Posts Tagged ‘telescope’

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Astronomy Events – April 2014

March 31, 2014

by yaska77

British Summer Time is now in effect, giving us lighter evenings and signalling the approach of actual summertime :)

April is a good month for garden astronomers, the warmer evenings allow for longer use of scopes and cameras without as much annoyance from dew and lens fogging (or general freezing!) but it’s still getting dark early enough to get some good observing in before bed!

So with a meteor shower towards the end of the month it’s as good a time as ever to get kids into appreciating the wonders of the night sky.  Today’s enthusiastic children are tomorrow’s astronomers, scientists and astronauts!

As usual then we’ve listed some astronomical events of interest for the coming month, so pick out some observing opportunities and keep watching the skies!

Wednesday 2nd April - Planet Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun today and is unobservable throughout April

Thursday 3rd April - The waxing crescent Moon is a close visitor in Taurus soon after sunset this evening as shown below

Shown due West at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) the waxing crescent Moon should be exhibiting Earthshine! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown due West at 21:00 UTC (22:00 BST) the waxing crescent Moon should be exhibiting Earthshine! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

With such a thin crescent you should be able to see some Earthshine affecting the Moon’s surface! This creates a nice effect so it’s worth trying to capture it in some photos if you have a DSLR

Earthshine happens when light reflected from the surface of the Earth illuminates the dark side allowing us to see details (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Earthshine happens when light reflected from the surface of the Earth illuminates the dark side allowing us to see details (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Monday 7th April - The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase this evening

Tuesday 8th April - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 404,500 km (251,345 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Red planet Mars is also at Opposition in Virgo this evening, so rises at sunset and sets at sunrise

We’ve yet to target Mars with our CCD camera (and variety of coloured filter lenses) so if the skies are favourable we may give it a proper go, especially as dark martian surface feature Syrtis Major Planum should be visible around midnight, providing a good contrast in surface colours to try and capture in the image

The only images we've managed to take of Mars so far have been wide angle shots (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The only images we’ve managed to get of Mars so far have been wide angle shots like this one taken on 9th March 2014 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Tuesday 15th April - The Full Moon in the sky today is also sometimes known as the Flower Moon, Seed Moon or Awakening Moon, but also commonly as the Paschal Full Moon

Easter Sunday always immediately follows the Paschal Full Moon (which we imaged in April 2011) so perhaps we should call it the Bunny Moon or Egg Moon?!

Taken using a Canon EOS 550D DSLR mounted to a SkyWatcher Explorer 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

This shot of a Paschal Full Moon from 2011 was taken using a Canon EOS 550D DSLR, mounted to a SkyWatcher Explorer 200mm Newtonian Reflector Telescope (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The Moon will also experience a total lunar eclipse visible over east Australia, New Zealand, the Pacific and North and South America

It will enter the penumbral shadow at 00:35 and the umbral shadow at 05:58. Totality will last for 1 hour 18 minutes, between 07:07 and 08:25 with the moon leaving the umbral shadow at 09:38 and the penumbral shadow at 10:38 (all times UTC)

This map shows at a glance where on the planet the lunar eclipse will be visible - Credit: Fred Espenak (NASA GSFC)

This map shows at a glance where on the planet the lunar eclipse will be visible (click to enlarge) – Credit: Fred Espenak (NASA GSFC)

Wednesday 16th April - Continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in April, shown below at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST).  These can help you identify the spring constellations you can see in April

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th April, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC (01:00 BST) on 16th April, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in April (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in April (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Monday 21st April – This evening is the peak of the annual Lyrid meteor shower, whose shooting stars appear to emanate from the constellation Lyra (see below for our radiant guide)

Best viewed late evening and early morning on the 22nd April before the Moon rises, you should also catch some Tuesday evening as well!

While the meteors will appear to emanate from Lyra, they can appear all over the sky (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

While the meteors will appear to emanate from Lyra they can appear all over the sky, seen streaking away from the radiant position. Shown above at 23:00 UTC (00:00 BST) to the East (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Tuesday 22nd April - This morning the Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Wednesday 23rd April - The crescent Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 369,765 km (229,761 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

Saturday 26th April - Mercury is in Superior Conjunction

Tuesday 29th April - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

An annular solar eclipse also occurs today, which is when the Moon’s apparent diameter appears smaller than the Sun’s, blocking most of the Sun’s light and causing the Sun to look like an annulus or ring. Sadly on this occasion only a partial eclipse will be visible from parts of Antarctica and Australia

As usual, if you take any photos throughout April you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – March 2014
Astronomy Events – February 2014
Astronomy Events – January 2014

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Astronomy Events – March 2014

February 28, 2014

by yaska77

The weather is turning! It must be by now!? After the wettest (and probably windiest) winter on record in the UK karma best be ready to give us an amazing Spring!!

The layer of dust currently sitting on our telescopes could be used to insulate a small home.

So we’re eager for some dry, clear and wind-free evenings to get back into observing and imaging our skies. Thankfully you can always be sure someone has a good view of the night sky, so we’re enjoying keeping up with fellow enthusiasts like us on Twitter, because there are images aplenty to at least temporarily satiate our passion for astronomy!

However, to help keep you inspired we’ve noted below some points of astronomical interest for the upcoming calendar month. Keep watching the skies!

Saturday 1st March - The New Moon rises with (and sets just after) the Sun today, so now is a good time to observe deep sky objects when the skies are unaffected by moonlight

There is a second New Moon at the end of the month

Monday 3rd March - Ringed planet Saturn reaches stationary point today, and will now be in retrograde motion where it appears to move contrary to it’s usual course across the sky

Brightening slightly by the end of the month, Saturn is always one of the most beautiful sights to see if you have a telescope or good pair of binoculars

Despite its attraction we've not managed to image Saturn all that often, so we're hoping for another go at imaging it over March (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Despite its attraction we’ve not managed to image Saturn all that often, so we’re hoping for another go at it over March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Friday 7th March - Orange giant star Aldebaran (part of the constellation Taurus) is visited closely by the Moon this evening, which sits nicely in the middle of the Hyades cluster (to the south west) directly to the right of Orion

Moon and Aldebaran 21.00 UTC 07032014 Sky-Watching.co.uk

The Moon makes a close visit to Aldebaran and the Hyades cluster this evening. Shown above at 21:00 UTC to the WSW (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 8th March - The Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase this evening

Tuesday 11th March - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 405,365 km (251,882 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Friday 14th March - Mercury is at Greatest Western Elongation today, however the planet is too close to the Sun this month for any meaningful observation from our latitudes

Sunday 16th March - The Full Moon in the sky tonight is also sometimes known as the Fish Moon, Sleepy Moon or Chaste Moon

And continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in March!

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 16th March, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in March (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Thursday 20th March - Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere (also known as the Vernal Equinox)

Saturday 22nd March - Venus is at Greatest Western Elongation this morning, meaning the bright planet can be seen rising before sunrise

Monday 24th March – This morning the Moon is seen at Last Quarter phase

Thursday 27th March - The crescent Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 365,705 km (227,239 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth, and appears very close to Venus in the early hours this morning

Shown below at 05:00 UTC, look low down towards the Eastern horizon

The waning crescent Moon appears very close to Venus in the early morning sky, shown at 05:00 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The waning crescent Moon appears very close to Venus in the early morning sky, shown above at 05:00 UTC (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Sunday 30th March - British Summer Time begins in the UK, and the clocks go forward 1 hour from 01:00 GMT/UTC to 02:00 BST

And the second New Moon of the month makes this another good time to observe galaxies and nebulae with the Moon out of the way!

As usual, if you take any photos throughout March you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Uranus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – February 2014
Astronomy Events – January 2014
Astronomy Events – December 2013

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Astronomy Events – February 2014

January 31, 2014

by yaska77

Well January seems to have passed in a flash! Unfortunately the much reported terrible weather we’ve had in Britain has meant we’ve been afforded no chance whatsoever to get any astronomy done, and have had to content ourselves with a triple dose of Stargazing LIVE and images sent to us on Twitter.

There are quite a few events in February that we’d like a close look at however, so we’re praying for some dry weather and clear skies to enable us to get back outdoors and reacquaint ourselves with the beauty of the heavens!

Below we’ve noted some astronomical points of interest for you to pick through, so get outside and keep watching the skies!

Saturday 1st February - Jovian moon Ganymede transits the disc of Jupiter this evening, which should provide a great sight through a telescope

Beginning around 19:00 UTC it will exit the planet’s limb around 22:10 UTC

Through a telescope Ganymede will be clearly visible crossing the disc of Jupiter, shown at 21:00 UTC (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Through a telescope Ganymede will be clearly visible crossing the disc of Jupiter, shown above at 21:00 UTC on 1st February 2014 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

And as a second treat the shadow of Ganymede will then appear on the surface of Jupiter just as the moon itself moves off the disc

Sunday 2nd February - If you have good binoculars or a telescope and look due south at 21:30 this evening (just to the left of Betelgeuse the bright orange star at the top left of Orion) you’ll find the Rosette Nebula and open cluster NGC 2244

We’ve managed to image this faint but beautiful object only once before, so should conditions prove favourable (especially with the Moon setting earlier in the evening affording darker skies) we’re hoping to give it another go to try attain even more clarity to the dark dust lanes you can see in our image below

The stars of the open cluster shine brightly, surrounded by the gas and dust that make up the Rosette Nebula (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

The stars of the open cluster NGC 2244 shine brightly, surrounded by the gas and dust that make up the Rosette Nebula, taken in early 2012 (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn

Thursday 6th February - This evenings Moon can be seen at First Quarter phase

Wednesday 12th February - Today the Moon is at Apogee at a distance of 406,230 km (252,420 miles) the furthest point out in its orbit around the Earth

Friday 14th February - The Full Moon in the sky tonight is also sometimes known as the Trapper’s Moon, Budding Moon or Storm Moon

And continuing our recent addition to this guide, below we’ve provided constellation guides for Southern and Northern skies in February!

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 15th February, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Shown at 00:00 UTC on 15th February, both these images are a handy guide for the whole month. This is the view you’ll get looking south (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in February (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Displaying the night sky midway through the month, this image can help you identify the constellations you’ll see in the northern sky in February (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 15th February - Hot planet Mercury is in Inferior Conjunction today (and will be unobservable until later in the month when it will become visible as a morning object) and Venus attains greatest brilliancy at mag -4.7 and will appear in a crescent phase if viewed through a telescope

Wednesday 19th February - This evening the waning gibbous Moon passes just 4° south of Mars, and forms a neat triangle with the star Spica which is part of the constellation Virgo

Rising around 22:30 UTC our guide image above shows its location in the sky at 01:00 UTC on 20th February (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Rising around 22:30 UTC our guide image above shows the location of Mars and the Moon in the sky at 01:00 UTC on 20th February (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Saturday 22nd February – Tonight the Moon is at Last Quarter phase

Sunday 23rd February - Planet Neptune is in Conjunction with the Sun today and is unobservable throughout February

Wednesday 26th FebruaryVenus and the crescent Moon traverse the predawn sky as close companions when they rise around 05:00 UTC this morning, and should look great if you can get an image through a telescope!  We’ll certainly be trying to get some photos!

The crescent Moon and bright planet Venus will provide a great target for some photography this morning, if the weather will behave! (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

The crescent Moon and bright planet Venus will provide a great target for some photography this morning, if the weather will behave! (click to enlarge) – Credit: Sky-Watching/Stellarium

Thursday 27th February - The Moon is at Perigee today at a distance of 360,440 km (223,967 miles), the closest point of its orbit to the Earth

As usual, if you take any photos throughout February you’d like to show us, please tweet them to us using the link below! We’d love to see your efforts!

Planets visible this month:

Jupiter
Venus
Uranus
Mars
Mercury
Saturn

Remember, it can take your eyes up to 20 minutes to become properly dark adapted, and anything up to an hour for a telescope to reach ambient temperature outside (to ensure the best image), so give yourself plenty of time to get set up!

To make it easier to find this list of astronomical happenings you can also locate it in the “Monthly Guide” section in the menu bar to the right. Handy! :)

Guide images created with Stellarium

Archive:
Astronomy Events – January 2014
Astronomy Events – December 2013
Astronomy Events – November 2013

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Super-Earths located around nearby star

June 25, 2013

by yaska77

Scientists have identified three new planets around a star 22 light years away, one already suspected of hosting a trio of worlds.

Artist's impression of the view from exoplanet Gliese 667Cd, looking towards the parent star with two of the super-Earths above right (click to enlarge) - Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

Artist’s impression of the view from exoplanet Gliese 667Cd, looking towards the parent star with two of the super-Earths above right (click to enlarge) – Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

This discovery means that the relatively nearby star, Gliese 667C, now has three so-called super-Earths orbiting in its “goldilocks zone”.

This is the habitable region where temperatures allow for the possibility of liquid water, however no-one can be exactly sure what conditions are really like on these planets.

Astronomers can locate it in the constellation of Scorpius.

Researchers used several telescopes including the 3.6m telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. This incorporates the high-precision HARPS instrument, which employs an indirect method of detection inferring the existence of orbiting planets from the way their gravity makes the parent star appear to twitch in its motion across the sky.

This diagram shows the system of planets around the star Gliese 667C. A record-breaking three planets in this system are super-Earths lying in the zone around the star where liquid water could exist, making them possible candidates for the presence of life (click to enlarge) - Credit: ESO

This diagram shows the system of planets around the star Gliese 667C. A record-breaking three planets in this system are super-Earths lying in the zone around the star where liquid water could exist, making them possible candidates for the presence of life (click to enlarge) – Credit: ESO

Estimates suggest the masses of these “super-Earths” range from 2.7 to 3.8 times the size of our planet, and all orbit their star closer than Mercury does to the Sun, as Gliese 667C is a low-luminosity “M-dwarf” just over one-third the mass of our star.

This is the first system found with a fully packed habitable zone.

For more information direct from the ESO website click here.

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Three years of pioneering observation ends

April 30, 2013

by tte-77

Iconic image of ESA’s Herschel space observatory set against a background of stellar nursery W40, 1000 light-years away in the constellation Aquila. Image credit: ESA and SPIRE & PACS consortia, Ph. André (CEA Saclay) for Gould’s Belt Key Programme Consortia

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has as planned exhausted  its supply of liquid helium coolant forcing its optics offline. In effect, Herschel has gone blind which ends over three years of pioneering observations of the cool Universe.  Herschel was Launched in May 2009 and, with a primary mirror 3.5 m across, is/was the largest, most powerful infrared telescope flown in space.

Herschel observed near-infrared and sub-millimeter wavelengths that are abundant inside star-forming nebulae and young galaxies.  Running out of coolant has declared the mission officially over.  In order to be sensitive to the extreme wavelengths Herschel  needed to be cooled to near-absolute zero (-273 degrees Celsius or -459 F).

The space telescope was the most advanced of its kind making groundbreaking discoveries of the nature of our universe.  Although Herschel has died, other observatories are geared to observe in the sane wavelengths.  In Chile the ground-based ALMA array is now online and is able to access sub-millimeter wavelengths with the 747-mounted SOFIA telescope accessing near-infrared wavelengths.

So in three years how much data did Herschel collect.  “Herschel has exceeded all expectations, providing us with an incredible treasure trove of data that will keep astronomers busy for many years to come,” says Prof. Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

The figures are impressive.  Herschel has made over 35000 scientific observations, gathering more than 25000 hours of data from about 600 observing programmes with a further 2000 hours of calibration observations also contributing to the dataset.

“Although this is the end of Herschel observing, it is certainly not the end of the mission – there are plenty more discoveries to come,” says Dr Pilbratt.

“We will now concentrate on making our data accessible in the form of the best possible maps, spectra and various catalogues to support the work of present and future astronomers. Nevertheless we’re sad to see the end of this phase: thank you, Herschel!”

The thumbnail images below show just a snippet of views from Herschel over the last three years.  Make sure you visit the official ESA Space in Images page and search for Herschel for more ‘cool’ images.

All images copyrighted to ESA/Herschel, PAC and SPIRE

The image of Andromeda (M31) is awesome, it uses both the PACS (Photodetecting Array Camera and Spectrometer) and SPIRE (Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver) instruments to observe at infrared wavelengths of 70 um (blue), 100 um (green) and 160 um and 250 um combined (red).

Herschel will continue communicating with its ground stations now that the helium is exhausted, during which a range of technical tests will be performed.

Finally, in May, it will be propelled into its long-term stable parking orbit around the Sun.

Source: ESA

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