Friday, February 10, 2012

Carnival of Space 236 - Feb 10 2012

Welcome to Carnival of Space 236!

What a webisode we have for you this week. Its been a busy week, so lets see if we can drag you away from your social media and blogs for a few minutes to check out what's going on in your community - Space and Astronomy.

Next Big Future explores propulsion systems this week. The key to Spacex reusable rockets, at least for the first stage. Its all about the price per pound, for the Falcon Heavy, that would mean a price per pound to orbit of less than $500."

Other alternatives include a water-electrolysis propulsion system for 3U CubeSats is proposed that could fill the gap in the available propulsion systems at this scale

NASA has a nuclear-propulsion project with a budget of US$3 million.

The Lithium Lorentz Force Accelerator (LiLFA) as one of the most promising candidates for planetary exploration and heavy payload orbit raising missions. It can have an exhaust velocity of 50 km/second and a thrust density of 100,000 newtons per square meter

In an interview with Sander Olson, fission propulsion advocate Tabitha Smith argues that fission rockets could be rapidly developed and become the enabling technology for opening up the solar system for human exploration. Tabitha is in charge of the Bifrost project.

The Cosmic Log
found skywatchers on Earth oohed and ahhed over the northern lights that were sparked by January's solar activity, but a new crop of videos makes it clear that the astronauts on the International Space Station had the best seats in the house.

Commercial space ventures are taking small steps toward giant achievements ranging from suborbital space flights to trips around the moon.

After struggling through some legal glitches, skydiver Felix Baumgartner and his team say they're back on track for a 120,000-foot jump that will break a record that's stood for 52 years and blaze a trail for future space adventurers.

Simostronomy reports that 88 years after it was initially discovered, Hubble's 1923 nova in the Andromeda galaxy has erupted again, making it one of a rare class of recurrent novae.

Discovery News takes us through a spaghetti diagram. OK, so it's not real spaghetti -- it's a computer visualization of the complex magnetic field that creates Earth's magnetosphere -- but it sure looks tangled.

Guest contributor Pat Galea discusses how a starship may transmit signals across the light-years between the stars.

The Urban Astronomer checks in on JAXA's announcement that they will be launching a successor to the embattled Hayabusa probe, with the same mission goals but hopefully using more reliable technology!

Emma from We're all in the Gutter outlines her plan for improving the popular TV show MasterChef with a technique commonly used in astronomy.

Links Through Space launches to the Moon which has been in all facet's of culture through out all the Civilisations on Earth and there is no doubt that it affects us in a way or another. Here is a documentary of the BBC that let us see how the Moon is so important to us in so many ways.

Gadi Eidelheit from the Venus Transit blog, describes why the moon brightness is so variable during a lunar month.

Vintage Space grabs a brush and describes a brief history of the paint scheme of space race rockets inspired by my recent introduction to the world of model building.

The Chandra Team are no "flash in the pan" a long term contributor to COS, report on a new study suggests mysterious X-ray flares caught by Chandra may be asteroids falling into the Milky Way's giant black hole.

Announcing the reboot of a long defunct blog: the Astronomy Word of the Week (AstroWoW). Starting with the letter 'A', this week's entry is brought to you by the word 'aberration'.

Starry Critters reports on Sea mon­sters, birds and mys­tic moun­tains hiding in this highly detailed infrared image of the star-making Carina Neb­ula from ESO’s Very Large Telescope.

For the A-Z of all things space ZME Science looks at the longest drought on record - 600 million years on Mars. Others have been playing with water droplets on the International space station. Water droplets orbiting a knitting needle - take a look!

Armagh Planetarium brings us the legend - centuries ago a Chinese official named Wan Hu attempted to visit the Moon. His spacecraft was a large wicker chair to which were fastened 47 large rockets. His underlings rushed forward to light the fuses then retreated. A moment later there was a mighty bang and flash accompanied by thick clouds of smoke. When the smoke had cleared, Wan Hu was gone without a trace. This story is repeated time and time again but is it true?

Finally here at AARTScope (below also) I cover one of the southern beauties that many of you eclipse hunters, planning a pilgrimage to Australia for the Solar Eclipse in November, will want to take a look at. The ESO released last week a new image of the Gabriela Mistral Nebula NGC 3324.

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.

[Photo credits listed in the relevant articles]

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Southern Mystery of the Mistral

Image Credit: ESO

Everyone loves a mystery, and this mystery involves star formation and the Nobel Prize winning Chilean Poet, Verschatse. When you look at this image, and the one below, NGC 3324 looks like mysterious cave, luring you closer to come in and have a look around.

One of the interesting aspects of astronomy is the distribution of the world's telescopes, many of which (along with the broader population of the planet) are northern hemisphere based. So the people of Chile were well qualified to play the "what does it look like" game and noticed that the dusty edge bore a stark resemblance to the profile of the Chilean Poet Daniel Verschatse and the name of the "Gabriela Mistral Nebula" seemed appropriate.

The stunning star forming region around Eta Carina is where NGC 3324 can be found - not far from the southern cross. For those from the north, especially those honored guests visiting us in November for the Solar eclipse, this stunning video will assist you to get your bearings.
Loading player...

Video Credit: ESO/Nick Risinger ( Sky Survey 2. Music: John Dyson (from the album Moonwind)

The European Southern Observatory has just released a new image of NGC 3324. Utilizing the power of the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory (Chile), it reveals many dark features in NGC 3324.

The ESO describes this stunning region of Star formation as follows:

"Dust grains in these regions block out the light from the background glowing gas, creating shadowy, filigree features that add another layer of evocative structure to the rich vista."

[Not sure who wrote that but some Chilean wine company should sign them up to write their wine labels]

The ESO continues ....
"NGC 3324 is located in the southern constellation of Carina (The Keel, part of Jason’s ship the Argo) roughly 7500 light-years from Earth. It is on the northern outskirts of the chaotic environment of the Carina Nebula, which has been sculpted by many other pockets of star formation. A rich deposit of gas and dust in the NGC 3324 region fuelled a burst of starbirth there several millions of years ago and led to the creation of several hefty and very hot stars that are prominent in the new picture.

Stellar winds and intense radiation from these young stars have blown open a hollow in the surrounding gas and dust. This is most in evidence as the wall of material seen to the centre right of this image. The ultraviolet radiation from the hot young stars knocks electrons out of hydrogen atoms, which are then recaptured, leading to a characteristic crimson-coloured glow as the electrons cascade through the energy levels, showing the extent of the local diffuse gas. Other colours come from other elements, with the characteristic glow from doubly ionised oxygen making the central parts appear greenish-yellow".

NGC 3324, because of its proximity deep in the southern skies, has not been widely photographed by astronomers. Australian amateurs have previously turned their attention to this stunning target with long duration stacked exposures. Perhaps the finest example is Brad Moore's study of the Gabriel Mistral Nebula. Brad is the MD of and is regularly sought after as a speaker for his astrophotography and remote telescope management skills.

Brad's image consists of 36 Hours of exposure time in narrowband - 8Hrs Oiii, 19Hrs Ha & 9Hrs Sii color mapped to RGB. It is a testament to the fact that so long as you have the field of view even a 12.5 inch amateur scope can pull in the photons if you are patient enough.
Image Credit: Gabriela Mistral Nebula - Brad Moore

What a beautiful part of the universe - it doesn't take a Nobel Prize to know that's a cave I'd love to hide in!

The year 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the European Southern Observatory (ESO). ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive astronomical observatory. It is supported by 15 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

433 Eros at Opposition - Share the love!

There is a great Citizen science initiative going on with calculation of the "Parallax View" of 433 Eros at opposition from different places on earth to help re-measure the size of the solar system.

See Dr Pamela Gay's new Cosmoquest website for details.

Also you can submit your own measurements (similar to the above) here.

Image 1: 433 Eros from Nerpio in Spain at 02:58 UTC.

Sadly Spain and New Mexico are so far apart there is a bit more than parallax at work here....the second image is from Observatory H06 some 4 hours later, and Eros has also moved in those 4 hrs. The data is still useful as the calculations for the project will take that into account.

Note the plate scale is different due to the different focal lengths and plate scale of the two telescopes. Also I have rotated the New Mexico image 90 degrees to make the position angle of the image roughly the same.
Image 2: 433 Eros from New Mexico at 06:07 UTC.


Custom Search