Friday, October 31, 2014

Ralph and Leesa

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows more images (from LEISA and Ralph—if that's an acronym, I haven't been able to find what it means!) of the New Horizons gravity assist flyby of Jupiter in 2007.

Spooky Sky

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a (Halloween) Fall sky over the Devil's Tower. "Mouseover" the image for a constellation guide...and more...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Active Surface

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day is an artist depiction of the surface of Neptune's moon Triton. Amazing how complicated "dead" moons are turning out to be.

Ghost in the Veil

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a portion of The Veil Nebula, one of the spectacular (if subtle to find!) sights in the constellation of Cygnus.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

One-Time View

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day is of Triton as imaged by Voyager 2 during it's 1989 flyby. There are currently no plans to revisit either Neptune or Uranus and their moons.

Glow Worm

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows an iridescent cloud edge over Colorado (bonus: during a partial solar eclipse!).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Eccentric Eris

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows a diagram of the orbit followed by Trans-Neptunian Object Eris.

Wanderer

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives you a nice view of why the planets drove the ancient astronomers nuts: images of Mars, taken over a period of time, are stacked to show you the progress of the planet through the sky. It loops! How to explain this? Gears? "Mouseover" the image to get a constellation guide.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Eris Discovery Image

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows Eris, a Trans-Neptunian Object discovered by Professor Mike Brown and his team at Palomar Observatory.

The Horror...The Horror...

In the latest episode of The Three Hoarsemen, David Annandale (author of dark space operas, fan of cheesy movies and teacher of young minds) joins us for a discussion of horror in many forms.

Scale

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows us the near and the far. The Sun heads toward setting, partially-eclipsed. Sunspot Group AR 2192 appears as a blotch across the face. Closer in, clouds partially eclipse the eclipse and a small airplane crosses the Sun "near" the sunspots.

Light the Candle

At dawn on Sunday, the latest Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares launch vehicle, topped with the Cygnus cargo orbiter stands at the Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Launch is scheduled for 1845 Eastern, tonight. Fingers crossed, if there are no clouds, I'll get to see it on the flight (including, based on previous launches, staging).

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Still No Hair

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day gives us a view that many would rather not see: how light is bent as you get closer and closer to a singularity (black hole or frozen star).

Forever in Committee

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the (still) proposed stamp celebrating the New Horizons mission. Still awaiting approval!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Workhorse

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the Hubble Space Telescope during the STS-125 servicing and upgrade mission. The Hubble has been key in many aspects of the New Horizons mission.

Slice and Spots

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows this week's partial solar eclipse and sunspot group AR 2192 (plus several other smaller sunspots). Goodness, it's big!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Little Red

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the Little Red Spot imaged during the New Horizons flyby of Jupiter and combined with a image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Stains

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows sunspot group AR 2192. The Sun has been smeared!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hourglass

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows light curves of Kuiper Belt Object 2001 QG298 taken over several time periods. What shape do the curves suggest?

Wild Horses

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a deep look into the constellation of Pegasus. Stephan's Quintet (star of screen and wide field), NGC 7331, wisps of nebulosity and more. The Fall sky is full of wonders, if you are patient.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Hypothetical Structure

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows us what we think Pluto is structured like.

What's Up, Hong Kong?

Urban explorers penetrate building, explore roof, hack into a electronic sign and use a drone to film the whole thing. It could be a William Gibson story. It's actually Hong Kong.

Quiet Sun

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing AR 2192, a sunspot group on our home star. If you've been lucky (as I have!), you've managed to see some of the auroral activity that the Sun has been producing for us this year. No, knock on wood, Carrington Event (yet).

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Flight Model

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the New Horizons vehicle undergoing flight preparation and checkout prior to being mounted on the launch vehicle.

Still Life of Wobble

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is brought to us courtesy of the venerable (and still working, long may it do so!) Cassini orbiter around Saturn. Pictured here is Saturn's icy moon Mimas, almost like the Death Star with Herschel Crater dominating the landscape. Mimas has a bit of a wobble, leading to the possibility of a liquid center "ocean".

Monday, October 20, 2014

With Thanks to Venetia Burney

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day talks about the links between the symbol for Pluto and the man who helped start us on the final road to discovering Pluto. With thanks to Venetia Burney!

Siding Spring (02)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice image (courtesy of the ever amazing Damian Peach) of Comet C/2013 A1, Siding Spring, as it approached Mars. This presented us with a nice chance to study the comet as Mars happens to be orbited by five active spacecraft (and has two active rovers on its surface). I can't wait to see what the orbiters and the rovers saw!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Southern Skies

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet McNaught over the spectacular skies of New Zealand (featuring, in addition to a wonderful comet, the Milky Way and one satellite galaxy). What will the fleet of space-and-ground-based observers have seen from Mars during today's flyby of Comet Siding Spring?

Ixion

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows us Kuiper Belt Object 2001 KX75, or Ixion.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Into the Heart

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes us inside IC 1805, The Heart Nebula (in Cassiopeia, a wonderful constellation to observe this time of year in the northern hemisphere) to Melotte 15, a star cluster of young stars born among the gas and dust of the larger nebula.

Spectrum is Green

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the SpeX spectrograph that is part of the instrument package on New Horizons.

Friday, October 17, 2014

How Big?

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows us how big a potential post-Pluto target for New Horizons is compared to a few more familiar landmarks.

Siding Spring (01)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Comet Siding Spring (C/2013 A1) passing Messier 6. It's appropriate that we have a comet passing a Messier object here.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Grid Squares

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day explains some of the search procedures used to locate follow-on targets for New Horizons once it finishes the Pluto encounter.

World War I

Photos from the War to End All Wars. That didn't stick, did it?

Bees Do It, Birds Do It

Apparently even wide-ranging interplanetary probes do it! We've had numerous "selfies" from rovers on the red planet and other locations, even astronauts have been doing it since the 1960's. Now, in today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, the ESA's Rosetta probe, only 16 kilometers from Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, takes time out from preparing to detach the Philae lander, to snap a selfie.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Changing Landscape

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows changes on the surface of Saturn's moon Titan. What's going on down there?

“Damn,” said the geologist who had been handling the sled with such effortless skill. “I was afraid of that. Something tells me I’m never going to catch a worm on the run.”

Only a few kilometers away, coming out of the mist that always enveloped the flanks of Mount Shackelton, was a thin white line, like a piece of rope laid across the landscape. It stretched away downhill until it disappeared over the horizon, and the driver swung the sled around to follow its track. But Duncan already knew that they were too late to achieve their main objective; they were much too close to World’s End. Minutes later, they were there, and the sled came to a stop at a respectful distance.

(Arthur C. Clarke, Imperial Earth)

Snapshots

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows Jupiter's active moon Io's Tvashtar volcano. Yes, like any tourist, New Horizons had to take some pictures on the way to it's actual vacation spot.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Airborne Observatory

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the Gerard P. Kuiper Observatory, which discovered the presence of an atmosphere around Pluto in 1988.

CME Impact

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a magnificent auroral storm over the skies of Norway.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nitrogen?

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the light curve which was generated when Pluto occultated a star. The shape of the curve suggests that the atmosphere is primarily that of nitrogen.

Dance of the Sprites

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing sprite lightning. Lightning bombs, feelers and streamers!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Neptune

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day is not of Pluto, but of Neptune and it's moon Triton as captured by instruments on the New Horizons vehicle as it had a "close encounter" with that gas giant.

Walled City

It could be science fiction. It could be the setting of a new movie based on a young adult dystopian trilogy. But it was real.

Layers

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 7293, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Aquarius. Imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope in space and the four-meter wide (!) ground-based Blanco Telescope, we're starting to see the layers and layers of detail in this "mere" gas bubble.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

LORRI

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day is actually a short movie about the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager on the New Horizons vehicle.

Lunar Streak

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a time-exposure of the recent lunar eclipse. In China, we went from totality at moonrise to an uneclipsed Moon.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How's That Reception?

In today's Pluto Picture of the Day, we see the main antenna being mounted on to the New Horizons vehicle.

Retina Ansible

All the news that can be crammed in a few bytes from all the sub-genres that fit via the keyboard of the ever-tireless Dave Langford!

David Mitchell's novelistic success, most recently with The Bone Clocks, is explained by UK academic Sarah Dillon (editor of a book of essays on his writing): 'This is why his work is so addictive – he's creating his own universe.' (New York Times, 24 August) [DR] If only some science fiction or fantasy author had thought of that!

Research check in aisle one, please!!!

As Others Research Us. Morten Tyldum is to direct Pattern Recognition: 'Based on the novel Neuromancer by William Gibson, it centres on [thumbnail synopsis of Gibson's novel Pattern Recognition follows] ...' (Independent, 13 September)

On urban-dystopia sf: 'We see a similar portrait of the urban future in John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar, about an overcrowded off-world colony.' (Slate, September; since amended) [AL] Did Zanzibar seem an exotic off-world name?

//Plant face on palm. Repeat as necessary.//

Phasing

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us the eclipsed Moon of earlier this week. Near the Moon was a much further member of our system, Uranus. "Mouseover" the image to be guided not only to Uranus, but to three of that gas giant's own moons.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Jumbles

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the terrain of Neptune's moon Triton, as imaged by Voyager 2 in 1989.

Moonset

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the total lunar eclipse that graced the skies yesterday morning. I was lucky enough to catch it from waning crescent to totality while walking Miss Mocha and it was "streamed" by NASA as well. A beautiful sight for naked eye and telescope!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Ringworld

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows an artist conception of asteroid Chariklo and it's recently discovered rings.

Pillars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day takes us to the constellation of Vulpecula and open cluster NGC 6823 and emission nebula NGC 6820. You are made of the same stuff.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Arch Supports

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the arch of the Milky Way seemingly supported by the rock formations known as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Moon. "Mouseover" the image for a constellation guide.

Atlas

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day is the launch of New Horizons. This Atlas V vehicle took New Horizons from the Earth to the Moon in a matter of a few hours (not three days).

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Closer Look

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a view of the International Space Station (including docked multiple spacecraft), focusing on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. What explains the "excess" positrons that the AMS has been detecting?

Side-by-Side

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows a size comparison between Earth and Pluto. Pluto's estimated size has shrunk over the years as observational abilities increased.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Birth

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day is an artist conception of how our Moon came to be. It is theorized that Charon was formed from Pluto during a similiar event.

Evening Stars

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day captures two evening stars (but not the Evening Star), the Moon and Antares (in the constellation of Scorpius) at dusk.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Dish Farm

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day shows the Canberra Deep Space Communication Center, Australia.

Bubbles Within Bubbles

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us to NGC 7635 in the constellation of Cassiopeia. Popularly known as the Bubble Nebula, subtle detail teased out of this image shows a series of bubbles as the nebula's central star pushes against the nebular gas. Cassiopeia is a wonderful target for low power/rich-field telescopes or binoculars during fall and winter.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

In a Different Light

Today's Pluto Picture of the Day are three images taken during the New Horizons gravity assist fly-by of Jupiter. Ganymede is imaged by LORRI (Long Range Reconnaissance Imager) and LEISA (Linear Etalon Imaging Spectral Array).

NGC 6302

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a fantastic shot from the (still working!) Hubble Space Telescope of NGC 6302 (in the constellation of Scorpius). Can you figure out the popular name for this nebula?