Posts Tagged ‘Telescope’

Astronomers Find Massive Diamond Planet Orbits Neutron Star

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

An Interview with John Dobson Jan 2010

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Source Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

John Lowry Dobson (born September 14, 1915) is a popularizer of amateur astronomy. He is most notable for being the promoter of a design for large, portable, low-cost Newtonian reflecting telescopes that bears his name, the Dobsonian telescope. The design is considered revolutionary since it allowed amateur astronomers to build extremely large telescopes. He is less known for his efforts to promote awareness of astronomy (and his unorthodox views of cosmology) through public lectures including his performances of “sidewalk astronomy.” John Dobson is also the co-founder of the amateur astronomical group, the San Francisco Sidewalk Astronomers

Earth-Size Planet Candidates Found in Habitable Zone

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Source – JPL/NASA: Earth-Size Planet Candidates Found in Habitable Zone
February 02, 2011

PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Kepler mission has discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the habitable zone, a region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface. Five of the potential planets are near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of smaller, cooler stars than our sun.

Candidates require follow-up observations to verify they are actual planets. Kepler also found six confirmed planets orbiting a sun-like star, Kepler-11. This is the largest group of transiting planets orbiting a single star yet discovered outside our solar system.

“In one generation we have gone from extraterrestrial planets being a mainstay of science fiction, to the present, where Kepler has helped turn science fiction into today’s reality,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “These discoveries underscore the importance of NASA’s science missions, which consistently increase understanding of our place in the cosmos.”

The discoveries are part of several hundred new planet candidates identified in new Kepler mission science data, released on Tuesday, Feb. 1. The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. Of the 54 new planet candidates found in the habitable zone, five are near Earth-sized. The remaining 49 habitable zone candidates range from super-Earth size — up to twice the size of Earth — to larger than Jupiter.

The findings are based on the results of observations conducted May 12 to Sept. 17, 2009, of more than 156,000 stars in Kepler’s field of view, which covers approximately one four-hundredth of the sky.

“The fact that we’ve found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy,” said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., the mission’s science principal investigator. “We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water.”

Among the stars with planetary candidates, 170 show evidence of multiple planetary candidates. Kepler-11, located approximately 2,000 light years from Earth, is the most tightly packed planetary system yet discovered. All six of its confirmed planets have orbits smaller than Venus, and five of the six have orbits smaller than Mercury’s. The only other star with more than one confirmed transiting planet is Kepler-9, which has three. The Kepler-11 findings will be published in the Feb. 3 issue of the journal Nature.

“Kepler-11 is a remarkable system whose architecture and dynamics provide clues about its formation,” said Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist and Kepler science team member at Ames. “These six planets are mixtures of rock and gases, possibly including water. The rocky material accounts for most of the planets’ mass, while the gas takes up most of their volume. By measuring the sizes and masses of the five inner planets, we determined they are among the lowest-mass confirmed planets beyond our solar system.”

All of the planets orbiting Kepler-11 are larger than Earth, with the largest ones being comparable in size to Uranus and Neptune. The innermost planet, Kepler-11b, is 10 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun. Moving outward, the other planets are Kepler-11c, Kepler-11d, Kepler-11e, Kepler-11f, and the outermost planet, Kepler-11g, which is half as far from its star as Earth is from the sun.

The planets Kepler-11d, Kepler-11e and Kepler-11f have a significant amount of light gas, which indicates that they formed within a few million years of the system’s formation.

“The historic milestones Kepler makes with each new discovery will determine the course of every exoplanet mission to follow,” said Douglas Hudgins, Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Kepler, a space telescope, looks for planet signatures by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars caused by planets crossing in front of them. This is known as a transit. Since transits of planets in the habitable zone of sun-like stars occur about once a year and require three transits for verification, it is expected to take three years to locate and verify Earth-size planets orbiting sun-like stars.

The Kepler science team uses ground-based telescopes and NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope to review observations on planetary candidates and other objects of interest the spacecraft finds. The star field that Kepler observes in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra can only be seen from ground-based observatories in spring through early fall. The data from these other observations help determine which candidates can be validated as planets.

Ames manages Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data. Kepler is NASA’s 10th Discovery Mission and is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate at the agency’s headquarters. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

For more information about the Kepler mission, visit: .
More information about NASA’s planet-hunting efforts is online at: .

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Trent Perrotto 202-358-0321
Headquarters, Washington


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 :

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

NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Two Planets Transiting the Same Star

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Source – JPL NASA August 26, 2010: NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Two Planets Transiting the Same Star Worlds on the Edge
The star system is oriented edge-on, as seen by Kepler, such that both planets cross in front, or transit, their star, named Kepler-9. This is the first star system found to have multiple transiting planets.

MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. — NASA’s Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star.

The transit signatures of two distinct planets were seen in the data for the sun-like star designated Kepler-9. The planets were named Kepler-9b and 9c. The discovery incorporates seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system. The findings will be published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Science.

Kepler’s ultra-precise camera measures tiny decreases in the stars’ brightness that occur when a planet transits them. The size of the planet can be derived from these temporary dips.

The distance of the planet from the star can be calculated by measuring the time between successive dips as the planet orbits the star. Small variations in the regularity of these dips can be used to determine the masses of planets and detect other non-transiting planets in the system.

In June, mission scientists submitted findings for peer review that identified more than 700 planet candidates in the first 43 days of Kepler data. The data included five additional candidate systems that appear to exhibit more than one transiting planet. The Kepler team recently identified a sixth target exhibiting multiple transits and accumulated enough follow-up data to confirm this multi-planet system.

“Kepler’s high quality data and round-the-clock coverage of transiting objects enable a whole host of unique measurements to be made of the parent stars and their planetary systems,” said Doug Hudgins, the Kepler program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Scientists refined the estimates of the masses of the planets using observations from the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. The observations show Kepler-9b is the larger of the two planets, and both have masses similar to but less than Saturn. Kepler-9b lies closest to the star with an orbit of about 19 days, while Kepler-9c has an orbit of about 38 days. By observing several transits by each planet over the seven months of data, the time between successive transits could be analyzed.

“This discovery is the first clear detection of significant changes in the intervals from one planetary transit to the next, what we call transit timing variations,” said Matthew Holman, a Kepler mission scientist from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Mass. “This is evidence of the gravitational interaction between the two planets as seen by the Kepler spacecraft.”

In addition to the two confirmed giant planets, Kepler scientists also have identified what appears to be a third, much smaller transit signature in the observations of Kepler-9. That signature is consistent with the transits of a super-Earth-sized planet about 1.5 times the radius of Earth in a scorching, near-sun 1.6 day-orbit. Additional observations are required to determine whether this signal is indeed a planet or an astronomical phenomenon that mimics the appearance of a transit.

NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., manages Kepler’s ground system development, mission operations and science data analysis. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., managed Kepler mission development.

Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. in Boulder, Colo., developed the Kepler flight system and supports mission operations with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore archives, hosts and distributes the Kepler science data.

NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Two Planets Transiting the Same Star.

Wow a 30 inch Dob.

Monday, July 19th, 2010

This weekend we had our Monthly Public Star Party at Observatory Park on Saturday.
The weather cooperated with us again for the 2nd month in a row the weather will start out cloudy windy and threating rain. Then the Sun goes down and the clouds go away, and tada it clear. I think this is the reason why we have had such low turnouts the last two month. People see its cloudy and think it’s going to be a bad night. I’m real glad it worked out. Neil from our group brought out his 30 inch dob to share with everyone. You can see it at this link in our gallery under star parties July 17, 2010 Public Star Party Wow M13 looks like you could almost count ever star in it. Then Jupiter oh me oh my gosh……

James Webb VS. The Hubble Telescope

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The James Webb Space Telescope has been called the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope. How will the Webb telescope be different than Hubble?
Follow the link below to see the differences

Interactive of how the James Webb stacks up to the Hubble.

New Photos Up Loaded

Friday, April 30th, 2010

It has been a busy April for the group.

I have put up some new photos in the Gallery under Star Parties

Last Night at the Brighton High School Science Palooza a reporter from Fox 31 New Posted the Pictures he took of the US and some of the contestants’ entries. Click on this link to seen them.

Wes and Adam of The Brighton Astronomy Group is with the Telescope the astronomy group will be given away to a local Brighton High School or to Prairie View High School student who wins the essay contest.

Brighton High School Science Palooza

Friday, April 30th, 2010

We had a great time at the Brighton High School Science Palooza.

We donated 3 door prizes for those who could answer the following questions

1. Grade School Level “What is Astronomy?” Winner won a DVD on “Wheels on Mars”
2. Junior High School Level “What is a Light Year” Winner won “Starry Night Screen Saver”
3. High School Level “What is the Event Horizon” Winner won a 7×17 power binoculars with AM/FM Radio