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Astronomy (General/Chat)

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  • News Flash: Asteroid Flying Past Earth Today Has Mini-Moon!

    01/26/2015 6:34:33 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 29 replies
    Asteroid 2004 BL86, which passed closest to Earth today at a distance of 750,000 miles (1.2 million km), has a companion moon. Scientists working with NASA’s 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California, have released the first radar images of the asteroid which show the tiny object in orbit about the main body. ... 2004 BL86 measures about 1,100 feet (325 meters) across while its moon is approximately 230 feet (70 meters) across. The asteroid made its closest approach today (Jan. 26th) at 10:19 a.m. (CST), however it will peak in brightness this evening around 10 p.m. (4:00...
  • How close a huge asteroid just came to Earth and how to see it

    01/26/2015 2:53:31 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 17 replies
    NASA is saying amateur astronomers with small telescopes and strong binoculars may be able to see the asteroid, although stormy conditions in the Northeast will limit night-time viewing there. Here's how to try to view the asteroid. Editor's note: These times are Eastern Standard Time so adjust them three hours earlier for optimal Pacific Standard Time viewing.]
  • New Horizons probe eyes Pluto for historic encounter

    01/25/2015 3:31:37 AM PST · by Citizen Zed · 21 replies
    bbc ^ | 1-25-2015 | Jonathan Amos
    The mission to Pluto is being billed as the last great encounter in planetary exploration. It is one of the first opportunities to study a dwarf planet up close. The pictures are critical to enable the New Horizons probe to position itself for a closer fly-by later this year. As the probe is still 200 million km away, Pluto will be hardly discernable in the images - just a speck of light against the stars. But the mission team says this view is needed to help line up the spacecraft correctly for its fly-by on 14 July. "Optical navigation is...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Twisted Solar Eruptive Prominence

    01/25/2015 1:20:36 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 25, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Ten Earths could easily fit in the "claw" of this seemingly solar monster. The monster, actually a huge eruptive prominence, is seen moving out from our Sun in this condensed half-hour time-lapse sequence. This large prominence, though, is significant not only for its size, but its shape. The twisted figure eight shape indicates that a complex magnetic field threads through the emerging solar particles. Differential rotation of gas just inside the surface of the Sun might help account for the surface explosion. The five frame sequence was taken in early 2000 by the Sun-orbiting SOHO satellite. Although large prominences...
  • Cosmic Impacts May Have Seeded Early Earth with Ingredients for Life

    01/24/2015 6:09:58 PM PST · by Ernest_at_the_Beach · 37 replies
    space.com Astrobiology Magazine ^ | | January 20, 2015 03:37pm ET | By Charles Q. Choi, Astrobiology Magazine
    A picture of the gun used in the experiments. The big white box at the left end of the gun is where the target is stored. Credit: Impact Laboratory, University of Kent Bullets of ice shot at high speeds can deposit organic compounds on surfaces they strike. New findings suggest that comets might, indeed, have helped deliver key ingredients of life to Earth and perhaps elsewhere, researchers say. The scientists detailed their findings in the June 13 issue of the journal Astrobiology.Craters on the moon are evidence that the Inner Solar System was prone to giant impacts from asteroids...
  • Apollo 15 command module pilot Alfred M. Worden: ‘NASA took a step backwards’

    01/24/2015 5:50:40 PM PST · by Olog-hai · 24 replies
    Deutsche Welle ^ | 23.01.2015 | Cornelia Bormann
    He’s one of a handful of men to have orbited the moon. Today, Alfred M. Worden says NASA’s on the wrong track. He also tells DW why he likes the moon’s dark side and what he wanted most—but didn't get—upon returning. […] “We took a step backwards back in the late 70s when they decided to build the space shuttle. That was, in my opinion, a mistake. The shuttle was a very complicated machine. It did some pretty unusual, clearly spectacular things, like launch vertically and land horizontally. But from a technical standpoint, we launched a 280,000 pound machine to...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Light from Cygnus A

    01/24/2015 12:59:30 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 11 replies
    NASA ^ | January 24, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Celebrating astronomy in this International Year of Light, the detailed image reveals spectacular active galaxy Cygnus A in light across the electromagnetic spectrum. Incorporating X-ray data ( blue) from the orbiting Chandra Observatory, Cygnus A is seen to be a prodigious source of high energy x-rays. But it is actually more famous at the low energy end of the electromagnetic spectrum. One of the brightest celestial sources visible to radio telescopes, at 600 million light-years distant Cygnus A is the closest powerful radio galaxy. Radio emission ( red) extends to either side along the same axis for nearly 300,000...
  • See a Rare Comet-Moon Conjunction Tonight

    01/24/2015 9:21:38 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 14 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | January 23, 2015 | Bob King on
    Many of you already know about the triple shadow transit of Jupiter’s moons Io, Europa and Callisto. That’s scheduled for late tonight. Earlier, around nightfall, the crescent moon will lie 1° or less to the south-southwest of comet 15P/Finlay. No doubt lunar glare will hamper the view some, but what a fun opportunity to use the moon to find a comet. Finlay underwent a flare in brightness last week when it became easily visible in binoculars.
  • Griffith Observatory Extends Hours For Triple-Shadow Transit Of Jupiter’s Moons

    01/23/2015 1:25:35 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 6 replies
    Angelenos will get their chance Friday to witness a rare celestial event when the shadows of three of Jupiter’s largest moons will fall upon Jupiter at the same time. Griffith Observatory will stay open one hour later than normal to allow visitors who are already at the park to watch the triple-shadow transit as Jupiter’s three moons – Io, Europa, and Callisto – will cross the planet’s disk throughout the evening. Three moon shadows will not appear simultaneously on Jupiter again, from Los Angeles, until 2032, according to the Observatory. As if the triple shadow transit weren’t enough, there will...
  • Strange Comet Discoveries Revealed by Rosetta Spacecraft

    01/23/2015 7:39:21 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 54 replies
    Space.com ^ | January 22, 2015 02:03pm ET | Miriam Kramer,
    Researchers working with Rosetta have found that the comet harbors organic compounds, carbon-based molecules that are sometimes known as the chemical building blocks of life. This marks the first time organic molecules have been detected on the surface of a comet's nucleus, according to Fabrizio Capaccioni, the principal investigator of the VIRTIS instrument on Rosetta. The northern hemisphere of the comet's nucleus is also filled with dunes and ripples that look somewhat like geological markings on Earth, Mars and Venus. Comet 67P/C-G doesn't have a robust atmosphere and high gravity like those planets, and yet it still has structures resembling...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Interior View [space station]

    01/23/2015 3:57:31 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 23, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Some prefer windows, and these are the best available on board the International Space Station. Taken on January 4, this snapshot from inside the station's large, seven-window Cupola module also shows off a workstation for controlling Canadarm2. Used to grapple visiting cargo vehicles and assist astronauts during spacewalks, the robotic arm is just outside the window at the right. The Cupola itself is attached to the Earth-facing or nadir port of the station's Tranquility module, offering dynamic panoramas of our fair planet. Seen from the station's 90 minute long, 400 kilometer high orbit, Earth's bright limb is in view...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Launch to Lovejoy

    01/22/2015 11:42:36 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | January 22, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Blasting skyward an Atlas V rocket carrying a U.S. Navy satellite pierces a cloud bank in this starry night scene captured on January 20. On its way to orbit from Space Launch Complex 41, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, planet Earth, the rocket streaks past brightest star Sirius, as seen from a dark beach at Canaveral National Seashore. Above the alpha star of Canis Major, Orion the Hunter strikes a pose familiar to northern winter skygazers. Above Orion is the V-shaped Hyades star cluster, head of Taurus the Bull, and farther still above Taurus it's easy to spot the...
  • In theory, the Milky Way could be a 'galactic transport system' (it could be a huge wormhole!)

    01/22/2015 2:13:28 AM PST · by LibWhacker · 12 replies
    Science Daily ^ | 1/21/15 | Source: Sissa Medialab
    Based on the latest evidence and theories our galaxy could be a huge wormhole (or space-time tunnel, have you seen the movie "Interstellar?") and, if that were true, it would be "stable and navigable." This is the hypothesis put forward in a study published in Annals of Physics and conducted with the participation of SISSA in Trieste. The paper, the result of a collaboration between Indian, Italian and North American researchers, prompts scientists to re-think dark matter. "If we combine the map of the dark matter in the Milky Way with the most recent Big Bang model to explain the...
  • 'Avatar' sequels pushed back a year, James Cameron says

    01/21/2015 7:09:12 AM PST · by dennisw · 76 replies
    latimes ^ | Jan 14 | Oliver Gettell
    James Cameron's 'Avatar' sequels have been delayed a year, with the first now arriving in 2017 James Cameron's return trip to Pandora is taking a bit longer than originally planned. The release for the director's three "Avatar" sequels has been pushed back a year, with the first to arrive in late 2017, Cameron told the Associated Press on Wednesday. Cameron is in pre-production on the sci-fi films, which he intends to shoot simultaneously in New Zealand and then release over consecutive years. Although the first sequel was to hit theaters in time for Christmas 2016, Cameron said that target was...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Complex Ion Tail of Comet Lovejoy

    01/21/2015 2:52:55 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | January 21, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What causes the structure in Comet Lovejoy's tail? Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy), which is currently at naked-eye brightness and near its brightest, has been showing an exquisitely detailed ion tail. As the name implies, the ion tail is made of ionized gas -- gas energized by ultraviolet light from the Sun and pushed outward by the solar wind. The solar wind is quite structured and sculpted by the Sun's complex and ever changing magnetic field. The effect of the variable solar wind combined with different gas jets venting from the comet's nucleus accounts for the tail's complex structure. Following...
  • The Paradoxes That Threaten To Tear Modern Cosmology Apart

    01/20/2015 4:43:30 PM PST · by LibWhacker · 99 replies
    Medium ^ | 1/20/15
    Some simple observations about the universe seem to contradict basic physics. Solving these paradoxes could change the way we think about the cosmos Revolutions in science often come from the study of seemingly unresolvable paradoxes. An intense focus on these paradoxes, and their eventual resolution, is a process that has leads to many important breakthroughs. So an interesting exercise is to list the paradoxes associated with current ideas in science. It’s just possible that these paradoxes will lead to the next generation of ideas about the universe. Today, Yurij Baryshev at St Petersburg State University in Russia does just this...
  • First Hubble and Now Dawn Have Seen This White Spot on Ceres. What is it?

    01/20/2015 3:23:34 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 36 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 20, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    One of the most anticipated aspects the Dawn spacecraft being in orbit around Ceres HAS to be finding out what this spot is. It could be ice, it could be a cryovolcano or geysers, or it could be something else. But we do know fairly certain that it is a real feature and not an image artifact, since it shows up in most of the recent Hubble images and now the Dawn images. Planetary scientists have long suspected that water ice may be buried under Cere’s crust. A few things point to subsurface ice: the density of Ceres is less...
  • Three nearly Earth-size planets found orbiting nearby star

    01/20/2015 12:05:17 PM PST · by Red Badger · 23 replies
    Phys.Org ^ | Jan 16, 2015 | Provided by University of Arizona
    NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, despite being hobbled by the loss of critical guidance systems, has discovered a star with three planets only slightly larger than Earth. The outermost planet orbits in the "Goldilocks" zone, a region where surface temperatures could be moderate enough for liquid water and perhaps life, to exist. The star, EPIC 201367065, is a cool red M-dwarf about half the size and mass of our own sun. At a distance of 150 light years, the star ranks among the top 10 nearest stars known to have transiting planets. The star's proximity means it's bright enough for astronomers...
  • Epic cosmic radio burst finally seen in real time

    01/20/2015 10:42:42 AM PST · by Red Badger · 25 replies
    www.newscientist.com ^ | 08:00 19 January 2015 | by Michael Slezak
    A gigantic but fleeting burst of radio waves has been caught in the act for the first time, helping to narrow down the vast array of things that might cause them. Figuring out what these fast radio bursts are or where they come from could help answer some of the biggest cosmological questions. They last about a millisecond but give off as much energy as the sun does in a day, all seemingly in a tight band of radio-frequency waves. Their source is a mystery, but whatever causes them must be huge, cataclysmic and up to 5.5 billion light years...
  • Two more planets in our Solar System, say astronomers

    01/20/2015 8:54:04 AM PST · by Red Badger · 51 replies
    www.businessinsider.com ^ | Jan. 19, 2015, 8:40 AM | Richard INGHAM, AFP
    Paris (AFP) - The Solar System has at least two more planets waiting to be discovered beyond the orbit of Pluto, Spanish and British astronomers say. The official list of planets in our star system runs to eight, with gas giant Neptune the outermost. Beyond Neptune, Pluto was relegated to the status of "dwarf planet" by the International Astronomical Union in 2006, although it is still championed by some as the most distant planet from the Sun. In a study published in the latest issue of the British journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers propose that "at...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Approaching Asteroid Ceres

    01/20/2015 5:55:25 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 19 replies
    NASA ^ | January 20, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: It is the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt -- what secrets does it hold? To find out, NASA has sent the robotic Dawn spacecraft to explore and map this cryptic 1,000-kilometer wide world: Ceres. Orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, Ceres is officially categorized as a dwarf planet but has never been imaged in detail. Featured here is a 20-frame video taken a week ago of Dawn's approach that now rivals even the best images of Ceres ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The video shows enough surface definition to discern its 9-hour rotation period. On target to...
  • Fail of the Day: QVC Host and Isaac Mizrahi Debate Whether the Moon is a Planet or a Star [video]

    01/19/2015 12:42:58 PM PST · by Slings and Arrows · 73 replies
    This conversation will hurt your brain. QVC is not typically the go-to place for spirited discussions about the mysteries and marvels of space, but this week host Shawn Killinger and fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi turned it into one. Killinger was presenting a "Cherry Blossom Print Boyfriend Cardigan" design by Mizrahi which she thinks looks like the Earth "when you're a bazillion miles away from the planet moon." And from this point forward we realize our education system has failed us, at least in the science department. "From the planet moon…" repeats Mizrahi. "Isn't the moon a star?" she asks, questioning...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Infrared Orion from WISE

    01/18/2015 11:53:07 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | January 19, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: The Great Nebula in Orion is an intriguing place. Visible to the unaided eye, it appears as a small fuzzy patch in the constellation of Orion. But this image, an illusory-color four-panel mosaic taken in different bands of infrared light with the Earth orbiting WISE observatory, shows the Orion Nebula to be a bustling neighborhood or recently formed stars, hot gas, and dark dust. The power behind much of the Orion Nebula (M42) is the stars of the Trapezium star cluster, seen near the center of the above wide field image. The orange glow surrounding the bright stars pictured...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Galactic Core in Infrared

    01/18/2015 3:24:38 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 14 replies
    NASA ^ | January 18, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What's happening at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy? To help find out, the orbiting Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes have combined their efforts to survey the region in unprecedented detail in infrared light. Milky Way's center because visible light is more greatly obscured by dust. The above image encompasses over 2,000 images from the Hubble Space Telescope's NICMOS taken in 2008. The image spans 300 by 115 light years with such high resolution that structures only 20 times the size of our own Solar System are discernable. Clouds of glowing gas and dark dust as well as...
  • Comet Finlay Surprise Outburst, Visible in Binoculars … again!

    01/17/2015 6:55:45 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 8 replies
    Two nights ago, Australian comet observer Michael Mattiazzo took a routine picture of Finlay and discovered it at magnitude +8. Today it’s a magnitude brighter and now joins Comet Lovejoy as the second binocular comet of 2015. Comet-wise, we’ve gone from zero to 60 and the new year’s fewer than 3 weeks old! Right now it’s not far from Lambda Aquarii and will soon glide just south of the well-known asterism called the “Circlet” in Pisces. Currently between 7th and 8th magnitude and showing a bright, condensed center, Comet Finlay is easily visible in 10×50 binoculars. Catch it while you...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Comet Lovejoy's Tail

    01/17/2015 8:42:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 17, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Sweeping north in planet Earth's sky, Comet Lovejoy's greenish coma and blue tinted ion tail stretched across this field of stars in the constellation Taurus on January 13. The inset at the upper left shows the 1/2 degree angular size of the full moon for scale. So Lovejoy's coma appears only a little smaller (but much fainter) than a full moon on the sky, and its tail is visible for over 4 degrees across the frame. That corresponds to over 5 million kilometers at the comet's estimated distance of 75 million kilometers from Earth. Blown by the solar wind,...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Huygens Lands on Titan [flashback]

    01/16/2015 5:24:30 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 6 replies
    NASA ^ | January 16, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Delivered by Saturn-bound Cassini, ESA's Huygens probe touched down on the ringed planet's largest moon Titan, ten years ago on January 14, 2005. These panels show fisheye images made during its slow descent by parachute through Titan's dense atmosphere. Taken by the probe's descent imager/spectral radiometer instrument they range in altitude from 6 kilometers (upper left) to 0.2 kilometers (lower right) above the moon's surprisingly Earth-like surface of dark channels, floodplains, and bright ridges. But at temperatures near -290 degrees C, the liquids flowing across Titan's surface are methane and ethane, hydrocarbons rather than water. After making the most...
  • Astronomers are Predicting at Least Two More Large Planets in the Solar System

    01/15/2015 3:45:27 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 77 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 15, 2015 | Nancy Atkinson
    In their studies, the team analyzed the effects of what is called the ‘Kozai mechanism,’ which is related to the gravitational perturbation that a large body exerts on the orbit of another much smaller and further away object. They looked at how the highly eccentric comet 96P/Machholz1 is influenced by Jupiter (it will come near the orbit of Mercury in 2017, but it travels as much as 6 AU at aphelion) and it may “provide the key to explain the puzzling clustering of orbits around argument of perihelion close to 0° recently found for the population of ETNOs,” the team...
  • Big Asteroid 2004 BL86 Buzzes Earth on January 26: How to See it in Your Telescope

    2004 BL86 checks in at 2,230 feet (680-m) wide or nearly half a mile. Add up its significant size and relatively close approach – 745,000 miles (1.2 million km) – and something wonderful happens. This newsy space rock is expected to reach magnitude +9.0, bright enough to see in a 3-inch telescope or even large binoculars.
  • Monday, January 19th: Patterns Of Evidence: The Exodus (one day only)

    01/15/2015 2:01:39 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 25 replies
    Patterns of Evidence ^ | January 19, 2015 | Peter Windahl and Diane Walker
    Official Trailer: Patterns Of Evidence: The Exodus
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Venus and Mercury at Sunset

    01/15/2015 4:23:51 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 7 replies
    NASA ^ | January 15, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Inner planets Venus and Mercury can never wander far from the Sun in Earth's sky. This week you've probably seen them both gathered near the western horizon just after sunset, a close conjunction of bright celestial beacons in the fading twilight. The pair are framed in this early evening skyview captured on January 13 from the ruins of Szarvasko Castle in northwestern Hungary. Above the silhouette of the landscape's prominent volcanic hill Venus is much the brighter, separated from Mercury by little more than the width of two Full Moons. On Friday, planet Earth's early morning risers will also...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Hunter, the Bull, and Lovejoy

    01/14/2015 8:19:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 2 replies
    NASA ^ | January 14, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Heading north, Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) is putting on its best show for comet watchers now, with moonlight absent from mid-January's early evening skies. An easy binocular target and just visible to the unaided eye from dark sites, the comet sweeps across the constellation Taurus the Bull in this deep night skyscape. The starry scene was captured just two days ago on January 12, from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, planet Earth. In fact, the head of Taurus formed by the V-shaped Hyades star cluster points toward Lovejoy at the right. The comet's greenish coma and tail streaming in the anti-sunward...
  • One of the Milky Way’s Arms Might Encircle the Entire Galaxy

    01/13/2015 1:58:01 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 36 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 13, 2015 | Matt Williams
    For decades astronomers have thought the Milky Way consists of four arms — made up of stars and clouds of star-forming gas — that extend outwards in a spiral fashion. Then in 2008, data from the Spitzer Space Telescope seemed to indicate that our Milky Way has just two arms, but a larger central bar. But now, according to a team of astronomers from China, one of our galaxy’s arms may stretch farther than previously thought, reaching all the way around the galaxy.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Soap Bubble Nebula

    01/13/2015 12:18:40 PM PST · by SunkenCiv · 9 replies
    NASA ^ | January 13, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Adrift in the rich star fields of the constellation Cygnus, this lovely, symmetric nebula was only recognized a few years ago and does not yet appear in some astronomical catalogs. In fact, amateur astronomer Dave Jurasevich identified it as a nebula on 2008 July 6 in his images of the complex Cygnus region that included the Crescent Nebula (NGC 6888). He subsequently notified the International Astronomical Union. Only eleven days later the same object was independently identified by Mel Helm at Sierra Remote Observatories, imaged by Keith Quattrocchi and Helm, and also submitted to the IAU as a potentially...
  • New Thoughts on the Impact of Climate Change in Neolithic China

    01/12/2015 2:11:03 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 23 replies
    Archaeology Magazine ^ | Friday, January 09, 2015
    It had been thought that the deserts in northern China are one million years old, but a new study of the Hunshandake Sandy Lands of Inner Mongolia suggests that its desert is only 4,000 years old. Xiaoping Yang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Louis Scuderi of the University of New Mexico, and their colleagues examined the patterns of dunes and depressions in the region and lake sediments, and they dated quartz from the region with a technique known as optically stimulated luminescence. They found that Hunshandake had deep lakes and rivers beginning some 12,000 years ago. "We're amazed by...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- SuperPlanetCrash [game]

    01/12/2015 1:00:16 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 10 replies
    NASA ^ | January 12, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    SuperPlanetCrash Click on the type of body to add next: 1xEarth5xSuper-Earth15xIce giant300xGiant planet5,000xBrown dwarf30,000xDwarf star HelpEnd Game CloseNew game To beat Super Planet Crash, create a planetary system that can survive for 500 years. You can gain more points by adding more bodies (up to 10 bodies). Add bodies by clicking anywhere.The more massive the body, the more points! From 1 point for an Earth-mass planet, to 30,000 for a stellar companion. But remember, each planet attracts each other gravitationally and you don't want your system to go KABOOM!You will lose the game if two bodies crash with each...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Cataclysmic Dawn [art]

    01/11/2015 11:49:40 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 20 replies
    NASA ^ | January 11, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Will this dawn bring another nova? Such dilemmas might be pondered one day by future humans living on a planet orbiting a cataclysmic variable binary star system. Cataclysmic variables involve gas falling from a large star onto an accretion disk surrounding a massive but compact white dwarf star. Explosive cataclysmic events such as a dwarf nova can occur when a clump of gas in the interior of the accretion disk heats up past a certain temperature. At that point, the clump will fall more quickly onto the white dwarf and land with a bright flash. Such dwarf novas will...
  • Mercury and Venus an Awesome Duo at Dusk

    01/10/2015 11:33:28 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 17 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 10, 2015 | Bob King
    Tonight the duo will be at their closest and remain near one another for the next week or so. This is one of Mercury’s best apparitions of the year for northern hemisphere skywatchers and well worth donning your winter uniform of coat, boots, hat and thick gloves for a look. Just find a location with a decent view of the southwestern horizon and start looking about a half hour after sunset. Mercury and Venus will be about 10° or one fist held at arm’s length high above the horizon.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- The Windmill's Moon

    01/10/2015 6:22:29 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 16 replies
    NASA ^ | January 10, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Seen from the Canary Island of Fuerteventura, this bright Full Moon rose at sunset. Reaching its full phase on the night of January 4/5, it was the first Full Moon of the new year and the first to follow December's solstice. Of course, in North America the first Full Moon of January has been known as the Wolf's Moon. But this Full Moon, posed in the twilight above an island of strong winds and traditional windmills, suggests another name. The telephoto image, taken at a distance from the foreground windmill, creates the dramatic comparison in apparent size for windmill...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- In the Arms of NGC 1097

    01/10/2015 6:20:58 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 3 replies
    NASA ^ | January 09, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Spiral galaxy NGC 1097 shines in southern skies, about 45 million light-years away in the chemical constellation Fornax. Its blue spiral arms are mottled with pinkish star forming regions in this colorful galaxy portrait. They seem to have wrapped around a small companion galaxy below and left of center, about 40,000 light-years from the spiral's luminous core. That's not NGC 1097's only peculiar feature, though. The very deep exposure hints of faint, mysterious jets, most easily seen to extend well beyond the bluish arms toward the left. In fact, four faint jets are ultimately recognized in optical images of...
  • Here’s a Fresh, Never Before Seen Impact Crater on Mars

    01/09/2015 5:04:08 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 27 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 9, 2015 | Fraser Cain
    This isn’t the first time spacecraft have detected new craters on Mars. In fact, the largest new crater discovered was half the length of a football field. And so far, researchers have turned up more than 400 new craters on the surface of Mars. The Mars Context Camera has completely imaged the entire surface of Mars at least once during its 7-year mission. And with multiple passes, planetary scientists are starting to build up a picture of how the dynamic the surface of Mars can really be.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Stars and Dust in Corona Australis

    01/08/2015 5:16:18 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | January 08, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Cosmic dust clouds and young, energetic stars inhabit this telescopic vista, less than 500 light-years away toward the northern boundary of Corona Australis, the Southern Crown. The dust clouds effectively block light from more distant background stars in the Milky Way. But the striking complex of reflection nebulae cataloged as NGC 6726, 6727, and IC 4812 produce a characteristic blue color as light from the region's young hot stars is reflected by the cosmic dust. The dust also obscures from view stars still in the process of formation. At the left, smaller yellowish nebula NGC 6729 bends around young...
  • The Dark Energy Survey Begins to Reveal Previously Unknown Trans-Neptunian Objects

    01/07/2015 7:35:37 PM PST · by BenLurkin · 15 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 7, 2015 | Tim Reyes
    While asteroids residing in the inner solar system will pass quickly through such small fields, trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs) orbit the Sun much more slowly. For example, Pluto, at an approximate distance of 40 A.U. from the Sun, along with the object Eris, presently the largest of the TNOs, has an apparent motion of about 27 arc seconds per day – although for a half year, the Earth’s orbital motion slows and retrogrades Pluto’s apparent motion. The 27 arc seconds is approximately 1/60th the width of a full Moon. So, from one night to the next, TNOs can travel as much...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Hubble 25th Anniversary: Pillars of Creation

    01/07/2015 8:50:27 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 8 replies
    NASA ^ | January 07, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: To celebrate 25 years (1990-2015) of exploring the Universe from low Earth orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope's cameras were used to revisit its most iconic image. The result is this sharper, wider view of the region dubbed the Pillars of Creation, first imaged by Hubble in 1995. Stars are forming deep inside the towering structures. The light-years long columns of cold gas and dust are some 6,500 light-years distant in M16, the Eagle Nebula, toward the constellation Serpens. Sculpted and eroded by the energetic ultraviolet light and powerful winds from M16's cluster of young, massive stars, the cosmic pillars...
  • Hubble Makes ‘Pillars Of Creation’ Look Better Than Ever

    01/06/2015 8:13:56 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 26 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 6, 2015 | Elizabeth Howell
    Embedded in these Eagle Nebula towers, which are sometimes called elephant trunks, are stars under creation. And in a short span of 20 years, you can see how the stars are slowly blowing the pillars apart. This is leading some press officials to call the structures “pillars of destruction.” And astronomers can chart how everything is changing over time. “I’m impressed by how transitory these structures are. They are actively being ablated away before our very eyes,” stated Paul Scowen of Arizona State University in Tempe, one of the astronomers who led the 1995 observations.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- 100 Million Stars in the Andromeda Galaxy

    01/06/2015 4:47:39 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 22 replies
    NASA ^ | January 06, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What stars compose the Andromeda galaxy? To better understand, a group of researchers studied the nearby spiral by composing the largest image ever taken with the Hubble Space Telescope. The result, called the Panchromatic Hubble Andromeda Treasury (PHAT), involved thousands of observations, hundreds of fields, spanned about a third of the galaxy, and resolved over 100 million stars. In the featured composite image, the central part of the galaxy is seen on the far left, while a blue spiral arm is prominent on the right. The brightest stars, scattered over the frame, are actually Milky Way foreground stars. The...
  • Catch Mercury Brushing Past Venus in a Spectacular Dusk ‘Quasi-Conjunction’ This Week

    01/05/2015 9:05:39 AM PST · by BenLurkin · 4 replies
    universetoday.com ^ | on January 5, 2015 | David Dickinson
    Missing Venus? The third brightest natural object in the heavens returns to prime time dusk skies in 2015 after being absent and lingering in the dawn for most of 2014. But there’s another reason to hunt down the Cytherean world this week, as elusive Mercury chases after it low in the dusk. If you’ve never seen Mercury for yourself, now is a great time to try, using brilliant Venus as a guide.
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- A Fox Fur, a Unicorn, and a Christmas Tree

    01/05/2015 7:57:10 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 4 replies
    NASA ^ | January 05, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: What do the following things have in common: a cone, the fur of a fox, and a Christmas tree? Answer: they all occur in the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros). Pictured as a star forming region and cataloged as NGC 2264, the complex jumble of cosmic gas and dust is about 2,700 light-years distant and mixes reddish emission nebulae excited by energetic light from newborn stars with dark interstellar dust clouds. Where the otherwise obscuring dust clouds lie close to the hot, young stars they also reflect starlight, forming blue reflection nebulae. The image spans about the diameter of...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Crescent Rhea Occults Crescent Saturn

    01/04/2015 7:50:02 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 13 replies
    NASA ^ | January 04, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Soft hues, partially lit orbs, a thin trace of the ring, and slight shadows highlight this understated view of the majestic surroundings of the giant planet Saturn. Looking nearly back toward the Sun, the robot Cassini spacecraft now orbiting Saturn captured crescent phases of Saturn and its moon Rhea in color a few years ago. As striking as the above image is, it is but a single frame from a 60-frame silent movie where Rhea can be seen gliding in front of its parent world. Since Cassini was nearly in the plane of Saturn's rings, the normally impressive rings...
  • Astronomy Picture of the Day -- Apollo 17: A Stereo View from Lunar Orbit

    01/03/2015 6:30:15 AM PST · by SunkenCiv · 5 replies
    NASA ^ | January 03, 2015 | (see photo credit)
    Explanation: Get out your red/blue glasses and check out this awesome stereo view of another world. The scene was recorded by Apollo 17 mission commander Eugene Cernan on December 11, 1972, one orbit before descending to land on the Moon. The stereo anaglyph was assembled from two photographs (AS17-147-22465, AS17-147-22466) captured from his vantage point on board the Lunar Module Challenger as he and Dr. Harrison Schmitt flew over Apollo 17's landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley. The broad, sunlit face of the mountain dubbed South Massif rises near the center of the frame, above the dark floor of Taurus-Littrow...