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".


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

 Sky survey yields new cosmic haul 

SQ372 might come from the inner edge of the Oort Cloud

Astronomers looking through the data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the world's largest survey of galaxies, have found a new haul of objects closer to home - including one with a potentially exotic origin.

By searching through a survey region known as Stripe 82, a team led by Dr Andrew Becker of the University of Washington, has discovered almost 50 new asteroid-sized bodies in the outer regions of our Solar System.

As part of a search for supernovae - exploding stars in distant galaxies - the robotic Sloan telescope in New Mexico revisited this area of the southern sky every three days.

By comparing images taken on different nights, the Washington team was able to detect the asteroids as they moved across the sky.
It's probably a mixture of ice and rock, rather like a comet
Dr Andrew Becker, University of Washington

As team member Dr Lynne Jones pointed out: "If you can find things that explode, you can also find things that move, but you need different tools to look for them."

While most of the newly discovered objects are normal members of the Kuiper belt, a large band of icy bodies stretching beyond the orbit of Neptune, there were also surprises.

The team discovered two Neptunian Trojans, asteroids which share the same orbit as the outermost giant planet.

"Jupiter has plenty of trojans," Dr Becker told me, "and we knew that Neptune must have a similar population of objects. Surprisingly, not many had been found before this survey."

The team's prize find is an object given the temporary designation of 2006 SQ372. This icy body is currently roughly two billion miles away, just closer to the Sun than Neptune, but is beginning a journey that will take it out to a distance of 150 billion miles from the Earth.

Posted @ 9:22 AM by kinzi


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

 Solar System's newest member points to inner Oort Cloud 

An ice-rock minor planet 30 to 60 miles in diameter, discovered two years ago between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune (each being a mean distance of 2.72 and 4.35 billion kilometres from Earth respectively) could be a member of the ‘inner Oort Cloud’. But this is only part of the story as the object, dubbed 2006 SQ372, is currently at perihelion (the point where it’s closest to the Sun) on a highly elliptical orbit that will see it sail right out to nearly 1,600 astronomical units (an astronomical unit, or AU, being the distance between the Earth and Sun — 149,598,000 kilometres). That is 40 times the distance out to Pluto, or 239 billion kilometres. It will return in 22,500 years.

2006 SQ372, first discovered by a team from the University of Washington using Sloan Digital Sky Survey data (SDSS), is comparable to Sedna — another minor planet that has a highly elliptical orbit. Sedna’s eccentricity is 0.855 and its perihelion and aphelion positions are 76 and 975 AU respectively. The orbit of 2006 SQ372 has an eccentricity of 0.976 and its perihelion and aphelion distances are 24 and 2,010 AU. The ellipse of 2006 SQ372 is four times longer than it is wide and crosses the orbits of Pluto and Neptune. For comparison, Earth’s orbital eccentricity is 0.0167 and its perihelion and aphelion distances 0.983 and 1.017 AU respectively.

More Story...at http://astronomynow.com/080818NewObjectPointsToInnerOortCloud.html

Posted @ 1:34 PM by kinzi


Saturday, August 02, 2008

 Phoenix confirms water as mission gets extended 

Laboratory tests aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander have identified water in a soil sample. The lander's robotic arm delivered the sample Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by the heating of samples. scoop."We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."

With enticing results so far and the spacecraft in good shape, NASA also announced operational funding for the mission will extend through Sept. 30. The original prime mission of three months ends in late August. The mission extension adds five weeks to the 90 days of the prime mission.

"Phoenix is healthy and the projections for solar power look good, so we want to take full advantage of having this resource in one of the most interesting locations on Mars," said Michael Meyer, chief scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The soil sample came from a trench approximately 2 inches deep. When the robotic arm first reached that depth, it hit a hard layer of frozen soil. Two attempts to deliver samples of icy soil on days when fresh material was exposed were foiled when the samples became stuck inside the scoop. Most of the material in Wednesday's sample had been exposed to the air for two days, letting some of the water in the sample vaporize away and making the soil easier to handle.

"Mars is giving us some surprises," said Phoenix principal investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona. "We're excited because surprises are where discoveries come from. One surprise is how the soil is behaving. The ice-rich layers stick to the scoop when poised in the sun above the deck, different from what we expected from all the Mars simulation testing we've done. That has presented challenges for delivering samples, but we're finding ways to work with it and we're gathering lots of information to help us understand this soil."

Since landing on May 25, Phoenix has been studying soil with a chemistry lab, TEGA, a microscope, a conductivity probe and cameras. Besides confirming the 2002 finding from orbit of water ice near the surface and deciphering the newly observed stickiness, the science team is trying to determine whether the water ice ever thaws enough to be available for biology and if carbon-containing chemicals and other raw materials for life are present.

Source: Spaceflightnow

Posted @ 3:07 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


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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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