Archive for the ‘Astrophography’ Category

Our Photos from the Annular Solar Eclipse May 2012

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Brighton Astronomy Group Solar Photos:

We had an awesome yesterday in UT. I got to see my first Annular Solar Eclipse.
We made some new friends. Some of the things we noticed during the eclipse were of course the change in the light. We also watched the temperature change from 85 degrees Fahrenheit to 71 degrees Fahrenheit.
I have placed some photos in our Gallery of our Web Site under Astrophotography, then Solar.

How to see the “supernova of a generation” with a pair of binoculars

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

Source – Berkeley Lab / lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory:

A supernova discovered yesterday is closer to Earth — approximately 21 million light-years away — than any other of its kind in a generation. Astronomers believe they caught the supernova within hours of its explosion, a rare feat made possible with a specialized survey telescope and state-of-the-art computational tools

At a mere 21 million light-years from Earth, a relatively small distance by astronomical standards, the supernova is still getting brighter, and might even be visible with good binoculars in ten days’ time, appearing brighter than any other supernova of its type in the last 30 years.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, an unusual, ghostly green blob of gas

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Source – Hubble Site News Center, January 10, 2011 : http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/

One of the strangest space objects ever seen is being scrutinized by the penetrating vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. A mysterious, glowing green blob of gas is floating in space near a spiral galaxy. Hubble uncovered delicate filaments of gas and a pocket of young star clusters in the giant object, which is the size of our Milky Way galaxy.

The Hubble revelations are the latest finds in an ongoing probe of Hanny’s Voorwerp (Hanny’s Object in Dutch), named for Hanny van Arkel, the Dutch teacher who discovered the ghostly structure in 2007 while participating in the online Galaxy Zoo project. Galaxy Zoo enlists the public to help classify more than a million galaxies catalogued in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The project has expanded to include the Hubble Zoo, in which the public is asked to assess tens of thousands of galaxies in deep imagery from the Hubble Space Telescope.

In the sharpest view yet of Hanny’s Voorwerp, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 and Advanced Camera for Surveys have uncovered star birth in a region of the green object that faces the spiral galaxy IC 2497, located about 650 million light-years from Earth. Radio observations have shown an outflow of gas arising from the galaxy’s core. The new Hubble images reveal that the galaxy’s gas is interacting with a small region of Hanny’s Voorwerp, which is collapsing and forming stars. The youngest stars are a couple of million years old.

“The star clusters are localized, confined to an area that is over a few thousand light-years wide,” explains astronomer William Keel of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, leader of the Hubble study. “The region may have been churning out stars for several million years. They are so dim that they have previously been lost in the brilliant light of the surrounding gas.”

Recent X-ray observations have revealed why Hanny’s Voorwerp caught the eye of astronomers. The galaxy’s rambunctious core produced a quasar, a powerful light beacon powered by a black hole. The quasar shot a broad beam of light in Hanny’s Voorwerp’s direction, illuminating the gas cloud and making it a space oddity. Its bright green color is from glowing oxygen.

“We just missed catching the quasar, because it turned off no more than 200,000 years ago, so what we’re seeing is the afterglow from the quasar,” Keel says. “This implies that it might flicker on and off, which is typical of quasars, but we’ve never seen such a dramatic change happen so rapidly.”

The quasar’s outburst also may have cast a shadow on the blob. This feature gives the illusion of a gaping hole about 20,000 light-years wide in Hanny’s Voorwerp. Hubble reveals sharp edges around the apparent opening, suggesting that an object close to the quasar may have blocked some of the light and projected a shadow on Hanny’s Voorwerp. This phenomenon is similar to a fly on a movie projector lens casting a shadow on a movie screen.

Radio studies have revealed that Hanny’s Voorwerp is not just an island gas cloud floating in space. The glowing blob is part of a long, twisting rope of gas, or tidal tail, about 300,000 light-years long that wraps around the galaxy. The only optically visible part of the rope is Hanny’s Voorwerp. The illuminated object is so huge that it stretches from 44,000 light-years to 136,000 light-years from the galaxy’s core.

The quasar, the outflow of gas that instigated the star birth, and the long, gaseous tidal tail point to a rough life for IC 2497.

“The evidence suggests that IC 2497 may have merged with another galaxy about a billion years ago,” Keel explains. “The Hubble images show in exquisite detail that the spiral arms are twisted, so the galaxy hasn’t completely settled down.”

In Keel’s scenario, the merger expelled the long streamer of gas from the galaxy and funneled gas and stars into the center, which fed the black hole. The engorged black hole then powered the quasar, which launched two cones of light. One light beam illuminated part of the tidal tail, now called Hanny’s Voorwerp.

About a million years ago, shock waves produced glowing gas near the galaxy’s core and blasted it outward. The glowing gas is seen only in Hubble images and spectra, Keel says. The outburst may have triggered star formation in Hanny’s Voorwerp. Less than 200,000 years ago, the quasar dropped in brightness by 100 times or more, leaving an ordinary-looking core.

New images of the galaxy’s dusty core from Hubble’s Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph show an expanding bubble of gas blown out of one side of the core, perhaps evidence of the sputtering quasar’s final gasps. The expanding ring of gas is still too small for ground-based telescopes to detect.

“This quasar may have been active for a few million years, which perhaps indicates that quasars blink on and off on timescales of millions of years, not the 100 million years that theory had suggested,” Keel says. He added that the quasar could light up again if more material is dumped around the black hole.

Keel is presenting his results on Jan. 10, 2011, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle, Wash.

CONTACT
Donna Weaver
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4493
dweaver@stsci.edu

William Keel
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Ala.
205-348-1641
wkeel@bama.ua.edu

GIANT STORM ON SATURN: Got a telescope for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

Source – Space Weather News for Wednesday, Dec. 29, 2010: http://spaceweather.com

Got a telescope for Christmas? Point it at Saturn. A giant storm even brighter than Saturn’s rings is raging through the planet’s cloudtops. “I’ve never seen anything like this,” says veteran planetary photographer Anthony Wesley. “It’s possible that this is the biggest storm on Saturn in many decades.” Here it is recorded by Wesley’s 16-inch telescope on Dec. 22nd:

Instruments on NASA’s Cassini spacecraft are picking up strong bursts of radio static. Apparently, lightning is being generated in multiple cells across the storm front. Cassini’s cameras are also beaming back fantastic images of the tempest.

“At it’s current size and brightness, the storm should be visible to anyone with a mid-size scope under steady seeing,” continues Wesley. “This is a great time to be a planetary photographer.”

Winter Solstice Lunar Eclipse 12/21/2010

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Solstice Lunar Eclipse 12-21-10

This is the first time since nearly 400 years ago during the time of Galileo a lunar eclipse has taken place on the winter solstice, this was a rear event to been seen. The next visible total lunar eclipse in the United States will not happen until April 15, 2014

JUPITER’S MISSING STRIPE, RETURNING?

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Source – Space Weather News for Friday, Nov. 12, 2010: http://spaceweather.com

Earlier this year when Jupiter’s great South Equatorial Belt (SEB) vanished, researchers urged amateur astronomers to be alert for its eventual return. The SEB had come and gone before, they noted, and the revival was something to behold. Alert: It might be happening now. After months of quiet in Jupiter’s south equatorial zone, a white plume is surging through the cloudtops where the SEB should be.
It might not look like much, but this is how a revival of the SEB begins–a small disturbance in the upper atmosphere heralds a much larger profusion of spots and swirls bursting forth around the whole circumference of the giant planet. Amid the confusion, Jupiter’s vast brown stripe emerges.
Subsequent observations by astronomers in the United States, Japan, and the Philippines not only confirm the plume, but also show it brightening rapidly. Indeed, as Nov. 12th unfolds, it is the single brightest spot on Jupiter in wavebands ranging from infrared to ultraviolet.

“This plume is so energetic that we can confidently expect it to develop into the SEB Revival,” says John Rogers, director of the Jupiter section of the British Astronomical Association. “The SEB Revival is usually spectacular, so we can expect impressive and rapidly changing disturbances over the next 3 months.”

Experienced planetary photographers are encouraged to monitor developments. If events proceed apace, the Revival could become visible to novices using small backyard telescopes, so stay tuned.

Denver Museum of Nature and Science: Hubble Space Telescope (HST) COSTAR package On Exhibit

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

I made it to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) COSTAR package Saturday. The COSTAR is located near the T-rex Café. The package is protected by a Plexiglas covering It is about the size of a grand piano. COSTAR stands for Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement. This is the instrument that resolved the issue with flawed mirror problem that prevented Hubble from a clear focus. It needed eyeglasses and COSTAR was it. It was built by Ball Aerospace Corp. and installed in 1993. Since then other service missions have replace the old packages with their own corrective optics. COSTAR was removed from HST in 2009 during the fifth servicing mission and replaced by the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph.

Check out the photos in our gallery under telescopes at our website.

While I was there I also got to see the new upgraded IMAX. It is now digital and in 3-D. This was the first 3-D movie I seen in years. Wow how the technology has changed. I watched the HUBBLE 3-D movie wow between the sound system and the 3-D views it was amazing, I would recommend seeing it if you haven’t yet, it is definitely worth it.

Camera That Saved Hubble to Visit Museum : Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Source – Denver Museum of Nature : http://www.dmns.org

DENVER – October 12, 2010 – Beginning this Friday, October 15, the Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, WFPC2, will be on display for a limited time at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. The supercamera, which is the size of a baby grand piano, is credited with saving the Hubble Space Telescope mission and providing unprecedented and crystal clear pictures of our universe.

“The Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 ranks right up there with Galileo’s telescope and Newton’s apple, from a space science standpoint,” said Steven Lee, PhD, the Museum’s curator of planetary science. “From the public standpoint, this camera is Hubble. Hosting the WFPC2 is an amazing opportunity our museum, especially given the timing of our IMAX 3D grand opening featuring the Hubble film and our Space and Sea Spectacular scheduled for this weekend.”

Museum visitors will have a unique opportunity to see this remarkable scientific instrument, complete with several “craters” in its outer skin that were caused by micrometeorite impacts during its years in orbit. Special related programming will be offered on Saturday, October 16, and Sunday, October 17, during the Museum’s Space and Sea Spectacular, which is included with general admission. Additionally, visitors to the Museum’s new IMAX 3D theater will experience actual 3D footage taken in 2009 when shuttle astronauts removed WFPC2 from Hubble.

The Story of the WFPC2
The WFPC2 camera replaced the first camera on board NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched in 1990 with the promise that it would bring in a new era of astronomical discovery. Soon after the launch, NASA learned that the first camera had a defective main mirror and transmitted only blurred images back to Earth. After three years of work by NASA scientists, the WFPC2 was installed and soon the camera began offering stunning, razor-sharp images of our universe.

For 16 years, the WFPC2 offered front-row seats to the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter, provided dramatic evidence for super-massive black holes at the core of many galaxies, detected thousands of galaxies in a “blank” region of the sky, observed weather on many of our neighboring planets, and returned views of star-birth in the Eagle Nebula’s “Pillars of Creation.” Many of these images were not only incredibly valuable to scientists, but also incredibly beautiful to the general public. Hubble became “the people’s telescope,” and the WFPC2 was the workhorse instrument of the mission; it was the camera that saved Hubble.

The WFPC2 was replaced with a new camera and returned to Earth in 2009, during the final Shuttle mission to service the Hubble–and this effort became the storyline of Hubble, now playing in IMAX 3D at the Museum. Since May 2010, the camera has been on display at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, where it was built. Through a special loan arrangement with NASA, it will make a brief stop in Denver while en route to NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Facility in Maryland.

Space & Sea Spectacular – IMAX 3D Opening Celebration
Free with Museum Admission on Saturday, October 16 and Sunday, October 17
The Museum is celebrating the grand opening of its new IMAX 3D theater with a weekend full of free special programs and activities centered around space and sea. Visitors will learn about 3D photography, view the Sun through solar telescopes, explore the world of robotics, and take a look at some of the amazing sea shells from the Museum’s collections. Special guests will conduct chemistry experiments, give tours of the universe, answer questions about the fin whale skeleton floating overhead, and more. Below are highlights.

• 12:30 p.m. on Sunday – Astronaut Emeritus Bruce McCandless II shares stories of his space exploration and connection to the Hubble. He worked on designing Hubble to be serviceable in orbit, and was an astronaut on the April 1990 space shuttle mission that carried the telescope into orbit. He will participate in Q&A with the audience and be surrounded by dramatic space images within the planetarium.
• 3 p.m. on Sunday – McCandless shows the WFPC2 and the explains features engineered into Hubble and its instruments that allow for the on-orbit “house calls” and have made Hubble one of the premier scientific endeavors of all time
• 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday – Steve Lee, the Museum’s space science curator, will explain his use of the Hubble Space Telescope and WFPC2 to observe weather on Mars.
IMAX 3D Digital Upgrades
The Museum recently completed digital upgrades to the latest IMAX 3D technology, which now delivers the world’s most immersive movie experience. Enhancements in the theater include IMAX’s powerful digital projection system, IMAX’s latest digital sound system, and a new IMAX screen.

Hubble 3D
Hubble 3D offers a gripping story full of hope, crushing disappointment, dazzling ingenuity, bravery, and triumph. Hubble recounts the amazing journey of the Hubble Space Telescope, arguably the most important scientific instrument since Galileo’s original telescope and the greatest success in space since the moon landing. Narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio and presented with the latest 3D technology, Hubble will change the way you see the universe. Showing daily at 11:30 a.m., 2 p.m., and 4 p.m., with an additional showing at 6 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. View the trailer and see ticket prices.

Camera That Saved Hubble to Visit Museum : Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Images from the WFPC2
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/index.html
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/hubble/main/hubble20th.html
http://hubblesite.org/

ASTEROID FLYBY: Tuesday

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Source – Space Weather News for Monday, Oct. 11, 2010: http://spaceweather.com

Newly-discovered asteroid 2010 TD54 will fly by Earth on Tuesday, Oct. 12th, about 46,000 km above the planet’s surface. At closest approach, the 7-meter space rock will shine like a 14th magnitude star as it races through the constellations Pisces and Aquarius. Advanced amateur astronomers can track the flight of 2010 TD54 using this ephemeris. There is no danger of a collision.

MUST-SEE PLANET: Jupiter Still Looking Good.

Sunday, October 3rd, 2010

Source – Space Weather News for Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010: http://spaceweather.com

MUST-SEE PLANET: Jupiter’s super-close encounter with Earth ended two weeks ago, right? Not so fast: The show is still going on. Jupiter is receding from Earth so slowly, the planet is practically as big and bright as it was on Sept. 20th.