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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Rainbows and Rays over Bryce Canyon

    07/28/2015 5:55:29 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 28, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening over Bryce Canyon? Two different optical effects that were captured in one image taken earlier this month. Both effects needed to have the Sun situated directly behind the photographer. The nearest apparition was the common rainbow, created by sunlight streaming from the setting sun over the head of the photographer, and scattering from raindrops in front of the canyon. If you look closely, even a second rainbow appears above the first. More rare, and perhaps more striking, are the rays of light that emanate out from the horizon above the canyon. These are known as anticrepuscular rays...
  • Eris’ Moon of Dysnomia

    07/28/2015 1:50:21 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 7 replies
    Ask a person what Dysnomia refers to... But in addition to being a condition that affects the memory (where people have a hard time remembering words and names), it is also the only known moon of the distant dwarf planet Eris. In fact, the same team that discovered Eris a decade ago – a discovery that threw our entire notion of what constitutes a planet into question – also discovered a moon circling it shortly thereafter. ... The actual size of Dysnomia is subject to dispute, and estimates are based largely on the planet’s albedo relative to Eris. For example,...
  • Neptune’s Moon of Triton

    07/28/2015 11:52:43 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | July 28, 2015 | Fraser Cain
    The planets of the outer Solar System are known for being strange, as are their many moons. This is especially true of Triton, Neptune’s largest moon. In addition to being the seventh-largest moon in the Solar System, it is also the only major moon that has a retrograde orbit – i.e. it revolves in the direction opposite to the planet’s rotation. This suggests that Triton did not form in orbit around Neptune, but is a cosmic visitor that passed by one day and decided to stay. ... Triton has a radius, density (2.061 g/cm3), temperature and chemical composition similar to...
  • 'Impossible' rocket drive works and could get to Moon in four hours

    07/28/2015 11:20:36 AM PDT · by Mellonkronos · 64 replies
    The Telegraph ^ | July 28, 2015 | Sarah Knapton
    [Now this would be really cool! Hope it pans out!] 'Impossible' rocket drive works and could get to Moon in four hoursThe British designed EM Drive actually works and would dramatically speed up space travel, scientists have confirmedBy Sarah Knapton, Science Editor 6:04PM BST 28 Jul 2015 Interplanetary travel could be a step closer after scientists confirmed that an electromagnetic propulsion drive, which is fast enough to get to the Moon in four hours, actually works. The EM Drive was developed by the British inventor Roger Shawyer nearly 15 years ago but was ridiculed at the time as being scientifically...
  • Ceres Resembles Saturn’s Icy Moons

    07/28/2015 11:14:36 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 28, 2015 | Jason Major
    Ceres’ topography is revealed in full (but false) color in a new map created from elevation data gathered by NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, now nearly five months in orbit around the dwarf planet orbiting the Sun within the main asteroid belt. With craters 3.7 miles (6 km) deep and mountains rising about the same distance from its surface, Ceres bears a resemblance to some of Saturn’s frozen moons. “The craters we find on Ceres, in terms of their depth and diameter, are very similar to what we see on Dione and Tethys, two icy satellites of Saturn that are about the...
  • Next Blue Moon is July 31

    07/27/2015 1:02:14 PM PDT · by GoneSalt · 7 replies
    earthsky.org ^ | 7/27/2015 | earthsky.org Staff
    The moon was full on July 2, and it’ll be full again on July 31. The second of two full moons in a calendar month is often called a Blue Moon. _________________________ The next Blue Moon is July 31, 2015. In recent decades, many people have begun using the name Blue Moon to describe the second full moon of a calendar month. There was a full moon on July 2, 2015. There’s another full moon on July 31. So the July 31 full moon will be called a Blue Moon, according to this definition. The time between one full moon...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day - Milky Way and Aurora over Antarctica

    07/26/2015 9:41:25 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | July 27, 2015 | Image Credit & Copyright: LI Hang
    Explanation: It has been one of the better skies of this long night. In parts of Antarctica, not only is it winter, but the Sun can spend weeks below the horizon. At China's Zhongshan Station, people sometimes venture out into the cold to photograph a spectacular night sky. The featured image from one such outing was taken in mid-July, just before the end of this polar night. Pointing up, the wide angle lens captured not only the ground at the bottom, but at the top as well. In the foreground is a colleague also taking pictures. In the distance, a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Sombrero Galaxy from Hubble

    07/26/2015 8:36:07 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | July 26, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why does the Sombrero Galaxy look like a hat? Reasons include the Sombrero's unusually large and extended central bulge of stars, and dark prominent dust lanes that appear in a disk that we see nearly edge-on. Billions of old stars cause the diffuse glow of the extended central bulge. Close inspection of the bulge in the above photograph shows many points of light that are actually globular clusters. M104's spectacular dust rings harbor many younger and brighter stars, and show intricate details astronomers don't yet fully understand. The very center of the Sombrero glows across the electromagnetic spectrum, and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Trifid

    07/25/2015 1:58:13 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | July 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Trifid Nebula, also known as Messier 20, is easy to find with a small telescope, a well known stop in the nebula rich constellation Sagittarius. But where visible light pictures show the nebula divided into three parts by dark, obscuring dust lanes, this penetrating infrared image reveals filaments of glowing dust clouds and newborn stars. The spectacular false-color view is courtesy of the Spitzer Space Telescope. Astronomers have used the Spitzer infrared image data to count newborn and embryonic stars which otherwise can lie hidden in the natal dust and gas clouds of this intriguing stellar nursery. As...
  • Global Mosaic of Pluto in True Color (highest resolution full-face photo released to date)

    07/25/2015 9:33:45 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 35 replies
    NASA ^ | 7/24/15
    Four images from New Horizons’ Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were combined with color data from the Ralph instrument to create this sharper global view of Pluto. (The lower right edge of Pluto in this view currently lacks high-resolution color coverage.) The images, taken when the spacecraft was 280,000 miles (450,000 kilometers) away from Pluto, show features as small as 1.4 miles (2.2 kilometers). That’s twice the resolution of the single-image view captured on July 13 and revealed at the approximate time of New Horizons’ July 14 closest approach. Image Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI
  • Stunning Nightside Image Reveals Pluto’s Hazy Skies

    07/24/2015 12:41:41 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | 7/24/15
    July 24, 2015 Stunning Nightside Image Reveals Pluto’s Hazy Skies Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across. The image, delivered to Earth on July 23, is displayed with north at the top of the frame. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI Speeding away from Pluto...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Ultraviolet Rings of M31

    07/24/2015 5:01:17 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | July 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mere 2.5 million light-years away the Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, really is just next door as large galaxies go. So close and spanning some 260,000 light-years, it took 11 different image fields from the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) satellite's telescope to produce this gorgeous portrait of the spiral galaxy in ultraviolet light. While its spiral arms stand out in visible light images of Andromeda, the arms look more like rings in the GALEX ultraviolet view, a view dominated by the energetic light from hot, young, massive stars. As sites of intense star formation, the rings have...
  • Testing shows using microwaves to propel a craft into space might work

    07/23/2015 12:10:47 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 28 replies
    =============================================================================================== A team of researchers at Colorado based Escape Dynamics is reporting that initial tests indicate that it might really be possible to launch space-planes into space using microwaves sent from the ground, to allow for a single stage spacecraft. If the idea pans out, the cost savings for sending satellites (or perhaps humans) into orbit could be considerable. Today's rockets are all based on the same idea, a multi-stage rocket is used, each part filled with propellant that pushes the rocket into space as the propellant is burned. It is a really expensive way to go because the propellant...
  • Astronomers Spot a Intriguing ‘5-Star’ Multiple System

    07/23/2015 10:54:10 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 12 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 23, 2015 | David Dickinson
    An interesting multiple star discovery turned up in the ongoing hunt for exoplanetary systems. The discovery was announced by Marcus Lohr of Open University early this month at the National Astronomy Meeting that was held at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Wales. The discovery involves as many as five stars in a single stellar system, orbiting in a complex configuration. The name of the system, 1SWASP J093010.78+533859.5, is a phone number-style designation related to the SuperWASP exoplanet hunting transit survey involved with the discovery. The lengthy numerical designation denotes the system’s position in the sky in right ascension and declination in...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS, Moon, and Venus

    07/23/2015 3:41:01 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | July 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the object to the left of the big tree that's generating much recent excitement. If you look closely, there you can see Comet PanSTARRS, complete with two tails. During July, this comet has increased markedly in brightness and has just passed its closest approach to Earth. The statuesque tree in the center is a Norfolk Island Pine, and to either side of this tree are New Zealand Pohutukaw trees. Over the trees, far in the distance, are bright Venus and an even brighter crescent Moon. If you look even more closely, you can find Jupiter hidden in...
  • Gravity Simulator

    07/23/2015 12:57:13 AM PDT · by LibWhacker · 12 replies
    Click here
  • Scientist warns world to 'think twice before replying to alien signals from outer space'

    07/22/2015 8:36:50 PM PDT · by garjog · 145 replies
    Press Reader ^ | Thursday 23 July 2015 | VICTORIA RICHARDS
    Professor Matthew Bailes said 'the history of weak civilisations contacting more advanced civilisations is not a happy one' "... he warned that making contact with aliens capable of transmitting powerful signals to Earth over tens of thousands of light years could lead humanity into disaster, because they're likely to be so much more advanced."
  • Pluto’s Moons Nix and Hydra Get Real / New Pluto Mountain Range Discovered

    07/22/2015 11:38:16 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 13 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 21, 2015 | Bob King
    Nix looks like a strawberry-flavored jelly bean, but that reddish region with its vaguely bulls-eye shape hints at a possible crater on this 26 miles (42 km) long by 22 miles (36 km) wide moon. Hydra, which measures 34 x 25 miles (55 x 40 km), displays two large craters, one tilted to face the Sun (top) and the other almost fully in shadow. Differences in brightness across Hydra suggest differences in surface composition. Now we’ve seen three of Pluto’ family of five satellites. Expect images of Pluto’s most recently discovered moons, Styx and Kerberos, to be transmitted to Earth...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Gamma-ray Rain from 3C 279

    07/22/2015 4:28:31 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: If gamma-rays were raindrops a flare from a supermassive black hole might look like this. Not so gently falling on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope from June 14 to June 16 the gamma-ray photons, with energies up to 50 billion electron volts, originated in active galaxy 3C 279 some 5 billion light-years away. Each gamma-ray "drop" is an expanding circle in the timelapse visualization, the color and maximum size determined by the gamma-ray's measured energy. Starting with a background drizzle, the sudden downpour that then trails off is the intense, high energy flare. The creative and calming presentation of...
  • Mysterious 'Haze' Seen Above Ceres' Weird Bright Spots

    07/21/2015 7:27:36 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 32 replies
    discovery.com ^ | Jul 21, 2015 06:13 PM ET // by | Ian O'Neill
    “At noontime, if you look at a glancing angle, you can see what seems to be haze,” said Christopher Russell, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dawn principal investigator. “It comes back in a regular pattern.” According to Russell, who was speaking at a NASA exploration meeting at the Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the haze covers about half of the crater and reaches as far as the rim. So far, scientists have theorized that the bright spots could be concentrations of minerals or salts. Or they might be icy deposits; potentially evidence...
  • New Horizons Finds Second Mountain Range in Pluto’s ‘Heart’

    07/21/2015 7:05:27 PM PDT · by cripplecreek · 11 replies
    Pluto’s icy mountains have company. NASA’s New Horizons mission has discovered a new, apparently less lofty mountain range on the lower-left edge of Pluto’s best known feature, the bright, heart-shaped region named Tombaugh Regio (Tombaugh Region). These newly-discovered frozen peaks are estimated to be one-half mile to one mile (1-1.5 kilometers) high, about the same height as the United States’ Appalachian Mountains. The Norgay Montes (Norgay Mountains) discovered by New Horizons on July 15 more closely approximate the height of the taller Rocky Mountains. The new range is just west of the region within Pluto’s heart called Sputnik Planum...
  • Moonspotting-A Guide to Observing the Moons of the Solar System

    07/21/2015 1:12:25 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | David Dickenson
    Sure, you’ve seen the Jovian moons do their dance, and Titan is old friend for many a star party patron as they check out the rings of Saturn… but have you ever spotted Triton or Amalthea? ... One of the key challenges in spotting many of the fainter moons is the fact that they lie so close inside the glare of their respective host planet. For example, +11th magnitude Phobos wouldn’t be all that tough on its own, were it not for the fact that it always lies close to dazzling Mars. 10 magnitudes equals a 10,000-fold change in brightness,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Tails and Star Trails

    07/21/2015 9:22:38 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | July 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: After grazing the western horizon on northern summer evenings Comet PanSTARRS (also known as C/2014 Q1) climbed higher in southern winter skies. A visitor to the inner Solar System discovered in August 2014 by the prolific panSTARRS survey, the comet was captured here on July 17. Comet and colorful tails were imaged from Home Observatory in Mackay, Queensland, Australia. The field of view spans just over 1 degree. Sweeping quickly across a the sky this comet PanSTARRS was closest to planet Earth about 2 days later. Still, the faint stars of the constellation Cancer left short trails in the...
  • Stephen Hawking announces $100 million hunt for alien life

    07/20/2015 5:36:42 PM PDT · by 2ndDivisionVet · 50 replies
    The Washington Post's Speaking of Science ^ | July 20, 2015 | Rachel Feltman
    On Monday, famed physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian tycoon Yuri Milner held a news conference in London to announce their new project: injecting $100 million and a whole lot of brain power into the search for intelligent extraterrestrial life, an endeavor they're calling Breakthrough Listen. "We believe that life arose spontaneously on Earth," Hawking said at Monday's news conference, "So in an infinite universe, there must be other occurrences of life." Geoffrey Marcy, a University of California, Berkeley, astronomer who found most of our first exoplanets, also spoke at the event as part of the group's brain trust....
  • A $100 Million Infusion for SETI Research (two parts: Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough MESSAGE)

    07/20/2015 5:02:44 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 13 replies
    Centauri Dreams ^ | 7/20/15 | Paul Gilster
    A $100 Million Infusion for SETI Researchby Paul Gilster on July 20, 2015 SETI received a much needed boost this morning as Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, along with physicist Stephen Hawking and a panel including Frank Drake, Ann Druyan, Martin Rees and Geoff Marcy announced a $100 million pair of initiatives to reinvigorate the search. The first of these, Breakthrough Listen, dramatically upgrades existing search methods, while Breakthrough Message will fund an international competition to create the kind of messages we might one day send to other stars, although the intention is also to provoke the necessary discussion and debate...
  • Search for extraterrestrial intelligence gets a $100-million boost

    07/20/2015 3:24:26 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 23 replies
    Nature ^ | 7/20/15 | Zeeya Merali
    Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announces most comprehensive hunt for alien life.You could say that the silence has been deafening. Since its beginnings more than half a century ago, the dedicated search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has failed to detect the presence of alien civilizations. But at London’s Royal Society today (20 July), Russian billionaire Yuri Milner announced a shot in the arm for SETI: a US$100-million decadal project to provide the most comprehensive hunt for alien communications so far. The initiative, called Breakthrough Listen, will see radio telescopes at Green Bank in West Virginia, the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet PanSTARRS and a Crescent Moon

    07/20/2015 7:06:04 AM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | July 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A comet has brightened quickly and unexpectedly. Discovered last year, Comet C/2014 Q1 (PanSTARRS) is expected to be visible now for a few days to the unaided eye, just after sunset, from some locations. The comet rounded the Sun on July 6 and apparently has shed quite a bit of gas and dust. Today it is now as close as it will ever get to the Earth, which is another factor in its recent great apparent brightness and the large angular extent of its tails. In the featured image taken two days ago, Comet PanSTARRS is seen sporting a...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The First Rocket Launch from Cape Canaveral

    07/19/2015 12:59:44 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | July 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A new chapter in space flight began this week in 1950 July with the launch of the first rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida: the Bumper V-2. Shown above, the Bumper V-2 was an ambitious two-stage rocket program that topped a V-2 missile base with a WAC Corporal rocket. The upper stage was able to reach then-record altitudes of almost 400 kilometers, higher than even Space Shuttles once flew. Launched under the direction of the General Electric Company, the Bumper V-2 was used primarily for testing rocket systems and for research on the upper atmosphere. Bumper V-2 rockets carried small...
  • New Horizons data suggests mountains of nitrogen ice on Pluto have evaporated

    07/18/2015 10:20:19 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 35 replies
    Baltimore Sun ^ | 7/17/15 | Scott Dance
    The latest data downloaded from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft suggests that mountains of nitrogen ice thousands of feet high have evaporated into Pluto's atmosphere since the dwarf planet formed 4.5 billion years ago, and hundreds of tons of that gas escape into space each hour. New images of Pluto meanwhile show land forms that suggest heat is rising beneath the surface, with troughs of dark matter either collecting or bubbling up between flat segments of crust. Scientists discussed the findings Friday in their second major release of data collected when the $700 million New Horizons mission made a historic pass...
  • Pluto is alive—but where is the heat coming from? [Planet looks relatively young]

    07/18/2015 6:47:31 PM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 34 replies
    Science ^ | 07/18/2015 | Eric Hand
    Towering mountains of water ice rise up to 3500 meters tall on Pluto, above smooth plains covered in veneers of nitrogen and methane ice, NASA’s New Horizons team announced today. The discovery, along with the finding that parts of the dwarf planet’s surface are crater-free and therefore relatively young, points to a place that has been geologically reworked in the recent past. “It could even be active today,” said John Spencer, a New Horizons team member at Southwest Research Institute (SWRI) in Boulder, Colorado, at a press conference today at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Fly Over Pluto

    07/18/2015 2:44:26 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 35 replies
    NASA ^ | July 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It took 9.5 years to get this close, but you can now take a virtual flight over Pluto in this animation of image data from the New Horizons spacecraft. The Plutonian terrain unfolding 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) below is identified as Norgay Montes, followed by Sputnik Planum. The icy mountains, informally named for one of the first two Mount Everest climbers Tenzing Norgay, reach up to 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) above the surface. The frozen, young, craterless plains are informally named for the Earth's first artificial satellite. Sputnik Planum is north of Norgay Montes, within Pluto's expansive, bright, heart-shaped...
  • Squirrel 1, Dogs 0

    07/18/2015 1:32:35 PM PDT · by blueunicorn6 · 37 replies
    Four Furry Fools | 7/18/2015 | blueunicorn6
    We have an apple tree in our back yard. It was here when we bought the house. I like trees as much as the next person, but, having been around this apple tree for several years, I can tell you that I would never plant one in my yard. They produce apples and apples have been the enemy of man since the serpent tempted eve with an apple. Apples wouldn't be so bad if they just stayed in the trees. Unfortunately, they drop like the stocks my Uncle Gene tells me to buy. Apples are also a favorite food of...
  • Let the Pluto conspiracy theories begin! Internet erupts with claims that New Horizons visit is...

    07/18/2015 11:45:22 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 49 replies
    dailymail.co.uk ^ | Richard Gray
    Whenever mankind achieves something extraordinary that pushes the boundaries of what is possible, there are some naysayers who refuse to believe it has happened. It turns out there are some out there who think that Nasa has faked the stunning images of Pluto and its moons sent back by the New Horizons space craft this week. Rather than marvelling at the extraordinary detail they have revealed of mountains of ice, craters and canyons on Pluto’s surface, they instead insist it is all an elaborate lie. One individual, who calls himself Crrow ...used images from his own telescope in his back...
  • Here's what would happen to you if you encountered a small black hole

    07/18/2015 1:39:54 AM PDT · by Swordmaker · 46 replies
    C-Net ^ | July 16, 2015 12:26 PM PDT | by Anthony Domanico
    Video—What if there was a black hole in your pocket? Could you survive being close to a black hole the size of a nickel? Seriously though, how grisly would your death be and what would such a phenomena mean for the future of the Earth? A new video from the folks at Kurz Gesagt posted July 16 tries to answer those questions with some helpful animations. The video explores a few different assumptions, as the impact of the black hole would depend on whether its size was based on the mass or width of a nickel. Either way, if a...
  • Youthful Frozen Plains Cover Pluto’s Big ‘Heart’ – Spectacular New Images from New Horizons

    07/17/2015 2:00:57 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 48 replies
    universetoady.com ^ | on July 17, 2015 | Ken Kremer
    A vast, craterless plain of Plutonian ice no more than 100 million years old and centered amidst Pluto’s big ‘heart’ was unveiled in spectacular new imagery taken by NASA’s resounding successful New Horizons mission, during its history making rapid transit through the Pluto-Charon binary planet system barely three days ago, on Tuesday, July 14. The jaw dropping new imagery was publicly released today, July 17, by NASA and scientists leading the New Horizons mission during a media briefing, and has already resulted in ground breaking new scientific discoveries at the last planet in our solar system to be visited by...
  • Asteroid worth £3 TRILLION in precious metals set to pass Earth on Sunday

    07/17/2015 1:58:36 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 60 replies
    www.dailymail.co.uk ^ | Updated: 11:50 EST, 17 July 2015 | By Jack Millner
    An asteroid worth a potential £3.5 trillion ($5.4 trillion) is due to pass by Earth on Sunday, and you can watch it live from 11pm UK time (6.30pm ET). Asteroid 2011 UW-158's fly-by will be streamed live on the internet from an observatory in the Canary Islands. The space rock has attracted the attention of asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, because it is thought to have a 100 million ton core of platinum that the company might one day want to exploit. Asteroid 2011 UW-158 will pass within 1.5 million miles (2.4 million km) from Earth on Sunday - 30...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Charon

    07/16/2015 9:30:06 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 24 replies
    NASA ^ | July 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Icy world Charon is 1,200 kilometers across. That makes Pluto's largest moon only about 1/10th the size of planet Earth but a whopping 1/2 the diameter of Pluto itself. Charon is seen in unprecedented detail in this image from New Horizons. The image was captured late July 13 during the spacecraft's flight through the Plutonian system from a range of less than 500,000 kilometers. For reference, the distance separating Earth and Moon is less than 400,000 kilometers. Charonian terrain, described as surprising, youthful, and varied, includes a 1,000 kilometer swath of cliffs and troughs stretching below center, a 7...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 50 Miles on Pluto

    07/16/2015 1:20:07 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | July 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A 50 mile (80 kilometer) trip across Pluto would cover the distance indicated by the scale bar in this startling image. The close-up of the icy world's rugged equatorial terrain was captured when the New Horizons spacecraft was about 47,800 miles (77,000 kilometers) from the surface, 1.5 hours before its closest approach. Rising to an estimated 11,000 feet (3,500 meters) the mountains are likely composed of water ice. Suggesting surprising geological activity, they are also likely young with an estimated age of 100 million years or so based on the apparent absence of craters. The region pictured is near...
  • Three-tailed Comet Q1 PanSTARRS Lights Up Southern Skies

    07/16/2015 1:10:38 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universe today ^ | July 16, 2015 | Bob King
    Call it the comet that squeaked by most northern skywatchers. Comet C/2014 Q1 PanSTARRS barely made an appearance at dawn in mid-June when it crept a few degrees above the northeastern horizon at dawn. Only a few determined comet watchers spotted the creature. Two weeks later in early July it slipped into the evening and brightened to magnitude +4. But decreasing elongation from the Sun and bright twilight made it virtually impossible to see. Now it’s returned — with three tails! After taunting northerners, it’s finally come out of hiding, climbing into the western sky during evening twilight for observers...
  • New Horizons Makes Major Discoveries: Young Ice Mountains on Pluto and Crispy Young Chasms on Charon

    07/15/2015 5:14:29 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 24 replies
    univesetoday ^ | July 15, 2015 | Ken Kremer
    Scientists leading NASA’s historic New Horizons mission to the Pluto system announced the first of what is certain to be a tidal wave of new discoveries, including the totally unexpected finding of young ice mountains at Pluto and crispy clear views of young fractures on its largest moon Charon, at a NASA media briefing today (July 15) at the Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland. A treasure trove of long awaited data has begun streaming back to Mission Control at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory to the mouth watering delight of researchers and NASA. With the first ever...
  • Jupiter twin discovered around solar twin

    07/15/2015 1:51:26 PM PDT · by Red Badger · 8 replies
    Phys. Org ^ | 07-15-15 | Provided by: ESO
    Artist's impression showing a newly discovered Jupiter twin gas giant orbiting the solar twin star, HIP 11915. The planet is of a very similar mass to Jupiter and orbits at the same distance from its star as Jupiter does from the Sun. This, together with HIP 11915's Sun-like composition, hints at the possibility of the system of planets orbiting HIP 11915 bearing a resemblance to our own Solar System, with smaller rocky planets orbiting closer to the host star. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser ============================================================================================ Astronomers have used the ESO 3.6-metre telescope to identify a planet just like Jupiter orbiting at the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Pluto Resolved

    07/14/2015 10:44:26 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    NASA ^ | July 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: New Horizons has survived its close encounter with Pluto and has resumed sending back images and data. The robotic spacecraft reported back on time, with all systems working, and with the expected volume of data stored. Featured here is the highest resolution image of Pluto taken before closest approach, an image that really brings Pluto into a satisfying focus. At first glance, Pluto is reddish and has several craters. Toward the image bottom is a surprisingly featureless light-covered region that resembles an iconic heart, and mountainous terrain appears on the lower right. This image, however, is only the beginning....
  • Pluto and New Horizons for Musical Scientists

    07/14/2015 3:53:00 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 2 replies
    Click HERE for YouTube video. Warning: There are a few mild curse words in the video.
  • Pluto – Just Look at the Detail!

    07/14/2015 12:30:15 PM PDT · by BenLurkin · 63 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 14, 2015 | Bob King
    At 7:49 a.m. EDT today New Horizons made history when it zoomed within 7,800 miles of Pluto, the most remote object ever visited in the Solar System. Pluto has a very complex surface. The fact that large areas show few craters – as compared to say, Ceres or Vesta – shows that there have relatively recent changes there. Maybe very recent. Alan Stern, principal investigator for the mission, was asked by a report at this morning’s press conference if it snows on Pluto. His answer: “It sure looks like it.”
  • Researchers identify zebra-like stripes of plasma in a patch of space

    07/14/2015 10:12:34 AM PDT · by Red Badger · 29 replies
    PHYS.ORG ^ | 07-14-2015 | by Jennifer Chu & Provided by: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    European Space Agency Cluster II satellites observe equatorial noise waves inside the Earth's magnetosphere. Credit: ESA/Yuri Shprits ********************************************************************************************************************************************************** Since the early 1970s, orbiting satellites have picked up on noise-like plasma waves very close to the Earth's magnetic field equator. This "equatorial noise," as it was then named, seemed to be an unruly mess of electric and magnetic fields oscillating at different frequencies in the form of plasma waves. Now a team from MIT, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Sheffield, and elsewhere has detected a remarkably orderly pattern amid the noise. In a region of space...
  • MARS: It’s time to decide when to declare a planet lifeless

    07/13/2015 1:43:10 PM PDT · by SeekAndFind · 34 replies
    New Scientist ^ | 07/13/2015
    WHEN can we declare the Red Planet a dead planet? Although most efforts so far have gone toward showing that other planets could support life, now is the time to think about the other side of the coin. Spacecraft going to other worlds must follow costly planetary protection protocols, such as sterilisation, to avoid contaminating their destination with Earth microbes, putting any native life at risk, or bringing potentially dangerous alien ones back. But if there’s nothing there, why bother? We haven’t found life on Mars yet, and if further missions also turn up nothing, at some point commercial space...
  • How Big Is Pluto? New Horizons Settles Decades-Long Debate (Tomorrow's the big day!)

    07/13/2015 12:09:50 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | 7/13/15
    July 13, 2015 How Big Is Pluto? New Horizons Settles Decades-Long Debate A portrait from the final approach. Pluto and Charon display striking color and brightness contrast in this composite image from July 11, showing high-resolution black-and-white LORRI images colorized with Ralph data collected from the last rotation of Pluto. Color data being returned by the spacecraft now will update these images, bringing color contrast into sharper focus. Credits: NASA-JHUAPL-SWRI Pluto’s bright, mysterious “heart” is rotating into view, ready for its close-up on close approach, in this image taken by New Horizons on July 12 from a distance of...
  • Charon Up Close Reveals Colossal Chasms and Craters: 1 Day and 1 Million Miles Out from Pluto Flyby

    07/13/2015 8:04:56 AM PDT · by BenLurkin · 11 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on July 12, 2015 | Ken Kremer on July 12, 2015
    Indeed the largest of Charon’s chasms stretches farther than Earth’s Grand Canyon. And it’s taken New Horizons over nine years speeding through space – since launching back in 2006 as the fastest spacecraft departing Earth – to get close enough to see these wonders for the first time. “The most pronounced chasm, which lies in the southern hemisphere, is longer and miles deeper than Earth’s Grand Canyon,” says William McKinnon, deputy lead scientist with New Horizon’s Geology and Geophysics investigation team, in a NASA statement. To put that into perspective, consider this; Charon is only about 750 miles (1200 kilometers)...
  • Pluto by Moonlight

    07/12/2015 11:04:06 PM PDT · by LibWhacker · 7 replies
    July 11, 2015Pluto by Moonlight In this artist’s rendering, Pluto’s largest moon Charon rises over the frozen surface of Pluto, casting a faint silvery luminescence across the distant planetary landscape. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute It’s Antarctic winter on Pluto. The sun has not been visible for twenty years in this frigid south polar region; it will not shine again for another 80 years. The only source of natural light is starlight and moonlight from Pluto’s largest moon, Charon. On July 14, New Horizons mission scientists will soon obtain the first images of the night region...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Last Look at Pluto's Charon Side

    07/12/2015 10:15:14 PM PDT · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | July 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Pluto surface is strange. As the robotic New Horizons barrels toward its closest approach to Pluto and its moons tomorrow, images already coming back show Pluto's surface to be curiouser and curiouser. The featured image, taken two days ago, shows the side of Pluto that always faces Pluto's largest moon Charon. Particularly noteworthy is the dark belt near the bottom that circles Pluto's equator. It is currently unclear whether regions in this dark belt are mountainous or flat, why boundaries are so sharply defined, and why the light regions seem to be nearly evenly spaced. As New Horizons will...