Bad Astronomy 11 Jun 2009, 14:17 UTC NASA completed a small step toward the transition of the Space Shuttle era to that of the Constellation rocket era: the handoff of launch pad 39B.While Atlantis was launched on pad 39A to service Hubble, Endeavour sat on 39B in case it was needed for a rescue mission. Endeavour was rolled to 39A on May 31, leaving behind 39B which will never be used to launch another Shuttle. Launch pads 39 A and B were originally built to launch Saturn 5 rockets to the Moon. They were then modified to be used by the Shuttle. 39B was first used for the ill-fated Challenger launch in 1986, and the last launch from that pad was in 2007. It will be modified for the Ares rockets being built now as part of Constellation. I know it’s just a launch pad, but it does signal the first notable sign of the beginning of the end for the Shuttle. This has special meaning for me, too. See that picture on the right, in the sidebar of the blog? It’s me in front of 39B. I was there in 2002 for a meeting, and we got to tour the complex. We got pretty close to ...
Centauri Dreams 11 Jun 2009, 14:12 UTC Gravitational microlensing has been actively employed in the search for MACHOs (Massive Astrophysical Compact Halo Objects) in the galactic halo, although with ambiguous results. The idea here is to find large, dark objects by detecting the microlensing effects they produce on stars behind them. While these dark matter studies have looked toward the Large Magellanic Cloud, we are using the same technique elsewhere in the planet hunt, finding that exoplanets can magnify the light of stars behind them in the galactic bulge, producing a clear detection.Remember, for this kind of work, you want a dense background field of stars because the alignment needed for microlensing is obviously rare. The Magellanics are ideal, as is the galactic bulge, and so, for that matter, is M31, the Andromeda galaxy.
Space Fellowship 11 Jun 2009, 09:19 UTC NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has been assembled and is undergoing final preparations for a planned Nov. 1 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The mission will survey the entire sky at infrared wavelengths, creating a cosmic clearinghouse of hundreds of millions of objects — everything from the most luminous galaxies, to the nearest stars, to dark and potentially hazardous asteroids. The survey will be the most detailed to date in infrared light, with a sensitivity hundreds of times better than that of its predecessor, the Infrared Astronomical Satellite.
Lunar Networks 11 Jun 2009, 06:46 UTC "The impact of Kaguya on the Moon was successfully observed with IRIS2 on the Anglo-Australian Telescope. A bright impact flash was seen close to the predicted time. The attached image shows four frames around the impact time with the bright flash in the second frame, and also faintly visible in the third and fourth. The observations used a 2.3 micron narrow band filter, and are part of a time series of 1 second exposures with 0.6 seconds dead time between each frame." Observers: Jeremy Bailey and Steve Lee
Space Disco : Discovery Space 10 Jun 2009, 23:01 UTC If there's one thing I've realized when writing articles about space, is that it is very easy to link a mysterious astronomical phenomena with doom. If not doom for Earth, certainly doom resulting in a huge explosion of some kind, destroying something, somewhere... Mystery = Doom
Universe Today 10 Jun 2009, 17:17 UTC Want to know about the atmospheres of planets around other stars, and the stars themselves?Start at home.A pair of papers in this week’s issue of Nature is advocating continued studies of both lunar eclipses, when the Moon transits Earth’s shadow, and solar eclipses — when the Moon comes directly between Earth and the sun.(...)Read the [...] Total Lunar Eclipse, 2004. Credit: Fred EspenakWant to know about the atmospheres of planets around other stars, and the stars themselves?Start at home.A pair of papers in this week’s issue of Nature is advocating continued studies of both lunar eclipses, when the Moon transits Earth’s shadow, and solar eclipses — when the Moon comes directly between Earth and the sun.(...)Read the rest of Lunar, Solar Eclipses Hold Secrets to Other Worlds (382 words) © anne for Universe Today, 2009. |Permalink |No comment |Add todel.icio.us Post tags: Feed enhanced by Better Feed from Ozh
Clear Skies on Demand 10 Jun 2009, 15:30 UTC NGC 6910, a small and compact open cluster in Cygnus. When observing this open cluster you see bright yellow stars, that are in fact B-stars. So they should appear white. What causes the yellowish appearance is explained in this article, where I got some great help from Professor James Kaler, author of some of the best books on stars, and Dr. Franz Gruber, who sent me a few magnificent deepsky images of the Cygnus area to illustrate the high degree of nebulosity in the Cygnus area. To read the full story, and have a look at the wonderful images of Dr. Franz Gruber, follow this link to StarObserver.eu Image by Dr. Franz Gruber
Space Fellowship 10 Jun 2009, 15:03 UTC Following the enthusiastic response to earlier competitions to name European astronaut missions, ESA’s Directorate of Human Spaceflight is once again giving European citizens the opportunity to be part of a space mission by suggesting a name for ESA astronaut Christer Fuglesang’s mission to the International Space Station. Fuglesang will join the 11-day STS-128 mission to the [...]
Skymania News 10 Jun 2009, 12:40 UTC One of the brightest stars in the sky is mysteriously shrinking, astronomers have discovered. Betelgeuse marks the armpit of Orion the hunter and is easy to spot twinkling in the night sky.Some astronomers believe the star is a ticking time-bomb on the verge of destroying itself in a massive explosion.It would become the most spectacular supernova ever seen, shining more brightly than the Moon for months on end and beating a cosmic blast in Cassiopeia in the 16th century.Betelgeuse is a red giant so big that it is five times the size of the Earth's orbit around the Sun and would stretch out as far as Jupiter.It is one of the few stars visible as a disk rather than a point of light with the Hubble space telescope. But its diameter has shrunk by more than 15 per cent since 1993.The change was spotted by astronomers monitoring Betelgeuse with a triple telescope called the Infrared Spatial Interferometer on Mt Wilson in California. However, they say the star's brightness over the same period has shown no significant dimming.Nobel prize winner Professor Charles Townes, 94, of the University of California Berkeley, said: "To see this change is very striking. We will be ...