It finally here. It really is. NASA’s space probe to Pluto, New Horizons has finally arrived at the most mysterious planet of the solar system. Built by the John Hopkin’s Applied Physics Laboratory, this piece of engineering marvel survived the chill of deep space, and woke up in time to return the most detailed pictures of this planet till date from an altitude of mere 2370 Km above the surface of this planet.
Pluto seen by New Horizon’s LORRI Instrument
New Horizon’s Pluto mission is still bit tricky since its expected to be in vicinity of a large debris field of ice and rocks which is common in the outer solar system. The probe is investigating not only Pluto but also its five moons: Charon, Styx, Nix, Kerberos and Hydra.
Greetings Fellow Earthlings
Tonight step outside the house for a change and look West at sundown. You’ll be greeted with a spectacular planetary pair of Jupiter and Venus almost hugging each other in a nice visual conjunction. Kind of ironical considering Jupiter is God of War, and Venus is the God of Loveeee. This treat will continue for a few days so do not worry if you’re sitting under the clouds right now.
Sky and Telescope astronomy magazine suggested that the event closely resembles the Star of Bethlehem which, according to Christian tradition, revealed the birth of Jesus to the Biblical Magi, and later led them to Bethlehem.
One of the very few known asterisms in the night sky is the Polaris engagement ring asterism. When seen from a dark sky site you may be able to observe a ring like pattern with 2nd magnitude Polaris itself forming the ornament on the ring. The stars that are a part of this are either in Ursa Minor or Cepheus. Approximately 10 bright stars and a few fainter ones (of magnitude 7 and 8), form an obvious circle, the ring, with Polaris as a diamond. This really is a beautiful asterism to observe with small telescopes with a low magnification! Because Polaris is part of this asterism, The Engagement isn’t hard to find. Recently this asterism got the attention of Canadian music producer Deadmau5 who named a track called HR8938 Cephei after one of the stars in this asterism.
If you’ve read a lot of material out there on comets or seen some lovely images of Comet Lovejoy C2014/Q2 lately, you’ve noticed beautiful green colors in most of these images. Most astronomers and astronomer magazines ( NASA included ) attribute it to emissions from a chemical cyanogen. Cyanogen according to astronomers is radical containing one carbon and one Nitrogen atom . In reality it is NC-CN. The C & N molecules linked by triple bonds. What is more funny is that the green does not come from cyanogen. Here is a picture of what the visible spectrum of Comey Lovejoy looks like. Thanks to Vikrant Agnihotri of Cepheids Astronomy Group for this
Compare this to work done by physicist W.Swan in 1856, who researched emissions from C-C dimers and published their visible spectrum.
As you can tell the images are an exact match. Emission Peaks appear at 520 nm with satellite bands on either side. This wavelength corresponds to what we perceive as “green”. Astronomers seem to have gotten their chemistry totally wrong and its surprising how long this myth has been propagating
European space agency’s Beagle 2 lander has been spotted by NASA’s orbitter MRO. In a image released by the agency shows the lander to be fully intact with no sign of debris.
The lander was supposed to land on Mars and deploy its solar panels like “petals”. From the image it seems like all the petals did not unfurl. “Without full deployment, there is no way we could have communicated with it as the radio frequency antenna was under the solar panels,” explained Prof Mark Sims, Beagle’s mission manager from Leicester University.
There is a planned monthly skywatch every month, co-ordinated by the outreach committee of the Astronomical Society of India.
After some discussion with interest groups, the third Saturday of every month was decided as suitable for the year 2015. The first of these co-ordinated skywatch activities is centered on the 17th of January. It is planned that an online hangout will take place the Sunday before this event every month, which will include discussions for the planned observations and so on.
Some related discussions/help for beginner groups in the form of writeups and video uploaded to Youtube will also be undertaken by the community.
It is not necessary that everyone conducts the skywatch strictly on the third sunday of the month. For very good reasons – both Astronomy or weather dictated – groups might be undertaking skywatch activities on dates a little staggered around the main date. All groups conducting/having conducted skywatch activities in this countrywide co-ordination, are requested to place a small report (even a few words will do) here.
Starcounts for light pollution measurements are encouraged. Groups undertaking these measurements are requested to update this community page with limiting magnitude measurements with locations specified.
Jab sari duniya soti hai, hum tare ginte rehte hain 🙂
Link to Facebook group
Its rare for one to live in a place where the heavens just decide to show you their wonder. The path of Oct 23rds eclipse wen right through Minneapolis, USA where I currently live. Not to miss this, i loaded my scope and filter in the car, and set it up at my workplace’s parking lot right after work. The sight that made the eclipse special was the massive sunspot AR2192 which is as big as Jupiter. As seen from here. the maximum of the eclipse about ~ 50% was able to obscure some part of the sunspot.
Another thing that was interesting was the ability to resolve surface limb features on the moon. Contrary to what one would imagine, the moon has a very rocky terrain, since there is no wind, water or volcanic activity to smooth out the surface. Looking carefully we can see this detail in the images above
Some EXIF info
Taken using a Canon Rebel XT at prime focus on a 5″ MCT telescope F/12
ISO100, 1/2000 s exposure
Baader Astrosolar safety filter