Dark Matter

Here is something to think about: only about 4 percent of the Universe is visible? According to James Gillies a CERN scientist it is and who am I to argue.

Will we every really figure it out? I think so, maybe not 100 percent and not all at once, rather in spurts over time just enough to keep us working at it. That’s what science is all about.

Source

 

Hubblesite’s ISON Blog

A fantastic image of ISON in April just released taken by Hubble.  Click for larger. Image credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

A fantastic image of ISON in April just released taken by Hubble. Click for larger. Image credit NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Have a look at this Hubble image of ISON; wow it’s amazing on so many levels, it’s destined to be on my desktop.

The internet conspiracy activity is beginning to blossom. LOL. I’ve also gotten emails trying to explain how and why ISON is in the process of fizzling out to be a non-event later this year.

I’m not going to bite at least until I hear it from a reputable source like the new Hubblesite ISONblog which promises a great source of current data about ISON over time.

Here’s part of what Hubblesite has to say about this image and if you want larger versions of it, perhaps for your desktops click here:

In this Hubble Space Telescope composite image taken in April 2013, the sun-approaching Comet ISON floats against a seemingly infinite backdrop of numerous galaxies and a handful of foreground stars. The icy visitor, with its long gossamer tail, appears to be swimming like a tadpole through a deep pond of celestial wonders.

First Light for IRIS

The first light image from the new IRIS spacecraft.  Click for larger. Credit: NASA

The first light image from the new IRIS spacecraft. Click for larger. Credit: NASA

Last week NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph observatory opened its eyes to the Sun.

From the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics:

This image from NASA’s IRIS spacecraft shows the region around two sunspots – the dark areas at upper left and lower right. It shows emission from ionized silicon (Si IV) in the transition region at a temperature of about 116,000 degrees Fahrenheit, plus ultraviolet continuum from the chromosphere at a temperature of about 17,000 degrees F. The bright dots are short-lived, intense patches of Si IV emission. The role that these dynamic events have in heating the solar atmosphere is currently unknown.

irissdo

Above is a wider shot of the same region from the Solar Dynamics Observatory.  Credit: NASA

Curiosity’s Travels

The MRO captures the travels of the rover Curiosity in this HiRISE image.  Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The MRO captures the travels of the rover Curiosity in this HiRISE image. Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter aimed it’s high resolution camera known as HiRISE (High Resolution Science Experiment)at the area where the rover Curiosity is working. I should say where it was on June 27th.

On the left you can see two dark spots called Bradbury Landing. The spots were created when the landing jets from the Curiosity lander blew away the red surface coating with the rocket jet blast.

From there going to the right you can easily see Curiosity’s tracks. To put some scale on this image, those tracks are about 3 meters (10 feet) apart. If you follow the tracks sure enough you will end up at Curiosity which shows up as a shiney object near an outcrop called Shaler located in the “Glenelg” area of Gale Crater. The rover has since moved to the southwest.

Larger versions including a full-res TIFF are availble at the JPL/Cal Tech web page with the image located here.
The MRO captures the travels of the rover Curiosity in this HiRISE image. Click for larger. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

The Perseids are Coming!

YAY!!

Arguably one of, if not the finest showers of the year even aside from the fireballs and when one of them comes along, the wow factor goes way up. Bonus city!

I’ll have more on the shower itself in a few days. For now this shower is perfect for that camping trip you keep putting off. I think this is going to be a good year too, the moon will set at 10:38 local time and it’s only about a third full so it shouldn’t be much of an issue. The weather would be the only concern.

If you have never seen a meteor shower before, I mean other than a few “shooting stars”  by accident, this is THE one to see!

Me? If I have the weather you just know I’m going to take the 13th off!  I am going to be situated in one of those lawn chairs you can pretty much turn into a cot. Oh yeah, nice and comfortable (that’s the key) I’m SO ready.

Source

Spitzer and Comet ISON

The Spitzer Space Telescope examines comet ISON. Click for larger. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

The Spitzer Space Telescope examines comet ISON. Click for larger. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/UCF

The beginning of a obseving campaign of our next Great Comet, ISON and what an observing campaign it should be considering the suite of instruments available nowadays.

The press release from NASA/JPL:

These images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of C/2012 S1 (Comet ISON) were taken on June 13, when ISON was 310 million miles (about 500 million kilometers) from the sun. The images were taken with the telescope’s infrared array camera at two different near-infrared wavelengths, 3.6 and 4.5 microns (the representational colors shown were selected to enhance visibility). The 3.6-micron image on the left shows a tail of fine rocky dust issuing from the comet and blown back by the pressure of sunlight as the comet speeds towards the sun (the tail points away from the sun). The image on the right side shows the 4.5-micron image with the 3.6-micron image information (dust) removed, and reveals a very different round structure — the first detection of a neutral gas atmosphere surrounding ISON. In this case, it is most likely created by carbon dioxide that is “fizzing” from the surface of the comet at a rate of about 2.2 million pounds (1 million kilograms) a day.

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Hawking at Comic Con

Sorry folks, I’m watching an episode of the Big Bang Theory right now and I couldn’t help myself. :mrgreen:

From the WB on YouTube

World-renowned author/physicist Stephen Hawking kicked off the fun at THE BIG BANG THEORY Comic-Con panel on Friday, July 19, 2013, via a pre-recorded video segment shot in his Cambridge office. Hawking greeted Comic-Con fans and — in his own inimitable, self-deprecating way — cleared up any confusion about our universal origins by explaining the actual “Big Bang” theory in only 17 words! #WBSDCC

MESSENGER Looks at Earth

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Earth and moon as it looks from the planet Mercury a la MESSENGER. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

Yesterday we had a look at Earth from the Cassini spacecraft which is in the Saturn system. Today we get a look from the MESSENGER spacecraft which is orbiting around Mercury.

The MESSENGER spacecraft was actually doing a survey looking for moons. You would at first think if Mercury had a moon it should be easy to spot. Not so! Mercury is so elusive owing to it being so close to the sun. The only time we get to see Mercury is when it is reaches eastern or western elogation, the point at which it is either east or west of the Sun from our perspective. When at elongation it is either leading or lagging the Sun so it becomes visible before sun rise or after sun set for a short time.

If you have a good look at the eastern horizon Mercury will in fact be at western elongation on July 30, so you should be able to see it just before sunrise.  Be VERY careful not to include the Sun in your sights accidently!

No doubt some of you are going to notice the “Earth” has a bit of a tear-drop shape, this is from over exposure and the way a chip handles the light. You’ve heard me say planetary photography is very difficult, for me, this is why.

so here is part of the MESSENGER caption and if you would like to see a larger version of the image pay the MESSENGER site a visit – go ahead, it’s worth the click.

The pair of bright star-like features in the upper panel are not stars at all, but the Earth and Moon! MESSENGER was at a distance of 98 million kilometers (61 million miles) from Earth when this picture was taken. The computer-generated image in the lower left shows how the Earth appeared from Mercury at the time. Much of the Americas, all of Europe and Africa, the Middle East, and much of Asia were visible.

MESSENGER took this image as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of Mercury. Mercury has no moons that we know of. If any exist, they must be small (less than a few kilometers), or we would have seen them by now. The strategy for the satellite search involves taking multiple images of locations at predetermined distances from Mercury, from 2.5 to 25 times the planet radius. Pictures of these points in space are captured at intervals ranging from seconds to nearly an hour, depending on their distances from Mercury. A moving satellite will appear at different positions in images of the same region of space taken at different times.

The Earth and Moon appear very large in this picture because they are overexposed. When looking for potentially dim satellites, long exposures are required to capture as much light as possible. Consequently, bright objects in the field of view become saturated and appear artificially large. In fact, the Earth and Moon are each less than a pixel in size, and no details on either can be seen. The “tails” pointing downward from the Earth and Moon are artifacts caused by the image saturation. These can be seen clearly in the zoomed image in the center lower panel.

Cassini Looks Homeward

Earth as seen by the Cassini spacecraft.  Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

Earth as seen by the Cassini spacecraft. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

THAT’S US!

I am impressed!! Cassini returned a great picture and the mission team did a fabulous job processing the image. I mean look at it, even from 898 million miles the Earth can be easily recognized.

You know you want a desktop of this, I have mine already and it looks great.

The moon can be seen in this image but not easily or at least for me. Read the story and see all the larger versions including a Earth moon image and get your desktop version.

Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae

Globular Cluster 47 Tucanae
Source: Hubblesite.org

Hubble gives us this nice image of the globular cluster 47 Tucanae. As I have an affinity for globular clusters, so this was of particular interest. I was always of the school that globular clusters were mainly old stars with only a few new one mixed in. That still holds ture of course just not to the extent I thought.

Astronomers looking at this particular globular have been busy with some surpirising results. I can only suppose these results could hold true for all globulars (?); I’m not ready to concede that just yet but this is pretty coold stuff. I’ll let them explain.

Read the Hubble press release.