28 November 2012

Real Substile Penumbral Lunar Eclipse

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse 28.11.2012 Credit:
Click on picture to enlarge
 I had to post this. I think this is a fantastic picture showing the difference of this substile eclipse called Penumbral Lunar Eclipse. Thanks to Ian Musgrave down under who captured these great shots of the Moon being eclipsed.

Follow Ian at his Astroblog down under in Adelaide. He speaks about what to see in the night sky "what to see in the sky this week". Posts astronomy events and speaks about them with his personal experiences of them (like this one of the Penumbral Lunar Eclipse). great astronomy blog over all! Here is his link Astroblog.
For us here in Turku, Finland. We where clouded out! No signs of the Moon at all. No gaps in the clouds, just a thick cover of clouds. Oh well!

27 November 2012

Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon 28.11.2012

Click to see details of the Eclipse Nov. 28 2012
On November 28, 2012 there will be a Penumbra Eclipse of the Moon. The eclipse will be at it's greatest at 14:33 UT (17:33 Finland time). The eclipse will start at  12:14:58 UT (15:14:58 FIN) and will last for 4 hours 36 minutes and 05 secondes, 16:51:02 UT (19:51:02 FIN).

Look at the East as the Moon rises around 15:34 FIN time and follow the Moon until you can dicern a faint change in the darkness on the face of the Moon.

In a Penumbral eclipse, the Moon only enters the outer part of Earth's shadow. This will results in a subtle darkening of the Moon's northern half. You still have to have a good eyesight to see the differents with a "normal" Moon. Best chance is to photograph the event.

Good luck and clear skies! This a event not to miss!

24 November 2012

Mars Curiosity Rover preparing for Thanksgiving Activities

Curiosity at rocknest Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Ken Kremer/Marco Di Lorenzo
Mission Status Report
PASADENA, Calif. -- NASA's Mars rover Curiosity completed a touch-and-go inspection of one rock on Sunday, Nov. 18, then pivoted and, on the same day, drove toward a Thanksgiving overlook location.
Last week, Curiosity drove for the first time after spending several weeks in soil-scooping activities at one location. On Friday, Nov. 16, the rover drove 6.2 feet (1.9 meters) to get within arm's reach of a rock called "Rocknest 3." On Sunday, it touched that rock with the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) on its arm, and took two 10-minute APXS readings of data about the chemical elements in the rock. Then Curiosity stowed its arm and drove 83 feet (25.3 meters) eastward toward a target called "Point Lake."
"We have done touches before, and we've done goes before, but this is our first 'touch-and-go' on the same day," said Curiosity Mission Manager Michael Watkins of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It is a good sign that the rover team is getting comfortable with more complex operational planning, which will serve us well in the weeks ahead."
During a Thanksgiving break, the team will use Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) from Point Lake to examine possible routes and targets to the east. A priority is to choose a rock for the first use of the rover's hammering drill, which will collect samples of powder from rock interiors.
Although Curiosity has departed the Rocknest patch of windblown sand and dust where it scooped up soil samples in recent weeks, the sample-handling mechanism on the rover's arm is still holding some soil from the fifth and final scoop collected at Rocknest. The rover is carrying this sample so it can be available for analysis by instruments within the rover if scientists choose that option in coming days.
JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. JPL designed and built the rover.
More information about Curiosity is online at and . You can follow the mission on Facebook at: and on Twitter at: .
Guy Webster 818-354-6278
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

21 November 2012

Direct Imaging of Exoplanet in constellation Andromeda

Direct imaging of exoplanet* Kappa Andromeda B
Credit: NAO/ Subaru/ J. Carson / T. Currie
Astrophysicists at the University of Toronto have discovered a new, huge exoplanet, 13 times bigger than Jupiter. It's in orbit round the massive star Kappa Andromedae, which is part of the constellation Andromeda. 
Kappa Andromedae is 2.5 times the size of our own sun, and at 170 light years away can be seen with the naked eye. The researchers used infrared images from the Subaru telescope in Hawaii to gather the faint images of the new planet.
"This planetary system is very different from our own," said Thayne Currie, a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto and co-author of the paper.
"The star is much more massive than our sun, and Kappa And b is at least 10 times more massive than any planet in the solar system. And, Kappa And b is located further from the star than any of the solar system planets are from the sun. Because it is generally much harder to form massive planets at large distances from the parent star, Kappa And b could really be a challenge for our theories about how planets form."
Direct imaging of planets outside our solar system is exceptionally rare, because the brightness of the host star nearly always obscures the planet from view. The team used a technique known as angular differential imaging to remove the overwhelming glare of  Kappa Andromedae. The resulting infrared image shows a tiny point of light that is Kappa And b.
"Although astronomers have found over 750 planets around other stars, we actually directly detect light from the atmosphere of only a few of them," explains Currie.
The discovery was a collaboration between astrophysicists at the University of Toronto and other institutions across the United States, Europe and Asia, as part of the Strategic Explorations of Exoplanets and Disks with Subaru (SEEDS) program.
The report on the super-Jupiter is published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

16 November 2012

Planet wandering through space without a parent star

Artist illustration of rogue planet
Astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope have identified a body that is very probably a planet wandering through space without a parent star. This is the most exciting free-floating planet candidate so far and the closest such object to the Solar System at a distance of about 100 light-years. Its comparative proximity, and the absence of a bright star very close to it, has allowed the team to study its atmosphere in great detail. This object also gives astronomers a preview of the exoplanets that future instruments aim to image around stars other than the Sun.

Free-floating planets are planetary-mass objects that roam through space without any ties to a star. Possible examples of such objects have been found before [1], but without knowing their ages, it was not possible for astronomers to know whether they were really planets or brown dwarfs — “failed” stars that lack the bulk to trigger the reactions that make stars shine.

But astronomers have now discovered an object, labelled CFBDSIR2149[2], that seems to be part of a nearby stream of young stars known as theAB Doradus Moving Group. The researchers found the object in observations from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and harnessed the power of ESO’s Very Large Telescope to examine its properties [3].

13 November 2012

Total eclipse of the Sun explained.

Total eclipse of the Sun/ The diamond ring effect

"A total eclipse of the sun is one of nature’s most spectacular and awe-inspiring sights. For sheer beauty and magnificence, perhaps no celestial phenomena can compare with it", says Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre, two vivid eclipse chasers looking forward to the total eclipse of the Sun in Australia.
On Wednesday, Nov. 14, residents and visitors in Cairns, in Queensland, Australia, will witness the moon completely cover the sun for two minutes in the eastern sky an hour after local sunrise, provided the weather is clear (cloudy conditions could spoil the show). Because of the time zone difference, it will still be Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 13) in the United States during the total solar eclipse.
Cruise ships positioned farther east off the coast of New Caledonia and New Zealand will intercept the moon’s dark shadow, called the umbra, on the open waters of the South Pacific, giving passengers even longer durations of totality — up to 2.5 and 3.5 minutes, respectively. The eclipse will begin at 3:35 p.m. EST (2035 GMT) and last about 3.1 hours as the moon's shadow moves across Earth.
You can watch two live webcasts of the total solar eclipse here at beginning at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).
If you have never seen a total solar eclipse before, here’s a list of eclipse events you can expect to seeduring the event, in chronological order:
First contact: This is the moment when the moon first takes a barely perceptible "bite" on the western edge of the sun, marking the official start of the eclipse. [How Solar Eclipses Work (Infographic)]
In Cairns, this occurs right after sunrise at local time on Wednesday (afternoon EST on Nov. 13), with the sun a mere 2 degrees above the eastern horizon. (Your closed fist held at arm's length covers 10 degrees of the sky.)
Vanishing crescent sun: Over the course of nearly an hour, the initial notch on the solar disk grows bigger and bigger as the moon continues to cover more of the sun. As the solar disk is reduced to a slender, rapidly dwindling crescent, look for pinhole images of the solar crescent projected by tiny spaces in between the leaves of a tree or shrub. The crescents can be seen on the ground or on any light-colored material, such as your T-shirt or notepad.
Fading daylight: About 15 minutes before totality begins, with about 80 percent of the sun now blocked, you’ll notice a drop in ambient light. As the partial solar eclipse deepens, daylight fades very quickly and dramatically. Shadows cast by the sun also appear much sharper. As totality nears, the surroundings lose much of their color, and the landscape takes on an unearthly grayish blue cast. [Video: Watch Path of Nov. 13-14 Total Solar Eclipse]
Dropping temperature: As more and more of the sun gets covered up, you may start to feel a slight cooling in the air.
Approaching lunar shadow: The moon’s dark shadow, called the umbra, which has been racing along Earth’s surface at up to several thousand kilometers per hour, is now rapidly closing in on your observation site. With 15 minutes to go before totality, the shadow now looms over the western horizon like a distant gathering storm.
Nature’s reaction: As day gradually turns to dusk, plants and animals usually behave as if night has fallen. Flowers close, birds stop singing, cows and chickens come home, and bats and nocturnal birds and fishes come out to feed. Soon everything becomes still and hushed in anticipation that something dramatic is about to happen.
Shadow bands: A few minutes before totality begins, the last rays of the sun are distorted by Earth’s turbulent atmosphere, producing wavy patterns of alternating light and dark bands that move quickly across the ground. (Many observers often miss this solar eclipse phenomenon since their attention is focused on the sun and not on the ground.) Shadow bands are notoriously difficult to photograph since they are faint and fast-moving. A white blanket or towel laid out on the ground will help you see (or videotape) them better.
Inner corona: Less than a minute before totality, you might be able to glimpse the brightest part of the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, beginning to emerge. [Total Solar Eclipse of 2012 Explained (Gallery)]

Baily's beads  Credit: Fred Espenak 1995
Baily’s beads: These bright, rosary-like beads of sunlight — named after British astronomer Francis Baily who first reported them during an eclipse in 1836 — become visible up to 10 seconds or so before totality as the moon blocks the sun’s disk and sunlight continues to stream through deep valleys along the moon’s rugged edge.
Dazzling diamond ring:  As the last traces of the sun’s disk is covered by the moon, a solitary bead of sunlight remains shining briefly, creating a spectacular "diamond-ring" effect. People start to cheer, whoop, clap and cry.
Prominences and the chromospheres: At the same time, the thin, neon-pink layer of the sun’s atmosphere, called the chromosphere, becomes visible on the sun’s eastern edge. Any solar prominences present will also be seen protruding from behind the rapidly encroaching black disk of the moon.
Second contact: This heralds the moment when the diamond ring is finally extinguished and the sun is fully obscured by the moon. Total eclipse begins. Simultaneously, the dark lunar shadow that has been growing in the west rushes in and engulfs everything. You are now standing in the shadow cast by themoon a quarter of a million miles away. The moon’s inky disk set against the sun’s pearly white corona appears like an eerie black hole in the sky.
In Cairns, second contact occurs at 6:39 a.m. local time, with the sun 14 degrees high in the sky.
Outer corona: During the brief period of totality, the full extent of the sun’s corona is displayed in all its glory. Take note of the solar prominences and the overall shape and size of the corona, which vary from eclipse to eclipse. Try to discern fine details in the corona’s structure — such as long wispy streamers as well as delicate brushes, loops and arcs — which are delineated by the sun’s powerful magnetic field.
Twilight colors and darkness: The daytime darkness during totality doesn’t really get as black as at night. It resembles more of a deep twilight. While the sky surrounding the eclipsed sun is dark, all along the horizon the sky remains bright, bathed in a vivid yellowish orange glow. It’s like being surrounded by a 360-degree sunset.
Planets and stars: The brightest planets and stars typically come out in the minutes leading to totality and remain visible throughout the total eclipse. On Nov. 14, Venus should be fairly easy to spot west of the eclipsed sun. Mercury to the east and Saturn in between Venus and the eclipsed sun might be more challenging. Keen-eyed observers can also try to glimpse the stars Arcturus to the north and Alpha Centauri to the south.
Temperature drop: If you have a thermometer in the shade, you can measure how much the  temperature has decreased since first contact. Depending on the duration of totality and how high the sun is in the sky, the air temperature can dip by as much as 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (4 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit).
End of totality nears: You’ll know that the show is almost over when the western side of the corona begins to brighten, and the chromosphere and prominences become visible again.
Third contact: After a few minutes of totality, as the moon begins to uncover the sun, observers will see a single bead of sunlight burst forth in slow motion from behind a deep lunar valley, forming a magnificent diamond ring. The total eclipse is over, and another round of loud cheering and applause erupts from the crowd.
Over the next hour, the various stages of the eclipse repeat themselves, this time in reverse order and on the western side of the sun. The moon’s shadow races to the east as Baily’s beads reappear. The corona as well as the planets and stars fade from view.
Daylight returns very quickly, as if somebody had turned off the celestial dimmer switch. As the razor-thin sliver of the sun grows larger, shadow bands briefly come into view. Everything goes back to normal, including plants, animals and humans. The solar crescents continue to grow wider as the moon slowly moves away from the sun’s disk.
Fourth contact: At 7:40 a.m. local time, the moon leaves the sun’s disk completely as seen from Cairns. The last solar eclipse of 2012 is officially over. Time to celebrate!
Good luck and clear skies!

source: Imelda Joson and Edwin Aguirre are veteran eclipse chasers and photographers with 10 successful expeditions to date (eight totals and two annulars).

11 November 2012

Total eclipse of the Sun

Total Solar eclipse 14.11.2012  Credit: Fred Espenak
Scientists and sky watchers are converging on the northeast coast of Australia, near the Great Barrier Reef, for a total eclipse of the sun on November 14 2012. 

For researchers, the brief minutes (2 minutes) of totality open a window into some of the deepest mysteries of solar physics. As you can see in the video below, They asked Fred Espenak a Nasa Solar eclipse expert on a scale of 1 to 10, what would you classify a total solar eclipse? The answer, responded Espenak was a million. this is a show to not miss.

Here are some links for the Total Solar Eclipse of 14.11.2012 (local time) and a video showing how the eclipse will pass in Northern Australia and the Pacific ocean.

and the video

06 November 2012

Read the Carnival of Space #274

Welcome to another installment of The Carnival of Space!
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News from rover Curiosity and recent Mars exploration, Elon Musk's Dragon X exploits , the scale of spiral-shaped objects and more
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