Saturday, February 18, 2017

Organics on CERES!

Hey Space Placers!

NASA announced that organic compounds have been discovered on Ceres, the largest object in the asteroid belt - a dwarf planet actually.

This is the first confirmed discovery of such in the main belt and it IS a big deal.

Sky Guy at Sea

Help Find Planet 9

Hey Space Placers!

From today's 'Daily Minor Planet:

NASA is inviting the public to help search for possible undiscovered worlds in the outer reaches of our solar system and in neighboring interstellar space. A new website, called Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, lets everyone participate in the search by viewing brief movies made from images captured by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission.  Read More

Sky Guy at Sea

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Orion-SLS Update

Hey Space Placers!

At sea again on my way to Hawaii.

There has been some very interesting reporting coming out that says that NASA is considering making the first Orion-Space Launch System (SLS) mission, Exploration Mission 1 (EM-1), a MANNED mission. The only other launch system in NASA’s history that had a crew onboard for the maiden flight was the Space Shuttle.

Orion-SLS has a crew abort system that can lift the Orion spacecraft with its crew to safety from the launch pad well into the ascent phase. The Space Shuttle had limited options for crew abort once the solid rocket boosters (SRBs) ignited and burned for two minutes. SLS will have two SRBs also.

There is also a move to name the EM-1 mission for the late Apollo 17 astronauts Gene Cernan. A fitting tribute to the last human to walk on the Moon.

Sky Guy in the Pacific Headed to Hawaii

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Sky Guy Viewing ALERT!! Full Snow Moon Penumbral Eclipse Feb. 10-11

Hey Space Placers!

February’s Full Moon is called the Full Snow Moon as this is prime time for snow. The Full Snow Moon will look a little different this Friday as it will undergo a penumbral lunar eclipse.

There are three types of lunar eclipses - total, partial and penumbral  http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/LEprimer.html   . All three occur when the Full Moon passes into the Earth’s shadow which is caused by light from the Sun. There are two components to our planet’s shadow  (and all shadows actually  http://van.physics.illinois.edu/QA/listing.php?id=2068 ) called the umbra and penumbra. The umbra is the central and darkest shadow zone which projects about a million miles into space while the penumbra is the outer and lighter shadow zone  https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/k-4/stories/umbra-and-penumbra/#.WJyHLhg-KfQ .      

Penumbral lunar eclipses are the least dramatic of the three types as usually there is only a slight shading. But for this penumbral eclipse the Full Snow Moon is deep within the penumbral shadow and misses the umbra by only 100 miles  http://www.skyandtelescope.com/press-releases/friday-nights-deep-penumbral-lunar-eclipse/   . The result will be shading that will be visible on the Full Snow Moon similar to what you see in the picture I took of the penumbral phase of the October 8, 2014 total lunar eclipse.

The Full Snow Moon eclipse will look very similar to this picture taken of the eclipsed Moon on October 8, 2014.
Greg Redfern
To see the eclipse is easy if the sky is clear. Just go outside and face the east and find the Moon. Starting at 6:14 p.m. EST you should detect shading on the upper, or northern face of the Moon. By mid-eclipse at 7:44 p.m. EST the shading will be at its greatest and should be easily visible. The penumbral shadow will start to move off the Moon and the last vestiges of it should be seen around 9:14 p.m. EST.

The weather for Friday has clouds in the forecast but it is still worth checking to see if the Moon is visible. If clouds intervene you can watch the eclipse on the Internet  http://main.slooh.com/event/the-full-snow-moon-2/  .

You may have heard about the close approach of a comet this weekend. Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdušáková or  Comet 45P for short  http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/comet-45phonda-mrkos-pajdusakova-new-years-eve    will pass a mere 7.4 million miles from Earth on February 11 at about 3 a.m. EST.

Comet 45P the closest comet we have had in more than 30 years, the last being the glorious Comet Hyakutake  http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/comet/hyakutake/ .  That was a COMET! I still remember being at Shenandoah National Park photographing it on the night of closest approach. With just your eyes you could see the long tail stretch across almost the whole sky - and it moved against the background stars as you watched! While watching that bright comet move silently and majestically across the sky it was easy to understand why our ancestors feared them.

Comet 45P is beyond naked eye visibility and even in binoculars or telescopes the brilliant full Snow Moon will make it hard to see. You can tune in to a live show on the Internet  http://main.slooh.com/event/cruise-the-galaxy-with-comet-45p/    after the Full Snow Moon eclipse.


By the way, you can see brilliant Venus in the southwest just after it gets dark with dim Mars just above it to the left. Jupiter makes its appearance in the southeast sky after 11 p.m. and Saturn rises in the hour before dawn in the southeast.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

1st Ever White Dwarf Pulsar Discovered

Hey Space Placers!

The 1st EVER white dwarf pulsar has been discovered. This is a major discovery in our study of stars and fills a gap that has been awaiting such a discovery.

AR Scorpii
Credit: Mark Garlick, University of Warwick
Sky Guy in VA

Monday, February 6, 2017

POPE'S VIEW ON BIG BANG & EVOLUTION

Hey Space Placers!

A very welcome read from Pope Francis on his views about the Big Bang and Evolution. Many do not know that the Vatican has its own observatory and staff to do research on cosmology and astrophysics.

Sky Guy in VA