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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Moon Entering Earth's Shadow

    10/09/2015 10:50:24 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | October 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On September 27/28, from all over the planet's nightside moon watchers enjoyed a total lunar eclipse. The dramatic celestial spectacle was widely imaged, but this lunar eclipse picture may look a little strange and unfamiliar, made with a point and shoot camera of a bygone era. Loaded with a 4x5 inch sheet of film, the Speed Graphic camera was fixed to a tripod on the Island of Cyprus. Its shutter locked open for 90 minutes, it recorded the trail of the Full Moon at perigee from the beginning of the partial eclipse phase (top) until mid-totality found the Moon...
  • October 2015 guide to the five visible planets

    10/09/2015 4:41:23 AM PDT · by ilovesarah2012 · 13 replies ^ | October 2, 2015 | Bruce McClure and Deborah Byrd
    The most noticeable planet this month is dazzling Venus in the east before dawn. Look in the direction of sunrise as dawn begins to light the sky. Next, in that same part of the sky, you’ll notice Jupiter, second-brightest planet. Fainter Mars is also in the morning sky beneath Venus. Saturn is the lone evening planet this month, setting at early evening from mid-northern latitudes and at mid-evening from temperate latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere. Mercury will make a fine appearance in the morning sky for the Northern Hemisphere for a few weeks, centered on mid-October. Follow the links below...
  • Angry Little Stars Could Produce Life-Friendly Exoplanets

    10/08/2015 3:07:00 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    Discovery News ^ | October 2, 2015 | Ian O'Neill
    Red dwarf stars may be able to support habitable exoplanets after all -- through complex tidal interactions between star and planet, global magnetic fields could evolve, protecting hypothetical life forms from the red dwarfs' ferocious nature. Once identified as the perfect place to search for habitable exoplanets, in recent years, the life-giving reputation of red dwarf stars has taken a downturn. Sure, red dwarfs are abundant in our galaxy and we've spotted many with planetary systems, but the environment surrounding these tiny stars are generally considered to be a bad place for alien life to set up home. For starters,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M83: The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy [A.K.A. the Tidy Bowl galaxy]

    10/08/2015 2:55:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | October 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Big, bright, and beautiful, spiral galaxy M83 lies a mere twelve million light-years away, near the southeastern tip of the very long constellation Hydra. Prominent spiral arms traced by dark dust lanes and blue star clusters lend this galaxy its popular name, The Southern Pinwheel. But reddish star forming regions that dot the sweeping arms highlighted in this sparkling color composite also suggest another nickname, The Thousand-Ruby Galaxy. About 40,000 light-years across, M83 is a member of a group of galaxies that includes active galaxy Centaurus A. In fact, the core of M83 itself is bright at x-ray energies,...
  • ICE ON PLUTO: Now frozen water and BLUE SKY found on dwarf planet giving more hope of life

    10/08/2015 11:20:25 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 76 replies ^ | UBLISHED: 16:40, Thu, Oct 8, 2015 | UPDATED: 18:01, Thu, Oct 8, 2015 | By Jon Austin
    NASA has discovered frozen water and earth-like blue skies on Pluto in another historic development in the search for extraterrestrial life. Just 10 days after confirming that liquid water has been found on Mars, the US space agency revealed the amazing dwarf-planet has both ice and a 'gorgeous' blue sky. A Nasa spokesman said: "New Horizons has detected numerous small, exposed regions of water ice on Pluto. "The discovery was made from data collected by the Ralph spectral composition mapper on New Horizons." There has been repeated speculation Pluto may have a liquid sea under its surface, and confirmation of...
  • The model minority is losing patience

    10/07/2015 2:13:41 PM PDT · by MadIsh32 · 35 replies
    The Economist ^ | 10/07/2015
    MICHAEL WANG, a young Californian, came second in his class of 1,002 students; his ACT score was 36, the maximum possible; he sang at Barack Obama’s inauguration; he got third place in a national piano contest; he was in the top 150 of a national maths competition; he was in several national debating-competition finals. But when it came to his university application he faced a serious disappointment for the first time in his glittering career. He was rejected by six of the seven Ivy League colleges to which he applied. “I saw people less qualified than me get better offers,”...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- La Palma Eclipse Sequence

    10/07/2015 4:14:00 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | October 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: At left, a dramatic image sequence follows late September's total lunar eclipse above a rugged landscape and sea of clouds from the Canary island of La Palma. Composited in a circular fisheye projection, the brightness of the Full Perigee Moon changes drastically in transition from outside the total eclipse phase compared to its dim glow during the 72 minute long totality. At right, a single frame captures the dark red lunar disk in a moment during the total eclipse phase, the Moon deep within Earth's shadow. In fact, the size of the eclipsed Moon image at right approximately illustrates...
  • NASA Planetary Protection Officer Profiled (EPA for the planets)

    10/06/2015 7:37:52 AM PDT · by Purdue77 · 19 replies
    NYT via AIAA Newsletter ^ | 10/05/2015 | KENNETH CHANG
    The New York Times (10/6, Chang, Subscription Publication) posts a feature on NASA Planetary Protection Officer Catharine Conley, whose job “is not so much protecting Earth from aliens as protecting other planets from Earth.” Conley is responsible for making sure than NASA missions to Mars and elsewhere do not pollute or contaminate alien worlds.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Flying Past Pluto

    10/06/2015 1:16:13 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What would it look like to fly past Pluto? The robotic New Horizons spacecraft did just this in late July and continues to return stunning pictures of the dwarf planet. Some well-chosen flyby images have now been digitally sequenced to create the featured video. The animation begins by showing New Horizon's approach to the Pluto system, with Pluto and its largest moon Charon orbiting a common center of mass. As the spacecraft bears down on Pluto uniquely, surprising surface features are nearly resolved that, unfortunately, quickly rotate out of view. New Horizons then passes just above and near a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Orion Over and Under Tibet

    10/05/2015 3:44:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This night was so serene you could see Orion rise downwards. The unusual spectacle was captured in this single-exposure image, featuring a deep sky around the famous constellation of Orion that appeared both above -- and reflected in -- a peaceful lake in the Gyirong Valley of Tibet, China. Taken last year at this time, the three belt stars of Orion can be seen lined up almost vertically above and below the Himalayan Mountains. The complex Orion Nebula can be seen to the belt stars' right, while the red-glowing circular structure surrounding Orion is Barnard's Loop. Also, the bright...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Sombrero Galaxy in Infrared

    10/04/2015 2:46:26 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    NASA ^ | October 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This floating ring is the size of a galaxy. In fact, it is a galaxy -- or at least part of one: the photogenic Sombrero Galaxy, one of the largest galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The dark band of dust that obscures the mid-section of the Sombrero Galaxy in optical light actually glows brightly in infrared light. The above image, digitally sharpened, shows the infrared glow, recently recorded by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope, superposed in false-color on an existing image taken by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in optical light. The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as...
  • New NASA images show Pluto’s moon Charon in stunning detail

    10/03/2015 7:42:02 PM PDT · by ETL · 64 replies - Science ^ | October 03, 2015
    NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has sent incredible images of Pluto’s largest moon Charon back to Earth. The latest images reveal the moon’s complex and violent history, according to NASA. “Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they’re finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more,” explained the space agency, in a statement. The high-resolution images, which were taken on July 14 and transmitted to Earth on Sept. 21, reveal a belt of fractures and canyons just north of the moon’s equator. Four times as long as the Grand Canyon, and...
  • Rock samples from Western US teach how to hunt for life on Mars

    10/03/2015 8:35:35 AM PDT · by JimSEA · 10 replies
    Science Daily ^ | 10/2015 | Alison Olcott Marshall, Nicholas A. Cestari
    The search for life beyond Earth is one of the grandest endeavors in the history of humankind -- a quest that could transform our understanding of our universe both scientifically and spiritually. . . . The search for life beyond Earth is one of the grandest endeavors in the history of humankind -- a quest that could transform our understanding of our universe both scientifically and spiritually.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Blue Blood Moon

    10/02/2015 10:54:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | October 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This sharp telescopic snapshot caught late September's Harvest Moon completely immersed in Earth's dark umbral shadow, at the beginning of a total lunar eclipse. It was the final eclipse in a tetrad, a string of four consecutive total lunar eclipses. A dark apparition of the Full Moon near perigee, this total eclipse's color was a deep blood red, the lunar surface reflecting light within Earth's shadow filtered through the lower atmosphere. Seen from a lunar perspective, the reddened light comes from all the sunsets and sunrises around the edges of a silhouetted Earth. But close to the shadow's edge,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Charon: Moon of Pluto

    10/01/2015 9:50:07 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | October 02, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A darkened and mysterious north polar region informally known as Mordor Macula caps this premier high-resolution portrait of Charon, Pluto's largest moon. Captured by New Horizons near its closest approach on July 14, the image data was transmitted to Earth on September 21. The combined blue, red, and infrared data is processed to enhance colors, following variations in surface properties with a resolution of about 2.9 kilometers (1.8 miles). In fact, Charon is 1,214 kilometers (754 miles) across, about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself. That makes it the largest...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Eclipsed in Southern Skies

    10/01/2015 1:05:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | October 01, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This stunning panorama in southern skies was recorded on the colorful night of September 27/28 from Carngegie Las Campanas Observatory. A diffuse glow and dark rifts of the central Milky Way hang over domes of the twin 6.5 meter Magellan telescopes. But most eye-catching is the deep red glow of the Moon. Immersed in Earth's shadow during the much anticipated perigee-total-lunar eclipse, the Moon's surface reflects the light of sunsets and sunrises scattered and refracted into the planet's cone-shaped umbra. Along with the dramatic hue of the eclipsed Moon, other colors of that night captured by the sensitive digital...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Seasonal Streaks Point to Recent Flowing Water on Mars

    09/30/2015 1:04:20 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What creates these changing streaks on Mars? Called Recurring Slope Linea (RSL), these dark features start on the slopes of hills and craters but don't usually extend to the bottom. What's even more unusual is that these streaks appear to change with the season, appearing fresh and growing during warm weather and disappearing during the winter. After much study, including a recent chemical analyses, a leading hypothesis has emerged that these streaks are likely created by new occurrences of liquid salty water that evaporates as it flows. The source for the briny water is still unclear, with two possibilities...
  • Scientists think they know how to test the parallel universes theory - for real

    09/30/2015 9:03:31 AM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 58 replies
    Science Alert ^ | 09/30/2015 | EUGENE LIM, Published by The Conversation.
    The existence of parallel universes may seem like something cooked up by science fiction writers, with little relevance to modern theoretical physics. But the idea that we live in a 'multiverse' made up of an infinite number of parallel universes has long been considered a scientific possibility - although it is still a matter of vigorous debate among physicists. The race is now on to find a way to test the theory, including searching the sky for signs of collisions with other universes. It is important to keep in mind that the multiverse view is not actually a theory, it...
  • The Martian

    09/29/2015 1:07:58 PM PDT · by Textide · 85 replies
    self | 09/29/2015 | Textide
    FReepers, I can't recommend this one enough. This book is phenomenal. Here's an effort at a short summary: In the near future, an astronaut is presumed dead and left behind on Mars during a dust storm. Turns out he pulled through and has to figure out how to survive. NASA has several missions planned over the coming years so he meticulously plans and executes his survival with the hopes that the future missions take place. What struck me was that he didn't feel sorry for himself. He conducted himself as a man and even had contempt for fate. He wasn't...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse and Lightning Storm

    09/29/2015 7:36:39 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | September 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's more rare than a supermoon total lunar eclipse? How about a supermoon total lunar eclipse over a lightning storm. Such an electrifying sequence was captured yesterday from Ibiza, an island in southeastern Spain. After planning the location for beauty, and the timing to capture the entire eclipse sequence, the only thing that had to cooperate for this astrophotographer to capture a memorable eclipse sequence was the weather. What looked to be a bother on the horizon, though, turned out to be a blessing. The composite picture features over 200 digitally combined images from the same location over the...
  • Life on Mars? NASA Finds Flowing Water on Barren Planet

    09/28/2015 4:27:17 PM PDT · by Eleutheria5 · 31 replies
    Arutz Sheva ^ | 28/9/15
    Dark streaks on Mars's surface may indicate liquid water on the barren planet, the National Aeronautics and Space Association (NASA) revealed Monday. “We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes,” Jim Green, NASA's planetary science director, stated. “But something has happened to Mars, it lost its water.” But recent photos from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show long, dark streaks - some as long as 100m - which scientists believe could be a live source of flowing water - and, just maybe, could prove the existence of life (or...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Total Lunar Eclipse over Waterton Lake [reprised from April 2014]

    09/27/2015 9:21:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | September 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Recorded in 2014 April, this total lunar eclipse sequence looks south down icy Waterton Lake from the Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada, planet Earth. The most distant horizon includes peaks in Glacier National Park, USA. An exposure every 10 minutes captured the Moon's position and eclipse phase, as it arced, left to right, above the rugged skyline and Waterton town lights. In fact, the sequence effectively measures the roughly 80 minute duration of the total phase of the eclipse. Around 270 BC, the Greek astronomer Aristarchus also measured the duration of lunar eclipses - though probably without...
  • Total Lunar Eclipse! September 27, 2015 (Southern California)

    09/27/2015 4:19:08 PM PDT · by EveningStar · 34 replies
    Griffith Observatory ^ | September 27, 2015
    ... Public Star Party begins 2:00 p.m. EVENT BEGINS 6:30 p.m. Livestream broadcast begins 6:30 p.m. Moon rises at Griffith Observatory 6:45 p.m. (Moon in partial eclipse) Totality begins 7:11 p.m. (Moon is totally covered in shadow) Maximum eclipse 7:47 p.m. Totality ends 8:23 p.m. (Moon emerges from shadow) Umbral eclipse ends 9:27 p.m. EVENT ENDS 9:45 p.m. Building closes (as usual) 10:00 p.m. Penumbral eclipse ends 10:22 p.m. Livestream broadcast ends 10:30 p.m. ...
  • Images From Apollo, Ahead of Tonight's Supermoon Eclipse

    09/27/2015 2:20:23 PM PDT · by PROCON · 34 replies ^ | Sep. 27, 2015 | Alan Taylor
    Tonight, as the full Moon reaches its closest point to Earth, it will also be dimmed by a total lunar eclipse. This Supermoon eclipse will reach totality at 10:11 p.m Eastern Time, and will last one hour and 12 minutes. According to NASA, it will “be visible to North and South America, Europe, Africa, and parts of West Asia and the eastern Pacific.”
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Tonight: A Supermoon Lunar Eclipse

    09/27/2015 8:23:34 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | September 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Tonight a bright full Moon will fade to red. Tonight's moon will be particularly bright because it is reaching its fully lit phase when it is relatively close to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. In fact, by some measures of size and brightness, tonight's full Moon is designated a supermoon, although perhaps the "super" is overstated because it will be only a few percent larger and brighter than the average full Moon. However, our Moon will fade to a dim red because it will also undergo a total lunar eclipse -- an episode when the Moon becomes completely...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M31 versus M33

    09/26/2015 2:39:28 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | September 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Separated by about 14 degrees (28 Full Moons) in planet Earth's sky, spiral galaxies M31 at left, and M33 are both large members of the Local Group, along with our own Milky Way galaxy. This narrow- and wide-angle, multi-camera composite finds details of spiral structure in both, while the massive neighboring galaxies seem to be balanced in starry fields either side of bright Mirach, beta star in the constellation Andromeda. Mirach is just 200 light-years from the Sun. But M31, the Andromeda Galaxy, is really 2.5 million light-years distant and M33, the Triangulum Galaxy, is also about 3 million...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto's Snakeskin Terrain

    09/25/2015 12:15:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 38 replies
    NASA ^ | September 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Image Credit: Explanation: A mountainous region informally known as Tartarus Dorsa sprawls some 530 kilometers (330 miles) across this Plutonian landscape. Recently downloaded from New Horizons, it combines blue, red, and infrared image data in an extended color view captured near the spacecraft's close approach to Pluto on July 14. Shadows near the terminator, the line between Pluto's dim day and night, emphasize a rough, scaly texture. The stunning image resolves details on the distant world about 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles) across. Refering to a part of Hades in ancient Greek mythology, Tartarus Dorsa borders Tombaugh Regio to the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- LDN 988 and Friends

    09/25/2015 12:13:35 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars are forming in dark, dusty molecular cloud LDN 988. Seen near picture center some 2,000 light-years distant, LDN 988 and other nearby dark nebulae were cataloged by Beverly T. Lynds in 1962 using Palomar Observatory Sky Survey plates. Narrowband and near-infrared explorations of the dark nebula reveal energetic shocks and outflows light-years across associated with dozens of newborn stars. But in this sharp optical telescopic view, the irregular outlines of LDN 988 and friends look like dancing stick figures eclipsing the rich starfields of the constellation Cygnus. From dark sky sites the region can be identified by eye...
  • New computer model says human emissions can ‘render Earth ice free’

    09/25/2015 10:52:02 AM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 79 replies ^ | September 24, 2015 | Anthony Watts
    From the “department of global roasting” and the UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA FAIRBANKS, where great ideas like this one are formed at Halloween parties, (yes really, see PR) comes this claim:UAF model used to estimate Antarctic ice sheet meltingTo see how burning up the Earth’s available fossil fuels might affect the Antarctic ice sheet, scientists turned to a computer program developed at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. The ice would disappear, they found, and that conclusion is making headlines across the world.UAF’s Parallel Ice Sheet Model “was the perfect tool to find out whether human emissions are sufficient to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Antarctic Analemma

    09/23/2015 3:56:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | September 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Does the Sun return to the same spot on the sky every day? No. A better and more visual answer to that question is an analemma, a composite image taken from the same spot at the same time over the course of a year. The featured weekly analemma was taken despite cold temperatures and high winds near the Concordia Station in Antarctica. The position of the Sun at 4 pm was captured on multiple days in the digital composite image, believed to be the first analemma constructed from Antarctica. The reason the image only shows the Sun from September...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Milky Way over Bosque Alegre Station in Argentina

    09/22/2015 3:18:47 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those streaks of light in the sky? First and foremost, the arching structure is the central band of our Milky Way galaxy. Visible in this galactic band are millions of distant stars mixed with numerous lanes of dark dust. Harder to discern is a nearly vertical beam of light rising from the horizon, just to the right of the image center. This beam is zodiacal light, sunlight scattered by dust in our Solar System that may be surprisingly prominent just after sunset or just before sunrise. In the foreground are several telescopes of the Bosque Alegre Astrophysical...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Spiral Galaxy M96 from Hubble

    09/22/2015 3:16:30 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | September 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Dust lanes seem to swirl around the core of Messier 96 in this colorful, detailed portrait of the center of a beautiful island universe. Of course M96 is a spiral galaxy, and counting the faint arms extending beyond the brighter central region, it spans 100 thousand light-years or so, making it about the size of our own Milky Way. M96, also known as NGC 3368, is known to be about 35 million light-years distant and a dominant member of the Leo I galaxy group. The featured image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The reason for M96's asymmetry...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Global Ocean Suspected on Saturn's Enceladus

    09/22/2015 3:14:18 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | September 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Do some surface features on Enceladus roll like a conveyor belt? A leading interpretation of images taken of Saturn's most explosive moon indicate that they do. This form of asymmetric tectonic activity, very unusual on Earth, likely holds clues to the internal structure of Enceladus, which may contain subsurface seas where life might be able to develop. Pictured above is a composite of 28 images taken by the robotic Cassini spacecraft in 2008 just after swooping by the ice-spewing orb. Inspection of these images show clear tectonic displacements where large portions of the surface all appear to move all...
  • More Evidence for Coming Black Hole Collision (total mass > a billion suns)

    09/22/2015 9:34:46 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 49 replies
    NYTimes ^ | 9/16/15 | Dennis Overbye
    The apocalypse is still on, apparently — at least in a galaxy about 3.5 billion light-years from here. Last winter, a team of Caltech astronomers reported that two supermassive black holes appeared to be spiraling together toward a cataclysmic collision that could bring down the curtains in that galaxy. The evidence was a rhythmic flickering from the galaxy’s nucleus, a quasar known as PG 1302-102, which Matthew Graham and his colleagues interpreted as the fatal mating dance of a pair of black holes with a total mass of more than a billion suns. Their merger, the astronomers calculated, could release...
  • Light dawns

    09/20/2015 1:35:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    Aeon ^ | September 18, 2015 | Sidney Perkowitz
    If you visit the Paris Observatory on the left bank of the Seine, you'll see a plaque on its wall announcing that the speed of light was first measured there in 1676. The odd thing is, this result came about unintentionally. Ole Romer, a Dane who was working as an assistant to the Italian astronomer Giovanni Domenico Cassini, was trying to account for certain discrepancies in eclipses of one of the moons of Jupiter. Romer and Cassini discussed the possibility that light has a finite speed (it had typically been thought to move instantaneously). Eventually, following some rough calculations, Romer...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Prominence on the Sun

    09/19/2015 1:39:25 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | September 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This eerie landscape of incandescent plasma suspended in looping and twisted magnetic fields stretched toward the Sun's eastern horizon on September 16. Captured through a backyard telescope and narrowband filter in light from ionized hydrogen, the scene reveals a gigantic prominence lofted above the solar limb. Some 600,000 kilometers across, the magnetized plasma wall would dwarf worlds of the Solar System. Ruling gas giant Jupiter can only boast a diameter of 143,000 kilometers or so, while planet Earth's diameter is less than 13,000 kilometers. Known as a hedgerow prominence for its appearance, the enormous structure is far from stable...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Plutonian Landscape

    09/18/2015 3:40:49 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This shadowy landscape of majestic mountains and icy plains stretches toward the horizon of a small, distant world. It was captured from a range of about 18,000 kilometers when New Horizons looked back toward Pluto, 15 minutes after the spacecraft's closest approach on July 14. The dramatic, low-angle, near-twilight scene follows rugged mountains still popularly known as Norgay Montes from foreground left, and Hillary Montes along the horizon, giving way to smooth Sputnik Planum at right. Layers of Pluto's tenuous atmosphere are also revealed in the backlit view. With a strangely familiar appearance, the frigid terrain likely includes ices...
  • Scale model of the solar system created in Nevada desert

    09/18/2015 2:35:43 AM PDT · by SMGFan · 39 replies
    UPI ^ | September 17, 2015
    BLACK ROCK DESERT, Nev., Sept. 17 (UPI) -- A pair of filmmakers visited a dry lake bed in Nevada to build what they describe as the first-ever scale model of the solar system. Wylie Overstreet and Alex Gorosh, who posted the video on YouTube and Vimeo, said they wanted to show the true size of the solar system and the distance between its sun and planets by building a scale model in Nevada's Black Rock Desert. The model began with a marble-sized Earth, which to scale meant the entire model required 7 miles of empty space.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pickering's Triangle in the Veil

    09/16/2015 11:18:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Chaotic in appearance, these filaments of shocked, glowing gas break across planet Earth's sky toward the constellation of Cygnus, as part of the Veil Nebula. The Veil Nebula itself is a large supernova remnant, an expanding cloud born of the death explosion of a massive star. Light from the original supernova explosion likely reached Earth over 5,000 years ago. Blasted out in the cataclysmic event, the interstellar shock waves plow through space sweeping up and exciting interstellar material. The glowing filaments are really more like long ripples in a sheet seen almost edge on, remarkably well separated into the...
  • 10 Years of Haumea

    09/16/2015 4:49:04 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies ^ | David Dickinson
    136108 Haumea — one of the strangest worlds of them all — was introduced into the solar system menagerie about ten years ago. Discovered by Mike Brown (@Plutokiller extraordinaire) and team in late December 2004 from the Palomar Observatory, Haumea (say HOW-meh) received its formal name on September 17, 2008 along with its dwarf planet designation. Haumea is a fast rotator, with a ‘day’ equal to about four hours. We know this due to periodic changes in brightness. Haumea also has a high albedo of about 80%, similar to freshly fallen snow. Models suggest that Haumea is about twice as...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Bright Spots Resolved in Occator Crater on Ceres

    09/16/2015 1:44:15 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | September 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What created these bright spots on Ceres? The spots were first noted as the robotic Dawn spacecraft approached Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt, in February, with the expectation that the mystery would soon be solved in higher resolution images. However, even after Dawn arrived at Ceres in March, the riddle remained. Surprisingly, although images including the featured composite taken in the last month do resolve many details inside Occator crater, they do not resolve the mystery. Another recent clue is that a faint haze develops over the crater's bright spots. Dawn is scheduled to continue to...
  • A Minor Lunar Standstill for 2015

    09/15/2015 4:41:55 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    Universe Today ^ | on September 15, 2015 | David Dickinson
    [T]he Moon has provided humanity with a fine crash course in Celestial Mechanics 101. Take the Moon’s path in the Fall of 2015 as a peculiar case in point. In fact, we’re nearing what’s known as a minor lunar standstill over the next lunation, the first of the 21st century. The term lunar standstill is kind of a misnomer. The Moon will continue in its orbit around the Earth like it always does. What’s interesting to note, however, is how shallow the apparent path of the Moon currently is with respect to the ecliptic this year. A technical lunar standstill...
  • Long-term climate variability in the Northern Hemisphere linked to solar variations

    09/15/2015 2:59:59 PM PDT · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 41 replies ^ | September 15, 2015 | Anthony Watts
    From the Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel (GEOMAR)New perspectives for long-term climate predictions? This image shows a time series of solar activity (bottom) and the North Atlantic Oscillation in two model simulations, without (blue) and with (yellow) solar forcing. Credit, GEOMAR.  Are climate predictions over periods of several years reliable if weather forecast are still only possible for short periods of several days? Nevertheless there are options to predict the development of key parameters on such long time scales. A new study led by scientists at GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel shows how the well-known 11-year cycle...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Spiral Aurora over Iceland

    09/15/2015 8:16:11 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | September 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happened to the sky? Aurora! Captured late last month, this aurora was noted by Icelanders for its great brightness and quick development. The aurora resulted from a solar storm, with high energy particles bursting out from the Sun and through a crack in Earth's protective magnetosphere a few days later. Although a spiral pattern can be discerned, creative humans might imagine the complex glow as an atmospheric apparition of any number of common icons. In the foreground of the featured image is the Ölfusá River, while the lights illuminate a bridge in Selfoss City. Just beyond the low...

    09/14/2015 11:01:03 AM PDT · by Roman_War_Criminal · 7 replies
    Space Weather ^ | 9/13/2015 | Space Weather
    DOUBLE ECLIPSE OF THE SUN: On Sept. 13th, the sun was eclipsed--twice! No one on Earth has ever seen anything like it. Indeed, it was only visible from Earth orbit. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the event: The double eclipse began around 06:30 UT when Earth passed directly between the sun and SDO. The observatory watched as the body of our planet moved slowly across the face of the sun, producing a near black-out. When the Earth finally moved aside about an hour later, another eclipse was in progress. This time, the Moon was in the way. A movie...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto from above Cthulhu Regio

    09/14/2015 3:42:08 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | September 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: New high resolution images of Pluto are starting to arrive from the outer Solar System. The robotic New Horizons spacecraft, which zoomed by Pluto in July, has finished sending back some needed engineering data and is now transmitting selections from its tremendous storehouse of images of Pluto and its moons. The featured image, a digital composite, details a surprising terrain filled with craters, plains, landscape of unknown character, and landforms that resemble something on Earth but are quite unexpected on Pluto. The light area sprawling across the upper right has been dubbed Sputnik Planum and is being studied for...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Partial Solar Eclipse over Texas

    09/13/2015 4:59:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | September 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It was a typical Texas sunset except that most of the Sun was missing. The location of the missing piece of the Sun was not a mystery -- it was behind the Moon. Featured here is one of the more interesting images taken of a partial solar eclipse that occurred in 2012, capturing a temporarily crescent Sun setting in a reddened sky behind brush and a windmill. The image was taken about 20 miles west of Sundown, Texas, USA, just after the ring of fire effect was broken by the Moon moving away from the center of the Sun....
  • 'Terrorist, go back to your country,’ attacker yelled in assault of Sikh man

    09/12/2015 1:22:47 PM PDT · by MadIsh32 · 19 replies
    Washington Post ^ | 09/10/2015 | Sarah Kaplan
    Search Home Page Politics Opinions Sports Local National World Business Tech Lifestyle Entertainment Video Real Estate Photography Live Chats Marketplaces WP BrandConnect Partners © 1996-2015 The Washington Post Terms of Service Privacy Policy Submissions and Discussion Policy RSS Terms of Service Ad Choices The Washington Post Get the Morning Mix Newsletter Free daily updates delivered just for you. Sign me upNOT NOW Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Plus Share via Email More Options Morning Mix ‘Terrorist, go back to your country,’ attacker yelled in assault of Sikh man Resize Text Print Article Comments 377 By...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- ISS Double Transit

    09/11/2015 9:04:48 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | September 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Not once, but twice the International Space Station transits the Sun on consecutive orbits of planet Earth in this video frame composite. The scene was captured on August 22 from a single well-chosen location in Schmalenbeck, Germany where the ISS created intersecting shadow paths only around 7 kilometers wide. Crossing the solar disk in a second or less, the transits themselves were separated in time by about 90 minutes, corresponding to the space station's orbital period. while the large, flare-producing sunspot group below center, AR 2043, remained a comfortable 150 million kilometers away, the distance between camera and orbiting...
  • The theory of parallel universes is not just maths – it is science that can be tested

    09/11/2015 11:12:05 AM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 92 replies
    The Conversation ^ | 09/02/2015
    The existence of parallel universes may seem like something cooked up by science fiction writers, with little relevance to modern theoretical physics. But the idea that we live in a “multiverse” made up of an infinite number of parallel universes has long been considered a scientific possibility – although it is still a matter of vigorous debate among physicists. The race is now on to find a way to test the theory, including searching the sky for signs of collisions with other universes. It is important to keep in mind that the multiverse view is not actually a theory,...