32pm ET | Elizabeth Howell,
    Originally, astronomers thought that the Chelyabinsk meteor came from a 1.24-mile-wide (2 kilometers) near-Earth asteroid called 1999 NC43. But a closer look at the asteroid's orbit and likely mineral composition, gained from spectroscopy, suggests few similarities between it and the Russian meteor. However, "the composition of [the] Chelyabinsk meteorite that was recovered after the event is similar to a common type of meteorite called LL chondrites," he added. "The near-Earth asteroid has a composition that is distinctly different from this." More generally, Reddy and his colleagues' work showed that it is difficult to make predictions about what particular asteroid could...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Fibrils Flower on the Sun

    02/17/2015 5:31:12 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | February 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: When does the Sun look like a flower? In a specific color of red light emitted by hydrogen, as featured here, some regions of the solar chromosphere may resemble a rose. The color-inverted image was taken in 2014 October and shows active solar region 2177. The petals dominating the frame are actually magnetically confined tubes of hot plasma called fibrils, some of which extend longer the diameter of the Earth. In the central region many of these fibrils are seen end-on, while the surrounding regions are typically populated with curved fibrils. When seen over the Sun's edge, these huge...
  • 'Cloud' over Mars leaves scientists baffled

    02/16/2015 5:29:57 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 63 replies
    Phys dot Org ^ | February 16, 2015 | unattributed
    Plumes seen reaching high above the surface of Mars are causing a stir among scientists studying the atmosphere on the Red Planet. On two separate occasions in March and April 2012, amateur astronomers reported definite plume-like features developing on the planet. The plumes were seen rising to altitudes of over 250 km above the same region of Mars on both occasions. By comparison, similar features seen in the past have not exceeded 100 km. "At about 250 km, the division between the atmosphere and outer space is very thin, so the reported plumes are extremely unexpected," says Agustin Sanchez-Lavega of...
  • Mystery Mars haze baffles scientists

    02/16/2015 5:24:45 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 34 replies
    bbc ^ | Rebecca Morelle
    A mysterious haze high above Mars has left scientists scratching their heads. The vast plume was initially spotted by amateur astronomers in 2012, and appeared twice before vanishing. Scientists have now analysed the images and say that say the formation, stretching for more than 1,000km, is larger than any seen before. Writing in the journal Nature, the researchers believe the plume could be a large cloud or an exceptionally bright aurora. However, they are unsure how these could have formed in the thin upper reaches of the Martian atmosphere. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote To begin with,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M106: A Spiral Galaxy with a Strange Center

    02/16/2015 1:52:06 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | February 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of spiral galaxy M106? A swirling disk of stars and gas, M106's appearance is dominated by blue spiral arms and red dust lanes near the nucleus, as shown in the featured image. The core of M106 glows brightly in radio waves and X-rays where twin jets have been found running the length of the galaxy. An unusual central glow makes M106 one of the closest examples of the Seyfert class of galaxies, where vast amounts of glowing gas are thought to be falling into a central massive black hole. M106, also designated NGC 4258,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Two Hours Before Neptune

    02/15/2015 10:21:38 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | February 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Two hours before closest approach to Neptune in 1989, the Voyager 2 robot spacecraft snapped this picture. Clearly visible for the first time were long light-colored cirrus-type clouds floating high in Neptune's atmosphere. Shadows of these clouds can even be seen on lower cloud decks. Most of Neptune's atmosphere is made of hydrogen and helium, which is invisible. Neptune's blue color therefore comes from smaller amounts of atmospheric methane, which preferentially absorbs red light. Neptune has the fastest winds in the Solar System, with gusts reaching 2000 kilometers per hour. Speculation holds that diamonds may be created in the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Solar System Portrait

    02/14/2015 5:10:04 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | February 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On another Valentine's Day 25 years ago, cruising four billion miles from the Sun, the Voyager 1 spacecraft looked back one last time to make this first ever Solar System family portrait. The complete portrait is a 60 frame mosaic made from a vantage point 32 degrees above the ecliptic plane. In it, Voyager's wide angle camera frames sweep through the inner Solar System at the left, linking up with gas giant Neptune, the Solar System's outermost planet, at the far right. Positions for Venus, Earth, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are indicated by letters, while the Sun is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Aurora on Ice

    02/13/2015 5:49:51 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Not from a snowglobe, this expansive fisheye view of ice and sky was captured on February 1, from Jökulsárlón Beach, southeast Iceland, planet Earth. Chunks of glacial ice on the black sand beach glisten in the light of a nearly full moon surrounded by a shining halo. The 22 degree lunar halo itself is created by ice crystals in high, thin clouds refracting the moonlight. Despite the bright moonlight, curtains of aurora still dance through the surreal scene. In early February, their activity was triggered by Earth's restless magnetosphere and the energetic wind from a coronal hole near the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Exploring the Antennae

    02/12/2015 6:29:51 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | February 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Some 60 million light-years away in the southerly constellation Corvus, two large galaxies are colliding. The stars in the two galaxies, cataloged as NGC 4038 and NGC 4039, very rarely collide in the course of the ponderous cataclysm, lasting hundreds of millions of years. But their large clouds of molecular gas and dust often do, triggering furious episodes of star formation near the center of the cosmic wreckage. Spanning about 500 thousand light-years, this stunning composited view also reveals new star clusters and matter flung far from the scene of the accident by gravitational tidal forces. The remarkable collaborative...
  • The Number of Asteroids We Could Visit and Explore Has Just Doubled

    02/11/2015 2:12:18 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | David Dickinson
    This information comes from NHATS, which stands for the Near Earth Object Human Spaceflight Accessible Targets Study. Yes, it’s an acronym containing acronyms. NHATS is an automated system based out of Greenbelt, Maryland which monitors and periodically updates its list of potential target candidates for accessibility. The NHATS system data is readily accessible to the public online, and as of February 11th 2015, 1346 NHATS compliant asteroids are known. ... Relative delta-V and return velocity is crucial. Apollo astronauts were subject to a blistering 11 kilometre per second reentry velocity on their return from the Moon, and future asteroid missions...
  • Early Sunspots and Volcanoes ( connections? )

    02/11/2015 11:55:50 AM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 10 replies
    wattsupwiththat.com ^ | February 10, 2015 | Willis Eschenbach
    Guest Post by Willis EschenbachWell, as often happens I started out in one direction and then I got sidetractored … I wanted to respond to Michele Casati’s claim in the comments of my last post. His claim was that if we include the Maunder Minimum in the 1600’s, it’s clear that volcanoes with a VEI greater or equal to 5 are affected by sunspots. Based on my previous analysis I figured “No way!”, but I thought I should take a look … and as is often the case, I ended up studying something entirely different.Now, the SIDC monthly sunspot record...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M100: A Grand Design Spiral Galaxy

    02/11/2015 4:25:57 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Majestic on a truly cosmic scale, M100 is appropriately known as a grand design spiral galaxy. It is a large galaxy of over 100 billion stars with well-defined spiral arms that is similar to our own Milky Way Galaxy. One of the brightest members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, M100 (alias NGC 4321) is 56 million light-years distant toward the constellation of Berenice's Hair (Coma Berenices). This Hubble Space Telescope image of M100 was made in 2006 and reveals bright blue star clusters and intricate winding dust lanes which are hallmarks of this class of galaxies. Studies of...
  • Hovering happy face smiles down on us from space

    02/10/2015 11:50:21 PM PST · by Swordmaker · 21 replies
    New Scientist ^ | 13:47 10 February 2015 | by Jacob Aron
    (Image: NASA & ESA) This smiley face hovering in space looks like it was beamed into the heavens by a celestial keyboard. Captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, it was in fact created by a quirk of general relativity known as gravitational lensing. The glowing eyes are bright galaxies that are part of a galaxy cluster known as SDSS J1038+4849. The massive structure warps space-time, bending light like a lens to create a stretched image of distant galaxies, called an Einstein ring. The well-positioned circular shape creates the outline of the face and the wry grin. The happy face was...
  • Another ‘settled science’ topic is not so settled after all – Big Bang theory questioned

    02/10/2015 10:47:12 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 78 replies
    wattsupwiththat.com ^ | February 10, 2015 | Anthony Watts
    We’ve all heard of the claim of “settled science” when it comes to global warming/climate change, and we’ve all heard of the “Big Bang Theory”, and I’m not just talking about the popular TV show. The scientific theory goes all the way back to 1927. This is an artist’s concept of the metric expansion of space, where space (including hypothetical non-observable portions of the universe) is represented at each time by the circular sections. Note on the left the dramatic expansion (not to scale) occurring in the inflationary epoch, and at the center the expansion acceleration. The scheme is decorated...
  • Hovering happy face smiles down on us from space

    02/10/2015 10:55:26 AM PST · by Red Badger · 9 replies
    www.newscientist.com ^ | 13:47 10 February 2015 | Jacob Aron
    This smiley face hovering in space looks like it was beamed into the heavens by a celestial keyboard. Captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, it was in fact created by a quirk of general relativity known as gravitational lensing. The glowing eyes are bright galaxies that are part of a galaxy cluster known as SDSS J1038+4849. The massive structure warps space-time, bending light like a lens to create a stretched image of distant galaxies, called an Einstein ring. The well-positioned circular shape creates the outline of the face and the wry grin.
  • ‘Lopsided’ Supernova Could Be Responsible for Rogue Hypervelocity Stars

    02/10/2015 9:15:24 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 20 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | Dan Majaess
    Hypervelocity stars have been observed traversing the Galaxy at extreme velocities (700 km/s), but the mechanisms that give rise to such phenomena are still debated. Astronomer Thomas M. Tauris argues that lopsided supernova explosions can eject lower-mass Solar stars from the Galaxy at speeds up to 1280 km/s. “[This mechanism] can account for the majority (if not all) of the detected G/K-dwarf hypervelocity candidates,” he said. Several mechanisms have been proposed as the source for hypervelocity stars, and the hypotheses can vary as a function of stellar type. A simplified summary of the hypothesis Tauris favors begins with a higher-mass...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Extremely Long Filament on the Sun

    02/10/2015 8:06:12 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | February 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Yesterday, the Sun exhibited one of the longest filaments ever recorded. It may still be there today. Visible as the dark streak just below the center in the featured image, the enormous filament extended across the face of the Sun a distance even longer than the Sun's radius -- over 700,000 kilometers. A filament is actually hot gas held aloft by the Sun's magnetic field, so that viewed from the side it would appear as a raised prominence. The featured image shows the filament in light emitted by hydrogen and therefore highlights the Sun's chromosphere. Sun-following telescopes including NASA's...
  • Black Moon: Why the New Moon on February 18th is Special [Or not]

    02/09/2015 2:00:30 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | David Dickinson
    Did you hear the one about last month’s ‘supermoon?’ Yeah, we know. The hype was actually for an event that was less than spectacular, as it revolved around the first New Moon of 2015 on January 20th. Said suspect Moon was touted as ‘super’ (we prefer the quixotic term proxigean) as it occurred 18 hours prior to perigee. Not that the first lunar perigee of 2015 was an especially close one in time or space at 359,642 kilometres distant. Is every New and Full Moon now destined to become branded ‘super’ in the never ending SEO quest to get eyeballs...
  • Ancient Texas pictograph mystery solved, Houston researcher says

    02/09/2015 10:12:51 AM PST · by Theoria · 51 replies
    Houston Chronicle ^ | 02 Feb 2015 | Carol Christian
    Among the mysteries of how ancient people created structures to mark the solstice and equinox with astonishing accuracy, this one is central: How did they determine the dates of those astronomical events? Houstonian Gordon Houston, who is pursuing a doctorate on this riddle, says he believes he has figured out the answer for centuries-old glyphs known as the Pictographs of Paint Rock, Texas. Found on a private ranch near San Angelo in northern Concho County, these approximately 1,500 pictographs on a limestone cliff include about a dozen that "had a solar interaction," Houston said. "Some were incredible." Houston will talk...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Layered Rocks near Mount Sharp on Mars

    02/09/2015 6:31:47 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | February 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What caused these Martian rocks to be layered? The leading hypothesis is an ancient Martian lake that kept evaporating and refilling over 10 million years -- but has now remained dry and empty of water for billions of years. The featured image, taken last November by the robotic Curiosity rover, shows one-meter wide Whale Rock which is part of the Pahrump Hills outcrop at the base of Mount Sharp. Also evident in the image is cross-bedding -- rock with angled layers -- which were likely facilitated by waves of sand. Curiosity continues to find many layered rocks like this...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Carina Nebula Dust Pillar

    02/08/2015 10:30:15 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | February 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This cosmic pillar of gas and dust is nearly two light-years wide. The structure lies within one of our galaxy's largest star forming regions, the Carina Nebula, shining in southern skies at a distance of about 7,500 light-years. The pillar's convoluted outlines are shaped by the winds and radiation of Carina's young, hot, massive stars. But the interior of the cosmic pillar itself is home to stars in the process of formation. In fact, a penetrating infrared view shows the pillar is dominated by two, narrow, energetic jets blasting outward from a still hidden infant star. The above featured...
  • Secret stash of Moon artifacts found hidden in Neil Armstrong's closet

    02/08/2015 6:07:13 AM PST · by Kartographer · 93 replies
    Sploid ^ | 2/7/15 | Jesus Diaz
    After Neil Armstrong's death, his widow, Carol, discovered a white cloth bag in a closet, containing what were obviously either flight or space related artifacts. She contacted Allan Needell, curator of the Apollo collection at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, and provided photographs of the items. Needell, who immediately realized that the bag—known to the astronauts as the Purse - and its contents could be hardware from the Apollo 11 mission, asked the authors for support in identifying and documenting the flight history and purpose of these artifacts. After some research it became apparent that the purse and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Aurora of Marbles

    02/07/2015 5:07:47 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | February 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It looks like a fine collection of aggies. But this grid of embedded swirls and streaks actually follows the dramatic development of planet Earth's auroral substorms. The sequence of over 600 horizon-to-horizon fisheye images was taken over a 2 hour period near the artic circle in March of 2012 from Lapland, northern Sweden. It begins at upper left in evening twilight and ends at lower right, covering two activity peaks with bright coronae forming overhead. While exploring space between Earth and Moon, NASA's fleet of THEMIS spacecraft discovered that these explosions of auroral activity are driven by sudden releases...
  • Closer view of Ceres shows multiple white spots

    02/06/2015 1:41:53 PM PST · by Red Badger · 14 replies
    phys.org ^ | 02-06-2015 | by Bob King, Universe Today
    NASA's Dawn spacecraft has acquired its latest and closest-yet snapshot of the mysterious dwarf planet world Ceres. These latest images, taken on Feb. 4, from a distance of about 90,000 miles (145,000 km) clearly show craters – including a couple with central peaks – and a clearer though still ambiguous view of that wild white spot that has so many of us scratching our heads as to its nature. Get ready to scratch some more. The mystery spot has plenty of company. Take a look at some still images I grabbed from the video which NASA made available today. In...