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NEW PODCAST: Are There Alternate Universes? November 18, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Cosmology, Podcast.
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Are there alternate universes? If so, are they merely far away or in different dimensions altogether? Bio: Dr Stuart Clark is an award-winning astronomy author and journalist. His books include The Sun Kings, and the highly illustrated Deep Space, and Galaxy. His next book is Big Questions: Universe, from which this podcast is adapted. Stuart is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a Visiting Fellow of the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and senior editor for space science at the European Space Agency. He is also a frequent contributor to newspapers, magazines, radio and television programmes. His website is http://www.stuartclark.com

In Like a Lion: Leonid Meteor Shower Peaks Wednesday November 16, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in meteor.
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Look to the East in the Morning, Credit (Stardate magazine)

This year, the Leonid meteor shower best viewing will be in the two to three hours before dawn on November 17 and 18, according to the editors of StarDate magazine.

The best viewing is done with the naked eye, just lie back and look to the East, in the pre-dawn hours.

There is always some uncertainty in the number of meteors the Leonid shower will produce, but viewers should expect to see at least 20 meteors per hour if they have clear skies. The nearly full Moon will set several hours before dawn, and therefore not wash out any meteors in the hours immediately before dawn.

Leonid meteors appear to fall from the constellation Leo, the lion, but they are not associated with it. They are leftover debris from comet Tempel-Tuttle. As the comet orbits the Sun, it leaves a trail of debris. The Leonids meteors recur each year when Earth passes through the comet’s debris trail.

Each time comet Tempel-Tuttle gets closest to the Sun in its orbit, called “perihelion,” it sheds a significant amount of material. This creates clumps along its orbit. If Earth passes through one of these clumps this year, viewers could see hundreds of meteors per hour at the shower’s peak. If Earth simply passes through the “normal” part of the comet’s debris trail, the number of meteors visible will be much lower.

For your best view, get away from city lights. Look for state or city parks or other safe, dark sites. Lie on a blanket or reclining chair to get a full-sky view. If you can see all of the stars in the Little Dipper, you have good dark-adapted vision.

StarDate is published bi-monthly by The University of Texas at Austin McDonald Observatory

Sunspot Group 1123 Erupts November 13, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Solar and Space weather.
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Sunspot 1123 eruption; Credit NASA/SDO Click for animation

Coronagraph images on the morning of November 12 from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft show a weak mass ejection emerging from the sunspots 1123 heading off in a direction just south of the sun-Earth line. The coronal mass ejection is expected to graze the Earth’s magnetic field sometime on Nov. 14th or 15th. High altitude observers may expect a nice aurora show those days.

As the solar cycle matures, we may expect an increase of this type of activity over the next few years

Fermi finds New Gamma Ray Structure in our Galaxy November 9, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Galaxy.
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NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has unveiled a previously unseen structure at 90 degrees to the plane in the Milky Way. The feature spans 50,000 light-years . Previous satellites had shown hints in the x-ray part of the spectra, but scientist discovered the new structures while processing the whole sky data.

Gamma ray lobes from the galaxy center

These structures extend 25,000 light years above and below the plane of the galaxy, possible expalnatiion may be high energy electrons that were emmited in the past by the supermassive black hole in the galactic core. A video below shows a little more detail on this.


Telescope News from ARI and EIU November 7, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Observatory, telescopes.
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Astronomical Research Institute(ARI), Eastern Illinois University and Hands-on Universe in cooperation with the University of Chicago Yerkes Observatory and Argonne National Laboratory just commissioning the 30 inch (0.76m) AutoScope that will be used for education and research. EIU and ARI refurbished this RC optics telescope after it had been stuck by lightning in New Mexico. New photos show it on site at the opening nite celebration.

30" RC Astroscope

We also got to see the progress on the ARI’s 50″ telescope which will hopefully see first light in the summer of 22011. You can see the progress on the massive fork mount that will hold the optical tube.

Dr. Steve Daniels, ARI's Bob Holmes and Prof. Dave Linton looking at the massive folk mount for the 50" telescope

After a new coat of epoxy primer and weighing in at 1990 lbs the fork mount stands ready for the rest of the telescope to be completed.

Fork for the 50" telescope

Closest view of a Comet! November 4, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Comets.
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Just an hour ago, NASA’s Deep Impact spacecraft came within 700 kilometers (435 miles) of Comet Hartley 2 at 10:01 a.m. EDT (1401 GMT) today, imaging with several cameras. Here are the first images released of the closest approach. I have this sudden urge to eat some Planters Peanuts.

Comet Hartley 2

Two things to notice , how rough the ends are where the jets are coming off, contrast that to the smooth center part. Later today even higher resolution photos will be released.

Astronomy Club Tonight: Gamma Ray Bursts November 3, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Gamma Ray Bursts.
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Astronomy Club tonight in Room 2153, at 8:00 PM in the Physical Science Building. Dr J Conwell will be talking about Gamma Ray Bursts; the most violent explosions since the big bang.

Time Lapse Astro Art November 2, 2010

Posted by jcconwell in Art, Astronomy.
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A little artistic moment to begin the week. I’m borrowing these from some sister blogs, “Bad Astronomy” and “Universe Today” . Time-lapse  photography has been around for a while. Couple this old technique with the new technology of high  quantum efficiency cameras, add a flair for editing and music, and you get a nice couple work of arts to start the week. Click on the picture to play the first one “Rapture” by Tom Lowe for more information go to “Bad Astronomy”



The next one is from our friends at “Universe Today” just click on the picture to start the video “Landscapes Vol.1 ” by Dustin Farrell