Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- An Unusual Mountain on Asteroid Ceres

    06/29/2015 9:49:58 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | June 30, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What created this large mountain on asteroid Ceres? No one is yet sure. As if in anticipation of today being Asteroid Day on Earth, the robotic spacecraft Dawn in orbit around Ceres took the best yet image of an unusually tall mountain on the Asteroid Belt's largest asteroid. Visible at the top of the featured image, the exceptional mountain rises about five kilometers up from an area that otherwise appears pretty level. The image was taken about two weeks ago from about 4,400 kilometers away. Although origin hypotheses for the mountain include volcanism, impacts, and plate tectonics, clear evidence...
  • History of Geology: Outburst flood from Glacier de Tete Rousse: A past and future threat

    06/29/2015 5:53:09 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    History of Geology ^ | August 2010 | David Bressan
    Before 1878, in a period with increased rate of ablation, a supraglacial lake formed in the centre of the glacier, this lake subsequently became covered by ice and snow. The collapse of the glacier tongue in 1892 finally released the accumulated water, a large cavity 40m in diameter and 20m high containing estimated 20.000 cubic meters water at the glacier terminus remained as testimony. From this lower cavity, an 85m long intraglacial conduit led to the upper cavity (the former lake) with an additional volume of 80.000 cubic meters. [History of Geology: Outburst flood from Glacier de Tete Rousse: A...
  • Evidence Of A Holocene Meteorite Impact Event Near Nalbach (Saarland, Germany)

    06/29/2015 9:19:36 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    Academia ^ | 2015 | Kord Ernstson
    The widespread occurrence of peculiar samples in the Nalbach area covering many square kilometers and exhibiting convincing indications of high temperatures and high pressures, in particular the mineralogical evidence of strong shock, establishes a meteorite impact event in the Holocene as a matter of fact according to the generally accepted opinion that shock metamorphism in rocks proves a meteorite impact. The young Holocene age is concluded from the concentration of the peculiar finds in the upper soil layers, the very fresh status of the impact glasses and the young appearance of the now discovered probable impact crater. Using impact scaling...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sunspot Group AR 2339 Crosses the Sun

    06/29/2015 7:18:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | June 29, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How do sunspots evolve? Large dark sunspots -- and the active regions that contain them -- may last for weeks, but all during that time they are constantly changing. Such variations were particularly apparent a few weeks ago as the active region AR 2339 came around the limb of the Sun and was tracked for the next 12 days by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory. In the featured time lapse video, some sunspots drift apart, while others merge. All the while, the dark central umbral regions shift internally and their surrounding lighter penumbras shimmer and wave. The surrounding Sun appears...
  • Why Time Will Stop For a Leap Second

    06/28/2015 11:19:44 AM PDT · by Lonesome in Massachussets · 16 replies
    National Geographic ^ | June 26, 2015 UTC | Jane J. Lee
    Just as leap years keep our calendars lined up with Earth's revolution around the sun, leap seconds adjust for Earth's rotation. This kind of fine-tuning wasn't much of an issue before the invention of atomic clocks, whose ticks are defined by the cycling of atoms. Cesium-based clocks, one kind of atomic clock, measure the passage of time much more precisely than those based on the rotation of our planet, so adding a leap second allows astronomical time to catch up to atomic time. Most of us won't notice the addition, which happens at 23:59:59 coordinated universal time (UTC), or 7:59...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- All the Colors of the Sun

    06/27/2015 9:16:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | June 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is still not known why the Sun's light is missing some colors. Here are all the visible colors of the Sun, produced by passing the Sun's light through a prism-like device. The spectrum was created at the McMath-Pierce Solar Observatory and shows, first off, that although our white-appearing Sun emits light of nearly every color, it does indeed appear brightest in yellow-green light. The dark patches in the above spectrum arise from gas at or above the Sun's surface absorbing sunlight emitted below. Since different types of gas absorb different colors of light, it is possible to determine...
  • Simulation of space debris orbiting Earth

    06/27/2015 8:59:24 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 51 replies
  • DARPA Wants to Create Synthetic Organisms to Terraform and Change the Atmosphere of Mars

    06/27/2015 8:25:48 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 56 replies
    Hacked ^ | 6/25/15 | Giulio Prisco
    DARPA Wants to Create Synthetic Organisms to Terraform and Change the Atmosphere of Mars Biotech, Space, Synthetic Biology June 25, 2015 by Giulio Prisco 435SHARES TwitterLinkedinFacebook The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) believes that it's on the way to creating synthetic organisms capable of terraforming Mars into a planet that looks more like Earth, Motherboard reports.Speaking at a recent biotech conference hosted by DARPA, Alicia Jackson, deputy director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office (BTO) said: For the first time, we have the technological toolkit to transform not just hostile places here on Earth, but to go into space not...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stars of a Summer's Triangle

    06/27/2015 3:42:59 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | June 27, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Rising at the start of a northern summer's night, these three bright stars form the familiar asterism known as the Summer Triangle. Altair, Deneb, and Vega are the alpha stars of their respective constellations, Aquila, Cygnus, and Lyra, nestled near the Milky Way. Close in apparent brightness the three do look similar in these telescopic portraits, but all have their own stellar stories. Their similar appearance hides the fact that the Summer Triangle stars actually span a large range in intrinsic luminosity and distance. A main sequence dwarf star, Altair is some 10 times brighter than the Sun and...
  • Check out Venus and Jupiter, now unbelievably close in the night sky! (easily naked eye visible)

    06/26/2015 7:06:32 PM PDT · by ETL · 20 replies
    June 26, 2015 | self
    Look up, and somewhere in the western portion of the sky right now, or anytime in the next several weeks, an hour or so after sunset, and you'll see two very bright "star-like" objects. The brighter of the two (by a lot) is Venus, the other Jupiter. Venus, slightly smaller than Earth is currently about 51 million miles away. Jupiter, roughly 12 Earth diameters across, 560 million.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planet Aurora

    06/26/2015 1:21:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What bizarre alien planet is this ? It's planet Earth of course, seen through the shimmering glow of aurorae from the International Space Station. About 400 kilometers (250 miles) above, the orbiting station is itself within the upper realm of the auroral displays, also watched from the planet's surface on June 23rd. Aurorae have the signature colors of excited molecules and atoms at the low densities found at extreme altitudes. The eerie greenish glow of molecular oxygen dominates this view. But higher, just above the space station's horizon, is a rarer red band of aurora from atomic oxygen. The...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Star Trails above Table Mountain

    06/26/2015 1:21:40 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | June 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Stars trail above and urban lights sprawl below in this moonlit nightscape from Cape Town, South Africa, planet Earth. The looming form of Table Mountain almost seems to hold terrestrial lights at bay while the stars circle the planet's South Celestial Pole. This modern perspective on the natural night sky was captured in June 2014, the scene composed of over nine hundred, stacked 30 second exposures. The stunning result was chosen as the winner in the Against the Lights category, a selection from over 800 entries in The World at Night's 2015 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.
  • Monster black hole wakes up after 26 years

    06/26/2015 11:15:15 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 32 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 06-26-2015 | Staff & ESA
    Artist’s impression of a black hole feasting on matter from its companion star in a binary system. Material flows from the star towards the black hole and gathers in a disc, where it is heated up, shining brightly at optical, ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths before spiralling into the black hole. Part of the disc material does not end up onto the black hole but is ejected the form of two powerful jets of particles. On 15 June 2015, the black-hole binary system V404 Cygni started showing signs of extraordinary activity, something that had not happened since 1989. The system consists...
  • Want to stir things up? Go after the Texas flag.

    06/26/2015 5:04:40 AM PDT · by MeneMeneTekelUpharsin · 26 replies
    26 June 2015 | Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin
    Since we're getting into banning symbols of things we don't like, how about banning any and every display of the Texas flag. That'll show 'em.
  • Spectacular Northern Lights Show Could Continue This Weekend (Photos, Video)

    06/25/2015 4:56:22 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 5 replies
    space.com ^ | June 25, 2015 12:58pm ET | Calla Cofield
    Throughout Canada and as far south as Philadelphia, the northern lights have been wowing skywatchers this week, and the colorful displays could continue, following another solar explosion spotted by NASA. A large sun storm last weekend known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) sent high-energy particles streaming toward Earth, where their interaction with the atmosphere and the magnetic field supercharged the gorgeous color displays known in the northern hemisphere as the aurora borealis. The dazzling celestial show may go on, thanks to another CME detected by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) today (June 25). Today's explosion came from a freckle...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Triple Conjunction Over Galician National Park

    06/24/2015 4:04:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those bright objects hovering over the horizon? Planets -- and the Moon. First out, the horizon featured is a shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean that occurs at the Galicia National Park in northern Spain. Next furthest out, on the left, is the Moon. Easily the brightest object on the night sky, the Moon here was in only a crescent phase. The next furthest out, on the right, is the planet Venus, while planet Jupiter is seen at the top of the triangle. The long exposure from our rapidly rotating Earth made all of celestial objects -- including...
  • Aurora Borealis Lighting Up Night Sky All Week Due To Severe Solar Storm

    06/23/2015 3:50:18 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 6 replies
    A second strong solar storm this week is predicted to slam Earth Wednesday, causing fluctuations in the power grid and GPS while sparking bright auroras across the world. According to SpaceWeather.com, a “coronal mass ejection” erupted Monday and is expected to hit the Earth with electromagnetic radiation starting Wednesday at about 10 p.m. PDT and until Thursday. At the same time, a geomagnetic storm that began Monday continues to rage on at severe levels, pushing glowing polar auroras to places where most people can easily see them.
  • Ceres Spots Continue to Mystify in Latest Dawn Images

    06/23/2015 6:34:16 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 17 replies
    NASA-JPL ^ | June 22, 2015 | Staff
    The closer we get to Ceres, the more intriguing the distant dwarf planet becomes. New images of Ceres from NASA's Dawn spacecraft provide more clues about its mysterious bright spots, and also reveal a pyramid-shaped peak towering over a relatively flat landscape. "The surface of Ceres has revealed many interesting and unique features. For example, icy moons in the outer solar system have craters with central pits, but on Ceres central pits in large craters are much more common. These and other features will allow us to understand the inner structure of Ceres that we cannot sense directly," said Carol...
  • 'Pyramid' spotted on Ceres: Mysterious lone mountain discovered ....

    06/23/2015 6:14:02 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 12 replies
    www.dailymail.co.uk ^ | Updated: 16:54 EST, 22 June 2015 | By Jonathan O'Callaghan
    The latest images of Ceres taken by the Dawn spacecraft have captured a fascinating pyramid-shaped mountain on the surface. As the spacecraft gets closer, more and more features are beginning to reveal themselves. This includes the mysterious bright spots, which appear now as an array of dots scattered across the floor of a crater - but their source remains unknown. These images were taken by the Dawn spacecraft in its second mapping orbit, from a height of 2,700 miles (4,400km). Just six months ago, Ceres appeared as nothing more than a few pixels of light to Dawn. Now it is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Sharpless 308: Star Bubble

    06/23/2015 4:14:40 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | June 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. That corresponds to a diameter of 60 light-years at its estimated distance. The massive star that created the bubble, a Wolf-Rayet star, is the bright one near the center of the nebula. Wolf-Rayet stars have over 20 times the mass of the Sun and are thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova phase of massive...
  • NASA's New Horizons Probe Gives Us Our First Look at the 'Person in Pluto'

    06/22/2015 6:24:00 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 33 replies
    nbc ^ | Jun 22 2015, 1:37 pm ET | Alan Boyle
    Humanity has looked up to the "Man in the Moon" for millennia, but this could be one of our first views of the "Person in Pluto." The views are getting better and better as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft approaches Pluto for its July 14 flyby — and the pictures have begun revealing surface details. Ian Regan, an image-processing enthusiast from Plymouth, England, combined four images from New Horizons' Long Range Reconnaissance Imager with color data from the probe's Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera to produce an eerie colorized view of Pluto and its biggest moon, Charon.
  • Cosmic Inflation’s Five Great Predictions

    06/22/2015 1:20:00 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 15 replies
    Medium.com ^ | 6/17/15 | Ethan Siegel
    Cosmic Inflation’s Five Great Predictions A “speculative” theory no more; it’s had four of them confirmed. Image credit: Max Tegmark / Scientific American, by Alfred T. Kamajian. “Scientific ideas should be simple, explanatory, predictive. The inflationary multiverse as currently understood appears to have none of those properties.” -Paul Steinhardt, 2014 When we think about the Big Bang, we typically think about the origin of the Universe: the hot, dense, expanding state where everything came from. By noticing and measuring the fact that the Universe is expanding today — that the galaxies are getting farther apart from one another in all directions — we...
  • NASA May Use Nukes To Defend Earth From Asteroids

    06/22/2015 12:28:27 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 47 replies
    Popular Science ^ | 06-22-2015 | By Sarah Fecht
    Illustration Of A Planetoid Crashing Into Earth In 2013, a 60-foot-wide meteor exploded over Russia, and no one saw it coming. The Chelyabinsk impactor was relatively small by interplanetary standards, but the blast injured about 1,500 people and damaged 7,000 buildings. If a larger rock were headed for Earth, how would we defend ourselves? The short answer is, scientists aren’t really sure, but one solution sounds a lot like the plot from a 1998 Michael Bay movie: just nuke ‘em. In hopes of averting a space rock calamity, The New York Times reports that NASA has just sealed a deal...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- New Horizons [Pluto probe]

    06/21/2015 10:04:05 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | June 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In three weeks, the robotic New Horizons spacecraft will reach Pluto. As the featured video makes clear, though, humanity has been on an unprecedented epoch of robotic exploration of our Solar System's planets for the past half century. The video highlights artistic illustrations of Mariner 2 flying by Venus in 1962, Mariner 4 flying past Mars in 1965, Pioneer 10 flying past Jupiter in 1973, Mariner 10 flying past Mercury in 1974, Pioneer 11 flying past Saturn in 1979, and Voyager 2 flying past Uranus in 1986 and then Neptune in 1989. Next is a hypothetical sequence depicting New...
  • Happy Summer Solstice!

    06/21/2015 8:40:00 AM PDT · by Lonesome in Massachussets · 10 replies
    His Divine Plan ^ | In the Beginning | The Almighty
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rings and Seasons of Saturn

    06/21/2015 7:10:57 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 15 replies
    NASA ^ | June 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: On Saturn, the rings tell you the season. On Earth, today marks a solstice, the time when the Earth's spin axis tilts directly toward the Sun. On Earth's northern hemisphere, today is the Summer Solstice, the day of maximum daylight. Since Saturn's grand rings orbit along the planet's equator, these rings appear most prominent -- from the direction of the Sun -- when the Saturn's spin axis points toward the Sun. Conversely, when Saturn's spin axis points to the side, an equinox occurs and the edge-on rings are hard to see. In the featured montage, images of Saturn over...
  • If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel: A tediously accurate scale model of the Solar System

    06/21/2015 6:13:32 AM PDT · by rickmichaels · 69 replies
    joshworth.com | Josh Worth
    This is a waaaaaaaaaaaaay cool scale model of the Solar System that shows just how freakin' HUGE our own "little" neck of the woods really is. Scroll to the right... If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hubble's Messier 5 [whoa!]

    06/19/2015 11:33:10 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    NASA ^ | June 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: "Beautiful Nebula discovered between the Balance [Libra] & the Serpent [Serpens] ..." begins the description of the 5th entry in 18th century astronomer Charles Messier's famous catalog of nebulae and star clusters. Though it appeared to Messier to be fuzzy and round and without stars, Messier 5 (M5) is now known to be a globular star cluster, 100,000 stars or more, bound by gravity and packed into a region around 165 light-years in diameter. It lies some 25,000 light-years away. Roaming the halo of our galaxy, globular star clusters are ancient members of the Milky Way. M5 is one...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- LightSail A

    06/19/2015 5:31:30 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | June 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Hitching a ride to low Earth orbit, LightSail A accomplished a challenging test mission, unfurling its 32 square meter mylar solar sail on June 7. This dramatic image from one of the bread loaf sized spacecraft's fisheye cameras captures the deployed sail glinting in sunlight. Sail out and visible to Earthbound observers before its final orbit, LightSail A reentered the atmosphere last weekend. Its succesful technology demonstration paves the way for the LightSail B spacecraft, scheduled for launch in April 2016. Once considered the stuff of science fiction, sailing through space was suggested 400 years ago by astronomer Johannes...
  • Einstein saves the quantum cat

    06/19/2015 7:37:01 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 30 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | 063-16-2015 | Provided by University of Vienna
    Einstein's theory of time and space will celebrate its 100th anniversary this year. Even today it captures the imagination of scientists. In an international collaboration, researchers from the universities of Vienna, Harvard and Queensland have now discovered that this world-famous theory can explain yet another puzzling phenomenon: the transition from quantum behavior to our classical, everyday world. Their results are published in the journal Nature Physics. In 1915 Albert Einstein formulated the theory of general relativity which fundamentally changed our understanding of gravity. He explained gravity as the manifestation of the curvature of space and time. Einstein's theory predicts that...
  • NASA Gives ‘GO’ for Mission to Alien Ocean World at Jupiter Moon Europa

    06/19/2015 4:48:20 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | Ken Kremer
    At long last NASA is heading back to Jupiter’s mysterious moon Europa and doing so in a big way – because scientists believe it harbors an alien ocean of water beneath an icy crust and therefore is “one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for signs of present-day life” beyond Earth. Top NASA officials have now formally and officially green lighted the Europa ocean world robotic mission and given it the “GO” to move from early conceptual studies into development of the interplanetary spacecraft and mission hardware, to search for the chemical constituents of life....
  • Mass of a supermassive black hole measured in suns (animated graphic)

    06/19/2015 2:24:58 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 12 replies
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M64: The Black Eye Galaxy

    06/18/2015 4:26:59 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | June 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This big, bright, beautiful spiral galaxy is Messier 64, often called the Black Eye Galaxy or the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy for its heavy-lidded appearance in telescopic views. M64 is about 17 million light-years distant in the otherwise well-groomed northern constellation Coma Berenices. In fact, the Red Eye Galaxy might also be an appropriate moniker in this colorful composition. The enormous dust clouds obscuring the near-side of M64's central region are laced with the telltale reddish glow of hydrogen associated with star forming regions. But they are not this galaxy's only peculiar feature. Observations show that M64 is actually composed...
  • Archaeology professor, students uncover history at Big Bone Lick State Park

    06/17/2015 2:35:54 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 27 replies
    Herald-Leader ^ | June 10, 2013 | Cheryl Truman
    Thousands of years ago, a human -- probably hungry and right-handed -- found an old spear point amid these low hills and re-shaped it. Last week [in 2013] University of Cincinnati student Liz Ceddia found it again: flaked in a distinctive pattern and still sharp enough to break skin... The students are working with Ken Tankersley, a University of Cincinnati archaeology professor who first visited the area as a child. He keeps coming back to seek evidence of how climate change affects area flora and fauna. It's one of his major areas of research. Big Bone Lick State Park --...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M45: The Pleiades Star Cluster

    06/17/2015 11:11:55 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    NASA ^ | June 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Even if you have, you probably have never seen it as dusty as this. Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the bright stars of the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. With a long exposure from a dark location, though, the dust cloud surrounding the Pleiades star cluster becomes very evident. The featured exposure took over 12 hours and covers a sky area several times the size of the full moon. Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the...
  • Ceres Has Lots of Bright Spots

    06/17/2015 7:03:24 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    Most models of Ceres depict a rocky crust, mantle of ice and a rocky inner core. This makes us wonder if the bright material unearthed might be ice. If so, it would gradually vaporize on the virtually air-free dwarf planet. Dawn will spend through early 2016 at Ceres during its primary mission and then remain in orbit there perpetually. We should be able to cipher the composition of the white material during that time with the spacecraft’s Gamma Ray and Neutron Detector and Visible and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer, but a lengthy stay might allow us to see changes in the...
  • Look Up! The Brightest Planets In The June Sky Vie For Your Attention

    06/16/2015 9:20:42 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 19 replies
    June 19: ... 3 1/2-day old crescent moon hovering well below the planets Venus and Jupiter in the west-northwest sky. June 20: Take note on how the moon has shifted its position since last evening relative to Venus and Jupiter. The trio now resembles a broad obtuse triangle; the obtuse angle is at Jupiter. The moon appears to Jupiter’s lower left while Venus is 7 degrees to Jupiter’s lower right. ... June 24: After passing through inferior conjunction on May 30, Mercury reaches its greatest elongation from the sun in the dawn sky. This is not a very high apparition...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- APOD is 20 Years Old Today

    06/16/2015 9:25:10 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Welcome to the vicennial year of the Astronomy Picture of the Day! Perhaps a source of web consistency for some, APOD is still here. As during each of the 20 years of selecting images, writing text, and editing the APOD web pages, the occasionally industrious Robert Nemiroff (left) and frequently persistent Jerry Bonnell (right) are pictured above plotting to highlight yet another unsuspecting image of our cosmos. Although the featured image may appear similar to the whimsical Vermeer composite that ran on APOD's fifth anniversary, a perceptive eye might catch that it has been digitally re-pixelated using many of...
  • Comet Lander Philae Wakes Up After Months of Hibernation

    06/15/2015 6:39:56 PM PDT · by Swordmaker · 5 replies
    Time Magazine (Video) ^ | June 14, 2015 | Andrew Katz
    The comet lander "spoke" for 85 seconds via its orbiter, "Rosetta" The comet lander that went into hibernation last last year has made contact with its team back on Earth, European space officials said on Sunday. In a brief and excited statement, the European Space Agency said the unmanned Philae, which landed on 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko in November to become the first spacecraft to touch down on a comet, sent a number of signals via its orbiter (“Rosetta”) to an operations center in Darmstadt, Germany. They were received on June 13 at 10:28 p.m., local time. Dr. Stephan Ulamec, Philae Project Manager...
  • Here’s a Look at Saturn’s Most Tortured Moon

    06/15/2015 5:46:56 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 22 replies
    time ^ | Jeffrey Kluger
    Merely one of 62 confirmed or provisional moons orbiting Saturn, Tethys is easily the one with the most compelling life story. For one thing, it is a good sister to the other moons in the Saturnian brood. At 660 mi. (1,062 km) across, it’s the fifth largest of all of Saturn’s satellites and orbits at an altitude of 182,689 miles (294,009 km). But it does not fly alone. Its tiny siblings Telesto and Calypso—19 mi. and 16 mi. across (31 km and 26 km) respectively—fly with it, with Telesto in front Calypso in the rear, and Tethys herding them along...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Colorful Lunar Corona

    06/15/2015 4:21:04 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | June 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What are those colorful rings around the Moon? A corona. Rings like this will sometimes appear when the Moon is seen through thin clouds. The effect is created by the quantum mechanical diffraction of light around individual, similarly-sized water droplets in an intervening but mostly-transparent cloud. Since light of different colors has different wavelengths, each color diffracts differently. Lunar Coronae are one of the few quantum mechanical color effects that can be easily seen with the unaided eye. The featured lunar corona was captured around a Strawberry Moon on June 2 from La Plata, Argentina. Similar coronae that form...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- M101: The Pinwheel Galaxy

    06/15/2015 4:20:11 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | June 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why do many galaxies appear as spirals? A striking example is M101, shown above, whose relatively close distance of about 27 million light years allows it to be studied in some detail. Observational evidence indicates that a close gravitational interaction with a neighboring galaxy created waves of high mass and condensed gas which continue to orbit the galaxy center. These waves compress existing gas and cause star formation. One result is that M101, also called the Pinwheel Galaxy, has several extremely bright star-forming regions (called HII regions) spread across its spiral arms. M101 is so large that its immense...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 1000 Sols

    06/15/2015 4:18:08 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | June 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Shortly before Mars' June 2015 conjunction, the Curiosity Rover celebrated 1000 sols on the red planet. After its August 5, 2012 landing, Curiosity's 1000th sol or martian day on the surface corresponded to planet Earth's calendar date May 31, 2015. Because the line-of-sight to Mars is close to the Sun near the conjunction, radio communications are affected and the six-wheeled, car-sized robotic rover cautiously remains parked at this spot for now. The view looks back toward the stomping grounds for Curiosity's nearly 10.6 kilometer trek so far, with the hazy rim of Gale Crater in the distance. The mosaicked...
  • [Space] Station Astronaut Snaps Super Sharp View of the Great Pyramids from Space

    06/14/2015 11:46:21 AM PDT · by Lorianne · 39 replies
    Universe Today ^ | 13 June 2015 | Ken Kremer
    On his last full day in space aboard the International Space Station (ISS), NASA astronaut Terry Virts at last captured a truly iconic shot of one of the “Seven Wonders of the World” – the Great Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. Virts snapped the exquisitely sharp view of the Egyptian pyramids at Giza on June 10 looking out from the stations windows, just hours before entering the Soyuz return spaceship and closing the hatches behind him for his planned plummet back to Earth. He proudly posted the spectacular photo on his twitter social media account from space while serving as...
  • Early GIF of Pluto from New Horizons

    06/14/2015 6:05:27 AM PDT · by Lonesome in Massachussets · 27 replies
    JHU/APL ^ | JD 2457175.5 | JHU/APL
  • First Ever Glass Deposits Found On Martian Surface

    06/13/2015 9:17:43 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 28 replies
    Popular Science ^ | June 8th, 2015 | Mary Beth Griggs
    It seems like Mars has just about everything: auroras, water, and now... glass? In a paper published recently in Geology researchers announced that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) found deposits of glass in craters on the Martian surface. These are the first deposits ever found on Mars, and they could help us figure out if there was ever life on the red planet. On Mars, the glass was created when meteorites slammed into the Martian surface with enough force to melt some of the rocks, which then cooled quickly enough in the atmosphere, turning them into a type of glass...
  • We're Pumped Up About Visiting Pluto After Seeing This NASA Video

    06/13/2015 7:28:00 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    Popular Science TV ^ | June 12th, 2015 | Sarah Fecht
    In July, New Horizons crosses the next great frontier in our solar system. Mankind is about to visit one of the strangest places in our solar system. Out beyond Neptune, the Kuiper belt is home to hordes of cold, lumpy worlds -- some of which are large enough to have their own moons, but none of which we've seen up-close before. That's going to change this summer, when NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flies by "the king of the Kuiper belt": Pluto. It's no longer considered a planet, but Pluto is still an important member of our solar system, and one...
  • Experience Earth on 'Pluto Time' with this NASA tool

    06/13/2015 2:51:17 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 6 replies
    c|net ^ | 6/6/15 | Amanda Kooser
    Visit another world without ever leaving your yard. A NASA website gives you the time of day when light on Earth is the same as you would see on Pluto.You can't fly to Pluto. You will never have the opportunity to set foot on its inhospitable surface. It took NASA's New Horizons spacecraft over nine years just to get close. Don't let this deter you from experiencing a little bit of Pluto back here on Earth. NASA has unveiled a "Pluto Time" website that helps space fans replicate the light conditions on the dwarf planet from any location in the...
  • Have We Found Rosetta’s Lost Philae Lander?

    06/13/2015 8:05:18 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 6 replies
    It’s only a bright dot in a landscape of crenulated rocks, but the Rosetta team thinks it might be Philae, the little comet lander lost since November. The Rosetta and Philae teams have worked tirelessly to search for the lander, piecing together clues of its location after a series of unfortunate events during its planned landing on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko last November 12. ... Rosetta’s navigation and high-resolution cameras identified the first landing site and also took several pictures of Philae as it traveled above the comet before coming down for a final landing. Magnetic field measurements taken...
  • UK Amateur Recreates the Great Red Spot’s Glory Days

    06/12/2015 3:29:54 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 12 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | June 12, 2015 | Bob King on
    Maybe it’s too soon for a pity party, but the profound changes in the size and prominence of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) in the past 100 years has me worried. After Saturn’s rings, Jupiter’s big bloody eye is one of astronomy’s most iconic sights. This titanic hurricane-like storm has charmed earthlings since Giovanni Cassini first spotted it in the mid-1600s. Will our grandchildren turn their telescopes to Jove only to see a pale pink oval like so many others rolling around the planet’s South Tropical Zone? ,,, An inspired image prompted this sad train of thought. UK astrophotographer Damian...