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
Monday, June 15, 2009
Hint of planet outside our galaxy
The first planet to be seen outside the Milky Way may lie in Andromeda
Astronomers believe they have seen hints of the first planet to be spotted outside of our galaxy. Situated in the Andromeda galaxy, the planet appears to be about six times the mass of Jupiter. The method hinges on gravitational lensing, whereby a nearer object can bend the light of a distant star when the two align with an observer.
Saturn's moon Pan casts a delicate shadow onto the planet's A ring.
Shown in the center of this image, Pan (28 kilometers, or 17 miles across) orbits within the Encke Gap of the A ring. Other bright specks in the image are background stars. As Saturn approaches its August 2009 equinox, the planet's moons cast shadows onto the rings.
This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 51 degrees above the ringplane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on May 2, 2009. The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from Pan and at a Sun-Pan-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 108 degrees. Image scale is 9 kilometers (5 miles) per pixel.
This image shows two craters in the southern hemisphere just south of Sirenum Fossae.
The northern crater is smaller, appears more degraded, and is partially filled with sediments that form a hummocky surface. Dunes have formed subsequently on this surface. Some incipient gully-like features have formed midway along the southern crater wall and expose layers that are more resistant to erosion.
The larger crater to the south is eroded by gullies on its northern slope while the southern slope region lacks them. Most gullies in this scene appear to emanate from more resistant layers, although the larger gullies have eroded back almost to the crater rim.
The nature of the layers and their connection to the water that formed the gullies is unknown. Gullies typically form when flowing water erodes sediments and soft rocks in a channelized flow. Because Mars is very cold and dry, it is unknown where the water came from to form the gullies.
Baby Stars Finally Found in Jumbled Galactic Center
This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope shows three baby stars in the bustling center of our Milky Way galaxy.
Astronomers have at last uncovered newborn stars at the frenzied center of our Milky Way galaxy. The discovery was made using the infrared vision of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The heart of our spiral galaxy is cluttered with stars, dust and gas, and at its very center, a supermassive black hole. The results revealed three stars with clear signs of youth, for example, certain warm, dense gases. These youthful features are found in other places in the galaxy where stars are being formed. The young stellar objects are all less than about 1 million years old. They are embedded in cocoons of gas and dust, which will eventually flatten to disks that, according to theory, later lump together to form planets.
Popular giant star, Betelgeuse, shrinks mysteriously
A massive red star in the constellation Orion has shrunk in the past 15 years and astronomers don't know why. Called Betelgeuse, the star is considered a red supergiant. Such massive stars are nearing the ends of their lives and can swell to 100 times their original size before exploding as supernovae, or possibly just collapsing to form black holes without violent explosions (as one study suggested). In 1993, measurements put Betelgeuse's radius at about 5.5 astronomical units (AU), where one AU equals the average Earth-sun distance of 93 million miles, or about 150 million km. Since then it has shrunk in size by 15 percent. That means the star's radius has contracted by a distance equal to the orbit of Venus.
The most massive black hole yet weighed lurks at the heart of the relatively nearby giant galaxy M87. The supermassive black hole is two to three times heftier than previously thought, a new model showed, weighing in at a whopping 6.4 billion times the mass of the sun. The new measure suggests that other black holes in nearby large galaxies could also be much heftier than current measurements suggest, and it could help astronomers solve a longstanding puzzle about galaxy development.
New Mars Images: Craters and channels in Hephaestus Fossae
The High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express orbiter has obtained images of Hephaestus Fossae, a region on Mars dotted with craters and channel systems. Hephaestus Fossae lies at about 21° North and 126° East on the Red Planet. Named after the Greek god of fire, it extends for more than 600 km on the western flank of Elysium Mons in the Utopia Planitia region. Obtained on 28 December 2007, the images have a ground resolution of about 16 m/pixel. They show that the region has channel systems of unknown origin.
A weird explosion in space that confounded astronomers may have been the destruction of a rare star with an unusual amount of carbon dust surrounding it, according to research carried out by scientists at the University of Warwick.
The explosion, which was first spotted on 21 February 2006 during a survey of a galaxy cluster in the constellation of Boötes by the Supernova Cosmology Project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has perplexed astronomers. Normal supernovae usually take around three weeks to reach peak brightness; this object, designated SCP 06F6, took 100 days to rise to magnitude +21, before taking another hundred days to fade away. Normal supernovae tend to have more asymmetric light curves than that. Furthermore, the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton spacecraft spotted a bright X-ray glow coming from SCP 06F6, and yet no host galaxy has ever been identified. Even the distance to SCP 06F6 has been uncertain, because astronomers have been unable to decode the spectrum of the explosion, until now.
Cloud chasers studying Saturn's moon Titan say its clouds form and move much like those on Earth, but in a much slower, more lingering fashion. Their forecast for Titan's early autumn -- warm and wetter. Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have monitored Titan's atmosphere for three-and-a-half years, between July 2004 and December 2007, and observed more than 200 clouds. They found that the way these clouds are distributed around Titan matches scientists' global circulation models. The only exception is timing -- clouds are still noticeable in the southern hemisphere while fall is approaching.
A distant "sun" residing in the constellation Aquila has become the smallest star known to host a planet. The discovery of a Jupiter-like "exoplanet" orbiting the star VB 10 is the first to be made using the astrometry method. Astrometry is based on measuring small changes in a star's position. At one-twelfth the mass of the Sun, VB 10 is tiny; though the star is more massive than its planet, it would have about the same girth, experts say. Astrometry has long been proposed as a tool for finding other planets, but this is the method's first "catch". The results are to be published in an upcoming edition of the Astrophysical Journal. Using astrometry to find exoplanets involves measuring the precise motions of a star on the sky as an unseen planet tugs the star back and forth. It is best suited to finding planets with large orbits around their parent stars. But the method requires very precise measurements over long periods of time.
Mars orbiter imagery boosts Curiosity rover's life search
NASA and university scientists reviewing data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) say evidence is growing that the planet harbored life in its past or that Martian microbes exist now.
They say their views are based on the growing body of data on the diversity of water related minerals discovered by MRO. It is also supported by findings from other spacecraft such as Europe's Mars Express orbiter and NASA's Phoenix lander and twin Mars rovers.
Image Caption: Gale Crater has been selected as a landing site candidate for the "Curiosity" Mars Science Laboratory lander based on this image acquired by the MRO spacecraft showing diverse water related minerals in what was likely a giant Martin lake. Credit: NASA
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