Nine hundred light years away in the direction of the constellation Aquarius resides a recently discovered dwarf star that is so cold its carbon has crystallized – much like a diamond.
Yes, the oceans are quite large. You wouldn’t want to get lost in one. But did you know that there was a recent discovery of an ocean reservoir that has a volume three-times larger than all the other oceans combined? This finding is making scientists rethink the origins of Earth’s water supply.
Five Hundred and Sixty light years away, in a constellation called “Draco,” circling an old star named “Kepler-10,” resides a recently discovered planet that is twice the size and 17 times heavier than our own Earth. This so called “Mega-Earth” was announced on Monday at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Boston.
How great would it be to wake up one morning and find out that Scientists have finally discovered proof of intelligent alien life out beyond our planet? I’ve often wonder if I’d live to see the day when the answer to the question “are we alone in the galaxy” is finally answered. Well, recently at a House Committee on Science, Space and Technology hearing Wednesday (May 21), Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute gave us a timeline for when this question might be answered when he said, “”It’s unproven whether there is any life beyond Earth. I think that situation is going to change within everyone’s lifetime in this room.”
North America is predicted to have the best view of a possible new meteor shower from Comet 209P/LINEAR Friday night through Saturday morning (May 23-24, 2014). (Deborah Boyd-EarthSky)
We have had some astronomical disappointments of late but we might just see a really nice meteor shower this Friday night into Saturday morning.
Meteors from the May 24th’s early-morning display can appear anywhere in the sky, but they will appear to originate from a point (called the radiant) in the constellation Camelopardalis, the Giraffe. Stars are plotted for 2 a.m. local daylight time as seen from mid-northern latitudes. Sky & Telescope illustration.
I plan on being up with my Nikon and mosquito spray to hopefully get some nice shots of the unexpected astronomical display. What a nice late spring surprise and who knows, maybe an nice annual event. I will share photos here on Saturday… if all goes well.
For the first time ever, scientists are witnessing the formation of a new moon as it forms within Saturn’s outer rings. According to a recent report, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently discovered this icy formation, currently being called “Peggy,” on April 15th as it disturbed the smooth lines of the ring system. But will it grow any larger, leave the ring system, or will it fizzle out and break apart?
Mission: SpaceX-3 Commercial Resupply Services flight
Launch Vehicle: Falcon
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida
Launch Date: April 14, 4:58 p.m. EDT
NASA’s International Space Station resupply mission includes the legs for Robonaut, OPALS Lasercomm experiment and much more. I think, however, the most exciting and dramatic portion of the flight is the possible test of the ‘Grasshopper’ reusablility system.
Read the detailed story of the SpaceX Grasshopper program.
Reusability: The Key To Making Human Life Multi-Planetary
For a detailed description of the mission timeline, overview and SpaceX go to the SpaceX press kit. This is a wonderful resource.
Take a late night break from doing your taxes!
View an eclipse of the moon on April 15!
April 15 – 2 am. Central Time
In the morning of Tuesday, April 15, the full moon will pass through earth’s shadow producing a total lunar eclipse visible across North America. Lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view, and an exciting family event.
The total lunar eclipse phase begins at 02.06 am when the edge of the moon first enters the darkest part of earth’s shadow. The moon will be completely within the shadow for 78 minutes, ending at 3.34 am.
For people in the United States, this eclipse is the first in an extraordinary series of lunar eclipses in what astronomers call a lunar eclipse tetrad—a series of four consecutive total eclipses occurring at approximately six month intervals. The total eclipse of April 15 will be followed by another on Oct. 8, 2014, and another on April 4, 2015, and another on Sept. 28 2015. All four total eclipses will be visible over most of the U.S. Although lunar eclipse tetrads are rare, they have frequently occurred in the past and there are nine sets of tetrads occurring during the 21st century.
On average, lunar eclipses occur about twice a year, but not all of them are total. There are three types:
A penumbral eclipse is when the moon passes through the pale outskirts of earth’s shadow. It’s so subtle that sky watchers often don’t notice an eclipse is underway.
A partial eclipse is more dramatic. The moon dips into the core of earth’s shadow, but not all the way, so only a fraction of moon is darkened.
A total eclipse, when the entire moon is shadowed, is best of all. The face of the moon turns sunset-red for up to an hour or more as the eclipse slowly unfolds.
Usually, lunar eclipses come in no particular order. A partial can be followed by a total, followed by a penumbral, and so on. Anything goes. Occasionally, though, the sequence is more orderly. When four consecutive lunar eclipses are all total, the series is called a tetrad.
Weather permitting; this Tuesday’s total eclipse will turn the moon red. Why red?
Total lunar eclipses occur only when the moon passes completely through the shadow of the earth, and if you imagined yourself standing on the dusty lunar surface during just an eclipse and looking up at the sky, the shadow of the earth would completely block out the sun. You might expect earth seen in this way to be utterly dark, but it’s not. The rim of the planet is on fire! As you scan your eye around earth’s circumference, you’re seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all of them, all at once. This incredible light beams into the heart of earth’s shadow, filling it with a coppery glow and transforming the moon into a great red orb.
Mark your calendar for April 15th and let the tetrad begin.
Tonight you might go out and see an extra bright orange dot in the sky. Well, that’s not a star you’re seeing, that’s Mars.
I’m well aware of what today is. Believe me, I debated on whether or not to make a fake April Fools Day blog posting along the lines of “NASA announces the discovery of intelligent life on planet Eps Eri 04-01a,” or “50,000 year old space ship discovered in Antarctica.” However, there’s stuff out there in space that’s real and strange enough to bring to light without having to result in phoney gags. For example, a couple of days back I heard about the discovery of a pink planet way out in space. So here’s the rundown on the lowest-mass planet ever detected around a star like the sun, GJ 504b that just happens to be pink.