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//
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Thursday, March 16, 2006
What a Strange Looking Nebula
An unprecedented double helix nebula was spotted by NASA's Infrared Spitzer Telescope. It lies in the center of our galaxy, and is located about 300 light years from gigantic black hole of the galactic center. Earth lies 25,000 away from it. The nebula spans 80 light years. The shape of nebula is different from most known nebula in cosmic realm. The structure looks like a DNA molecule, two intertwining strands wrapped around each other as seen in the picture below.
A "Super Earth" that weighs 13 times as much as our planet was discovered by an international collaboration of astronomers. The new planet is orbiting a red dwarf from a cold outer region of the system. The Neptune-sized planet has a frigid surface temperature measuring at -330 degrees Fahrenheit, it's one of the coldest planets ever discovered outside our solar system. The distant system lies 9,000 light years away and found by observing a phenomenon called gravitational lensing. It is when a massive object such as a star crosses in front of another distant star. The object's strong gravity bends the light rays from the more distant star and magnifies them like a lens. Here on Earth, we see the magnified star get brighter as the lens star crosses in front of it, and then fade as the lens gets farther away.
As pointed by Andrew Gould, leader of the MicroFUN collaboration and professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, the finding of the new icy planet outside our solar system has suggested that these icy super-Earths are pretty common and are three times more common than Jupiter-sized planets.
The Mars Recconaissance Orbiter (MRO) successfully enters Mars orbit in elliptical path, ending the tension among mission team for dealing with the MRO's critical phase. The Mars probe is now undertaking orbit adjustment called "aerobraking" to put itself in a circular orbit and reaches the targeted altitude that ranging from 320 kilometers (199 miles) to 255 kilometers (158 miles), which is lower than any other Mars probes currently orbitting the red planet. This process takes for 6 months. The probe's scientific study on Mars will commence in November 2006.
Launched in August 2005, MRO traveled about 500 million kms (310 million miles) to reach Mars. The spacecraft carries six scientific instruments that will study Mars's surface and atmosphere in unprecedented detail.
I've just received a newsletter from NASA/JPL and here's the shocking news. The Saturn's moon of Enceladus could have reservoirs of liquid water! That means there could be a potential living organism lurking on the icy moon (and this is my hasty conclusion). Data from Cassini spacecraft that orbitting the ringed planet have indicated the evidence of icy jets and towering plumes ejecting large quantities of particles at high speed. The possibility is that the jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.
Scientists have long been baffled by the presence of oxygen atoms in the Saturnian system, now that oddity is explained by this finding. Enceladus is spewing out water molecules, which break down into oxygen and hydrogen. I think that this is another supporting evidence for the existance of liquid water on the moon. With this finding, Enceladus surely becomes one the most exciting places in solar system, waiting for the next big scrutiny and another NASA's prime mission targets after Europa, Titan and Triton.
Comet Pojmanski Gives Stargazers a Surprising Visit
Comet Pojmanski, catalouged as C/2006 A1, is today grabbing skywatchers' attention since its discovery in early January this year. Detected for the first time in the deep Southern sky at the constellation Indus, it is steadily heading to the Northern sky. Folks in the mid Northern latitude will be able to dispatch the comet using binocular. It will brighten at the maximun magnitude of 5 as it approaches the Sun. The shining moment is at its best during the last days of February and the first week of March in the dawn morning sky. The comet will be passing closest to Earth on March 5, when it be 71.7 million miles (115.4 million kilometers) away. After March 5, the comet will be receding from both the Sun and Earth and rapidly fade as it heads back out into space, beyond the limits of the outer solar system.
Comet Pojmanski was discoverd on January 2 by Grzegorz Pojmanski at the Warsaw University Astronomical Observatory on a photograph that was taken on New Year's Day from the Las Campanas Observatory in La Serena, Chile, as part of the All Sky Automated Survey (ASAS).
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