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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Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Hubble's View of Colliding Galaxies
A new Hubble image of the Antennae galaxies is the sharpest yet of this merging pair of galaxies. As the two galaxies smash together, thousand of millions of stars are born, mostly in groups and clusters of stars. View the larger size here.
Confirmed by Hubble, Epsilon Eridani B is the Closest Exoplanet
The planet that detected in 2000 and orbiting a Sun-like star is confirmed to co-exist with debris disks around the parent star. The planet orbits its star, Epsilon Eridani, every 6.9 years and has 1.5 times the mass of Jupiter. The star is located 10.5 light years away, that makes this planet to be the closest extrasolar planet to us. Observation from Hubble indicated that this star is young, only 800 million years old that is why it still retains its debris disk.
Epsilon Eridani has long captivated the attention of science fiction writers, as well as astronomers. In 1960, years before the first extrasolar planet was detected, astronomer Frank Drake listened for radio transmissions from inhabitants of any possible planets around Epsilon Eridani as part of Project Ozma's search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. In the fictional "Star Trek" universe, Epsilon Eridani is considered by some fans to be the parent star for the planet Vulcan, Mr. Spock's home.
A Hubble Survey called the Sagittarius Window Eclipsing Extrasolar Planet Search (SWEEPS) yielded a finding of Jupiter-sized planets orbiting very close to their parent stars in the central region of our galaxy. The survey covers 180.000 stars. The astronomers used a planet transit technique for the planet findings. Among the those new exoplanets, one has the shortest orbital period, named SWEEPS-10, swings around its star in 10 hours. Located only 740,000 miles from its star, the planet is among the hottest ever detected. It has an estimated temperature of approximately 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hubble spotted dark cloud formation in Uranus atmosphere. Measuring 1,100 miles by 1,900 miles (1,700 kilometers by 3,000 kilometers), the dark cloud is located at a latitude of 27 degrees in Uranus's northern hemisphere, which is just now becoming fully exposed to sunlight after many years of being in shadow. The development of a dark spot may be a signal of the oncoming uranian northern spring, said researchers.
NASA's New Mars Camera Gives Dramatic View of Planet
Mars is ready for its close-up. The highest-resolution camera ever to orbit Mars is returning low-altitude images to Earth from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.Rocks and surface features as small as armchairs are revealed in the first image from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter since the spacecraft maneuvered into its final, low-altitude orbital path. The imaging of the red planet at this resolution heralds a new era in Mars exploration.
The image of a small fraction of Mars' biggest canyon reached Earth on Friday, the beginning of a week of tests for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment and other instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. "We are elated at the sharpness of the image, revealing such fine detail in the landscape," said Dr. Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson, who is the principal investigator for this camera. The target area includes the deepest part of Ius Chasma, one portion of the vast Valles Marineris canyon. Valles Marineris is the largest known canyon in the solar system, as long as the distance from California to New York.
The camera returned test images after Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter went into orbit around Mars on March 10, 2006, but those were from altitudes more than eight times as high as the orbiter is flying now. Since March, the spacecraft has shrunk its orbit by dipping more than 400 times into the top of the Martian atmosphere to shave velocity. It is now flying in its final, nearly circular orbit at altitudes of 250 to 316 kilometers (155 to 196 miles). The orbit will remain this shape and size for the mission's two-year primary science phase, which begins in November.
During its primary science phase, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter will return more data about the red planet than all previous missions combined, pouring data to Earth at about 10 times the rate of any earlier Mars spacecraft. Scientists will analyze the information to gain a better understanding of the distribution and history of Mars' water - whether ice, vapor or liquid - and of the processes that formed and modified the planet's surface. In addition to the high-resolution camera, the orbiter's science payload includes a mineral-identifying spectrometer, a ground-penetrating radar, a context camera for imaging wide swaths of the surface, a wide-angle color imager for monitoring the entire planet daily, and an instrument for mapping and monitoring water vapor and other constituents in the atmosphere.
For most of October, Mars will be passing nearly behind the sun from Earth's perspective. Communication will be intermittent. Activities will be minimal for Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and other spacecraft at Mars during this time, and they will resume in early November.
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