Thursday, October 13, 2011

A picture says a thousand words

On my way to the AAVSO Centenary Meeting, I took a little side trip....not really much more to add than that!!! After taking more than a thousand images, I finally got to visit my scope.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Carnival of Space 218

Photo: - Jekert Guapo

Yes its that regular event that comes around once a week which has a webpage hit count that resembles a Cataclysmic Variable Star's light curve....or perhaps a crazy roller coaster.

CARNIVAL OF SPACE!!!! .....and this is a bumper issue.

So Welcome! This week I am live blogging from the AAVSO's Centenary Meeting, celebrating an amazing 100 Years of variable star observations from an incredible organization of dedicated amateur and professional astronomers who have collected and archived 20.7 Million observations (as of yesterday afternoon) since 1911. I cover this event in more depth (below) in my Blog, but just let me share with you this incredible video of the 100 year light curve of SS Cygni.

Its Carnival Time!

Super Novae Buffet!

After the past month's supernova excitement, Laura Chomiuk discusses how Pan-STARRS is shedding light on a new, ultra-luminous type of supernova.

Gianluigi at Doc Madhatten Blog traces the history of supernova research. Starting from the supernovae of Brahe and Galilei, to describe the importance of the supernovae in astronomy research and to tell the Nobel Prize in Physics 2011.
On a side note congratulations to my fellow Australian Brian Schmidt (and Riess & Perlmutter) for the recognition this week from the Nobel committee. Aussie, Aussie Aussie!!!.....ah sorry you have probably heard that too many times in all the wrong places already.

On the same topic - the Minute Physics Channel Guest narrator Sean Carroll of Caltech describes dark energy and the acceleration of the universe, the discovery of which was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics on October 4th.

Space Mission Update!

Riofrio Space Time Blog reports on the October 4 anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, an event that affected humanity in ways too numerous to count. Replicas of Sputnik hang in museums like the National Air and Space Museum. At San Francisco's Beat Museum we hear a fascinating tale, that pieces of Sputnik may have been recovered.

At the Weirdwarp Blog - Space Expedition Curacao plans to fly space tourists on sub-orbital trips starting in 2014 at about half the price of Virgin Galactic. Check the safety instructions on the card in the back of the seat here.

Last week, scientists announced findings based on data from the SPICAM spectrometer onboard ESA’s Mars Express spacecraft. Ray Sander's on Universe Today Blog discusses the findings reported in Science by Maltagliati et al (2011), reveal that the Martian atmosphere is super-saturated with water vapor.

Beyond Apollo Blog discusses what self-sufficiency in outer space might look like. In a paper presented in October 1989 at the 40th Congress of the International Astronautical Federation, two veteran space scientists proposed a 10-year program aimed at establishing a self-sufficient science outpost that would serve as testbed for space settlements.

The Urban Astronomer reports on data released by NEOWISE shows that there are fewer mid-sized asteroids in near-Earth orbit than we perviously thought. This means that the risk of a city-busting impact are lower than we thought. Not that that's any reason to become complacent!

With gold at record prices, find your own nuggets and dig for gold in the Chandra archive.

Over at Dr. Kaku addresses a question posed by Steven Lee Spall: Can we build a space elevator?

Space Coalition is running a competition - Dream about space? Make a video and enter to win an iPad 2. The Coalition for Space Exploration is hosting this video/blogging contest.

Vintage Space looks at what really killed the Dyna-Soar: a brief history covering its roots, life, and eventual cancellation. That might be a different Dinosaur to what you're thinking ;-)

Finally in Mission Update a call to action from Habitation Intention explaining how the Apollo age was not the age we where most tempted to quit space exploration, but now is.

ALMA is up and running!
Image: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/W. Garnier (ALMA)

Weird Warp
opens our coverage of a new telescope starting to look at the universe. ALMA is the most powerful millimetre/submillimetre wavelength telescope in the world. These are longer wavelengths roughly about 1000 times longer than visible light wavelengths. Using these wavelengths ALMA allows astronomers to study really cold objects in the universe such as dense clouds of cosmic dust and gas from which stars and planets form as well as distant objects in the early universe.

ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO). Visible light image: the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope

Discovery News also covers the first image from the ALMA array.

Bente from Planet Bye also features a number of the first light images.

Credit: NRAO/AUI and J. Hibbard

Armagh Planet visits the Paranal site of European Southern Observatory. Well, if you have ever seen James Bond movie Quantum of Solace then you will have seen a glimpse of this amazing facility! If it’s good enough for Bond, then it must be quite a place, Armagh Planet updates us on exactly what it is, where it is, and what work is done there! (A LOT!)

Solar System(s)!
Next Big Future looks at possible causes of CMEs including whether a comet may have caused a coronal mass ejection. This also relates to an article form Jan,2010 at nextbigfuture which examined the future threat of man made solar explosions causing a super massive coronal mass ejection.

Smaller Questions examines Kepler trends and finds it turns out, Earth-sized planets in habitable zones around low-mass stars are not as rare as Kepler initially led astronomers to believe (not Kepler the guy--he's dead--but Kepler the exoplanet-scouting satellite).

Astronomy Media!
The Space Show: welcomes Dr. David Whitehouse of the UK, the world’s most cited science journalist, to the show to discuss science and space journalism, space policy in the UK, the U.S. and much more.

PortaltotheUniverse is where the whole space community comes together in one place; connect your blogs now for live feeds of your blogs into the Astronomy Community.

Big Think discusses career opportunities in the 21st Century. In this video, Musk describes how he has come to recognize opportunities as an entrepreneur in the space industry, which is one of the core skills necessary for success in the 21st century.

So that is it for Carnival 218! Thanks for dropping by AARTSCOPE where our mission is to - "create the sense of anticipation and discovery that keeps us asking questions".

I leave you with my unique, personal tribute to the AAVSO's 100 years of service to the Astronomy Community!

The Carnival of Space is a community of interest blog carnival bringing together the best and brightest Astronomy & Space Blogs at a single point in space and time (commonly referred to as a web address) each week. Previous episodes can be found here. If you run an astronomy or space science blog you can contact carnivalofspace @ to be added to the editorial circulation list.

For a guide on how to prepare an episode of Carnival of Space Habitation Intention has produced a GDoc as a template guide.

Friday, October 7, 2011

AAVSO Centenary Meeting

Legacy, what is it, the heritage you create for those that follow may well be one way of looking at it. The AAVSO's legacy and history is legendary. Today I met with some of those legends, and heros of the AAVSO for the first time, although I have worked with a number of them for a few years already without having ever met them.

The first day of the AAVSO meeting kicked of with the official opening of the new headquarters, and the dedication of the Thomas and Anna Faye Williams archives and Dorrit Hoffleit conference room. What an amazing day!

The ribbon cutting ceremony used a large pair of scissors that were specially made to cut up the original star charts by hand after they were printed.

I heard stories from Charles Scovil who described the first star charts hand drawn on transparent linen with India Ink before being etched by a unique process that involved cynide and would surely not be legal today......amazing. We are talking pre-Xerox days.

Photo: Gerry Samolyk showed off some of his original charts

Charles Alcock from the Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics gave a fascinating keynote on the history and the future of Variable Star Astronomy, where he posed the question are all stars variable if your SNR is good enough?

Perhaps that question will be answered by those who dig up the 50 Year Time Capsule that we prepared for burial. Yes, thats right a copy of the book Advancing Variable Star Astronomy was signed by all attendees with some even writing down messages for their kids. A number of the leaders of the AAVSO wrote personal reflections and questions we posed to see if they have been answered by the next generation of AAVSO members who will open the time capsule in the October meeting 2061.

By far the highlight for me was the 100 year light curve of SS Cygni that circled the walls of the Dorrit Hoffleit Conference room. Incredible - the worlds longest lightcurve with 100 years of observations.

No birthday would be complete without cake and ice cream, and so we caught up, shared stories, met our heros, and compared notes on different observing campaigns.

HAPPY 100th Birthday AAVSO !!!!!!

Become part of the next century's activity and join the AAVSO today!


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