Science Recorder Apocalypse postponed: how Earth survived Halley's comet in 1910 The Guardian (blog) Comet Halley against the Milky Way In 1910, the Earth was due to pass through the tail of Halley's Comet, sparking a public panic that apocalypse...
Astronomy: Stars Reveal the Secret of Aging Well Science Daily (press release) But while the stars are old and the clusters formed in the distant past, astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at the...
By combining the power of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and one of nature's own natural "zoom lenses" in space, astronomers have set a new distance record for finding the farthest galaxy yet seen in the universe. The diminutive blob, which is only a tiny fraction of the size of our Milky Way galaxy, offers a peek back into a time when the universe was 3 percent of its present age of 13.7 billion years. The newly discovered galaxy, named MACS0647-JD, is observed 420 million years after the big bang. Its light has traveled 13.3 billion years to reach Earth.
Explanation: What's happened to our Sun? Nothing very unusual -- it just threw a filament. At the end of last month, a long standing solar filament suddenly erupted into space producing an energetic Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). The filament had been held up for days by the Sun's ever changing magnetic field and the timing of the eruption was unexpected. Watched closely by the Sun-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory, the resultingexplosion shot electrons and ions into the Solar System, some of which arrived at Earth three days later and impacted Earth's magnetosphere, causing visible aurorae. Loops of plasma surrounding an active region can be seen above the erupting filament in the ultraviolet image. If you missed this auroral display please do not despair -- over the next two years our Sun will be experiencing a solar maximum of activity which promises to producemore CMEs that induce more Earthly auroras.
Explanation: During the past week, nightfall on planet Earth has featured Mars, Saturn, and Spica in a lovely conjunction near the western horizon. Still forming the corners of a distinctive celestial triangle after sunset and recently joined by a crescent Moon, they are all about the same brightness but can exhibit different colors to the discerning eye. This ingenious star trail image was recorded as the trio set on August 12 with a telephoto lens from the shores of Lake Eppalock, in central Victoria, Australia. Focused on foreground eucalyptus trees, the image slightly blurs the trails to show more saturated colors. Can you guess which trail is which? Of course thereddest trail is Mars, with Saturn on the right a paler echo of the Red Planet's hue. Left is hot and luminous Spica, bluish alpha star of the constellation Virgo.
In this class, we will be studying, quite literally, everything in the universe. We will start with "classical" astronomy, describing the night sky and organizing what we see as was done in ancient times. We will then embark on a journey, starting here on Earth and progressing outward, to study the Solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the wonderful and strange objects we observe in deep space, such as black holes, quasars, and supernovae. We will end with some discussion of what scientists know today about the universe as a whole. Along the way we will introduce some of the methods, theoretical and experimental, that have been used to understand all of this, from Newton's laws, through our understanding of light and matter, to Einstein's theory of relativity, and from Galileo's telescope to WMAP.
"The first steps towards interstellar travel have been taken, but the stars are very far away. Voyager 1 is about 17 light-hours distant from Earth and is traveling with a velocity of 0.006 percent of light speed, meaning it will take about 17,000 years to travel one light-year. Fortunately, the elusive "warp drive" now appears to be evolving past difficulties with new theoretical advances and a NASA test rig under development to measure artificially generated warping of space-time."
This is a follow up to the news I published a few days ago and it is a much more detailed article. It is a great read if you won't to understand while, far from being a practical possibility yet, it is something theoretically possible.
Explanation: An analemma is that figure-8 curve that you get when you mark the position of the Sun at the same time each day throughout planet Earth's year. In this case, 17 individual images taken at 0231 UT on dates between April 2 and September 16 follow half the analemma curve, looking east toward the rising sun and the Caspian sea from the boardwalk in the port city of Baku, Azerbaijan. With the sun nearest the horizon, those dates almost span the period between the 2012 equinoxes on March 20 and September 22. The northern summer Solstice on June 20 corresponds to the top of the figure 8 at the left, when the Sun stood at its northernmost declination. Of course, this year the exposure made on June 6 contained a little something extra. Slightly enhanced, the little black spot on the bright solar disk near the top of the frame is planet Venus, caught in a rare transit during this well-planned sunrise analemma project.