Astro Bob 20 Jan 2018, 19:28 UTC Tonight, the crescent moon will look about a wide as an unclipped fingernail. You’ll spot it right away in the southwestern sky at dusk, high and bright. Just 2° (four moon diameters) to the moon’s upper right lurks another member of the solar system, the planet Neptune. The two are in conjunction tonight in the dim constellation Aquarius.
Universe Today 20 Jan 2018, 00:16 UTC Astronomers have been fascinated with globular clusters ever since they were first observed in 17th century. These spherical collections of stars are among the oldest known stellar systems in the Universe, dating back to the early Universe when galaxies were just beginning to grow and evolve. Such clusters orbit the centers of most galaxies, with over 150 known to belong to the Milky Way alone. One of these clusters is known as NGC 3201, a cluster located about 16,300 light years away in the southern constellation of Vela. Using the ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, a team of astronomers recently studied this cluster and noticed something very interesting. According to the study they released, this cluster appears to have a black hole embedded in it.
Air & Space Magazine 19 Jan 2018, 16:30 UTC Here on Earth, atmospheric methane is produced mostly by animals and plants, with the amount varying seasonally. Now measurements taken by the Curiosity rover indicate that methane concentrations on Mars also change with the season.
Sky and Telescope 19 Jan 2018, 15:45 UTC On January 16th around 8:10 p.m. EST, a brilliant, green fireball crackled across southern Michigan skies. Eyewitnesses described it as brighter than the full Moon with sparks and an orange tail. At least 77 observers reported hearing explosive sounds as the meteoroid broke apart overhead.
Starts With a Bang! 19 Jan 2018, 15:01 UTC A little over 80 years ago, humanity first began broadcasting radio and television signals with enough power that they should leave Earth’s atmosphere and progress deep into interstellar space. If someone living in a distant star system were keeping a vigilant eye out for these signals, they would not only be able to pick them up, but immediately identify them as created by an intelligent species. In 1960, Frank Drake first proposed searching for such signals from other star systems by using large radio dishes, giving rise to SETI: the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Yet over the past half-century, we’ve developed far more efficient ways to communicate across the globe than with broadcast radio and TV signals. Does searching for aliens in the electromagnetic spectrum even make sense anymore?
ESO Blog 19 Jan 2018, 11:00 UTC Even in the pristine conditions of ESO’s Paranal Observatory in the high, dry Chilean desert, turbulence in the Earth’s atmosphere can distort starlight and blur astronomical observations. Astronomers are able to peer past this distortion using advanced technology that has become more and more refined in recent years. We’ve asked Dr Julien Milli, Paranal’s Adaptive Optics Scientist, to tell us about how his work provides ESO telescopes with a truly spectacular view of the Universe.
Space Fellowship 19 Jan 2018, 06:17 UTC An alluring sight in southern skies, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is seen in this deep and detailed telescopic mosaic. Recorded with broadband and narrowband filters, the scene spans some 5 degrees or 10 full moons. The narrowband filters are designed to transmit only light emitted by hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Ionized by energetic starlight, the atoms emit their characteristic light as electrons are recaptured and the atoms transition to a lower energy state.
Sky and Telescope 19 Jan 2018, 03:30 UTC Despite their name, supermassive black holes are tiny relative to their galaxies. Still, they typically have masses of millions or billions times the mass of the Sun, guzzle any gas nearby, and pump out plasma, heat, and radiation at levels that effect the evolution of their hosts. We're still trying to understand how these black holes and their host galaxies evolve over cosmic time. Astronomers at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington D.C. presented some recent findings that will change our understanding of how supermassive black holes affect the galaxies they live in.