Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Astronomical Mid-Point of Summer



By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Within the next week, the astronomical mid-point of the season of Summer, in the Northern Hemisphere, will be observed. This point in time is known by the term, Cross-Quarter Day (XQ). Having no formal astronomical definition, "cross-quarter" here is defined as the moment in time precisely half-way between an adjacent equinox and solstice or adjacent solstice and equinox.
.
In this case, the moment in time is precisely half-way between the Summer Solstice (observed on June 21) and the Autumnal Equinox (which will be observed on September 22). Although the traditional cross-quarter day of Lammas (Anglo-Saxon) or Lughnasadh (Irish/Scottish) is observed each year on August 1, the actual cross-quarter day for the year 2013 occurs August 6 at 8:54 p.m. EDT (August 7, 0:54 Coordinated Universal Time).
 
Lammas / Lughnasadh Day is the least known, to the general public, of the four cross-quarter days each year. The other three, traditional, cross-quarter days have long been part of the popular culture: Groundhog Day (February 2), May Day (May 1), and Halloween Day (October 31). Likewise, due to the evolution of our calendar from ancient times, the actual cross-quarter day for each of these holidays also occurs a few days after the traditional date.

Lammas / Lughnasadh Day, in ancient times,was a festival day which marked the start of the harvest season, particularly the wheat harvest. On Lammas Day, it was customary to bring a loaf of bread, from the new crop, to church to be blessed.

Lughnasadh Day, in Irish mythology, is a festival said to have begun by the God Lugh as a funeral feast for his foster-mother, Tailtiu, a goddess said to have died of exhaustion from clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture.

At about the same time as the mid-point of Summer is the Heliacal Rising of the Star Sirius on August 7. This is the first day, normally, that Sirius can briefly be seen on the eastern horizon just prior to sunrise (seven degrees altitude ahead of the Sun).

As Sirius is the brightest star in the nighttime sky, the ancient astronomers/astrologers believed that the rising of Sirius in the daytime sky added to the heat from the Sun, to make Summer even hotter: The Dog Days of Summer (being in the Constellation Canis Major, Sirius is nicknamed The Dog Star). Although Sirius is much hotter than our Sun, it is much too distant to provide any appreciable heat to our planet.

Special Thanks: Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club.

Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

More on Lammas Day: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lammas

More on Lughnasadh Day: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lughnassad

More on Cross-Quarter Days: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cross-quarter_day
Also see Quarter Days (roughly coinciding with Equinoxes and Solstices):
Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter_day

More on The Dog Days of Summer:
Link 1 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_days_of_summer
Link 2 >>> http://www.souledout.org/nightsky/dogdays/dogdays.html

More on the heliacal rising of a celestial object: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliacal_rising

More on the Star Sirius: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sirius

Related Blog Post ---

Summer Begins Friday 1:04 a.m.; Largest Moon of 2013 Sunday  (2013 June 20):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/06/summer-begins-friday-104-am-largest.html


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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
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Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, 27 July 2013

NASA: Perseid Meteor Shower Has Most Fireballs

In astronomy, there's nothing quite like a bright meteor streaking across the glittering canopy of a moonless night sky.  The unexpected flash of light adds a dash of magic to an ordinary walk under the stars.

New research by NASA has just identified the most magical nights of all.

"We have found that one meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other," explains Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.  "It's the Perseid meteor shower, which peaks on August 12th and 13th."

Perseid Fireballs (splash)
A new ScienceCast video previews the 2013 Perseid meteor shower. Play it

Using a network of meteor cameras distributed across the southern USA, Cooke's team has been tracking fireball activity since 2008, and they have built up a database of hundreds of events to analyze. The data point to the Perseids as the 'fireball champion' of annual meteor showers.

A fireball is a very bright meteor, at least as bright as the planets Jupiter or Venus.  They can be seen on any given night as random meteoroids strike Earth's upper atmosphere. One fireball every few hours is not unusual.  Fireballs become more numerous, however, when Earth is passing through the debris stream of a comet.  That’s what will happen this August.

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/26jul_perseids/

Source: NASA Science News

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, 25 July 2013

First Light: Great Pics of Sun w/ New NASA Space Telescope

hires.jpg

(Image Source: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/NASA)


Sources: NASA, The Atlantic Magazine.

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Mystery: Missing Waves on Saturn Moon Titan

Waves on Titan (splash)
A new ScienceCast video ponders the mystery of the missing waves on Titan. Play it

One of the most shocking discoveries of the past 10 years is how much the landscape of Saturn's moon Titan resembles Earth.  Like our own blue planet, the surface of Titan is dotted with lakes and seas; it has river channels, islands, mud, rain clouds and maybe even rainbows.

The "water" on Titan is not, however, H2O.  With a surface temperature dipping 290 degrees F below zero, Titan is far too cold for liquid water. Instead, researchers believe the fluid that sculpts Titan is an unknown mixture of methane, ethane, and other hard-to-freeze hydrocarbons.

Yet something has been bothering Alex Hayes, a planetary scientist on the Cassini radar team at Cornell University.

If Titan is really so wet, he wonders, "Where are all the waves?"

"We know there is wind on Titan," says Hayes. "The moon's magnificent sand dunes [prove] it."

Add to that the low gravity of Titan—only 1/7th that of Earth—which offers so little resistance to wave motion, and you have a real puzzle.

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/22jul_titan/

Source: NASA Science News.

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://friendsofthezeiss.org >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
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Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Moon Day - A National Holiday ?




By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower 

Forty-four years ago, man first landed and walked on another planetary body, the Earth's Moon. On Sunday Afternoon, 1969 July 20, at precisely 4:17:40 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (20:17:40 Coordinated Universal Time) the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) named Eagle, with astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin aboard, landed in the Moon's Sea of Tranquility, at a site from then on called Tranquility Base.

Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the Moon that evening at precisely 10:56:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time. Originally, the first steps on the Moon had been planned for the early morning hours of Monday/Moonday. However, the earlier time allowed millions of Americans to view the event, on live television, at the tail-end of Sunday evening's television prime-time viewing period. By the time scale most scientists use, Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), these first steps did occur on Monday/Moonday, 1969 July 21 at precisely 2:56:20.

Should Moon Day, July 20, be designated an official national holiday ?

James J. Mullaney thinks so. Mr. Mullaney, former Curator of Exhibits and Astronomy at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Staff Astronomer at the Allegheny Observatory, says: "If there's a Columbus Day on the calendar, there certainly should be a Moon Day!"

Mr. Mullaney has been campaigning for July 20 to be officially designated as the Moon Day national holiday for several years. J. Kelly Beatty, Senior Contributing Editor of Sky and Telescope Magazine, supports this campaign, as does Steven L.J. Russo, Director of the East Kentucky Science Center and Planetarium.

In 2003, the International Space Station Fan Club started a petition to designate July 20 as National Space Day. And, on 1999 July 20, the nation of Morocco, at a United Nations conference, proposed that July 20 be designated as International Space Day.

The last day to be designated as a federal holiday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which is celebrated as one of the nation's Monday holidays near the civil rights activist's January 15 birthday (celebrated on the third Monday in January). It took many years to build-up support for such a federal holiday, with the first designation attempt in Congress not coming until 1979, eleven years after Dr. King was assassinated. Due to some political opposition, the holiday designation did not occur until 1983 November 2, when President Ronald Reagan signed the designation bill into law.

The first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was celebrated 1986 January 20. This celebration occurred eight days before a major tragedy in space history: the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, shortly after launching from Cape Canaveral with the first teacher-in-space, Christa McAuliffe, aboard.

Thus far, support for a Moon Day national holiday seems to be limited to outer space enthusiasts. As Mr. Mullaney notes, if the discovery of the "New World" in 1492 is important enough for a federal holiday, it would reason that man's first step on another world would certainly justify such a designation. So, such a designation, or similar commemoration, will probably occur some day. But, politics being what it is, it would be very difficult to predict when such a day may arrive.

The Historic Mission of Apollo 11, Man Walks on the Moon for the First Time 
A Personal Remembrance from 40 Years Ago By Glenn A. Walsh (2009 July):
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/bio/Apolloremembrance.htm 

Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Related Blog Posts ---

Former Buhl Planetarium Curator Jim Mullaney To Be On National Radio (2013 June 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/06/former-buhl-planetarium-curator-jim.html

 

New Mullaney Book: "Celebrating the Universe!" (2013 May 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/new-mullaney-book-celebrating-universe.html

 

Mullaney Blog: Forgotten Observing Classic (2012 March 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/03/mullaney-blog-forgotten-observing.html


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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://friendsofthezeiss.org >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Newest Neptune Moon an Enigma





Hubble's composite picture of blue-hued Neptune, its rings and five of its 14 known moons <i>(Image: NASA/ESA/M. Showalter/SETI Institute)</i>

Hubble's composite picture of blue-hued Neptune, its rings and five of its 14 known moons (Image: NASA/ESA/M. Showalter/SETI Institute)

House lawmakers debated NASA's 2014 budget today (July 18) during a meeting that saw stark partisan divisions over proposed funding cuts for the agency's science and space exploration programs.
A NASA authorization bill drafted by the Republican majority of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology proposes to slash NASA's funding to $16.6 billion for 2014 — $300 million less than it received in 2013, and $1.1 billion less than President Obama requested for NASA in 2014. The bill would roll back NASA's funding to a level $1.2 billion less than its 2012
- See more at: http://www.space.com/22023-nasa-authorization-bill-debate.html#sthash.RAxZC4Ki.dpuf
House lawmakers debated NASA's 2014 budget today (July 18) during a meeting that saw stark partisan divisions over proposed funding cuts for the agency's science and space exploration programs.
A NASA authorization bill drafted by the Republican majority of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology proposes to slash NASA's funding to $16.6 billion for 2014 — $300 million less than it received in 2013, and $1.1 billion less than President Obama requested for NASA in 2014. The bill would roll back NASA's funding to a level $1.2 billion less than its 2012
- See more at: http://www.space.com/22023-nasa-authorization-bill-debate.html#sthash.RAxZC4Ki.dpuf
House lawmakers debated NASA's 2014 budget today (July 18) during a meeting that saw stark partisan divisions over proposed funding cuts for the agency's science and space exploration programs.
A NASA authorization bill drafted by the Republican majority of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology proposes to slash NASA's funding to $16.6 billion for 2014 — $300 million less than it received in 2013, and $1.1 billion less than President Obama requested for NASA in 2014. The bill would roll back NASA's funding to a level $1.2 billion less than its 2012
- See more at: http://www.space.com/22023-nasa-authorization-bill-debate.html#sthash.RAxZC4Ki.dpuf
House lawmakers debated NASA's 2014 budget today (July 18) during a meeting that saw stark partisan divisions over proposed funding cuts for the agency's science and space exploration programs.
A NASA authorization bill drafted by the Republican majority of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology proposes to slash NASA's funding to $16.6 billion for 2014 — $300 million less than it received in 2013, and $1.1 billion less than President Obama requested for NASA in 2014. The bill would roll back NASA's funding to a level $1.2 billion less than its 2012
- See more at: http://www.space.com/22023-nasa-authorization-bill-debate.html#sthash.RAxZC4Ki.dpuf
Neptune has a new moon, and its existence is an enigma. The object, known for now as S/2004 N1, is the first Neptunian moon to be found in a decade. Its diminutive size raises questions as to how it survived the chaos thought to have created the giant planet's other moons.

The faint moon was discovered in archived images from the Hubble Space Telescope. Mark Showalter of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, was poring over pictures of Neptune taken in 2009 to study segments of its rings.

The rings around our outermost planet are too faint to see without taking very long-exposure pictures. However, the rings orbit so fast that taking one long shot would smear them across the frame. Showalter and colleagues gathered multiple shorter-exposure images and developed a technique to digitally rewind the orbits to the same point in time. Then they could stack several images on top of each other to reveal details of the rings.

"I got nice pictures of the arcs, which was my main purpose, but I also got this little extra dot that I was not expecting to see," says Showalter.

Stacking eight to 10 images together allowed the moon to show up plain as day, he says. When he went back and repeated the process using Hubble pictures taken in 2004, the moon was still there and moving as expected.

The tiny addition to Neptune's family is an added shock because it seems too small to have survived the formation of the other moons, according to accepted theories.

More - Link >>> http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23873-neptunes-strange-new-moon-is-first-found-in-a-decade.html#.Ueh3B9l1eSo

Source: New Scientist Magazine.

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://friendsofthezeiss.org >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Full Moon Benefits Hospital Heart Patients

File:FullMoon2010.jpg

Full Moon photograph taken 2010 Oct. 22 from Madison, Alabama, USA. Photographed with a Celestron 9.25 Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Acquired with a Canon EOS Rebel T1i (EOS 500D), 20 images stacked to reduce noise. 200 ISO 1/640 sec. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

If you need cardiac surgery in the future, aortic dissection in particular, reach for the moon. Or at least try to schedule your surgery around its cycle. According to a study at Rhode Island Hospital, acute aortic dissection (AAD) repair performed in the waning full moon appears to reduce the odds of death, and a full moon was associated with shorter length of stay (LOS).

The study is published online in advance of print in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery.

The purpose of the study was to assess the effect of natural time variations of both the season and the lunar cycle phase on hospital survival and length of stay (number of days a patient is in the hospital) following acute aortic dissection repair.

"While there has been previous research of seasonal impacts on cardiovascular disease, there has not been any data about the effect of the lunar cycles on cardiac cases, until now," said senior author Frank Sellke, M.D., chief of cardiothoracic surgery and co-director of the Cardiovascular Institute at Rhode Island, The Miriam and Newport hospitals. "We focused the study on patients having aortic dissection and found that the odds of dying following this procedure were greatly reduced during the waning full moon, and that length of stay was also reduced during the full moon."

More - Link >>> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130715141816.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Space+%26+Time+News%29

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ScienceDaily.com .

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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://friendsofthezeiss.org >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Space Station to Test New Laser Communication System


This artist's concept shows how the Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS) laser will beam data to Earth from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)
NASA will use the International Space Station to test a new communications technology that could dramatically improve spacecraft communications, enhance commercial missions and strengthen transmission of scientific data.

The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science (OPALS), an optical technology demonstration experiment, could improve NASA's data rates for communications with future spacecraft by a factor of 10 to 100. OPALS has arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida from the agency's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. It is scheduled to launch to the space station later this year aboard a SpaceX Dragon commercial resupply capsule on the company's Falcon 9 rocket.

"OPALS represents a tangible stepping stone for laser communications, and the International Space Station is a great platform for an experiment like this," said Michael Kokorowski, OPALS project manager at JPL. "Future operational laser communication systems will have the ability to transmit more data from spacecraft down to the ground than they currently do, mitigating a significant bottleneck for scientific investigations and commercial ventures."
More - Link >>> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130711151404.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Space+%26+Time+News%29

Sources: NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, ScienceDaily.com .

Related Blog Posts ---

NASA’s 1st Laser Communication System Ready for Launch (2013 March 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/nasas-1st-laser-communication-system.html


1st Laser Communication w/ Lunar Satellite: Mona Lisa  (2013 Jan. 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/1st-laser-communication-w-lunar.html


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Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://friendsofthezeiss.org >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower>
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
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* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
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Thursday, 11 July 2013

NASA Maps Solar System's Tail

Like a comet, the solar system has a tail. NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) has for the first time mapped out the structure of this tail, which is shaped like a four-leaf clover.

Scientists describe the tail, called the heliotail, based on the first three years of IBEX imagery in a paper published in the July 10 edition of the Astrophysical Journal.

Solar System Tail (splash)
A new video from NASA explores the solar system's comet-like tail. Play it
While telescopes have spotted such tails around other stars, it has been difficult to see whether our star produced one. The particles found in the tail -- and throughout the entire heliosphere, the region of space influenced by our sun -- do not shine, so they cannot be seen with conventional instruments.

"By examining the neutral atoms, IBEX has made the first observations of the heliotail," said David McComas, IBEX principal investigator at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, and the paper's lead author. "Many models have suggested the heliotail might look like this or like that, but we have had no observations. We always drew pictures where the tail of the solar system just trailed off the page, since we couldn't even speculate about what it really looked like."

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/10jul_ibex/

Source: NASA Science News.

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Antimatter Seen in Solar Flares



(Image Source: Space.com )

Antimatter has been detected in solar flares via microwave and magnetic-field data, according to a presentation by the New Jersey Institute of Technology research professor of physics Gregory Fleishman and two co-researchers at the 44th meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Solar Physics Division. This research sheds light on the puzzling strong asymmetry between matter and antimatter by gathering data on a very large scale using the Sun as a laboratory.

While antiparticles can be created and then detected with costly and complex particle-accelerator experiments, such particles are otherwise very difficult to study. However, Fleishman and the two co-researchers have reported the first remote detection of relativistic antiparticles — positrons — produced in nuclear interactions of accelerated ions in solar flares through the analysis of readily available microwave and magnetic-field data obtained from solar-dedicated facilities and spacecraft. That such particles are created in solar flares is not a surprise, but this is the first time their immediate effects have been detected.

The results of this research have far-reaching implications for gaining valuable knowledge through remote detection of relativistic antiparticles at the Sun and, potentially, other astrophysical objects by means of radio-telescope observations. The ability to detect these antiparticles in an astrophysical source promises to enhance our understanding of the basic structure of matter and high-energy processes such as solar flares, which regularly have a widespread and disruptive terrestrial impact, but also offer a natural laboratory to address the most fundamental mysteries of the universe we live in.

More - Link >>> http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/07/antimatter-seen-solar-flares?et_cid=3357920&et_rid=544607214&linkid=http%3a%2f%2fwww.laboratoryequipment.com%2fnews%2f2013%2f07%2fantimatter-seen-solar-flares

Sources: New Jersey Institute of Technology, Laboratory Equipment Magazine.

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Monday, 8 July 2013

Russian Meteor Heard Round World Twice

chelyabinsk-meteorite-fragment-580

Fragment of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Image Credit: Svend Buhl.


The meteor that exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013 was so powerful that it sent out ultra-low frequency soundwaves that traveled around the world at least twice, according to new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The meteor was estimated to be 17 meters (56 feet) in diameter and it weighed about 10,000 metric tons. It entered Earth’s atmosphere and approached Russia traveling at speeds near 20 kilometers per second (45,000 miles per hour). The meteor eventually exploded 19 to 24 kilometers (12 to 15 miles) above Earth’s surface. The shockwave from the explosion shattered windows and damaged buildings in nearby cities.

New analyses of data collected by a global network of 20 infrasound sensors indicate that some ultra-low frequency soundwaves from the explosion circled around the globe at least twice. Infrasound refers to low frequency sound that is below 20 Hz (Hertz) or 20 cycles per second. While humans are incapable of hearing infrasound, these soundwaves travel long distances and some animals such as whales and elephants can use this type of sound for communication purposes.

More - Link >>> http://earthsky.org/earth/explosion-from-russian-meteor-heard-round-the-world-twice

Source: EarthSky.org .

Related Blog Posts ---

Russian Meteor Infrasound 'Heard' in U.S.  (2013 May 5):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/russian-meteor-infrasound-heard-in-us.html

 

1938 Fireball Explosion Over W PA Remembered  (2013 March 11):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/1938-fireball-explosion-over-w-pa.html

 

NASA Asteroid Search Program Decade Behind Schedule (2013 March 19):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/nasa-asteroid-search-program-decade.html


Could a Comet Hit Mars in 2014? (2013 March 2):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/could-comet-hit-mars-in-2014.html

 

Rare 40-pound Meteorite Found in Antarctica (2013 March 1):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/03/rare-40-pound-meteorite-found-in_1.html


Russia Meteor's Origin Tracked Down (2013 Feb. 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/russia-meteors-origin-tracked-down.html

 

Rocket to Smack Asteroid Planned by Johns Hopkins University (2013 Feb. 25):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/rocket-to-smack-asteroid-planned-by.html


Russian 'Meteorite Rush' Begins as Scientists Find Fragments (2013 Feb. 18):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/russian-meteorite-rush-begins-as.html


Russian Meteor: Fragments Found; NASA Revises Estimates; UN Action? (2013 Feb. 17):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/russian-meteor-fragments-found-nasa.html


Meteor Fall Recovery Begins in Russia (2013 Feb. 16):

 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/meteor-fall-recovery-begins-in-russia.html

Asteroid Buzzes Earth in Record-Breaking Flyby (2013 Feb. 15):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/asteroid-buzzes-earth-in-record.html


Meteorite Hits Central Russia, 500+ People Hurt  (2013 Feb. 15):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/meteorite-hits-central-russia-500.html

 

Space Miners: Earth-Buzzing Asteroid May Be Worth $195 Billion (2013 Feb. 13):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/space-miners-earth-buzzing-asteroid-may.html

 

Feb. 15: Close Earth Flyby of Large Asteroid (2013 Feb. 4):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/feb-15-close-earth-flyby-of-large.html


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Sunday, 7 July 2013

SETI Network Formed in United Kingdom



The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank inspired the first proposals to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. (Credit: Anthony Holloway, University of Manchester)
 
A network has been launched to promote academic research in the UK relating to the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The UK SETI Research Network (UKSRN) brings together academics from 11 institutions across the country.

UKSRN covers a broad spectrum of research topics, including potential methods for detecting signals, the linguistic challenge of deciphering messages, the probability of an extraterrestrial civilization interacting with Earth and the longevity of civilizations.

Dr Alan Penny, the coordinator of UKSRN said, "We hope that the existence of the network will excite interest from people in the UK astronomical community that have been thinking about SETI and encourage them to contribute their work.

Dr Tim O'Brien from The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory will describe the capability of the UK's recently commissioned e-MERLIN array of seven radio telescopes for SETI projects and report on progress in initial test observations.

"The first proposal to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilisations was actually inspired by the construction of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank," said O'Brien. "We went on to take part in the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix from 1998 to 2003, searching for signals from about a thousand nearby stars. At that time the equipment required to sift through the data was expensive and unusual, but our modern telescopes are potentially capable of conducting these type of observations as a matter of course."

More - Link >>> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130705121029.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fspace_time+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Space+%26+Time+News%29

Sources: Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), ScienceDaily.com .

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Saturday, 6 July 2013

New Sunspot Could Launch Strong Solar Flares

Sunspot complex AR1785-1787

Sunspot complex AR1785-1787

One of the biggest sunspot groups of Solar Cycle 24 is emerging near the sun’s southeastern limb. According to spaceweather.com:

AR1785 has a “beta-gamma-delta” magnetic field that harbors energy for powerful X-class solar flares. Another active region trailing behind it, AR1787, is only slightly less potent, with a magnetic field capable of M-class eruptions …

More - Link >>> http://earthsky.org/space/large-sunspot-group-comes-into-view

Sources: SpaceWeather.com , EarthSky.org .

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Friday, 5 July 2013

Astronomers Puzzled by Powerful Radio Bursts

radio burst over the Parkes telescope
Artist's impression of the 64-meter Parkes radio telescope shown with a bright radio burst blazing briefly far from the Milky Way's disk (red swath at right). The Milky Way image is from a hydrogen-alpha full-sky map.
Swinburne Astronomy Productions; background: H-alpha composite survey Finkbeiner 2003

If you’ve been waiting for mysterious radio signals from space, tune in. An international team of astronomers has detected four powerful bursts that appear to come from billions of light-years away. At that distance, the radio pulses would each have put out in a few thousandths of a second the same amount of energy that the Sun would need 10,000 years to emit.

(So no, it’s not E.T.)

The bizarre signals came to light as part of the High Time Resolution Universe survey, a project using the 64-meter Parkes radio telescope in Australia to search the sky for radio blips and pulsars, the spinning-lighthouse-like stellar corpses left behind by some supernovae. Because the pulsars we detect lie in our own galaxy, astronomers mostly look near the Milky Way’s plane when hunting for these zombie stars. But when grad student Dan Thornton (University of Manchester, U.K., and CSIRO, Australia) started digging through normally “boring” data far from the galaxy’s dusty gleam, he stumbled across the four enigmatic bursts.

More - Link >>> http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/Mystery-Signals-from-Space-214153371.html

Source: Sky and Telescope Magazine.

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San Francisco Transit Strike Temporarily Ends for a Month

BART strike
  • AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
  • In this Monday, July 1, 2013 file photo, Bay Area Rapid Transit trains are parked at the station in Millbrae, Calif. Commuter rail service is resuming Friday, July 5, 2013 in the San Francisco Bay area after unions called off a strike, agreeing with the transit agency to extend a labor contract for a month while they continue bargaining.

Commuter rail service will resume Friday in the San Francisco Bay area after unions called off a strike, agreeing with the transit agency to extend a labor contract for a month while they continue bargaining.

BART, the nation's fifth-largest rail system, will begin operating trains by 3 p.m. PDT Friday, ending a four-day strike that crippled commutes across the Bay Area, California Labor Secretary Marty Morgenstern announced late Thursday.

The current contract between BART and the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Local 1021 and the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Local 1555, will be extended for 30 days after expiring earlier this week.

BART General Manager Grace Crunican said there is a wide gap of disagreements between the two sides.

"Unfortunately, the issues that brought us to this point remain unresolved," Crunican said. "Despite lots of hard work, BART and its unions have failed to come to an agreement on contract issues that matter to all of us today and into the future."

BART to resume service, no deal reached with union:

Link >>> http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/bart-to-resume-service-no-deal-reached-with-union/Content?oid=2498780


Bay Area commute is light ahead of BART resuming service:

Link >>> http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/bay-area-commute-is-light-ahead-of-bart-resuming-service/Content?oid=2499543


BART strike partially comes down to dispute over $17.53 million:

Link >>> http://www.sfexaminer.com/sanfrancisco/bart-strike-partially-comes-down-to-dispute-over-1753-million/Content?oid=2498582 

 

Sources:  San Francisco Examiner, Associated Press News Wire Service.

 

 Related Blog Post ---

 

San Francisco BART Rapid Transit Strike Continues (2013 July 4):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/07/san-francisco-bart-rapid-transit-strike.html

 

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