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OPEN HOUSE TONIGHT! March 26, 2010

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Come at 8:00PM for the monthly open house at the Observatory tonight. It looks like it will be  clear tonight  (WOOT). Views of the moon, Saturn and Mars.

EIU Observatory

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Astronomy Club tonight …7:30PM March 24, 2010

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Come early time tonight come to room 2153 Physical Science Building, 7:30 PM. We will then take a trip out to the Astronomical Research Institutes new home for a tour. Also nominations of officers fro next year.

Snug in its new home, just add optics and start tracking asteroids

NEW PODCAST: Why Go to the Zoo? March 19, 2010

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Anyone can help discover new stuff in Galaxy Zoo- but why do people bother in the first place? Jordan Raddick responds with some unexpected insight into why people donate their time for open science. Project Calliope LLC. Email: antunes@nasw.org URL: http://projectcalliope.com/ http://scientificblogging.com/sky_day— Bio: Born in the heart of a dying star (as we were all), Alex draws from his research, writing, and game design work to bring you the joy of science twice a week at ScientificBlogging.com/sky_day– and to launch the first personal science/music satellite via ProjectCalliope.com.

http://365daysofastronomy.org/2010/03/19/march-19th-why-go-to-the-zoo/

First Sunspot Photo! March 16, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Observatory, Solar and Space weather.
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It’s spring break at EIU and today I finally  installed the full aperture solar filter, which cuts down the light by a factor of 100,000 on the 16″ telescope. Until 2010 there were no sunspots to see;  then there were no clear skies, and no time with the semester beginning. But with spring break I had some fun. Good news… I get to do this at noon, NOT at 3:00 in the morning. Bad news… focusing can take a while since I did not have some nice bright pinpoint stars. You have to use a blue filter and .12 second exposure (the fastest the ST-8 camera will do), or else you overexpose the picture. Picture taken at F-10 (4000mm focal length)

First sunspot photo through the 16" scope

White Dwarf Star System Exceeds Chandrasakar’s Mass Limit!? March 15, 2010

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Type 1a Supernova

Richard Scalzo of Yale, as part of called the Nearby Supernova Factory, a collaboration of American and French physicists, has measured the mass of the white dwarf star that resulted in one of these rare supernovae, called SN 2007if, and found it exceeded the Chandrasekhar limit.

It is thought that white dwarfs could not exceed what is known as the Chandrasekhar limit, a critical mass of about 1.4 times that of the Sun, before exploding in a type Ia supernova. This assumption is crucial in measuring distances to supernovae, and using them as standard candles

Using observations from telescopes in Chile, Hawaii and California, the team was able to measure the mass of the central star, the shell and the envelope individually, providing the first conclusive evidence that the star system itself did indeed surpass the Chandrasekhar limit. They found that the star itself appears to have had a mass of 2.1 times the mass of the Sun (plus or minus 10 percent), putting it well above the limit.

More information: Paper: http://arxiv.org/abs/1003.2217

Provided by Yale University

50″ Mirror out of the Kiln! March 11, 2010

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50" Mirror blank, with yardstick resting on the top (Photo: ARI)

Progress on the 1.3-m mirror blank

The 1.3m telescope mirror blank has been completed by Peter Wangsness and is now out of the furnace and will be shipped to JP Astrocraft in Charleston for generating the f/4.0 curve. After generating the it will be shipped to Lockwood Optics in Champaign, for grinding, polishing and figuring.

Mike Lockwood and his mirror grinding machine

Mike Lockwood and his mirror grinding machine ( Photo: Mike Lockwood)

More good news; the EIU Physics students are done with refurbishing the mount for the 30″ roboscope. Next week we hope to put some new motors on and test it out…more photos to come!

Type Ia supernova TALK at 4:00 TODAY March 9, 2010

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Room 2153 Physical Science Building

And as a sweetener we will have coffee and cookies at 3:45.  Some come for the cookies at 3:45 then we get to blow up some stars at 4:00! What more could you want!

How about a working dome!

EIU Observatory

The slit opening to the dome is working again. We just had to alleviate some of the tension on the steel cables, and now we can open the slit (and close it). My thanks to Tyler Linder for help in getting the cables straightened out and things working.

A Type Ia Supernova Lifetime: From Simmers to Explosions March 7, 2010

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Vampire mechanism for Type Ia supernova

Vampire mechanism for Type Ia supernova

A Talk  Chris Richardson

(Dept of Astrophysics, Michigan State University)

Tuesday March 9th, at 4:00PM, Room 2153

Physical Science Building

Type Ia Supernovae are seen at the far reaches of the Universe due to thermonuclear incineration of white dwarves. Their uniform light curves serve as valuable assets in determining cosmological parameters, however, the underlying mechanisms are far from understood. Exploring the lifetimes and models of SNe Ia provide valuable insight to these mechanisms.

Hunting for Killer Asteroids at EIU March 1, 2010

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This weekend at Eastern Illinois University, was the WISE (Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer) Teacher Education Workshop,  Presented by Vivian Hoette of Yerkes Observatory and Robert Holmes of the Astronomical Research Institute (ARI) and EIU.

The teachers and EIU students who attended the WISE astrometric and photometric workshop

The workshop was held in one of the Physics department’s Computer Lab where we spent the day learning how to use the program Astrometrica to search for asteroids. On Friday and Saturday night we went to ARI, to learn how the 24″ and 32″ telescopes gather the nightly photos that we use to hunt for  NEO’s  (Near earth Objects) that could potentially be on a collision course for Earth.

Hunting down the confirmation of WISE NEO W008g5g = 2010 CG18

Hunting down the confirmation of WISE NEO W008g5g = 2010 CG18

On the afternoon break we saw the 30″ telescope that the students at EIU are helping to refurbish

During a break, Dr. Conwell is showing the EIU student work on the 30" telescope

Jim, Peggy, Tyler, Hannah and Josh figuring out the mechanics of measuring NEO targets

For more pictures of the workshop go to the ARI Site