02 - Full Moon
at 19:14 UT
05 - Taurid
(south) meteor shower peaks. Active
between 25 Sept and 25 Nov.
Associated with Comet 2P/Encke.
09 - Moon near
Mars (morning sky) at 14h UT. Mag. +0.3.
12 -Taurid (north) meteor
shower peaks. May produce the occasional
17 -Leonid meteor shower
peaks at 9h UT. Arises from debris ejected
Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1533. Expect about 25
to 30 meteors per hour under
dark skies. Predictions of enhanced activity
between 21-22h UT on 17 Nov
(favours sky watchers in Asia).
21 -Alpha Monocerotid meteor
shower peaks at 15:25 UT. A usually minor
shower active 15-25 Nov. Radiant is near Procyon.
Predictions of enhanced
activity this year. Timing favours Far East
Asia, Australia and across the
Pacific to Alaska.
00 0 0
0 0 0//
Get the complete calendar version
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
This blog has moved
This blog is now located at http://theastronote.blogspot.com/. You will be automatically redirected in 30 seconds, or you may click here.
For feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to http://theastronote.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default.
Blushing Pluto? Dwarf planet takes on a ruddier hue: NASA
Pluto, the dwarf planet on the outer edge of our solar system, has a dramatically ruddier hue than it did just a few years ago, NASA scientists said Thursday, after examining photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
They said the distant orb appears mottled and molasses-colored in recent pictures, with a markedly redder tone that most likely is the result of surface ice melting on Pluto's sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole.
The remarkable color shift, which apparently took place between 2000 and 2002, confirms that Pluto is a dynamic world undergoing dramatic atmospheric changes and not simply a ball of ice and rock, according to scientists at the US space agency.
The Hubble Space Telescope has captured the earliest image yet of the universe - just 600 million years after the Big Bang, when the universe was just a toddler.
Scientists released the photo Tuesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society. It's the most complete picture of the early universe so far, showing galaxies with stars that are already hundreds of millions of years old, along with the unmistakable primordial signs of the first cluster of stars.
These young galaxies haven't yet formed their familiar spiral or elliptical shapes and are much smaller and quite blue in color. That's mostly because at this stage, they don't contain many heavy metals, said Garth Illingworth, a University of California, Santa Cruz, astronomy professor who was among those releasing the photo.
Nasa's Kepler Space Telescope has detected its first five exoplanets, or planets beyond our Solar System. The observatory, which was launched last year to find other Earths, made the discoveries in its first few weeks of science operations.
Although the new worlds are all bigger than our Neptune, the US space agency says the haul shows the telescope is working well and is very sensitive. The exoplanets have been given the names Kepler 4b, 5b, 6b, 7b and 8b.
They were announced at an American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington DC. The planets range in size from an object that has a radius four times that of Earth, to worlds much bigger than even our Jupiter. And they all circle very close to their parent stars, following orbits that range from about 3.2 to 4.9 days.
This proximity and the fact that the host stars are themselves much hotter than our Sun means Kepler's new exoplanets experience an intense roasting.
A camera on the probe shows the ejecta plume about 20 seconds after impact
Nasa's experiment last month to find water on the Moon was a major success, US scientists have announced. The space agency smashed a rocket and a probe into a large crater at the lunar south pole, hoping to kick up ice. Scientists who have studied the data now say instruments trained on the impact plume saw copious quantities of water-ice and water vapour. One researcher described this as the equivalent of "a dozen two-gallon buckets" of water. The near-infrared spectrometer on the LCROSS probe that followed the rocket into the crater detected water-ice and water vapour. The ultraviolet-visible spectrometer provided additional confirmation by identifying the hydroxyl (OH) molecule, which arises when water is broken apart in sunlight.
An exoplanet with an extremely tilted orbit raises interest
Two teams of astronomers have found a planet outside the solar system that might be orbiting backwards compared to its star’s rotation, a discovery that could shed light on how unique the relatively perfect alignment of our solar system is compared to that of other planetary systems.
By measuring the rotation of the parent star of HAT-P-7b, a planet discovered in 2008, the two teams, including one led by MIT assistant professor of physics Joshua Winn and the other by Norio Narita at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, found that the orbit is tilted by at least 86 degrees with respect to the star’s equator. The drastic misalignment of the exoplanet, or planet outside our solar system, suggests that it is either rotating over both poles of its star or actually rotating backwards, a phenomenon that does not occur in our solar system and that could help explain why life thrives here.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope captured this infrared image of a giant halo of very fine dust around the young star HR 8799.
Before our planets found their way to the stable orbits they circle in today, they wiggled and jostled about like unsettled children. Now, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found a young star with evidence for the same kind of orbital hyperactivity. Young planets circling the star are thought to be disturbing smaller comet-like bodies, causing them to collide and kick up a huge halo of dust.
The star, called HR 8799, was in the news last November 2008, for being one of the first of two stars with imaged planets. Ground-based telescopes at the W.M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory, both in Hawaii, took images of three planets orbiting in the far reaches of the system, all three being roughly 10 times the mass of Jupiter. Another imaged planet was also announced at the same time around the star Fomalhaut, as seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Both HR 8799 and Fomalhaut are younger and more massive than our sun.
Frost-Covered Phoenix Lander Seen in Winter Images
Winter images of NASA's Phoenix Lander showing the lander shrouded in dry-ice frost on Mars have been captured with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The HiRISE camera team at the University of Arizona, Tucson, captured one image of the Phoenix lander on July 30, 2009, and the other on Aug. 22, 2009. That's when the sun began peeking over the horizon of the northern polar plains during winter, the imaging team said. The first day of spring in the northern hemisphere began Oct. 26.
A NASA spacecraft has spotted what appears to be changing seasons on Mercury and found much more iron on the surface of the small, rocky planet than previously thought.
The MESSENGER probe made the observations during its third flyby of Mercury on Sept. 29, when it took a host of measurements and images of the innermost planet's surface and atmosphere. Only about half of the planned measurements were made because of a data glitch that affected the spacecraft during the flyby.
The $446 million probe's third flyby brought it within 142 miles (228 km) of Mercury's surface to cover more uncharted terrain, leaving 98 percent of the planet now mapped. The flyby was also a gravity assist meant to guide the spacecraft into orbit around the planet in 2011. Full story...
Stellar blast from 13.1 billions light year detected
The redness of the afterglow is indicative of the event's distance
Astronomers have confirmed that an exploding star spotted by Nasa's Swift satellite is the most distant cosmic object to be detected by telescopes. In the journal Nature, two teams of astronomers report their observations of a gamma-ray burst from a star that died 13.1 billion light-years away.
The massive star died about 630 million years after the Big Bang. UK astronomer Nial Tanvir described the observation as "a step back in cosmic time". Professor Tanvir led an international team studying the afterglow of the explosion, using the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope (UKIRT) in Hawaii.
The event, dubbed GRB 090423, is an example of one of the most violent explosions in the Universe. It is thought to have been associated with the cataclysmic death of a massive star - triggered by the centre of the star collapsing to form a "stellar-sized" black hole.
Oort cloud, is a postulated spherical cloud
of comets situated about 50,000 to 100,000 AU from
the Sun. This is approximately 1000 times the distance
from the Sun to Pluto or roughly one light year, almost
a quarter of the distance from the Sun to Proxima
Centauri, the star nearest the Sun. The Oort cloud
would have its inner disk at the ecliptic from the
Kuiper belt. Although no direct observations have
been made of such a cloud, it is believed to be the
source of most or all comets entering the inner solar
system (some short-period comets may come from the
Kuiper belt), based on observations of the orbits
of comets. Source: Wikipedia