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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Saturday, November 14, 2009
'Significant' amount of water found on Moon
A camera on the probe shows the ejecta plume about 20 seconds after impact
Nasa's experiment last month to find water on the Moon was a major success, US scientists have announced. The space agency smashed a rocket and a probe into a large crater at the lunar south pole, hoping to kick up ice. Scientists who have studied the data now say instruments trained on the impact plume saw copious quantities of water-ice and water vapour. One researcher described this as the equivalent of "a dozen two-gallon buckets" of water. The near-infrared spectrometer on the LCROSS probe that followed the rocket into the crater detected water-ice and water vapour. The ultraviolet-visible spectrometer provided additional confirmation by identifying the hydroxyl (OH) molecule, which arises when water is broken apart in sunlight.
An exoplanet with an extremely tilted orbit raises interest
Two teams of astronomers have found a planet outside the solar system that might be orbiting backwards compared to its star’s rotation, a discovery that could shed light on how unique the relatively perfect alignment of our solar system is compared to that of other planetary systems.
By measuring the rotation of the parent star of HAT-P-7b, a planet discovered in 2008, the two teams, including one led by MIT assistant professor of physics Joshua Winn and the other by Norio Narita at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, found that the orbit is tilted by at least 86 degrees with respect to the star’s equator. The drastic misalignment of the exoplanet, or planet outside our solar system, suggests that it is either rotating over both poles of its star or actually rotating backwards, a phenomenon that does not occur in our solar system and that could help explain why life thrives here.
NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope captured this infrared image of a giant halo of very fine dust around the young star HR 8799.
Before our planets found their way to the stable orbits they circle in today, they wiggled and jostled about like unsettled children. Now, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found a young star with evidence for the same kind of orbital hyperactivity. Young planets circling the star are thought to be disturbing smaller comet-like bodies, causing them to collide and kick up a huge halo of dust.
The star, called HR 8799, was in the news last November 2008, for being one of the first of two stars with imaged planets. Ground-based telescopes at the W.M. Keck Observatory and the Gemini Observatory, both in Hawaii, took images of three planets orbiting in the far reaches of the system, all three being roughly 10 times the mass of Jupiter. Another imaged planet was also announced at the same time around the star Fomalhaut, as seen by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Both HR 8799 and Fomalhaut are younger and more massive than our sun.
Frost-Covered Phoenix Lander Seen in Winter Images
Winter images of NASA's Phoenix Lander showing the lander shrouded in dry-ice frost on Mars have been captured with the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, or HiRISE camera, aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
The HiRISE camera team at the University of Arizona, Tucson, captured one image of the Phoenix lander on July 30, 2009, and the other on Aug. 22, 2009. That's when the sun began peeking over the horizon of the northern polar plains during winter, the imaging team said. The first day of spring in the northern hemisphere began Oct. 26.
A NASA spacecraft has spotted what appears to be changing seasons on Mercury and found much more iron on the surface of the small, rocky planet than previously thought.
The MESSENGER probe made the observations during its third flyby of Mercury on Sept. 29, when it took a host of measurements and images of the innermost planet's surface and atmosphere. Only about half of the planned measurements were made because of a data glitch that affected the spacecraft during the flyby.
The $446 million probe's third flyby brought it within 142 miles (228 km) of Mercury's surface to cover more uncharted terrain, leaving 98 percent of the planet now mapped. The flyby was also a gravity assist meant to guide the spacecraft into orbit around the planet in 2011. Full story...
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