Tag Archives: Pluto

Long Range Sensors Detect….

Two stars will merge in 2022 and explode into red fury  In 2022, there will be a spectacular sky show. Two stars will merge into one, pushing out excess gas into an explosion known as a red nova. At magnitude 2, it will be as bright as Polaris in the sky, and just behind Sirius and Vega in brightness. The collision in the constellation of Cygnus will be visible for up to six months.

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Mars might once have had rings, and might have rings again in the far future.

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Is it time to restore Pluto’s planetary status?  Redefining the world “planet” yet again could raise the number of planets in our solar system to over 100.

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New study finds martian volcano’s last eruption  It was around the time the dinosaurs went extinct.

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Very long range sensors detect…

  • A wrinkle in time: Gravity Waves prove Einstein right!
  • Water on Pluto
  • The sky this week-naked eye observing
  • Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away
  • Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS

BHsim-600Gravity Waves Detected:  LIGO scientists have announced the direct detection of gravitational waves, a discovery that won’t just open a new window on the cosmos — it’ll smash the door wide open. Read more in Sky and Telescope, lots of pictures, graphs, diagrams….Also read more from Astronomy Magazine, though I found the format of the page rather strange.

Water on Pluto: Data from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft point to more prevalent water ice on Pluto’s surface than previously thought.  Read More from Astronomy Magazine

The sky this week:  Check out the winter constellations, most of the observations mentioned in this article are visible to the naked eye. The winter hexagon is easily picked, even in light polluted skies of Montreal.  From Sky and Tel.  Printable star chart for February can be found here.

Blast from black hole in a galaxy far, far away:  The Pictor A Galaxy contains a supermassive black hole at its center, and a huge amount of gravitational energy is released as material swirls toward the event horizon. From Astronomy Magazine, read more.

Antarctic fungi survive martian conditions on ISS: Antarctica’s McMurdo Dry Valleys are the most Mars-like place on Earth. They make up one of the driest and most hostile environments on our planet, where strong winds scour away even snow and ice.  Read about ISS experiment.

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.

September 20 Meeting Re-Cap

The theme for September 20th was Heavens Above! and telescopes took centre stage. Also all four corners of the room and the front porch of the hotel!

Guests Bill Strople and David Shuman, both members of the RASC Montreal Centre, brought in telescopes as did MonSFFA members Wayne Glover, Lindsay Brown, and Mark Burakoff.  We got to see a classic refractor from the 50s, Newtonian & SCT reflectors, and a Coronado made specifically for solar viewing. The sky being clear, members were able to view our sun in all its glory, showing prominences and filaments.  After supper, we viewed the moon through Lindsay’s telescope.

But starting from the beginning:

Logans_run_movie_posterEarly birds arriving at 11 AM watched Logan’s Run, a classic from 1976. Most members felt the movie stood up today, even though quite rooted in the style of the 70’s.  Seeing it again with new eyes and more experience of the world, some members saw a deeper, more religious feeling to the movie.

MonSFFA 20150920-23
David verifies settings on the Coronado

David Shuman then set up his Coronado on the hotel’s front porch, so members came and went back and forth as he changed filters and settings to see different aspects of our nearest star.

Meanwhile, Bill Strople set up a huge, long focal length refractor from the 50s, and a brand new, not even on the market yet, Newtonian reflector on a Dobsonian mount.

IMGP8379 refractor
Classic refractor from the 50s
Bill with new Dob
New Dob from Explore Scientific, Engineering sample.

Photos are by Cathy and Sylvain, click the thumbnails for larger photos.

 

 

PIC_0332 Mark with sct LR
Mark sets up Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. (SCT)

 

Wayne, Lindsay, and Mark set up their Schmidt-Cassegrain telescopes as well.  How does an SCT work?

Bill then gave a presentation on all the different types on display, explaining each one’s strengths and weaknesses. Mark Mark beginner astro kitfollowed up with an introduction to observing for the beginner, recommending binoculars and finder charts.  Cathy pointed out the importance of magazines such as Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.  Many telescopes languish in closets because their owners got bored with the moon and didn’t know where else to point their scopes. Both magazines have extensive websites covering everything & everything of an astronomical nature,

Bill refractor & SCT
Bill explains why observers have a marked preference for the SCT over the classic refractor. A refractor the equivalent of the SCT on the right might require a pick up truck for transportation.

MonSFFA 20150920-02

 

 

 

Sylvain posted cartoons with an astronomy theme, and there were various books and planispheres on display as well. A planishere  of the southern sky proved intriguing as members realized there was no equivalent in the south to our north star.

Postcards from Pluto, a slide presentation, followed. Cathy showed the latest images from New Horizons. On display, was the poster for the discovery of Pluto, autographed by Clyde Tombaugh himself.

Title pageAfter the raffle, we discussed our Stop Motion project which we had not completed last month. (Stop-Motion Project Storyboards are here.) Plans were made, assignments handed out, members have homework!! (However, design a dinosaur sounds a lot more interesting than any homework I ever assigned. )

cage croppedSupper was at la Cage au Sports, but not the one across the street that we usually frequent as that one it turned out was closed for renovations. Fortunately, it is only a short walk to the Bell Centre.

After supper, we observed the moon over the police station with Lindsay’s telescope and Mark’s binoculars. Had we arrived 20 minutes earlier we would have seen Saturn., but it was hidden behind the bulk of the station.

MonSFFA 20150920-31moon watching cropped and brightenedThere is talk of arranging an observing session from a dark sky. Stay tuned.

 

More photographs and video segments are available to our members.

Looking up!

  1. Observing highlights for the week of September 25 to October 3 PlanetsEarly risers get to see 3 planets and Regulus, the heart of the Lion, all in a line this week, an hour before dawn.

Click here to see more

2)The weather prediction for Sunday’s lunar eclipse of the Harvest Moon is looking better. The sky should be clear, temperature dropping from the daytime high of 24C to 9C.

Here is a different lunar eclipse, seen from a Mars Rover Aug. 20, 2013 :

PhobosEclipse-630x210Phobos,  directly in front of the sun as seen by NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity. It is, of course, an annular eclipse as Phobos is way too small to totally eclipse the sun.

 

 

3) More high resolution images are coming down from Pluto:

1_snakeskin_detailDetails and more images here

 

 

4) Curiosity is still roving, still sending home wonderful images of Mars.

MartianPetrifiedSandDunesDozens of individual Mast Camera images taken on August 27, 2015, were combined to create this panorama.

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Postcards from Pluto

The downloading of images from the New Horizons spacecraft began over the Labour Day weekend.

The detail is incredible, click on this image of Charon. you won’t believe the resolution.  The smallest visible charon-9-10-15feature is just a bit under 5km in size.

” Images downlinked in the past few days have more than doubled the amount of Pluto’s surface seen at resolutions as good as 400 meters (440 yards) per pixel. They reveal new features as diverse as possible dunes, nitrogen ice flows that apparently oozed out of mountainous regions onto plains, and even networks of valleys that may have been carved by material flowing over Pluto’s surface. They also show large regions that display chaotically jumbled mountains reminiscent of disrupted terrains on Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.”

Read the rest of the article, view the images:

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/News-Center/News-Article.php?page=20150910