Wednesday, June 20, 2018

NEW EXOPLANETS?

Hey Space Placers!

Take a look at this amazing image that shows what is in all probability 3 new planets:

Our Solar System formed out of a huge, primordial cloud of gas and dust. The vast majority of that cloud formed the Sun, while the leftover disc of rotating material around it eventually coalesced into the orbiting planets we know — and live on — today. Astronomers can observe similar processes happening around other stars in the cosmos. This splendid Picture of the Week shows a disc of rotating, leftover material surrounding the young star HD 163296. Using the observing power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, astronomers have been able to discern specific features in the disc, including concentric rings of material surrounding the central star. They were even able to use ALMA to obtain high-resolution measurements of the gas and dust constituents of the disc. With these data they could infer key details of the formation history of this young stellar system. The three gaps between the rings are likely due to a depletion of dust and in the middle and outer gaps astronomers also found a lower level of gas. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests the presence of newly formed planets, each around the mass of Saturn, carving out these gaps on their brand new orbits.

The gaps between the rings are likely due to a depletion of dust and in the middle and outer gaps astronomers also found a lower level of gas. The depletion of both dust and gas suggests the presence of newly formed planets, each around the mass of Saturn, carving out these gaps on their brand new orbits. Credit: ESO, ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO); A. Isella; B. Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF).

Discovered using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) these are considered to be the first three planets discovered by ALMA - that's how strong the evidence is that there are new exoplanets in this system.


The parent star HD 163296 is only 4 million years old so once again we are seeing how planets are a natural byproduct of stellar birth.


Our solar system at 4.6 billion years old is ancient compared to this one.


Sky Guy in VA


















Monday, June 18, 2018

9th LAUNCH ANNIVERSARY FOR LRO AND LCROSS

Hey Space Placers!

Hard to believe it has been nine years since Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and Lunar Crater Remote Observation Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) launched.



I saw both of these lunar bound spacecraft while they were being built and wrote the June 2009 Sky and Telescope magazine article about their 2-for-1 mission launch.

Me and LCROSS at NASA Ames 

Me and LRO at NASA Goddard
Humanity is going back to the Moon and LRO will finally have some company with the upcoming Chinese Chang'e 4 and 5 missions.

Here's to more good data LRO and thank you LCROSS for you daring demise in search of lunar water in Cabeus Crater.

Sky Guy in VA


Saturday, June 16, 2018

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT 6/16/18 MOON & VENUS AFTER SUNSET

Hey Space Placers!

All around the world people can see the Waxing Crescent Moon and brilliant Venus in the West after sunset tonight.

You can't miss it.....

Enjoy the view and try taking a pic with any camera.

Earthshine from our planet's clouds and oceans will illuminate the dark portion of the Moon - the part that is not illuminated by the Sun - so that you can see craters and the Maria (impact basins).

Get out and enjoy the view.....

Oh, and that bright "star" in the south is Jupiter.

The Milky Way will be up too when it is dark as you saw in my pics yesterday.

Enjoy......

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 15, 2018

ENJOY THE PICS

Hey Space Placers!

Up at Shenandoah National Park Big Meadow last night and got a few pics to share. Gt a lot of sky glow due to the clouds but the sky still won the light pollution battle!

Bright Mars, Saturn and Jupiter



Saturn and Antares & Milky Way



The REAL Skyline Drive is the Milky Way Galaxy.



Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 14, 2018

FATE OF MARS ROVER OPPORTUNITY UNKNOWN

Hey Space Placers!

A HUGE dust storm on Mars has shut down NASA's 15 years on Mars Rover Opportunity due to lack of solar power.

This series of images shows simulated views of a darkening Martian sky blotting out the Sun from NASA’s Opportunity rover’s point of view, with the right side simulating Opportunity’s current view in the global dust storm (June 2018). The left starts with a blindingly bright mid-afternoon sky, with the sun appearing bigger because of brightness. The right shows the Sun so obscured by dust it looks like a pinprick. Each frame corresponds to a tau value, or measure of opacity: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11.
NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Mars Exploration Rover Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.
For more information about Opportunity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov

Credit

NASA/JPL-Caltech/TAMU

The fate of the rover remains to be seen. Opportunity's twin, Spirit, died years ago, leaving nuclear powered Curiosity as the only operational rover on Mars at the moment.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

GRAVITATIONAL WAVES - UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

Hey Space Placers!

Here is my WTOP story about gravitational waves as told by Nobel Prize Laureate Dr. Rainer Weiss.

Dr. Rainer Weiss
Credit: Greg Redfern

Enjoy.....

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 11, 2018

BIG DAY TOMORROW

Hey Space Placers!

I have a big day tomorrow as I get to interview one-on-one Dr. Rainer Weiss, a 2017 Nobel Prize-Physics winner.

CREDIT: LIGO
Half of the award went to Dr. Weiss for his pioneering work on Gravitational Waves (GWs). He designed the instrument that led to the 9/14/15 detection of gravitational waves from two merging black holes. The other half of the Nobel Prize went to Kip Thorne and Barry Barish for their work on the detection of GWs.

I hope to share with you on Wednesday the results.....

Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 10, 2018

FIRST MAN TRAILER

Hey Space Placers!

The movie based on Neil Armstrong's biography is called FIRST MAN and is due in theaters October 18.

Watch the trailer and I think you will get goosebumps as I did at seeing all of that NAS hardware including:

X-15 rocket plane
Gemini-Titan
Apollo-Saturn
Apollo 11

I.CAN.HARDLY.WAIT

No matter the acting, which I am sure will be good, the hardware sets will be the real stars of the show for me ;-)



Sky Guy in VA

Friday, June 8, 2018

BIG FIND ON MARS

Hey Space Placers!

NASA's hunt for life on Mars moved forward a bit yesterday with the announcement that the Curiosity rover had found organic material in an ancient lakebed and discovered seasonal spikes in methane gas.

NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered ancient organic molecules on Mars, embedded within sedimentary rocks that are billions of years old.Credit: NASA/GSFC 
To me the best quote in the news release is this one:
"Are there signs of life on Mars?" said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, at NASA Headquarters. "We don't know, but these results tell us we are on the right track."

It is becoming clear that the search for life in the Universe beyond our own planet can focus right here in our solar system. Water abounds on planets and moons in clouds, in craters, poles that never see sunlight and under ice warm salt oceans. And one thing our planet has shown us is that life can live in the most extreme environments.

I think it is only a matter of time until we find the proof we are seeking that past, and maybe even current life, exists beyond Earth. Whether that will be "simple" cellular life only or intelligent life (in the form of received signals) remains to be seen.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, June 7, 2018

NEW HORIZONS IS AWAKE

Hey Space Placers!

The New Horizons spacecraft is alive, well and AWAKE after an extended hibernation period. The plucky Pluto explorer is in the process of preparing for its 1/1/19 flyby of ULTIMA THULE, a Kuiper Belt Object called 2014 MU 69.

Artist's impression of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft encountering 2014 MU69, a Kuiper Belt object that orbits one billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto, on Jan. 1, 2019.  

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Retute/Steve Gribbe
This will be something to see......

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

JUNE 6, 1944

Hey Space Placers!

74 years ago today allied troops, airmen and sailors invaded Hitler's Europe at Normandy, France. Thousands were killed. The European Theater of WW II would end early in the following year with millions saved and liberated.

The world must pause and remember this day that marked the beginning of the end of the dark forces that led to the great global conflict. If it weren't for the success of D-Day paid for with the blood and death of those thousands, who knows what might have happened.

To stand on Omaha Beach and then the embankment overlooking it is to understand why there are thousands in the nearby Normandy Cemetery.









Sky Guy in VA Remembers

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

BLACK HOLES AND GRAVITATIONAL WAVES VIDEO

Hey Space Placers!

Are you curious about black holes and gravitational waves? I have blogged about them often and now I have a real treat for you. Got about an hour? Well, a shade under 51 minutes actually.

Sit back and tune in to this video about "Black Holes Last Tango in Space: LIGO and the Dawn of Gravitational-Wave Astronomy". It is an excellent talk given by a human that would know about the subject as he is Dr. David Reitze, Executive Director, LIGO Laboratory, from the California Institute of Technology.


There will be much more to learn about the Universe and black holes from gravitational wave astronomy.

Stay tuned.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, June 4, 2018

HOW THE SOLAR SYSTEM FORMED

Hey Space Placers!

Ever wonder how our place in the Universe, the solar system formed? Here is a great 4K video that gives us insight on how astronomers think the solar system came to be.

It also gives a description of the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission which will reach the asteroid Bennu in December of this year. The spacecraft is in good health and will begin its  last deep space maneuver June 28 and instrument checkout in July.




In the video chondrules (thought to be the first solid matter to form in the solar system and basic building blocks for planets) are mentioned. Here is what a large chondrule looks like - it is the large gray spherical shape in this Chelyabinsk meteorite specimen.




Sky Guy in VA

Sunday, June 3, 2018

INCOMING!

Hey Space Placers!

An asteroid - a very small one - was discovered on Saturday just hours before it was due to hit Earth. 



This is the third time this has happened and I am sure there will be a meteorite expedition launched to try and find pieces of the space rock.

The planet gets hit everyday with space debris, occasionally man-made but most often the cosmic kind from asteroids and comets.

We celebrate Asteroid Day every June 30th to remind us of the dangers of these space rocks. That date was chosen because it was when the largest impact event in modern history took place over Tunguska, Siberia and wiped 2000 km of forest - the equivalent of a large hydrogen bomb detonation of millions of tons of TNT.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, June 2, 2018

JEFF BEZOS' LUNAR SETTLEMENT

Hey Space Placers!


Blue Moon lander
An artist’s conception shows Blue Origin’s Blue Moon lander on the lunar surface. (Blue Origin Illustration)

Be sure to read this article about how Jeff Bezos wants to go to the Moon and stay in a BIG way.

I for one sure hope it happens as the future of humanity to survive and thrive depends on it.

Sky Guy in SOGGY VA


Friday, June 1, 2018

A NEAT LOOK AT SLS

Hey Space Placers!

Enjoy this video on the Space Launch System (SLS). Some interesting facts are provided.



Sky Guy in VA