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ASTRONOMY CLUB MEETING TONIGHT! January 19, 2011

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy.
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ROOM 2153, Physical Science Building Tonight! 8:00 PM

Vampire mechanism for Type Ia supernova

Vampire mechanism for Type Ia supernova

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NEW PODCAST:What’s New With Supermassive Black Holes January 18, 2011

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Black Holes, General Relativity, Podcast.
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What’s New With Supermassive Black Holes by Rob Knop
For the third year the physics department is sponsoring monthly podcasts at 365 days of astronomy

Description: Of all astronomical objects, there are few that inspire the imagination more than black holes. I’ll tell you about a couple of results that have come out recently having to do with supermassive black holes.
Rob Knop obtained a PhD in Physics from Caltech in 1997. He then worked with the Supernova Cosmology Project and was part of the discovery that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating. After six years as an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, he worked in the computer industry for two years. He now teaches physics the new college Quest Unviersity in British Columbia. He gives regular astronomy talks in Second Life in association with the Meta-Institute of Computational Astronomy.

January 4th: Busy day in Astronomy January 3, 2011

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, meteor.
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Well, there are three things happening today, a solar eclipse, a meteor shower and the Earth’s orbit is at it’s perihelion.Unfortunately, the solar eclipse is only visible to the people in Asia, Africa and Europe.

Jan 4 Solar Eclipse (Credit NASA)

All of the folks around hear will just have to wait for another day. But as a consolation prize to the people in the Western Hemisphere the universe is serving up a meteor shower tonight, the 2011 Quadrantid Meteor Shower.

The meteors are named after the obsolete constellation Quadrans Muralis the Mural or Wall Quadrant (an astronomical instrument), depicted in some 19th-century star atlases roughly midway between the end of the handle of the Big Dipper and the quadrilateral of stars marking the head of the constellation Draco. (The International Astronomical Union phased out Quadrans Muralis in 1922.)

In the United States, the predicted peak would come at 8 p.m. EST on Jan. 3 (0100 GMT Jan. 4). With the meteors appearing to emanate from low on the horizon, viewers in the northern U.S. may see one dozen or two dozen Quadrantids per hour.Very few meteors are likely to be seen in the southern United States, since they would be streaking from below the horizon during the early hours of darkness.

Quadrantid meteors are of medium speed: slower than the Leonids and Perseids, yet faster than the Geminids. They usually appear bluish, accompanied by fine, long spreading silver trains. The peak of the “Quads” lasts only a few hours. But under ideal, dark-sky conditions, this can be one of the year’s best meteor displays. (Any light pollution would cut down the numbers greatly.)

Give your eyes at least 15 to 20 minutes to adapt to the dark before starting a serious meteor count.  No matter what time the peak, you’d have to get up before dawn to see the best display.

Finally, today the Earth is at its closest distance from the sun in its orbit. This point is called the perihelion.

The Sun will also appear the largest in size today.  This doesn’t contribute much to any effect to the seasons though, which are due to the tilting to the Earth’s axis. (Credit: NASA, Space News, Universe Today)