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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • Congress acts to protect space industry from regulation

    02/04/2012 7:15:55 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 4 replies · 1+ views
    Bakersfield Californian ^ | Thursday, Feb 02 2012 04:54 PM | STEVEN MAYER staff writer
    The emerging commercial space industry is proving to be an important economic engine in eastern Kern County -- and beyond. But some have worried that the industry's "learning period" could be stalled if a moratorium on federal regulations is allowed to expire at the end of this year. Now it appears that won't happen. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, the House majority whip, was able to insert a provision in the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that will extend the moratorium nearly four more years to Oct. 1, 2015. The House is expected to vote on it Friday, a McCarthy spokeswoman...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Garradd and M92

    02/04/2012 6:35:20 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | February 04, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sweeping slowly through the constellation Hercules, Comet Garradd (C2009/P1) passed with about 0.5 degrees of globular star cluster M92 on February 3. Captured here in its latest Messier moment, the steady performer remains just below naked-eye visibility with a central coma comparable in brightness to the dense, well-known star cluster. The rich telescopic view from New Mexico's, early morning skies, also features Garradd's broad fan shaped dust tail and a much narrower ion tail that extends up and beyond the right edge of the frame. Pushed out by the pressure of sunlight, the dust tail tends to trail the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Inside the Eagle Nebula

    02/04/2012 5:56:20 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | February 03, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: In 1995, a now famous picture from the Hubble Space Telescope featured Pillars of Creation, star forming columns of cold gas and dust light-years long inside M16, the Eagle Nebula. This remarkable false-color composite image revisits the nearby stellar nursery with image data from the orbiting Herschel Space Observatory and XMM-Newton telescopes. Herschel's far infrared detectors record the emission from the region's cold dust directly, including the famous pillars and other structures near the center of the scene. Toward the other extreme of the electromagnetic spectrum, XMM-Newton's X-ray vision reveals the massive, hot stars of the nebula's embedded star...
  • Is Space Digital?

    02/03/2012 5:46:10 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 7 replies · 1+ views
    Scientific American ^ | 1/17/12 | Michael Moyer
    An experiment going up outside of Chicago will attempt to measure the intimate connections among information, matter and spacetime. If it works, it could rewrite the rules for 21st-century physicsCraig Hogan believes that the world is fuzzy. This is not a metaphor. Hogan, a physicist at the University of Chicago and director of the Fermilab Particle Astrophysics Center near Batavia, Ill., thinks that if we were to peer down at the tiniest subdivisions of space and time, we would find a universe filled with an intrinsic jitter, the busy hum of static. This hum comes not from particles bouncing...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- La Silla Star Trails North and South

    02/02/2012 6:00:24 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | February 02, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Fix your camera to a tripod and you can record graceful trails traced by the stars as planet Earth rotates on its axis. If the tripod is set up at ESO's La Silla Observatory, high in the Atacama desert of Chile, your star trails would look something like this. Spanning about 4 hours on the night of January 24, the image is actually a composite of 250 consecutive 1-minute exposures, looking toward the north. The North Celestial Pole, at the center of the star trail arcs, is just below the horizon in this southern hemisphere perspective. In the foreground,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Red Aurora Over Australia

    02/01/2012 8:24:04 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | February 01, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Why would the sky glow red? Aurora. Last week's solar storms, emanating mostly from active sunspot region 1402, showered particles on the Earth that excited oxygen atoms high in the Earth's atmosphere. As the excited element's electrons fell back to their ground state, they emitted a red glow. Were oxygen atoms lower in Earth's atmosphere excited, the glow would be predominantly green. Pictured above, this high red aurora is visible just above the horizon last week near Flinders, Victoria, Australia. The sky that night, however, also glowed with more familiar but more distant objects, including the central disk of...
  • Briggs schools the “Bad Astronomer” on statistics ( RE: “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” )

    02/01/2012 6:19:45 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 17 replies
    watts up with that? ^ | ebruary 1, 2012 | Anthony Watts
    That letter signed by 16 scientists saying there’s “No Need to Panic About Global Warming” to the Wall Street Journal has caused a great disturbance in the farce. At last count there were no less than  19 blog rebuttals plus one new WSJ op ed piece trying to convince the alliance that all is well. It didn’t work. But, they know the AGW Alliance Death Star has been compromised before its mission can be completed, the Rebellion has seen the plans and the Alliance knows it is only a matter of time before “the consensus” blows apart. Reports are that “Michael...
  • Scottish man launches meteorite-aged wine

    02/01/2012 12:51:42 PM PST · by DeoVindiceSicSemperTyrannis · 6 replies
    Telegraph ^ | 2-1-12
    Wine lovers looking to expand their palates by light-years have to look no further than this small Chilean vineyard where a British astronomer and winemaker has combined his two passions to create the first wine infused with celestial elements. Mr Hutcheon whose vineyard in San Vicente, 140 90 miles south of Santiago, has produced a Cabernet infused with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite. He first selects the grapes from his vineyard and then ferments the fruit for 25 days before beginning the year-long Malolactic fermentation process in a wine barrel containing the 7.6 centimetre (three-inch) meteorite. After 12 months, the meteorite-infused...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Helix Nebula from the VISTA Telescope

    01/31/2012 7:06:50 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 31, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Will our Sun look like this one day? The Helix Nebula is one of brightest and closest examples of a planetary nebula, a gas cloud created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The outer gasses of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. The Helix Nebula, given a technical designation of NGC 7293, lies about 700 light-years away towards...
  • Kepler telescope team finds 11 new solar systems

    01/31/2012 4:03:29 PM PST · by DeoVindiceSicSemperTyrannis · 5 replies
    CAPE CANAVERAL - NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope has found 11 new planetary systems, including one with five planets all orbiting closer to their parent star than Mercury circles the Sun, scientists said on Thursday. The discoveries boost the list of confirmed extra-solar planets to 729, including 60 credited to the Kepler team. The telescope, launched in space in March 2009, can detect slight but regular dips in the amount of light coming from stars. Scientists can then determine if the changes are caused by orbiting planets passing by, relative to Kepler's view. Kepler scientists have another 2,300 candidate planets...
  • NASA Probe Discovers 'Alien' Matter From Beyond Our Solar System (4 types of alien atoms)

    01/31/2012 2:13:25 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 24 replies
    SPACE.com ^ | 1/31/12 | Denise Chow
    NASA / GSFC: Using the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), NASA has sampled the galactic wind that has traveled from outside our solar system. Four types of atoms were found to be different from what we have in our Solar System.
  • 5 of the biggest unsolved mysteries in physics

    01/31/2012 2:06:57 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 69 replies · 1+ views
    Yahoo ^ | 1/31/12 | Tecca - Today in Tech
    The mysteries of the universe are as vast and wide as existence itself. Throughout history, mankind has searched and struggled to find the answers tucked away inside the universe and everything we see around us. .. True, we have yet to come up with the answers to life, the universe, and everything — but oh do we have questions! Solving these mysteries may help to explain not only the creation of the universe, but also how it works, why it works, and possibly how it will end. 1. The Higgs boson The Higgs boson is a hypothetical particle whose accompanying...
  • Major x class solar flare

    01/30/2012 1:37:50 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 5 replies
    watts up with that? ^ | January 27, 2012 | Anthony Watts
    Blogging from my phoneCheck WUWT Solar Reference PageUpdated: It was an X1.7 class eruption,  it does not appear to be headed towards Earth. JTF
  • Giant Veil of “Cold Plasma” Discovered High Above Earth

    01/30/2012 1:20:59 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 22 replies
    watts up with that? ^ | January 27, 2012 | justthefactswuwt
    From National Geographic:Clouds of charged particles stretch a quarter the way to the moon, experts say.Clouds of “cold plasma” reach from the top of Earth’s atmosphere to at least a quarter the distance to the moon, according to new data from a cluster of European satellites.Earth generates cold plasma—slow-moving charged particles—at the edge of space, where sunlight strips electrons from gas atoms, leaving only their positively charged cores, or nuclei.(Find out how cold plasma might also help explain why Mars is missing its atmosphere.)Researchers had suspected these hard-to-detect particles might influence incoming space weather, such as this week’s solar flare...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Blue Marble Earth from Suomi NPP

    01/30/2012 4:08:28 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 30, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Behold one of the more detailed images of the Earth yet created. This Blue Marble Earth montage shown above -- created from photographs taken by the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the new Suomi NPP satellite -- shows many stunning details of our home planet. The Suomi NPP satellite was launched last October and renamed last week after Verner Suomi, commonly deemed the father of satellite meteorology. The composite was created from the data collected during four orbits of the robotic satellite taken earlier this month and digitally projected onto the globe. Many features of North...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Blue Marble Earth from Suomi NPP

    01/30/2012 4:08:06 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | January 30, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Behold one of the more detailed images of the Earth yet created. This Blue Marble Earth montage shown above -- created from photographs taken by the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the new Suomi NPP satellite -- shows many stunning details of our home planet. The Suomi NPP satellite was launched last October and renamed last week after Verner Suomi, commonly deemed the father of satellite meteorology. The composite was created from the data collected during four orbits of the robotic satellite taken earlier this month and digitally projected onto the globe. Many features of North...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Molecular Cloud Barnard 68

    01/29/2012 9:56:22 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | January 29, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where did all the stars go? What used to be considered a hole in the sky is now known to astronomers as a dark molecular cloud. Here, a high concentration of dust and molecular gas absorb practically all the visible light emitted from background stars. The eerily dark surroundings help make the interiors of molecular clouds some of the coldest and most isolated places in the universe. One of the most notable of these dark absorption nebulae is a cloud toward the constellation Ophiuchus known as Barnard 68, pictured above. That no stars are visible in the center indicates...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Planet Aurora Borealis

    01/28/2012 8:49:34 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 28, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Illuminated by an eerie greenish light, this remarkable little planet is covered with ice and snow and ringed by tall pine trees. Of course, this little planet is actually planet Earth, and the surrounding stars are above the horizon near Östersund, Sweden. The pale greenish illumination is from a curtain of shimmering Aurora Borealis also known as the Northern Lights. The display was triggered when a giant solar coronal mass ejection (CME) rocked planet Earth's magnetosphere on January 24th and produced a strong geomagnetic storm. Northern hemisphere skygazers will also recognize the familiar orientation of stars at the left,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 3239 and SN 2012A

    01/28/2012 8:43:54 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | January 27, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: About 40,000 light-years across, pretty, irregular galaxy NGC 3239 lies near the center of this lovely field of galaxies in the galaxy rich constellation Leo. At a distance of only 25 million light-years it dominates the frame, sporting a peculiar arrangement of structures, young blue star clusters and star forming regions, suggesting that NGC 3239 (aka Arp 263) is the result of a galaxy merger. Appearing nearly on top of the pretty galaxy is a bright, spiky, foreground star, a nearby member of our own Milky Way galaxy almost directly along our line-of-sight to NGC 3239. Still, NGC 3239...
  • Apollo 1: The Fire That Shocked NASA

    01/28/2012 8:17:47 AM PST · by iowamark · 34 replies · 2+ views
    Scienific American ^ | January 27, 2012 | Amy Shira Teitel
    NASA’s Apollo program began with one of the worst disasters the organization has ever faced. A routine prelaunch test turned fatal when a fire ripped through the spacecraft’s crew cabin killing all three astronauts. Today marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, a tragic and preventable accident. There were warning signs, similar accidents that had claimed lives both in the United States and abroad. The Apollo 1 crew could have been saved from a gruesome death. Plugs Out The commander for Apollo 1 was Gus Grissom, one of the original Mercury astronauts whose first spaceflight was marred by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 4449: Star Stream for a Dwarf Galaxy

    01/26/2012 4:31:42 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 25, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A mere 12.5 million light-years from Earth, irregular dwarf galaxy NGC 4449 lies within the confines of Canes Venatici, the constellation of the Hunting Dogs. About the size of our Milky Way's satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, NGC 4449 is undergoing an intense episode of star formation, evidenced by its wealth of young blue star clusters, pinkish star forming regions, and obscuring dust clouds in this deep color portrait. It's also holds the distinction of being the first dwarf galaxy with an identified tidal star stream, faintly seen at the lower right. Placing your cursor over the image...
  • 'Starbursts' and black holes lead to biggest galaxies

    01/25/2012 2:08:21 PM PST · by NormsRevenge · 21 replies · 2+ views
    BBC News ^ | 1/25/12 | BBC
    Frenetic star-forming activity in the early Universe is linked to the most massive galaxies in today's cosmos, new research suggests. This "starbursting" activity when the Universe was just a few billion years old appears to have been clamped off by the growth of supermassive black holes. An international team gathered hints of the mysterious "dark matter" in early galaxies to confirm the link. The findings appear in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. ... Using the 12-metre Atacama Pathfinder Experiment telescope in Chile, an international team led by Ryan Hickox of Dartmouth College studied the way distant galaxies from...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Opportunity Rover Spots Greeley Haven on Mars

    01/25/2012 4:20:45 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 12 replies
    NASA ^ | January 25, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where on Mars should you spend the winter? As winter approached in the southern hemisphere of Mars last November, the Opportunity rover had just this problem -- it needed a place to go. The reduced amount of sunlight impacting Opportunity's solar panels combined with the extra power needed to keep equipment warm could drain Opportunity's batteries. Therefore Opportunity was instructed to climb onto the 15 degree incline of Greeley's Haven, shown as the rocky slope ahead. The incline increased power input as Opportunity's solar panels now have greater exposure to sunlight, while also giving the rolling robot some interesting...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- January Aurora Over Norway

    01/24/2012 6:45:23 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 24, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's that in the sky? An aurora. A large coronal mass ejection occurred on our Sun five days ago, throwing a cloud of fast moving electrons, protons, and ions toward the Earth. Although most of this cloud passed above the Earth, some of it impacted our Earth's magnetosphere and resulted in spectacular auroras being seen at high northern latitudes. Pictured above is a particularly photogenic auroral corona captured last night above Grotfjord, Norway. To some, this shimmering green glow of recombining atmospheric oxygen might appear as a large eagle, but feel free to share what it looks like to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Deep Orion Over the Canary Islands

    01/24/2012 6:38:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 23, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Which attracts your eye more -- the sky or the ground? On the ground are rocky peaks in Teide National Park on Tenerife Island of the Spanish Canary Islands off the northwestern coast of Africa. The volcanic landscape features old island summits and is sometimes used as a testbed for instruments on future Martian rovers. The lights of a nearby hotel shine on the far left. Storm clouds are visible on the horizon, artificially strutted from multiple exposures. Dividing the sky, across the middle of the above deep image, is the vertical band of the Milky Way Galaxy. The...
  • Huge Solar Eruption Sparks Strongest Radiation Storm in 7 Years

    01/23/2012 1:46:00 PM PST · by LucianOfSamasota · 32 replies · 1+ views
    Space.com ^ | 23 January 2012 | SPACE.com Staff
    A powerful solar eruption is expected to blast a stream of charged particles toward Earth tomorrow (Jan. 24), as the strongest radiation storm since 2005 rages on the sun. Early this morning (0359 GMT Jan. 23, which corresponds to late Sunday, Jan. 22 at 10:59 p.m. EST), NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught an extreme ultraviolet flash from a huge eruption on the sun , according to the skywatching website Spaceweather.com. The solar flare spewed from sunspot 1402, a region of the sun that has become increasingly active lately. Several NASA satellites, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory...
  • Solar Weather ( Possible Minor Geomagnetic Storm) 1-22-12

    01/22/2012 10:19:59 PM PST · by smokingfrog · 6 replies
    youtube | 22 Jan 2012 | J7409
    Solar Weather for January 22, 2012 with a possible minor geomagnetic storm.
  • Life spotted on Venus: Russian scientist

    01/22/2012 3:47:21 PM PST · by garjog · 64 replies
    Times of India ^ | Jan 21, 2012 | staff
    MOSCOW: Several objects resembling living beings were detected on photographs taken by a Russian landing probe in 1982 during a Venus mission, says an article published in the Solar System Research magazine. Leonid Ksanfomaliti of the Space Research Institute of Russia's Academy of Sciences published a research that analysed the photographs from the Venus mission made by a Soviet landing probe, Venus-13, in 1982. The photographs feature several objects, which Ksanfomaliti said, resembled a "disk", a "black flap" and a "scorpion".
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn's Hexagon Comes to Light

    01/21/2012 11:50:53 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 30 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | January 22, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Believe it or not, this is the North Pole of Saturn. It is unclear how an unusual hexagonal cloud system that surrounds Saturn's north pole was created, keeps its shape, or how long it will last. Originally discovered during the Voyager flybys of Saturn in the 1980s, nobody has ever seen anything like it elsewhere in the Solar System. Although its infrared glow was visible previously to the Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn, in 2009 the mysterious hexagonal vortex became fully illuminated by sunlight for the first time during the Cassini's visit. Since then, Cassini has imaged the rotating...
  • Weird World! 'Oozing' Alien Planet Is a Super-Earth Wonder [ 55 Cancri e ]

    01/21/2012 5:43:56 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 29 replies
    SPACE.com ^ | Friday, January 20, 2012 | SPACE.com Staff
    A new look at an alien planet that orbits extremely close to its parent star suggests that the rocky world might not be a scorching hot wasteland, as was thought. In fact, the planet may actually be stranger and wetter than astronomers ever imagined. The exotic planet 55 Cancri e is a relatively close alien planet, just 40 light-years away from Earth in the constellation Cancer (The Crab). The super-dense world circles so close to its host star that it takes a mere 18 hours to complete one orbital lap. Using our solar system for comparison, 55 Cancri e is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Days in the Sun

    01/21/2012 4:11:45 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies
    NASA ^ | January 21, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: From solstice to solstice, this six month long exposure compresses time from the 21st of June till the 21st of December, 2011, into a single point of view. Dubbed a solargraph, the unconventional picture was recorded with a pinhole camera made from a drink can lined with a piece of photographic paper. Fixed to a single spot for the entire exposure, the simple camera continuously records the Sun's path each day as a glowing trail burned into the photosensitive paper. In this case, the spot was chosen to look out over the domes and radio telescope of the University...
  • SDSU Astronomers Discover Planets That Orbit Two Suns

    01/21/2012 3:25:21 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies · 1+ views
    KPBS ^ | Friday, January 13, 2012 | Susan Murphy
    Three studies released Wednesday, in the journal Nature and at the American Astronomical Society's conference in Austin, Texas, demonstrate an extrasolar real estate boom. San Diego State University astronomers, along with a team of scientists, have discovered two more planetary systems with two suns. Before, it was believed planets could only orbit a single sun, because a double sun, also known as a double star, would make the system too chaotic... The two new planets, Kepler-34 b and Kepler-35 b, are gaseous Saturn-size planets. Kepler-34 b orbits its two sun-like stars every 289 days, and the stars themselves orbit and...
  • Kepler Mission Finds Three Smallest ExoPlanets

    01/21/2012 3:05:44 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    Astrobio.net ^ | January 2012 | NASA/JPL press release
    Astronomers using data from NASA's Kepler mission have discovered the three smallest planets yet detected orbiting a star beyond our sun. The planets orbit a single star, called KOI-961, and are 0.78, 0.73 and 0.57 times the radius of Earth. The smallest is about the size of Mars. All three planets are thought to be rocky like Earth but orbit close to their star, making them too hot to be in the habitable zone, which is the region where liquid water could exist. Of the more than 700 planets confirmed to orbit other stars, called exoplanets, only a handful are...
  • Goldilocks moons

    01/21/2012 2:16:19 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 21 replies
    PHYSorg ^ | Mike Simonsen, Universe Today
    The habitable zone (HZ) around a star is defined as the range of distances over which liquid water could exist on the surface of a terrestrial planet, given a dense enough atmosphere. Terrestrial planets are generally defined as rocky and similar to Earth in size and mass. A visualization of the habitable zones around stars of different diameters and brightness and temperature is shown here. The red region is too hot, the blue region is too cold, but the green region is just right for liquid water. Because it can be described this way, the HZ is also referred to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Wolf's Moon

    01/20/2012 3:39:49 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | January 20, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: A Full Moon rising can be a dramatic celestial sight, and Full Moons can have many names. Captured on January 8 from Ötersund, Sweden, this evocative moonrise portrait might make you feel the cold of winter in the north. If you can also imagine wolves howling in the distance then you probably understand why Native Americans would have called it the Wolf Moon, their traditional name for the first Full Moon in January. The photographer reports that no wolves were heard though, as he watched this beautiful Full Moon rise in fading light over the eastern horizon, echoing the...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Hunter's Stars

    01/19/2012 5:16:02 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 17 replies
    NASA ^ | January 19, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Begirt with many a blazing star, Orion, the Hunter, is one of the most easily recognizable constellations. In this night skyscape from January 15, the hunter's stars rise in the northern hemisphere's winter sky, framed by bare trees and bounded below by terrestrial lights around Lough Eske (Lake of Fish) in County Donegal, Ireland. Red giant star Betelgeuse is striking in yellowish hues at Orion's shoulder above and left of center. Rivaling the bright red giant, Rigel, a blue supergiant star holds the opposing position near Orion's foot. Of course, the sword of Orion hangs from the hunter's three...
  • NASA debunks mysterious triangular 'UFO'

    01/19/2012 3:43:13 PM PST · by ColdOne · 34 replies · 1+ views
    FoxNews.com ^ | 1/19/12 | Life's Little Mysteries
    Once again, alien conspiracy theorists have attempted to use publicly available NASA images to prove that the space agency must be engaging in an elaborate UFO cover-up. And, once again, they've been foiled by the laws of physics. This time, they called attention to peculiar new footage captured by a telescope onboard NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft — one of a pair of probes parked on either side of the sun which, together, provide a 360-degree view of the inner solar system. The footage shows Venus, Earth and, on the opposite side of the field-of-view, a mysterious triangular object headed our way.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cygnus-X: The Inner Workings of a Nearby Star Factory

    01/18/2012 4:19:10 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 18, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: How do stars form? To help study this complex issue, astronomers took a deep infrared image of Cygnus X, the largest known star forming region in the entire Milky Way Galaxy. The above recently-released image was taken in 2009 by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope and digitally translated into colors humans can see, with the hottest regions colored the most blue. Visible are large bubbles of hot gas inflated by the winds of massive stars soon after they form. Current models posit that these expanding bubbles sweep up gas and sometimes even collide, frequently creating regions dense enough to...
  • ISU [Iowa State] prof's aim: Avert asteroid hit

    01/17/2012 6:56:40 PM PST · by iowamark · 11 replies · 1+ views
    Jan. 17, 2012 | JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD
    Gannett newspaper, link only: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/article/20120117/NEWS/301170042/0/mobile/?odyssey=nav|head
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- IC 2118: The Witch Head Nebula

    01/16/2012 9:18:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 37 replies
    NASA ^ | January 17, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn, and cauldron bubble -- maybe Macbeth should have consulted the Witch Head Nebula. This suggestively shaped reflection nebula is associated with the bright star Rigel in the constellation Orion. More formally known as IC 2118, the Witch Head Nebula glows primarily by light reflected from bright star Rigel, located just below the lower edge of the above image. Fine dust in the nebula reflects the light. The blue color is caused not only by Rigel's blue color but because the dust grains reflect blue light more efficiently than red. The same physical...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Zodiacal Light and the False Dawn

    01/16/2012 10:37:38 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 16, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Is it dawn or false dawn? During certain times of the year, the horizon near the rising Sun will begin to glow unusually early. This early glow does not originate directly from the Sun, but rather from sunlight reflected by interplanetary dust. Called zodiacal light, the glowing triangle of light may be mistaken, for a while, for a sunrise, and so may be called a false dawn. Pictured above, two false dawns were recorded in time lapse movies each spanning about five hours from the perch of the highest observatory in the world: Mount Saraswati near Hanle, India. At...
  • I learned something interesting about the moon and the earth + climate(vanity)

    01/16/2012 1:51:34 AM PST · by Ancient Drive · 47 replies · 1+ views
    I was watching this program about the moon and the important role it plays on stabilizing earth. One of the things it does is keep it from wobbling all over the place. It keeps the earth fairly balanced, but every now and then the planet tilts 5 degrees up or down causing massive climatic changes. The last tilt turned what we now know as the Sahara desert from a lush green forest with rivers into the pile of sand it is today. So I'm thinking ok.. we have these tilts every now and then let's not forget solar flares +...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Portrait of the Large Magellanic Cloud

    01/15/2012 3:50:08 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | January 15, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic dust clouds ripple across this infrared portrait of our Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud. In fact, the remarkable composite image from the Herschel Space Observatory and the Spitzer Space Telescope show that dust clouds fill this neighboring dwarf galaxy, much like dust along the plane of the Milky Way itself. The dust temperatures tend to trace star forming activity. Spitzer data in blue hues indicate warm dust heated by young stars. Herschel's instruments contributed the image data shown in red and green, revealing dust emission from cooler and intermediate regions where star formation is just...
  • Hubble snaps photo of 13 billion year old galaxy — oldest on record

    01/14/2012 8:25:47 AM PST · by Red Badger · 53 replies
    http://www.thestatecolumn.com ^ | 01-14-2012 | Staff
    NASA Hubble Space Telescope has captured an image of the oldest galaxy on record, the space administration announced Tuesday. The space administration said it has captured an image of a group of galaxies located 13.1 billion light years away. The team said the galaxies represent a cluster in the initial stages of development. “These galaxies formed during the earliest stages of galaxy assembly, when galaxies had just started to cluster together,” said Michele Trenti of the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. “The result confirms our theoretical understanding...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- NGC 6369: The Little Ghost Nebula

    01/13/2012 9:23:04 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | January 14, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: This pretty planetary nebula, cataloged as NGC 6369, was discovered by 18th century astronomer William Herschel as he used a telescope to explore the medicinal constellation Ophiucus. Round and planet-shaped, the nebula is also relatively faint and has acquired the popular moniker of Little Ghost Nebula. Planetary nebulae in general are not at all related to planets, but instead are created at the end of a sun-like star's life as its outer layers expand into space while the star's core shrinks to become a white dwarf. The transformed white dwarf star, seen near the center, radiates strongly at ultraviolet...
  • World awaits crash of failed Russian Mars probe [Sunday or Monday]

    01/13/2012 6:55:58 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 32 replies · 1+ views
    msnbc ^ | 1/13/2012 12:33:38 PM ET 2012-01-13T17:33:38 | Leonard David
    A coordinated global campaign is monitoring a wayward Russian Mars probe that's slated to crash to Earth in the next few days, the European Space Agency has announced. The doomed Phobos-Grunt spacecraft, which Russian officials estimate will re-enter Earth's atmosphere between Saturday and Monday, is now officially a target for the 12-member Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee, or IADC for short. "An IADC re-entry prediction campaign is ongoing since Jan. 2. Phobos-Grunt was identified to be no high-risk object," said Heiner Klinkrad, head of the space debris office at the European Space Agency's (ESA) European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Saturn's Iapetus: Painted Moon

    01/13/2012 5:55:13 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 18 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | January 13, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What has happened to Saturn's moon Iapetus? Vast sections of this strange world are dark as coal, while others are as bright as ice. The composition of the dark material is unknown, but infrared spectra indicate that it possibly contains some dark form of carbon. Iapetus also has an unusual equatorial ridge that makes it appear like a walnut. To help better understand this seemingly painted moon, NASA directed the robotic Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn to swoop within 2,000 kilometers in 2007. Pictured above, from about 75,000 kilometers out, Cassini's trajectory allowed unprecedented imaging of the hemisphere of Iapetus...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Case of the Missing Supernova Companion

    01/11/2012 9:39:24 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 12, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Where's the other star? At the center of this supernova remnant should be the companion star to the star that blew up. Identifying this star is important for understanding just how Type Ia supernova detonate, which in turn could lead to a better understanding of why the brightness of such explosions are so predictable, which in turn is key to calibrating the entire nature of our universe. The trouble is that even a careful inspection of the center of SNR 0509-67.5 has not found any star at all. This indicates that the companion is intrinsically very faint -- much...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Little Planet Lovejoy

    01/10/2012 9:47:55 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | January 11, 2012 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Once a bright apparition in the southern hemisphere dawn Comet Lovejoy is fading, but its long tail still stretches across skies near the south celestial pole. Captured on the morning of December 30th, the comet appears near edge of this little planet as well. Of course, the little planet is actually planet Earth and the image was created from a 12 frame mosaic used to construct a spherical panorama. The type of stereographic projection used to map the image pixels is centered directly below the camera and is known as the little planet projection. Stars surrounding this little planet...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Vesta Rocks

    01/10/2012 6:13:14 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies · 1+ views
    NASA ^ | December 10, 2011 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: These colorful images are of thin slices of meteorites viewed through a polarizing microscope. Part of the group classified as HED (Howardite, Eucrite, Diogenite) meteorites for their mineral content, they likely fell to Earth from 4 Vesta, the mainbelt asteroid currently being explored by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. Why are they thought to be from Vesta? Because the HED meteorites have visible and infrared spectra that match the spectrum of that small world. The hypothesis of their origin on Vesta is also consistent with data from Dawn's ongoing observations. Excavated by impacts, the diogenites shown here would have originated deep...