Tag Archives: Astronomy

Watch for Aurora on the night of the 20th

HERE COMES THE SOLAR WIND: The Arctic Circle is about to turn green. Forecasters say there is a good chance of bright auroras around the poles on Sept. 20th when a solar wind stream engulfs Earth’s magnetic field. Researchers have long known that auroras favour equinoxes. The timing of the stream could scarcely be better as it is expected to arrive only two days before the beginning of northern autumn. Visit http://spaceweather.com for more information and updates.

Our Sensors have detected…

A few items collected over the past week or so while I was away from the keyboard.
  • Highlights from Astronomy and Sky & Telescope magazines
  • Burt Kwouk (1930-2016)
  • Trailers for Star Trek series & new MacGyver series
  • Hugo Awards, how to foil the Puppy slates
  • Cybercrime

2007 OR10: Largest unnamed world in the solar system (Astronomy Magazine)

Astronomers combined data from two space observatories to reveal something surprising: This dwarf planet is significantly larger than previously thought.
Dwarf planets
New K2 results peg 2007 OR10 as the largest unnamed body in our solar system and the third largest of the current roster of about half a dozen dwarf planets. The dwarf planet Haumea has an oblong shape that is wider on its long axis than 2007 OR10, but its overall volume is smaller.  Read more.

This Week’s Sky at a Glance, May 27 – June 4

May through June:   Have you been watching the Mars-Antares-Saturn triangle change shape? It’s stretching as Mars moves westward away from the head of Scorpius. This will continue until the end of June. Then Mars will start to slingshot back to fly right between Antares and Saturn in late August. Plan to watch this slow summer drama!

As darkness arrives these evenings, look south about halfway between Jupiter and Mars. One star there stands out: Spica, in Virgo. High above it shines brighter Arcturus in Bootes. Half as far to Spica’s lower right is the constellation Corvus, the Crow, eyeing Spica to steal it from Virgo’s hand as she looks the other way.  (complicated way to find Spica, IMO, esp since Jupiter and Mars move around. Better to use this tried and true method: Find the Big Dipper. Use the handle to “Arc to Acturus, then spike down to Spica. You can’t miss Arcturus, it’s bright orange.  –CPL)

 Is your sky dark enough for you to see the Coma Berenices star cluster naked-eye? As soon as twilight is completely over, look above Jupiter by about 25°, about two and a half fists at arm’s length. The cluster is dim but big, at least 5° wide, the size of a golf ball at arm’s length. Its brightest stars, near its middle, form a sort of inverted Y shape. Binoculars bring its stars right out.

Thursday, June 2:   Now it’s Saturn’s turn at opposition. It’s the second-brightest point in the area of Mars, 16° to Mars’s lower left.Finding Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars

WEBvic16_Jun03evWEBvic16_Jun03ev2

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, June 3

• For much of the spring at mid-northern latitudes, the Milky Way lies right down out of sight all around the horizon. But watch the east now. The rich Cepheus-Cygnus-Aquila stretch of the Milky Way starts rising up all across the east late these nights, earlier and higher every week.

Cassiopeia at its lowest

Cassiopeia inches along sideways low in the north at dusk.

Saturday, June 4

• New Moon (exact at 11:00 p.m. EDT). A new lunar month begins. Unlike a calendar month, which averages 30.437 days long, a lunar month (from one new Moon to the next) averages 29.531 days. So, on average, you’ll see the Moon in the same phase about 1 day earlier every month bu the calendar.

 

Burt Kwouk (1930-2016)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2016/05/24/burt-kwouk-actor–obituary/

Best know for his role as Cato in Pink Panther Films, but also had genre roles in the Curse of the Fly and various TV series.  Hop over to IMDB for a full listing.

Trailers for Star Trek series & new MacGyver series

At the CBS Upfront presentation at Carnegie Hall in New York on May 18, CBS unveiled the logo for the new STAR TREK television series within the first-ever promotional video for the highly-anticipated program. (Only the premiere will be available on CBS, after that it goes to streaming.)

IMBD http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1399045/?ref_=ttpl_pl_tt

A reimagining of the television series of the same name, following a 20-something MacGyver as he creates a clandestine organization where he uses his knack for solving problems in unconventional ways to help prevent disasters from happening. Written by CBS

Happy PuppyHugo Awards, how to foil the Puppy slates (or any other kind of slate)

The whole messy Puppies/Hugo situation– this is a thread on File 770 in which various ideas on how to stop slates from screwing up the Hugo awards are discussed and dissected.  Last year, there were 5 no awards because those 5 categories were owned by Puppies.

Cybercrime

Since Steven’s presentation on cybercrime and the series, CSI Cyber, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the subject. It’s worth checking into blogs such as this one from the Norton Community Forum

Cybercrime in Canada is growing. http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/cc-strategy-strategie-cc-eng.htm

Cybercrime: an overview of incidents and issues in Canada is the RCMP’s first report on cybercrime, and focuses on aspects of the cybercrime environment that affect Canada’s public organizations, businesses and citizens in real and harmful ways.

 

 

STAR TREK: THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE

startrek_1True Science behind the Starship Voyages By Andrew Fazekas, with a foreword by William Shatner.

Some of you may remember when the Klingons took over the planetarium to learn the proper names and locations of the stars in the Star Trek Universe.  It was so successful, there was a repeat performance the following year, in conjunction with Con*Cept.  That was many years ago, and very early in TNG series.

Andrew
Andrew Fazekas with his advance copy

Now, Andrew Fazekas, one of my friends from the RASC, Montreal Centre, has written an official guide to the Trek universe and had it published by National Geographic.  It becomes available June 7th, and can be pre-ordered from Chapters/Indigo online, for 21,95$.  I’m looking forward to reading it!

 

 

Continue reading STAR TREK: THE OFFICIAL GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE

Our sensors have detected…

  • Changes in Earth’s magnetic field
  • Noctilucent clouds
  • Upcoming movies to watch for

 

  • Changes in Earth’s magnetic field: Anyone watching a compass needle point steadily north might suppose that Earth’s magnetic field is a constant. It’s not. Researchers have long known that changes are afoot. The north magnetic pole routinely moves, as much as 40 km/yr, causing compass needles to drift over time. Moreover, the global magnetic field has weakened 10% since the 19th century.

    A new study by the European Space Agency’s constellation of Swarm satellites reveals that changes may be happening even faster than previously thought. In this map, blue depicts where Earth’s magnetic field is weak and red shows regions where it is strong… Read more http://spaceweather.com/  Clicking on the graphic will open a sequence showing the changes over the years.

  • Noctilucent clouds: NLCs are Earth’s highest clouds. Seeded by meteoroids, they float at the edge of space more than 80 km above the planet’s surface. The clouds are very cold and filled with tiny ice crystals that glow electric-blue when they catch the rays of the setting sun.   Normally, we don’t see them until late May, early June, but one observer believes he has seen the first ones already. Read more and view the photo from Space Weather. 
  • Upcoming movies to watch for: ( From File 770.)Hampus Eckerman recommends keeping an eye open for a chance to see these three movies.

    A group of online gamers are invited to try a state-of-the-art virtual reality video game but things take a turn for the sinister when these masters of the shoot ’em up discover they will literally be fighting for their lives.

    NEUROO-X, a German-Swiss-Chinese entertainment company group, stands for games that dissolve the boundary between reality and gaming). A new gadget, the myth-enshrouded RED BOOK, offers the ultimate gaming experience. The most secret longings of gamers are scanned by the engine and transformed into fantastic adventures. The conspiracy psychoses of users are the raw material for the storytelling of NEUROO-X. Marcus, Chief Development Manager of NEUROO-X dies shortly before completion of the RED BOOK. His lover Ryuko finds out that something terrible happened during testing of the game in China, and the deeper she submerges into the secret of NEUROO-X, the more she loses touch with reality. She neglects her son Walter, who logs into the game and disappears into the digital parallel world. The more Ryuko fights the corporation in order to rescue her son, the more she updates the narrative desired by NEUROO-X. Ryuko finds herself in a world full of demons, witches, knights and terrorists.

     

    Three ordinary guys are thrust into a parallel world of an old Sci-Fi movie. Trapped in a low budget universe they must somehow fight their way home before it is too late.

 

Very Long Range Sensors: Astronomy

 

Robot looks up

  • Increasing Chance of Solar flares
  • Intensifying Cosmic Rays
  • Edge of Space Thanks
  • The 5 planets in pre-dawn sky
  • Hunting for Exoplanets at Proxima Centauri

     

From http://spaceweather.com/

INCREASING CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters have boosted the odds of an M-class flare today to 25%. The probable source would be sunspot AR2488, which has developed an unstable ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field with pent-up energy for strong explosions. Any M-flares today could produce minor shortwave radio blackouts.

INTENSIFYING COSMIC RAYS: For the past year, neutron monitors around the Arctic Circle have sensed an increasing intensity of cosmic rays. Polar latitudes are a good place to make such measurements, because Earth’s magnetic field funnels and concentrates cosmic radiation there. Turns out, Earth’s poles aren’t the only place cosmic rays are intensifying. Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have been launching helium balloons to the stratosphere to measure radiation, and they find the same trend over California. Read more: http://spaceweather.com/

HEY, THANKS! The cosmic ray research of Earth to Sky Calculus is 100% crowd-funded. The latest flight on Jan. 24th was sponsored by ABC affiliate KOMO TV of Seattle, Washington. KOMO’s donation of $500 paid for all the supplies necessary to get the high-altitude balloon off the ground. To say “thanks”, we flew their logo to the edge of space.

THE GREAT NAKED-EYE PLANET SHOW: The mainstream media is buzzing with news about astronomy: From now until Feb. 20th, anyone who wakes up before sunrise can see Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter all at once, no telescope required. These are the five brightest planets, and they are a beautiful sight lined up from east to west in the predawn sky. Click for observing chart.

From Sky and Telescope:

Hunting for Planets Around Proxima Centauri
The Pale Red Dot Initiative has begun its search for exoplanets orbiting the nearest star to Earth besides the Sun. – See more

Looking up! Observing highlights Jan 22-30

From Sky and Telescope, the observing highlights for this coming week. If the sky is clear on Sunday evening, after the club supper, we’ll see if we can pick out the winter hexagon.  Google for Winter Hexagon to see several images, some with all the stars and constellations labelled.

Start with brilliant Sirius at its bottom. Going clockwise from there, march through Procyon, Pollux and Castor, Capella high up, Aldebaran over to Capella’s right, down to Rigel in Orion’s foot, and back to Sirius.
In the meantime, you will find the sky charts and diagrams on this page really useful and interesting. There are 5 planets visible in the pre-dawn sky, a full moon on the 23rd (good time to see the rays from Tycho, binoculars will suffice) and on the 27th, Jupiter is just above the moon.

Remote Sensors

Remote sensors have detected:
  • X-Files: Still want to believe?
  • See 5 planets at once
  • Dr Who Spin-off series
  • Scottish National party wants to establish Europe’s first spaceport in the UK
  • In 2002, the FBI closed the X-Files and our investigations ceased, but my personal obsession did not.” Mulder

Sunday, CTV, Fox, at 10PM.  Watch the timing if you are recording, it’s scheduled to follow the  NFC Championship Game.  Looks like all the main cast characters are back in their roles. http://doyoustillbelieve.com/ has a trailer.

  • A treat for early risersSee 5 planets at once this week.   You need a really clear horizon to the SE to see Mercury, but the other four planets and the stars Spica and Antares should be obvious even from the city.

5 planets

  • Doctor Whospinoff series “Class” will air stateside in 2016 on BBC America, it was announced Friday at Television Critics Association in Pasadena, Calif.

    The eight-part series is from young-adult author Patrick Ness, who is known for writing the “A Monster Calls” books. The series is exec produced by “Doctor Who’s” Steven Moffat and Brian Minchin and is a co-production between BBC America and BBC Cymru Wales. It is filmed in Cardiff in the U.K.

  • The SNP MP Philippa Whitford led a debate in the House of Commons on Thursday on the future of the UK space industry, which she concluded by giving the Vulcan salute. The MP made the case for a spaceport to be established in her constituency of Central Ayrshire. Great mimic of Scotty fretting over the Dilithium crystals.  Watch video.

Looking up!

Robot looks upNew findings from New Horizons shape understanding of Pluto and its moons

Among the highlights of a recent meeting are insights into Pluto’s geology and composition as well as new details about the unexpected haze in Pluto’s atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind.  Read more, see fabulous montage of images on Astronomy Magazine’s website.

Cassini closes in on Enceladus one last time
NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft makes its final close flyby of the ocean-bearing moon Enceladus on December 19.
enceladus_final
A thrilling chapter in the exploration of the solar system will soon conclude, as NASA’s Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft makes its final close flyby of the ocean-bearing moon Enceladus. Cassini is scheduled to fly past Enceladus at a distance of 3,106 miles (4,999 kilometers) on Saturday, Dec. 19, at 9:49 a.m. PST (12:49 p.m. EST).

Although the spacecraft will continue to observe Enceladus during the remainder of its mission (through September 2017), it will be from much greater distances — at closest, more than four times farther away than the Dec. 19 encounter.

The upcoming flyby will focus on measuring how much heat is coming through the ice from the moon’s interior — an important consideration for understanding what is driving the plume of gas and icy particles that sprays continuously from an ocean below the surface.  Read more from the Astronomy website.

Pluto and Charon

The New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “Pluto day.

In July 2015, the cameras on NASA's New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full "Pluto day." The best available images of each side of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
In July 2015, the cameras on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “Pluto day.” The best available images of each side of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
In July 2015, New Horizons captured images of the largest of Pluto's five moons, Charon, rotating over the course of a full day. The best currently available images of each side of Charon taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation of the moon. NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute
In July 2015, New Horizons captured images of the largest of Pluto’s five moons, Charon, rotating over the course of a full day. The best currently available images of each side of Charon taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation of the moon.
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

On approach in July 2015, the cameras on NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft captured Pluto rotating over the course of a full “Pluto day.” The best available images of each side of Pluto taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation.

In July 2015, New Horizons captured images of the largest of Pluto’s five moons, Charon, rotating over the course of a full day. The best currently available images of each side of Charon taken during approach have been combined to create this view of a full rotation of the moon.