Night Sky Calendar - Northern Hemisphere
November 2009
Celestial Object

02 - Full Moon at 19:14 UT
05 - Taurid (south) meteor shower peaks. Active between 25 Sept and 25 Nov.
000 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 bright fireball.
17 - Leonid meteor shower peaks at 9h UT. Arises from debris ejected by
000 Comet Tempel-Tuttle in 1533. Expect about 25 to 30 meteors per hour under
000 dark skies. Predictions of enhanced activity between 21-22h UT on 17 Nov
000 (favours sky watchers in Asia).
21 - Alpha Monocerotid meteor shower peaks at 15:25 UT. A usually minor
000 shower active 15-25 Nov. Radiant is near Procyon. Predictions of enhanced
000 activity this year. Timing favours Far East Asia, Australia and across the
000 Pacific to Alaska.
00 0 0 0 0 0// Get the complete calendar version at skymaps.com
7 -

The photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and shows a detail of the nebula. This close-up shows a dense cloud of dust and gas, a stellar nursery full of embryonic stars. This cloud is about 8 light-years away from the nebula's central star, not shown in this picture. Located in Sagitarius, the nebula's name means "divided into three lobes".


Wednesday, June 29, 2005

 Cassini Probe Spies Lake-Like Feature on Titan 

You might have thought Saturn's moon Titan was a somewhat dead issue after the Cassini spacecraft did not find convincing evidence for methane seas that scientists had predicted would exist. But the smoggy moon is back in the news today as a new Cassini image reveals a dark feature that scientists speculate might be a lake. The feature is "remarkably lake-like," according to a NASA statement that noted the appearance of smooth, shore-like boundaries unlike any seen previously on Titan.

The feature lies in Titan's cloudiest region, which is presumably the most likely site of recent methane rainfall. This, coupled with the shore-like smoothness of the feature's perimeter makes it hard for scientists to resist speculation about what might be filling the lake, if it indeed is one.

Thirty-nine more Titan flybys are planned for Cassini's prime mission. In future flybys the science teams will search for opportunities to observe the lake feature again and to look for mirror-like reflections from smooth surfaces elsewhere on Titan. Such reflections would strongly support the presence of liquids.

Image Source: NASA/JPL

Posted @ 10:12 PM by kinzi


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

 Future NASA Projects 

Here are some of the projects NASA may undertake in the next 30 years:

- The James Webb Space Telescope, successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

- The Terrestrial Planet Finder would locate Earth-like planets around other stars that might harbor life.

- The Big Bang Observer would study the first micro-seconds of the universe, when a sudden burst of "inflation" started the expansion that continues today.

- The Interstellar Probe would study the gas and dust filling space between the stars.

- The Black Hole Finder Probe would study the creation and evolution of black holes, objects so dense that not even light can escape them.

- The Black Hole Imager would observe material as it falls into a black hole, never to reappear.

- JDEM (Joint Dark Energy Mission) would study the mysterious force that's driving the universe to expand.

- LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna): Three spacecraft separated by 3 million miles would catch "gravity waves," ripples in space left over from the big bang at the birth of the universe.

- Sun-Solar System Great Observatory: Multiple satellites stationed between the Earth and the sun would study our home star's effect on our planet.

- The JUNO spacecraft would orbit Jupiter and observe what goes on inside our largest planet.

- The Europa Lander would study the ice-covered moon of Jupiter for evidence of possible life.

- Titan Explorer would land on Saturn's biggest moon and see what it's made of.

- Venus Surface Explorer would study the makeup of Earth's nearest neighbor.

- The Mars Science Lab would conduct studies preparatory to a human landing.

- The Mars Sample Return would bring Martian soil and rocks back to Earth for scientific analysis.

Posted @ 10:21 AM by kinzi


Thursday, June 09, 2005

 Scientists Discover Possible Titan Volcano 

A recent flyby of Saturn's hazy moon Titan by the Cassini spacecraft has revealed evidence of a possible volcano, which could be a source of methane in Titan's atmosphere.

Images taken in infrared light show a circular feature roughly 30 kilometers (19 miles) in diameter that does not resemble any features seen on Saturn's other icy moons. Scientists interpret the feature as an "ice volcano," a dome formed by upwelling icy plumes that release methane into Titan's atmosphere. The findings appear in the June 9 issue of Nature.

Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is the only known moon to have a significant atmosphere, composed primarily of nitrogen, with 2 to 3 percent methane. One goal of the Cassini mission is to find an explanation for what is replenishing and maintaining this atmosphere. This dense atmosphere makes the surface very difficult to study with visible-light cameras, but infrared instruments like the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer can peer through the haze. Infrared images provide information about both the composition and the shape of the area studied.

The highest resolution image obtained by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer instrument covers an area 150 kilometers square (90 miles) that includes a bright circular feature about 30 kilometers (19 miles) in diameter, with two elongated wings extending westward. This structure resembles volcanoes on Earth and Venus, with overlapping layers of material from a series of flows.

In the center of the area, scientists clearly see a dark feature that resembles a caldera, a bowl-shaped structure formed above chambers of molten material. The material erupting from the volcano might be a methane-water ice mixture combined with other ices and hydrocarbons. Energy from an internal heat source may cause these materials to upwell and vaporize as they reach the surface. Future Titan flybys will help determine whether tidal forces can generate enough heat to drive the volcano, or whether some other energy source must be present. Black channels seen by the European Space Agency's Huygens probe, which piggybacked on Cassini and landed on Titan's surface in January 2005, could have been formed by erosion from liquid methane rains following the eruptions.

Scientists have considered other explanations. They say the feature cannot be a cloud because it does not appear to move and it is the wrong composition. Another alternative is that an accumulation of solid particles was transported by gas or liquid, similar to sand dunes on Earth. But the shape and wind patterns don't match those normally seen in sand dunes.

The data for these findings are from Cassini's first targeted flyby of Titan on Oct. 26, 2004, at a distance of 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from the moon's surface.

The visual and infrared mapping spectrometer instrument can detect 352 wavelengths of light from 0.35 to 5.1 micrometers. It measures the intensities of individual wavelengths and uses the data to infer the composition and other properties of the object that emitted the light; each chemical has a unique spectral signature that can be identified.

Forty-five flybys of Titan are planned during Cassini's four-year prime mission. The next one is Aug. 22, 2005. Radar data of the same sites observed by the visual and infrared mapping spectrometer may provide additional information.

News Release: 2005-096 - Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Posted @ 12:03 PM by kinzi



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    ryan kinzi
    Nightsky calendar (a brief version) by Skymaps & NASA's Space Calendar | Image of FCO - credit: NASA. Design & page layout © kinzi - 2009 | Contact me? xeno@(no-spam)cougars.com


    Trifid Nebula
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    The 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

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