Monday, March 18, 2019

What Does the Milky Way Weigh?

Hey Space Placers!

I am sure you are getting your March Madness Brackets set up.

Check out the most accurate to date determination of how much our home galaxy "weighs", or more precisely, how much mass does it contain.

Center of Milky Way Galaxy
Taken Underway on Azamara Quest

Pretty amazing story and result.

Most of our galaxy's mass is in the form of dark matter - something we can detect by its gravitational influence but cannot see.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, March 15, 2019

Cooking up Alien Atmospheres on Earth

Hey Space Placers!

Now that we have just gone over 4,000 KNOWN PLANETS BEYOND OUR SOLAR SYSTEM - known as Exoplanets - with many more to come, research is being done on what they may be like.

This artist's concept shows planet KELT-9b orbiting its host star, KELT-9. It is the hottest gas giant planet discovered so far.
Credit NASA JPL

Read the story on how alien atmospheres are being made and studied in the laboratory.

Pretty fascinating.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Friday, March 8, 2019

CREW DRAGON SAFELY SPLASHES DOWN

Hey Space Placers!

The SpaceX Demo-1 mission has concluded with the successful splashdown of the Crew Drago spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m. EST.


NASA TV





This is a BIG step forward on returning astronauts to space using US built hardware launched from US soil.

I'll have much more tomorrow.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

SPACEIL BERESHEET SPACECRAFT SELFIE

Hey Space Placers!

Here's something you don't see very often - a spacecraft headed to the Moon selfie!

I LOVE IT!

A picture taken by the camera of the Beresheet spacecraft 23,363 miles from Earth. Photograph: AFP/Getty 
via
UK THE GUARDIAN


SKY GUY IN VA

Sunday, March 3, 2019

APOLLO 11 THE MOVIE & CREW DRAGON AT ISS

Hey Space Placers!

I am going to see "Apollo 11-The Movie" at Udvar Hazy IMAX and I can hardly wait. The trailer is a joy to see and hear.




How appropriate to share this movie with the successful docking earlier today of SpaceX Crew Dragon at the International Space Station!

Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon
NASA

Sky Guy in VA



Friday, March 1, 2019

ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO FOR SPACEX COMMERCIAL CREW DEMO-1 FLIGHT

Hey Space Placers!

On March 2, at 2:29 a.m. EST, SpaceX will try to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft using a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center's Pad 39A.

An artist concept of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
CREDIT: SpaceX

It will be uncrewed and launched to dock with the International Space Station on March 3rd. The mission, Demo-1, is a crucial test for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Live coverage will be provided by NASA starting at 2:00 a.m.

If Demo-1 proves successful the next mission should be with a NASA crew later this year.

The other Commercial Crew Partner, Boeing and its CST 100 Starliner, is also expected to conduct an uncrewed test flight in 2019.

If either is successful with a crewed launch it would mark the first time in EIGHT YEARS that NASA has launched a crew from Kennedy Space Center. No longer will the Russians have the only crew rated spacecraft in the world.

Let's light this candle!

Sky Guy in VA


Wednesday, February 27, 2019

GET DAILY WEATHER REPORTS FROM.....MARS!

Hey Space Placers!

Do you like weather?

If you do you will love this - daily weather reports from the planet Mars.

The Red Planet is visible now in the West after sunset as I wrote in my 2/25/19 blog. So take a peek at the Red Planet and then check to see how the weather is doing....

Pretty cool!!

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, February 25, 2019

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT 2/25 - 3/2 2019: PLANETS APLENTY!

Hey Space Placers!

Get out this week after sunset and before sunrise to see all 5 visible planets in the sky.

30 minutes after sunset (Northern Hemisphere primarily) the Winged Messenger, Mercury is an easy sight in the West if you have a clear view of the horizon. Binoculars really help in the search but the elusive planet is a bright yellow-golden color and is the brightest object in the western sky about one fist width at arm's length.

Mars is visible about half way up in the sky from the western horizon and is a shadow of it glorious appearance in 2018.

Mercury and Mars in the western sky 30 minutes after sunset
Credit: Sky Safari Pro 6
Moving on to the morning sky, the Moon will pass Jupiter, Venus and Saturn this week in the pre-dawn sky in the southeast (Northern and Southern Hemispheres). When the Moon becomes a crescent the Milky Way will be easy to see if you are in a dark sky location. Seeing the Moon move relative to the planets each morning emphasizes its motion in the sky.


CREDIT: SKY AND TELESCOPE.COM


CREDIT: SKY AND TELESCOPE.COM
Be on the lookout for Earthshine on the slim crescent Moon. It is the reflection of sunlight off our planet's clouds back into space to illuminate the darkened portion of the Moon - a VERY beautiful sight.

The picture below taken at sea aboard cruise ship Azamara Pursuit shows what this will look like in a dark sky. The Moon is literally upside down for Northern Hemisphere observers as this was taken at 47 degrees South latitude.

Waning Crescent Earthshine Moon
Greg Redfern
Try and take advantage of this planetary lineup this week. Visualize our solar system with its visible planets and our Moon. The planets are orbiting the Sun as are we while our Moon orbits the Earth.

Enjoy the view!

Sky Guy in VA




Sunday, February 24, 2019

THE MOON RUSH IS ON

Hi Space Placers!

The Moon rush is on.

2019 is going to be the year that humanity starts heading back to the Moon.

China's Chang'e 4 mission on the far side is underway and continuing its exploration.

SpaceIL, a private Israeli company, has their lunar lander enroute to an April landing on the Moon if all goes well. 

Artist Rendition of Beresheet on the Moon
CREDIT: SPACEIL
NASA also just announced, "12 science and technology demonstration payloads to fly to the Moon as early as the end of this year, dependent upon the availability of commercial landers. These selections represent an early step toward the agency’s long-term scientific study and human exploration of the Moon and, later, Mars."

And last but certainly not least is NASA's announcement that, "NASA Scientists Show How Ingredients for Water Could Be Made on Surface of Moon, a 'Chemical Factory."  

If water can be "made" on the Moon, this is a huge resource multiplier for putting humans on the Moon in permanent colonies. Oxygen to breathe, water for all its normal uses, ROCKET FUEL from oxygen and hydrogen would be possible. In addition, the technologies developed to do all of this would be exportable to our missions to the asteroid belt and Mars.

More Moon missions from countries and private companies are forthcoming......

THE MOON RUSH IS ON!

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, February 21, 2019

THIS IS A BIG DEAL - NASA FUNDED RESEARCH CREATES DNA-LIKE MOLECULE

Hey Space Placers!

Look at this:

Hachimoji DNA
This illustration shows the structure of a new synthetic DNA molecule, dubbed hachimoji DNA, which uses the four informational ingredients of regular DNA (green, red, blue, yellow) in addition to four new ones (cyan, pink, purple, orange).
Credits: Indiana University School of Medicine

Reading like something out of a science fiction novel, scientists have created a new synthetic DNA molecule. The discovery forces astrobiologists to consider what might constitute life beyond what we know it to be here on Earth. 

The research shows that there are other means to create a "double-helix structure that can store and transfer information".

This is just another example of how "life always finds a way"......my personal belief that life is probably teeming in our solar system and on other exoplanets. There are just too many exoplanets and stars and galaxies out there for us to be the only life form in it all. Until, and IF we discover an off Earth form of life we are it. All the more reason why our planet and ALL of its life forms are so precious.....

Sky Guy in VA


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

EARTH'S ATMOSPHERE REACHES BEYOND THE MOON

Hey Space Placers!

Here's some big news about our home planet - our atmosphere stretches way out beyond the Moon's orbit!

Not to scale depiction of Earth's atmosphere
CREDIT: ESA
What also makes this a very interesting story is that the discovery was made reviewing observations made TWO decades ago by a Sun observing spacecraft!

Apollo 16 astronauts Shepard and Mitchell  photographed this region of the Earth's atmosphere called the Geocorona using the first telescope on the Moon. The picture was taken in ultraviolet light.

The Earth and its hydrogen envelope, or geocorona, as seen from the Moon. This ultraviolet picture was taken in 1972 with a camera operated by Apollo 16 astronauts on the Moon.
CREDIT: NASA

This really shows the power of going back over archived data to make new discoveries.

Pretty amazing.....

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, February 18, 2019

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT!!! BIGGEST FULL MOON OF 2019 - 2/19/19

Hey Space Placers!

The biggest Full Moon of 2019 will occur on 2/18-19 2019. This will be the closest Full Moon to Earth for 2019 and it will also be a Supermoon.

Full Wolf Supermoon 2018
Greg Redfern
What this adds up to is a beautiful and bright Full Snow Moon on the nights of February 18 and 19. The Full Snow Moon will be brighter than usual and its larger size in the sky is harder to detect for most. The Full Snow Moon is so named as February finds much of North America covered with snow hence the name from our ancestors. Tides will also be larger due to the closeness of the Full Snow Moon.

If you have snow on the ground the Full Snow Moon will REALLY light up your landscape!

Enjoy the view.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, February 15, 2019

6 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT OPPY

Hey Space Placers!

A follow up to yesterday's (2/14/19) blog about Opportunity.

I chose this pic because it is a fitting pictorial to the road travelled by Oppy during her almost 15 years making 28 MILES of tracks in the Martian soil.

The Road Well Travelled on Mars by Opportunity
In this navigation camera raw image, NASA's Opportunity Rover looks back over its own tracks on Aug. 4, 2010
NASA/JPL
6 things you should know about Opportunity.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, February 14, 2019

THANKS, OPPPY

Hey Space Placers!

NASA made it official - Mars Rover Opportunity is dead. The Agency made one last attempt to make contact and there was no response. So, for a vehicle that was designed for 90 days operation in the harsh environment of Mars finishes an almost 15 YEAR run!



In the end Mars' great dust storm of 2018 robbed Oppy of solar power and the Rover joined its twin, Spirit, in becoming a permanent part of the martian landscape. But oh what a marvelous 28 miles of roving and discovery did Oppy provide us.

Thanks, Oppy......

Sky Guy in VA


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

ULITMA THULE SURPRISE

Hey Space Placers!

I'm back.

Big finding from New Horizons fly by of Ultima Thule - SURPRISE!!!   It's flat and not spherical.



Scientists' understanding of Ultima Thule has changed as they review additional data. The "old view" in this illustration is based on images taken within a day of New Horizons' closest approach to the Kuiper Belt object on Jan. 1, 2019, suggesting that both of "Ultima" (the larger section, or lobe) and "Thule" (the smaller) were nearly perfect spheres just barely touching each other. 

But as more data were analyzed, including several highly evocative crescent images taken nearly 10 minutes after closest approach, a "new view" of the object's shape emerged. Ultima more closely resembles a "pancake," and Thule a "dented walnut."

The bottom view is the team's current best shape model for Ultima Thule, but still carries some uncertainty as an entire region was essentially hidden from view, and not illuminated by the Sun, during the New Horizons flyby. The dashed blue lines span the uncertainty in that hemisphere, which shows that Ultima Thule could be either flatter than, or not as flat as, depicted in this figure. Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Thursday, February 7, 2019

NASA's DAY OF REMEMBRANCE 2019

Hey Space Placers!

NASA held its annual "Day Of Remembrance" for astronauts killed in Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia. There is risk in human spaceflight and we will lose more heroes in our quest for the stars. But we must never stop our quest to explore the realm of space.


Sky Guy Greg in the Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

MUST SEE FOR JUPITER LOVERS!

Hey Space Placers!

ENJOY!!!!

It is a LARGE coverage video just like Jupiter!

Sky Guy in Puerto Montt

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

A MUST READ ON POSSIBILITY OF AN ALIEN SPACE SHIP FLYBY

Hey Space Placers!

Take a few minutes to read this great Washington Post article about the top astronomer at Harvard University who thinks it is a distinct possibility that an alien space ship flew through our solar system in the form of 'Oumuamua' which I blogged about previously.



My position is that ANYTHING is possible in this Universe we live in. BUT you have to have peer reviewed data to back up your theories and claims. Professor Loeb has published a paper on the subject, and like Carl Sagan before him, has run afoul of his peers due to the publicity and controversial nature of his claim. 

Good for him and us......we need scientists of his caliber who are not afraid to say what they think based upon their interpretation of data. Good for him and us that the peer review process and the scientific process is at work to chew upon his work and move forward to gather more data.

Here's to more data and to another Oumuamua passing through!

Sky Guy in Puerto Chacabuco

Sunday, February 3, 2019

CHANG'E 4 MAKES MAJOR DISCOVERY ON LUNAR FAR SIDE

Hey Space Placers!
The Yutu 2 rover rolls away from the Chang'e 4 lander shortly after the mission's historic Jan. 3 touchdown on the moon's far side.
Credit: CNSA/CLEP VIA Space.com
China's Chang'e 4 lander and rover Yutu 2, survived their first lunar night and made a major discovery - the far side of the Moon is colder than the near side.

The temp was recorded as -310 degrees F! For comparison the temp on the near side is about -280 degrees F. It is thought that perhaps the lunar soil differs between the two sides that would account for the temp difference.

Sky Guy Underway in Chilean Fiords

Saturday, February 2, 2019

LATEST UPDATE ON EVENT HORIZON TELESCOPE

Hey Space Placers!

Here is the latest on the Event Horizon Telescope Project that is trying to image the event horizon around our Milky Way Galaxy's supermassive black hole.

From EarthSky.org
Here’s what astronomers see when they look in the direction of the galaxy’s center with NASA’s Chandra X-Ray Observatory. Sagittarius A* is in this image, but, so far, hot gas has obscured our view of the supermassive black hole’s event horizon. Ellipses indicate light echoes. Image via 
ESO.

Sky Guy in Punta Arenas, Chile

Thursday, January 31, 2019

THIS MORNING'S SKY FROM THE END OF THE WORLD

Hey Space Placers!

I hope you got to see the wonderful sky scene this morning of Antares, Jupiter, the Waning Crescent Moon with Earthshine and brilliant Venus.

During Azamara Pursuit's transit to Ushuaia, Argentina this morning I photographed the following from 0320-0430 local time (2 hours ahead of EST).

Jupiter (upper left) with the Moon and Venus

Closeup of Earthshine Moon and Venus

Antares (far upper left), Jupiter, Moon and Venus

Jupiter, Moon, Venus and Ushuaia channel

Ushuaia Morning
Sky Guy at the end of the world

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT! MOON, VENUS & JUPITER

Hey Space Placers!

This morning and tomorrow morning before dawn the Waning Crescent Moon, brilliant Venus and Jupiter will be in the southeast an hour or more before dawn. Be sure to look for Earthshine on the Moon and use a window for a view if it is too cold.

I had to use a my stateroom window (bottom pic) and a window on deck 9 for these pics due to a raging storm at sea in the far south (51 deg latitude S) Atlantic Ocean this morning 3am local time.




Sky Guy in a storm at sea

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

NEW SOLAR SYSTEM DISCOVERY

Hey Space Placers!

A team from Japan has made an important discovery about our solar system.

Using small telescopes they have detected the missing link in planetary formation - smaller sized objects deep in the depths of the solar system. Predicted for 70 years they were finally found when they passed in front of distant stars blocking out their light in what astronomers call occultations.

Predicted for 70 years they were finally found.

Artist’s impression of the newly discovered object.
I am always amazed at how much we do not know about our own backyard, the solar system.

Many more discoveries await.....

Sky Guy Headed To Cape Horn

Friday, January 25, 2019

LATEST NEW HORIZONS ULTIMA THULE PICTURE

Hey Space Placers!

Amazing. More pictures and data will be coming in the months ahead.


Ultima Thule
Credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Sky Guy in Montevideo

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

METEOROID HITS ECLIPSED MOON

Hey Space Placers!

It is being reported that a meteoroid hit the Moon while it was totally eclipsed. Multiple reports from observers as well as photographic evidence seem to indicate that this was in fact a real impact.



The Moon is monitored during favorable lunar surface viewing conditions - when the Moon's phase has large areas not in sunlight- with telescopes and sensitive cameras to be on the lookout for such Lunar Transient Phenomena. There have been hundreds of impacts detected. These are small impacts and nothing that we could see with our eyes alone from Earth.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) will be looking for this new crater as it has been very successful in finding new craters.

It is worth noting that the impact rate picks up during meteor showers which makes sense as Earth and the Moon are moving through large debris fields left by comets and an asteroid.

Of course Earth gets bombarded 24 hours a day like the Moon but our atmosphere vaporizes the incoming meteors. Occasionally something large enough to explode and produce meteorites gets through and grabs our attention.

Sky Guy in Buenos Aires

Monday, January 21, 2019

A ONCE IN A LIFETIME EXPERIENCE - FULL WOLF SUPERMOON TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE

Hey Space Placers!

I hope you saw the Full Wolf Supermoon Total Lunar Eclipse last night.

I wanted to share with you my once in a lifetime experience seeing the eclipse underway on cruise ship Azamara Pursuit off the coast of Port Madryn, Argentina in the South Atlantic Ocean. Even though I have seen 5 total lunar eclipses at sea and at least a dozen more on land this was the best ever.

Why? Because in the over half century I have been observing and photographing total lunar eclipses this was the first time EVER that I had experienced the deep southern sky come into stunning viewing during totality. Cloudy weather on 1/31/18 aboard Azamara Journey prevented me seeing such a view off the coast of S. Australia in the Southern Ocean. Not so last night.

During totality our home galaxy, the Milky Way, spanned the ENTIRE SKY from port to starboard passing DIRECTLY overhead! The enchanting Southern Cross with its two bright guardian stars, Alpha and Beta Centaurus greeted us. We also saw the famous Magellanic Clouds, two dwarf galaxies flying through intergalactic space with the Milky Way. They appeared like spectral presences in the dark sky - the same way Ferdinand Magellan saw them in 1509.

Here is my pic from a previous voyage aboard Azamara Quest of what they look like deep down under the equator.



We had LOTS of lightning before the eclipse and the bridge monitored the weather as Azamara Pursuit was headed towards the storm.




We had several hundred guests on deck for the eclipse and Captain Carl Smith used his green laser pointer - bright like a Star Wars' laser saber (he could take on Darth Vader easily) - to point out navigational stars. As Captain Carl said today in his daily noon public announcement, "It was amazing to have over a hundred guests on deck after midnight when there was no food or drink".

We saw the ghostly penumbral shadow at about 0015 ship's time.


Then right on time the Earth's dark umbra shadow started to cover the Moon, showing that gravity still works in the solar system.


Totality was a full and glorious 62 minutes which allowed the stars to come out in stunning clarity and brightness as you can see in the stars near the Moon and upside down Orion (for those used to seeing the Hunter above the equator).



I will never forget the magic of seeing the Milky Way spanning the ENTIRE SKY horizon to horizon in a totally dark environment - less the occasional FLASH PHOTOGRAPH (grrrrrrr). As I commented, "Your flash photos are not strong enough to make it to the laser reflectors left on the Moon by the astronauts so please refrain from taking them". Well, that didn't work - LOL.

Some clouds kept the Moon company during totality off and on but overall it was a PERFECT event. Having been up for over 40 hours and flying 6,000 miles with a 3 hour nap AND having to give a lecture on the Moon at 10 a.m., I hung it up at 3 a.m. after totality ended.

Once last comment.

As totality enveloped us and the stars came out in the deep lunar glow and accompanying darkness in an almost primal fashion, I asked the guests to focus on the sound of Azamara Pursuit through the water. The sound of the waves graced our ears to accompany the surreal sky view we were privileged to witness.

Magical, indeed.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

SKY GUY VIEWING ALERT - JUPITER AND VENUS CLOSEST 1/22/19

Hey Space Placers!

Take a peek in the SE sky at 5 am the next few mornings to see SPECTACULAR Venus and Jupiter pairing.

They will be getting closer to one another and be closest on the morning of 1/22/19. Venus will be the brighter of the two.

I'm hoping to be posting pictures of this this weekend.

Sky Guy in VA

CHANG'E 4 UPDATE

Hey Space Placers!

If you read my blog yesterday - 1/15/19 - regarding NASA being effectively shut down over a political stunt contrast that to China's Chang'e 4 Moon mission.





There is life on the Moon in the form of cotton seedlings!

mooncotton
Cotton plants have been seen budding and growing, as shown by this close-up of the plants sprouting under a protective cover on the Chang’e 4 lunar lander .CLEP  via Astronomy Magazine
 
Pretty Amazing!

Sky Guy in VA











jhvhvuugiugugi

Sunday, January 13, 2019

THE NEW SPACE RACE

Hey Space Placers!

Interesting article about China and the new space race.

I wrote about this in March of last year .

While the US contends with the longest federal government shutdown in the Nation's history - NASA is essentially shut down - China is exploring the far side of the Moon.

The American people had better wake up and demand their elected members of Congress to their jobs  instead of putting politics over country.

China's Communist Party is focused, financially supported and moving ahead in space.

America needs to do the same.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, January 11, 2019

CHANG'E 4 LANDING VIDEO

Hey Space Placers!

I can look at this all day......the landing video of China's Chang'e 4 far side lunar lander.



I look forward to seeing more Chang'e 4 videos from China National Space Administration.

I also look forward to see other Nations' lunar landing video - India's Chandrayaan 2 possibly at the end of January 2019 and China's - Chang'e 5 in late 2019. There are also four PRIVATE companies attempting Moon landings. 

Per Sky and Telescope:

  • SpaceIL: This Israeli-based company plans to launch its Beresheet lunar lander (named for the first Hebrew word in the Book of Genesis) on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on February 13, 2019. The spacecraft will take about two and a half months to reach the Moon, through a slow cycle of elliptical raising orbits.
  • ALINA: Germany's Autonomous Landing and Navigation module (ALINA) could bring two Audi lunar quattro rovers near the Apollo 17 Taurus-Littrow landing site in 2019. ALINA is operated by the Part-Time Scientists, and the company is working to secure a launch contract with SpaceX.
  • Moon Express: The sole remaining U.S. entry in the Google Lunar X prize competition, Moon Express still intends to field two missions in 2019: the MX-1E lander and the Lunar Outpost MX-3 lander. The company plans to launch these missions on Rocket Lab's Electron rocket, which carried out several successful launches from the company's Mahia New Zealand launch complex in 2018. MX-1E will carry a small optical telescope, a laser retro-reflector, and a Celestis memorial container.
  • Team Indus: Headquartered in Bangalore, India, this company is also looking to secure a launch contract in 2019. Two other teams, Synergy Moon and Hakuto, are looking to piggyback with Team Indus.
Looks good for space missions in 2019. 

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, January 10, 2019

AMAZING CYGNUS A

Hey Space Placers!

Been a LOT of astronomical news coming out of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Seattle this week.

Read this amazing story about a supermassive black hole in the Cygnus A Galaxy that has a ricocheting jet blasting from a giant black hole has been captured by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.




We are living in a golden age of discovery about our Universe, galaxy and solar system. With more spacecraft missions to the Moon and solar system, space based telescopes, and monster ground based telescopes it is only going to get better.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

HST'S MAIN CAMERA NOT WORKING

Hey Space Placers!

Bad news about Hubble Space Telescope (HST).

The primary camera, Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, is broken and not working.

Worse yet, NASA cannot pull in the people necessary to try and fix it because of the stupid partial government shut down.

The problem is that NASA Goddard, where many of HST's expert work, is closed.

We'll have to see what happens.......

Sky Guy Greg

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

CHECK OUT THE NEW BINARY ASTEROID

Hey Space Placers!

We continue to learn more about our solar system almost every single night.

Here is the latest binary asteroid .


Range-Doppler radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2016 AZ8 with range resolution (vertical axis) of 7.5 m/pixel and Doppler frequency resolution (horizontal axis) of 0.03 Hz where (left) is the sequence of images over the almost 40 min of data and (right) is the first frame, obtained over about 3 min.

Pretty amazing what we can see with radar on these worlds.

Sky Guy in VA

Monday, January 7, 2019

TRIANGULUM GALAXY AS SEEN BY HST

Hey Space Placers!

Happy 2019.

Back from being sick and the holidays.

Check out this INCREDIBLE video of the nearby Triangulum Galaxy (M-33) released today by the SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE  using Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images:



Be sure to read the story about the 665 MB picture taken by HST.

Triangulum Galaxy Shows Stunning Face in Detailed Hubble Portrait
Release type: American Astronomical Society Meeting
CREDIT: NASA, ESA

For comparison here is my astrophoto of M-33 taken with my 10-inch telescope and DSLR:


Local Group Galaxy M-33 in a 10-inch Telescope and DSLR
Credit: Greg Redfern


Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, January 3, 2019

CHINA'S CHANG'E 4 ON THE FAR SIDE OF THE MOON

Hey Space Placers!

China successfully landed on the far side of the Moon hours before midnight East Coast time.

Here is the first picture from the lander on the far side of the Moon:

Credit: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/china-moon-landing-dark-side-chinese-spacecraft-change4-a8708951.htm

Here is an excellent video about the mission:




Twitter is reporting that the Yutu 2 rover has deployed also.

2019 will be a year of planned lunar missions by Israel, India and China.

Meanwhile NASA remains furloughed over a Wall......

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

SAY HELLO TO ULTIMA THULE

Hey Space Placers!

UPDATE: PRESS RELEASE

Latest images from New Horizon spacecraft (screen shot from press conference 1/2/19):


The first clear image of the object nicknamed Ultima Thule, beamed back after the New Horizons spacecraft's flyby on Jan. 1.CreditCreditJHUAPL/NAS


The first color image of Ultima Thule, taken at a distance of 85,000 miles (137,000 kilometers) at 4:08 Universal Time on January 1, 2019, highlights its reddish surface. At left is an enhanced color image taken by the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC), produced by combining the near infrared, red and blue channels. The center image taken by the Long-Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) has a higher spatial resolution than MVIC by approximately a factor of five. At right, the color has been overlaid onto the LORRI image to show the color uniformity of the Ultima and Thule lobes. Note the reduced red coloring at the neck of the object.  Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute


The BEST is yet to come as these pics were taken BEFORE closest approach. There will be hundreds of pics and data that will take until 9/20 to download back to Earth.

The amazing thing to realize is that we are looking at a primitive solar system body that in all probability has not been changed since it took this form. This could be the way the solar system formed planets by ever larger bodies colliding to build ever larger bodies.

Ultima Thule is a contact binary where it appears that two smaller bodies joined together.

The color is also reminiscent of the color of Pluto's biggest moon Charon at its North Pole.

ULTIMA THULE rotates about once in 15 hours and its pole is almost directly pointed at Earth.

This is just amazing and will add so much to our knowledge of the solar system and planet formation.

Sky Guy in VA 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

NEW HORIZONS PHONES HOME

Hey Space Placers!

Ultima Thule Rotation
This sequence of three images, received on Dec. 31, 2018, and taken by the LORRI camera onboard New Horizons at 70 and 85 minutes apart illustrates the rotation of Ultima Thule.  

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institu
New Horizons phoned home today to indicate it had successfully executed its flyby of Ultima Thule as planned.

Next up will be the receipt of data and pictures over the next two years.

Sky Guy in VA