Cosmic study 'underestimated' dust →
One of the biggest scientific claims of the year has received another set-back.
In March, the US BICEP team said it had found a pattern on the sky left by the rapid expansion of space just fractions of a second after the Big Bang.
The astonishing assertion was countered quickly by others who thought the group may have underestimated the confounding effects of dust in our own galaxy.
That explanation has now been boosted by a new analysis from the European Space Agency’s (Esa) Planck satellite.
In a paper published on the arXiv pre-print server, Planck’s researchers find that the part of the sky being observed by the BICEP team contained significantly more dust than it had assumed.
This new information does not mean the original claim is now dead. Not immediately, anyway.
Continue reading via BBC News
I took these last Sunday (9/14) at the observatory. Again, these are taken off a TV screen which receives video from a video camera we have attached to a 14” scope.
At the beginning of the night I pointed up to the Dumbbell Nebula in Vulpecula and the image on the screen was really red. It’s never been that red before and it wasn’t the white balance that was off. I tried pointing it to something more southerly and found the red went away. When I went back to the dumbbell nebula and left it there I noticed that when the video camera reset the image (about every 30 sec) the red would get brighter and dimmer. The lead docent who does a lot of astrophotography suggested it could be some auroras that we couldn’t see but that the camera was able to pick up since it was much more sensitive. He had a problem when he used to shoot in film and there had been auroras he couldn’t see but ended up making all his images red when he went to develop and found out later there had been some in his area. This was around the time the sun had just sent off the big solar flare and there were visible auroras visible in the northern states so it might be possible we got some down in nor cal that just were not visible to our eyes. I’m still not sure but I thought that was a pretty cool thing.
I was able to get rid of the red image by just adjusting the white balance so we could look at objects that were more northerly.
One of the first objects I went to was the Triffid Nebula. I have never seen it image so well. It helped that the moon wasn’t out (and the smoke from the King fire still wasn’t bad). The Triffid Nebula got it’s name because of it’s colors and the properties of the nebula. It is three types of nebula! Emission, absorption, and reflection. The red you see in the image is hydrogen gas that has been excited by the starlight and emits a red wavelength of light. The dark areas are dust that is absorbing the visible light so we can’t see behind it. On the bottom there is a bluish nebula which is the reflection nebula. There is no gas being exited and emitting it’s own light in that region, but the starlight in that region is actually scattering off dust that is then being reflected back to us.
The next object was the whirlpool galaxy, which is a great example of a face on spiral galaxy. The public usually really likes seeing galaxies (after planets of course) especially when you can see as much detail as this one. It’s also a great parallel to make with our own Milky Way. It is about half the size of our galaxy which can also help demonstrate how large our galaxy is. The Milky Way is about 100,000 light years in diameter whereas the whirlpool is only 43,000 light years in diameter. I’ve found a good portion of the general public aren’t aware we live in a spiral galaxy, or what a spiral galaxy really is. My hope is they have a better understanding and appreciation for that after seeing this galaxy.
The final two images are the Eagle nebula. This one I like mostly because of the pillars of creation. I’m so used to seeing Hubble images where they look huge and towering. Which, they totally are, but when you see them in relation to the rest of the Eagle nebula they are so tiny. The Eagle nebula as a whole is about 70 light years across. The pillars of creation are only about 4 light years in length. This region is also helpful to talk about the fact that we really are looking back in time. This nebula is 7000 light years away. Astronomy really is time travel. We are seeing this area as it was 7000 years ago. The Spitzer Space Telescope observed a supernova in the region whose shock wave most likely hit the pillars about 6000 years ago. But we won’t see the pillars destroyed for another 1000 years.
Unfortunately the smoke has gotten so bad in the area around the observatory from the King fire that they’ve had to close all weekend. Hopefully next time I go up the skies will be clear again!
University of Sheffield show first pictures from DIY telescope
A university has shown the first photographs taken by a £100 telescope built from parts made by a 3D printer.
The University of Sheffield researchers behind the project claim the image quality from the PiKon telescope compares to models costing 10 times as much.
Plans are available online allowing anyone to download and print the components needed to build the device.
One of the Pikon’s developers, physicist Mark Wrigley, said he hoped the new telescope would be a “game changer”.
Continue reading via BBC News
This is really cool! I met Mark over the summer and he was telling me about this, but I didn’t realise it would make the news.
What kind of telescope do you have?
Celestron AstroMaster 130EQ!
Seeing a supernovae within hours of the explosion
For the first time ever, scientists have gathered direct evidence of a rare Wolf-Rayet star being linked to a specific type of stellar explosion known as a Type IIb supernova. Peter Nugent of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory says they caught this star – a whopping 360 million light years away – just a few hours after it exploded.
Hear more about this discovery →
We on Cassini received wonderful news today. In a review this past summer of all the 7 NASA missions seeking to extend their operations for several more years and requesting additional funding to do so, Cassini was the only one of them receiving an unqualified `Excellent’ for its science and future plans. So, we are now gratefully anticipating another 3 years of exploration, with mission operations ending on September 24, 2017 with a dramatic nose-dive into the planet.
How wonderful it is to know that we will live out the full, unabridged promise of this extraordinary mission. For many of us, for the past quarter century, it has been a way of life. For many of us, its end will mirror the end of a major portion of our life’s work.
But this is no time to get sentimental. We now are looking forward to 3 more glorious years of new discoveries and insights, three more close flybys of Enceladus, flights over the Saturn pole and through the rings, and, of course, many more of the most soul-stirring, magnificent vistas there are to be seen anywhere this side of the Oort cloud.
Science/AAAS: NASA extends seven planetary missions
In the center of this photo you can see what is known as Rupes Recta, or the Straight Wall. It is a linear fault on the Moon’s surface and it is approximately 68 miles long and 1-2 miles wide. It can only be seen at certain phases because of how the Sun casts shadows on the lunar surface. Some think it resembles a sword. I took this on Tuesday night before the clouds came in. #moon #luna #space #science #astronomy #astrophotography #universe
Behold a few wonders of the cosmos: From top to bottom are galaxies M101, M81, Centaurus A, and M51. The images are a collaboration combining data from amateur astronomers and NASA mission archives. X-rays from Chandra are purple, infrared data from Spitzer are red, and the optical data are red, green, and blue. (Chandra X-ray Observatory)
Your blog is all that matters to me. Great job, I really love it. :)
Thank you, you’ve just made my day! Glad you like it. :)
hi! i really love your blog! did you take he first photo post/96307311899/saturn-was-really-close-in-the-sky-to-the-moon through a telescope? how can i photograph the moon through a telescope? :)
Thank you! I did - I just used the camera on my phone held up to the eyepiece of the telescope. The trick is to line it up right and make sure it’s in focus, but you get better at that with practice. There are better ways of doing it though: you can get adaptors to attach a proper camera to the telescope; I’ve also known people to use webcams. Taking a quick snap with a phone is probably the easiest way, and you don’t need much equipment. :)
This is the Andromeda Galaxy. I took this back in January and I re-processed it with PixInsight. I’ve got until October to decide if I’m going to buy it, and I think the decision is pretty much final. #astronomy #astrophotography #galaxy #andromeda #m31 #galaxy #space #stars #universe #cosmos #canon #6d
Sunday Night Moon. 34% Illuminated. #moon #astronomy #astrophotography #canon #6d #tamron #space #universe #science #luna