Astronews Daily (2455548)

December 17, 2010 12:46 by scibuff

Top Stories

Become an Exoplanet Hunter With Newest Zooniverse Citizen Science Project – Planet Hunters is the latest in the Zooniverse project, and users will help scientists analyze data taken by NASA’s Kepler mission, the biggest, badest exoplanet hunting telescope in space. The project goes live on December 16 at http://www.planethunters.org. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

Could This be the Start of a New Space Shuttle? – All is not lost for the space shuttle idea. Richard Branson is thinking big again and along with orbital sciences Corp, Sierra Nevada Corp and some others they may build a reusable taxi to space just like the space shuttle. NASA will find $200 million to help with the development. -Weirdwrap

A delicately violent celestial shell game – One of my favorite types of objects in space are the thin, ethereal shells of gas stars create when they die. So I was thrilled* to see this new image of one taken in exquisite detail by the Hubble Space Telescope: -Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

X-rays From Lightning – What Superman would See – Using a custom-built camera the size of a refrigerator, Florida researchers have made the world’s first crude pictures of X-rays streaming from a stroke of lightning. -Daily Galaxy

Bright White Storm Raging on Saturn – About a week ago, a bright white storm emerged on Saturn’s northern hemisphere, and amateur astronomer/planet astrophotographer extraordinaire Anthony Wesley from Australia has captured a few images of it. “This is the brightest Saturn storm in decades,” Anthony said on his website, Ice In Space. “If you get a chance to see it visually then take it, as it may be one of the rare “Great White Spot” (GWS) outbreaks on Saturn.” -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

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Videos

Cassini Spots Potential Ice Volcano on Saturn Moon - New data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft reveal topography on Saturn's moon Titan that makes the best case yet for an ice volcano on Titan and reveals the most Earth-like candidate in the outer solar system.

  

Photos

Discovery on the pad

Discovery on the pad

ISS through clouds

ISS through clouds

Erupting Volcano

Erupting Volcano

Geminid in Death Valley

Geminid in Death Valley

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Launch of TMA-20

Soyuz lift-off with ESA astronaut Paolo Nespoli together with Dmitri Kondratyev and Catherine Coleman for a challenging 6-month mission on the International Space Station (ISS) as members of Expeditions 26/27. They were launched in the Soyuz TMA-20 spacecraft from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 15 December at 19:09 GMT. Paolo’s MagISStra mission will be Europe’s third long-duration mission on the ISS. Between December 2010 and June 2011 he will be part of the ISS crew as a flight engineer. - Credit: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2010

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Astronews Daily Extended Edition (2455540)

December 9, 2010 12:05 by scibuff

Videos

On December 8, 2010 at 15:43 GMT a Falcon 9 launch vehicle took to the sky from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL as it transported a Dragon Capsule into orbit. Space X's Dragon capsule will demonstrate several objects on this flight, which will include space down and recovery.

This is the Webcast for the Falcon 9 Flight 2 from Space Exploration Technologies or SpaceX. The second Falcon 9 rocket launched for SLC-40 in Flordia carrying the first Dragon COTS demo unit

  

Top Stories

Spectacular meteor ‘fireball’ explosion over Britain leaves stargazers buzzing ahead of Geminid space shower – The “very bright” meteor lit up the skies from Somerset to Aberdeen, leaving the astronomy world abuzz. Despite lasting just five seconds, witnesses thought they were watching a rare meteor shower because it was such a dazzling display. -Andrew Hough / The Telegraph

How to Settle, Once and for All, the Whole “What’s a Planet?” Debate – When I was a kid, I knew exactly what a planet was: It was something big and round, and it orbited the sun. There were nine such beasts in the celestial menagerie. We knew Pluto was a misfit—smallish, distant, and orbiting on a weird elliptical path—but we had no doubt it was part of the family. The other planets certainly fit my description, and all was well. -Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

Keck Observatory Pictures Show Fourth Planet in Giant Solar System – Astronomers announced the discovery of a fourth giant planet joining three others orbiting a nearby star with information that challenges our current understanding of planet formation. The dusty young star named HR8799, located 129 light years away, was first recognized in 2008 when the research team presented the first-ever images of a planetary system orbiting a star other than our sun. -Keck Observatory

Stunning ISS View of Volcanos on Earth – What a view! This photograph taken by one of the astronauts on the International Space Station shows several snow-covered volcanoes on Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsula -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

NASA’s Plan to Save Astrophysics From Space Telescope’s Budget Overruns – The $1.5 billion in cost overruns needed to complete the planned successor to the Hubble Space Telescope had NASA astrophysicists fearing for the future of other projects. But it appears NASA won’t suck funds from other astrophysics research to pay for the telescope. -Wired

WASP-12b: A Carbon Rich Exoplanet – Since its discovery in 2008, WASP-12b has been an unusual planet. This 1.4 Jovian mass, gas giant lies so close to its parent star that gas is being stripped from its atmosphere. But being stripped away isn’t the only odd property of this planet’s atmosphere. A new study has shown that it’s full of carbon. -Jon Voisey / Universe Today

What would happen if the sun went dark – Perhaps you caught the moon last night in the southwestern sky – a thin crescent lit by sunlight. If your timing was right, with the sky not too bright and moon not too low, you may have also seen the entire outline of the moon. -Astrobob

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Photos

NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula

NGC 6960 - Veil Nebula

NGC 1499 - California Nebula

NGC 1499 - California Nebula

NGC 2239 - Rosette Nebula

NGC 2239 - Rosette Nebula

M81 and M82

M81 and M82

  
Launch of SpaceX Falcon9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9

Launch of SpaceX Falcon 9

Dragon spacecraft

Dragon spacecraft splashdown

Sunspots at Sunrise

Sunspots at Sunrise

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Launch Complex-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., at 10:43 a.m. EST, Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010. In orbit, the Dragon capsule went through several maneuvers before it re-entered the atmosphere and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean about 500 miles west of the coast of Mexico. This is first demonstration flight for NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which will provide cargo flights to the International Space Station in the future. - Credit: NASA/Tony Gray and Kevin O'Connell

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.

Astronews Daily (2455520)

November 19, 2010 12:54 by scibuff

Top Stories

BRIAN MARSDEN (1937 Aug. 5-2010 Nov. 18) – Brian Geoffrey Marsden was born on 1937 August 5 in Cambridge, England. His father, Thomas, was the senior mathematics teacher at a local high school. It was his mother, Eileen (nee West), however, who introduced him to the study of astronomy, when he returned home on the Thursday during his first week in primary school in 1942 and found her sitting in the back yard watching an eclipse of the sun. Using now frowned-upon candle-smoked glass, they sat watching the changing bite out of the sun. What most impressed the budding astronomer, however, was not that the eclipse could be seen, but the fact that it had been predicted in advance, and it was the idea that one could make successful predictions of events in the sky that eventually led him to his career. -M.P.E.C. 2010-W10 / Minor Planet Center

Exoplanet of Extragalactic Origin Could Foretell Our Solar System’s Future – While astronomers have detected over 500 extrasolar planets during the past 15 years, this latest one might have the most storied and unusual past. But its future is also of great interest, as it could mirror the way our own solar system might meet its demise. This Jupiter-like planet, called HIP 13044 b, is orbiting a star that used to be in another galaxy but that galaxy was swallowed by the Milky Way. While astronomers have never directly detected an exoplanet in another galaxy, this offers evidence that other galaxies host stars with planets, too. The star is nearing the end of its life and as it expands, could engulf the planet, just as our Sun will likely snuff out our own world. And somehow, this exoplanet has survived the first death throes of the star. -Nancy Atkinson / Universe Today

A comet creates its own snowstorm – NASA has just released new results and images from the EPOXI spacecraft’s visit to the comet Hartley 2 from November 4… and like the previous ones, these are absolutely stunning jaw-droppers. What scientists have found is that the comet’s solid nucleus is sitting in the middle of a veritable snowstorm! -Phil PlaitBad Astronomy

Hubble Captures New ‘Life’ in an Ancient Galaxy – New observations with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are helping to show that elliptical galaxies still have some youthful vigor left, thanks to encounters with smaller galaxies. Images of the core of NGC 4150, taken in near-ultraviolet light with the sharp-eyed Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), reveal streamers of dust and gas and clumps of young, blue stars that are significantly less than a billion years old. Evidence shows that the star birth was sparked by a merger with a dwarf galaxy. -NASA

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Videos

Scientists say the data collected by the EPOXI mission of comet Hartley 2 are as revealing as the pictures taken on the spacecraft's recent flyby. The spacecraft passed Hartley 2 at an altitude of about 435 miles from the comet's surface, close enough to reveal details of its nucleus and give scientists the most extensive look at a comet in history. Comets are remnants of the formation of our solar system more than 4-and-a-half-billion years old.

Photos

Sunset

Sunset

The Moon

The Moon

Cairo, Egypt

Cairo, Egypt

Aurora over Tromso, Norway

Aurora over Tromso, Norway

Gallery Pick of the Day

NGC 4150

Credit: NASA, ESA, R.M. Crockett (University of Oxford, U.K.), S. Kaviraj (Imperial College London and University of Oxford, U.K.), J. Silk (University of Oxford), M. Mutchler (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore), R. O'Connell (University of Virginia, Charlottesville), and the WFC3 Scientific Oversight Committee

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.-

Astronews Daily (2455518)

November 17, 2010 12:56 by scibuff

Top Stories

Occultation of asteroid 136199 Eris – November 6th 2010 2h15 TU – This occultation was predicted by Marcelo Assafin from Brazil about a year ago. Many astronomers worked in order to improve the astrometry, but it was a difficult task. Eris is about 32 milliarc second of diameter as seen from the Earth. One can see on Bruno Sicardy’s page that the predictions varied from Alaska to middle Chile according to whom made an astrometric reduction in order to know the position of the occulted star and that of Eris itself. -SpaceObs

Wonderful vistas from Cupola – Cupola has proved itself to be an excellent viewing platform since it was attached to the International Space Station in February. The latest photos taken from this heavenly observatory are stunning. -ESA

Astronomers Discover Merging Star Systems That Might Explode – Researchers who found the first hypervelocity stars escaping the Milky Way announced that their search also turned up a dozen double-star systems. Half of those are merging and might explode as supernovae in the astronomically near future. -Science Daily

Successful premiere – German robotic arm completes its five-year ISS mission – Germany’s first experiment in space robotics has now come to an end. On the evening of 15 November 2010, two Russian cosmonauts performed a space walk during which they removed the Rokviss robotic arm developed by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) from the experimental platform on the Russian service module Svezda and took it inside the ISS. By 2 November 2010, the Rokviss team from the DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center in Oberpfaffenhofen had moved the robot arm into the required position for this operation. Only in this position could Rokviss be easily transported through the air lock and into the interior of the ISS. -DLR Portal

Dissolving Star Systems Create Mess in Orion – For young stars, stellar outflows are the rule. T Tauri stars and other young stars eject matter in generally collimated jets. However, a region in Orion‘s giant molecular cloud known as the Becklin-Neugebauer/Kleinmann-Low (BN/KL) region, appears to have a clumpy, scattered set of outflows with “finger-like” projections in numerous directions. A new study, led by Luis Zapata at the National Autonomous University of Mexico, explores this odd region. -Jon Voysey / Universe Today

The Lion Tamer – Leonid Meteor Shower 2010 – Are you ready to walk into the lion’s cage? Then break out your favorite skywatching gear because the 2010 Leonid meteor shower is underway -Tammy Plotner / Universe Today

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Videos

On October 9, 2010, Chang'E 2 performs its second luanr orbit trim maneuver, an event witnessed by an engineering camera. Before the maneuver starts, the spacecraft executes a sequence of controlled turns, causing the Moon to swing through the field of view. The firing of the engine begins just after the terminator passes out of view (from the camera's point of view). As the spacecraft drops completely into the lunar shadow, the camera's automatic exposure setting adjusts brighter, making part of the spacecraft visible in light emitted from the glowing thruster.

Photos

Aswan dam at Nile river

Aswan dam at Nile river

Nile river delta

Nile river delta

Cyprus

Cyprus

Lonar Impact Crater

Lonar Impact Crater

Gallery Pick of the Day

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy - Widefield

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy - Widefield - Credit: Erik Larsen

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.-

Astronews Daily (2455517)

November 16, 2010 13:53 by scibuff

Top Stories

Breaking News: A newly discovered asteroid, designated 2010 WA, is projected to fly by at the altitude of roughly 39,000 km around 3:45 UT tomorrow, November 17. The object was discovered by Catalina Sky Survey telescope at Mount Lemmon last night (Nov. 16). MPEC-2010W03

Japan probe collected particles from Itokawa asteroid – Japanese scientists have confirmed that particles found inside the Hayabusa probe after its seven-year space trip are from the asteroid Itokawa. -Jonathan Amos / BBC News

So is Pluto a planet after all? – The news last week that Eris might actually be a tiny bit smaller than Pluto led to the inevitable question: doesn’t this mean that Pluto should be a planet, after all? The simple obvious answer to this question is no -Mike Brown

Sunset on Mars – I know, it may not look like much, but think about what you’re seeing: a sunset on another world. And those images were taken by a robotic probe that took years to design and build, months to travel the hundreds of millions of kilometers to get to Mars, a harrowing few minutes to descend on a breath of fire through the thin air to land on the surface, and then nearly seven years to travel the landscape long, long past its design specifications. -Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

Chandra Finds Youngest Nearby Black Hole – Astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory have found evidence of the youngest black hole known to exist in our cosmic neighborhood. The 30-year-old black hole provides a unique opportunity to watch this type of object develop from infancy. -NASA

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Videos

Jupiter

Jon Kristoffersen took these images of Jupiter from Crete, Greece, about a week before the stripe began to return. Jupiter dances with two of its moons, Io (left) and Europa. Images: Jon Kristoffersen. Animation: Emil Kraaikamp

Photos

Gibbous Moon

Gibbous Moon

Sunset

Sunset

ISS flyby

ISS flyby

Work on the GUCP commences

Work on the GUCP commences

Gallery Pick of the Day

IC1848 - Soul Nebula

IC1848 - Soul Nebula - Credit: Richie Jarvis

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.-

Astronews Daily Ext. Edition (2455505)

November 4, 2010 12:11 by scibuff

Videos

Approaching Hartley 2

Approaching Hartley 2 Four images captured at about 09:20 every day for four days from October 29 to November 1 document the increasing brightness of Hartley 2 against the background star field as seen from Deep Impact, which was approaching for its November 4 flyby. The images have been rotated to align them. Credit: NASA / JPL / UMD / animation by Emily Lakdawalla

Space Shuttle Discovery/STS-133's final RSS rollback

  

Top Stories

Deep Impact’s Hartley 2 Encounter Timeline – Close approach takes place at 13:50 UTC November 4, spacecraft event time. Find out what time this is in your time zone. -Emily Lakdawalla / The Planetary Society

NASA Mission in Final Day Before Comet Meetup – Mission controllers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have relayed final instructions to their comet-bound spacecraft today, Nov. 3. The new programming will guide NASA’s EPOXI mission through its close approach with comet Hartley 2 -NASA/JPL

STS-133: Discovery scrubbed ahead of tanking for 24 hours – The Mission Management Team (MMT) have concluded their evalations on Thursday morning by deciding to scrub for 24 hours, due to unacceptable weather conditions. The decision came just prior to coming out of the hold for the loading of Discovery’s External Tank (ET-137). -NASA Space Flight

LHC to Recreate Conditions Just After Big Bang – So far, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) has destroyed billions of protons by colliding them head-on inside its super-chilled detectors. Soon, however, the protons won’t be alone, lead ions — whole atomic nuclei — will be smashed up. Why? To recreate the conditions immediately after the Big Bang. -Ian O’Neill / Discovery News

Newly Discovered Comet 2010 V1 – IAUC 9175 brings surprising news of the visual discovery of a bright comet by two Japanese amateurs, Kaoru Ikeya and Shigeki Murakami. Visual magnitude estimates by the discoverers and Juan Jose Gonzalez of Spain place the comet between magnitude 7.5 and 9 with the brighter magnitude be more likely. The comet is currently a morning object in Virgo at an elongation of 32°. An orbit has yet to be published. -Carl Hergenrother / Transient Sky

Did Physicists Find Evidence of a Fourth Neutrino Flavor? – When neutrinos change from one phase to another, they tell us something about their mysterious nature. These ghostly subatomic particles come in three flavors, physicists say: muon, tau, and electron. Just this summer, a team caught a neutrino in the act of changing from muon to tau, a finding that backed up the argument that these particles do, in fact, have mass. This week, a new study of neutrino oscillation—the changing of flavors—suggests an deeper mystery, and implies that these three flavors of neutrino may not be enough to account these particles’ behavior. -Discovery Magazine Blogs

Gettin’ high on the Moon – How would you know how high up you are? Well, if you had the elevation data made by the the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter you’d be all set, because then you’d know that if you were at a latitude of 5.4125° and longitude of 201.3665°, you’d be on the highest spot on the Moon! -Phil Plait / Bad Astronomy

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Photos

Pad 39A at Night

Pad 39A at Night

Storm clouds over VAB!

Storm clouds over VAB!

A crescent Saturn

A crescent Saturn

A visual amateur comet discovery

A visual amateur comet discovery

  
IC 359

IC 359

NGC 7635 - Bubble Nebula

NGC 7635 - Bubble Nebula

NGC7000 - The North American Nebula

NGC7000 - The North American Nebula

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

M31 - Andromeda Galaxy

  

Gallery Pick of the Day

Night Lights

Constellations of lights sprawl across this night scene, but they don't belong in the skies of planet Earth. Instead, the view looks down from the International Space Station as it passed over the United States along the northern Gulf Coast on October 29. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is docked in the foreground. Behind its extended solar panels, some 360 kilometers below, are the recognizable city lights of New Orleans. Looking east along the coast to the top of the frame finds Mobile, Alabama while Houston city lights stand out to the west, toward the bottom. North (left) of New Orleans, a line of lights tracing central US highway I55 connect to Jackson, Mississippi and Memphis, Tennessee. Of course, the lights follow the population centers, but not everyone lives on planet Earth all the time these days. November 2nd marked the first decade of continuous human presence in space on board the International Space Station. - Credit: ISS Expedition 25, NASA

The photo above is “Pick of the Day” from one of the three galleries: Astronomy Gallery, Space Shuttle Gallery and Space Station Gallery.