Summer is the season for Noctilucent Clouds

Full Moon and Perigee Moon converge for a Supermoon

Track down two asteroids, Ceres and Vesta

Planetary pairings of Saturn and Mars, Jupiter and Venus

The Perseid meteor shower peaks

The Equinox restores balance to days and nights

Mars meets its rival, Antares

An early Harvest Moon occurs in September

Look out for Noctilucent Clouds
Full details in the Sky Guide » »

Archaeology meets Astronomy

Posted by BC on May 28th, 2008

rabbitmoon.JPG My job before becoming a pr0fessional astronomer/educator was being an excavator on an archaeology crew in Kansas, U.S.A. Usually when I tell people that, they are puzzled at how I can go from looking “down” to looking “up”. My usual response is to say that the ancient people were keen astronomers, and archaeologists can discover much of just how the prehistoric people observed and documented what they observed.
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Antennae Galaxies Distance Redefined

Posted by BC on May 27th, 2008

antennagalaxies.jpg The Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/4039) are the closest major merging system to us. The distance to that system was previously thought to be 65 million light years away but now through new research is determined to be 45 million light years away. The red super giants in the system are the key components for redetermining the distances. “A New Red Giant-based Distance Molulus of 13.3 Mpc to the Antennae Galaxies and Its Concequences” explains the research.
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Phoenix Gets To Work

Posted by Lydia on May 26th, 2008

After a flawless landing, Phoenix relayed the first photos of the Marcian North Pole’s polygonal surface rocks. Upon first inspection of these newly received pics, no permafrost could be seen, but scientists hope to find it below the surface, a point which may be proven Tuesday upon Phoenix’s first substrate investigation with its 7.7 foot long robotic arm.

This will be the first workday of a three month mission to study the Marcian surface, to investigate whether the subsurface ice ever thaws (the existance of plentiful subsurface ice was discovered by NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter) and to search out the possibilities of key chemical ingredients in the existance of microbial life in the planet’s soil. The Phoenix was actually built from parts of a scrubbed 2001 mission to the red planet.

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Phoenix Lands Successfully on Mars!

Posted by Lydia on May 26th, 2008

Phoenix Solar PanelThis just in: Houston has just announced that the Mars Phoenix Lander made a successful landing on a flat area in the region of the Martian North Pole at about 6:54 p.m. More information is forthcoming later this evening.

According to ongoing news broadcast by N.A.S.A. TV, Phoenix sent back a signal after landing indicating that it is on the Martian Surface and everything seems to be proceeding smoothly and flawlessly. Applause filled the room upon receipt of this information.

Discovery STS-124 Scheduled for Launch

Posted by Lydia on May 20th, 2008

Mark your event calendar for May 31 as the tentative launch date of STS-124. The mission encompasses 14 days and includes two spacewalks. This the second of three missions transporting components to the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Kibo lab. The Discovery crew consists of Commander Mark E. Kelly, Pilot Kenneth T. Ham, Mission Specialists Gregory E. Chamitoff (who will stay aboard the Space Station), Michael E. Fossum, Karen L. Nyberg, Ronald J. Garan and Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA). Discovery will return with Flight Engineer Garrett Reisman.

Satellite predictions mis-match

Posted by BC on May 20th, 2008

   Discussing sky events and other astronomy-related things is what keeps me in touch with my astronomer friends. One day Mark Cunningham and I were talking about the up-and-coming multiple ISS passages, when we disagreed on some details. I was going off the information from Spaceweather’s satellite tracker, and he from  NASA’s human space flight.  After investigating the details, I found discrepancies between the two sites in the number of dates when ISS could be seen. The NASA site had more times, but there may be an explanation for the difference between the two sites that I have not found yet.

   Both sites are credible, but if you cannot access reports for your particular location on one, try the other.

Solar Activity

Posted by BC on May 20th, 2008

sunspots - Palmer The Sun has given us a few surprises lately. We have see flares, large prominences, and coronal holes. Sunspots are the precursor for major activity, and we have seen several over the past few weeks. The major solar activity creates excitement for my associate aurora watchers. We watch the indices as they rise and fall, keep track of the sunspots as they grow and shrink, and we keep track of the alerts.
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N.A.S.A. Wants YOU …

Posted by Lydia on May 17th, 2008

…To Help Search for the Mars Polar Lander.Remember the Mars Polar Lander which crashed on descent, December 3, 1999?NASA needs help locating it.If you think you have what it takes to search through eighteen images, each made up of 1.6 billion pixels, and your computer monitor has the capacity required, AND you believe you can successfully peruse each image containing more than 1,200 screens of monotonous Martian terrain without exactly knowing where to look for possible wreckage, you just MAY be the one to successfully locate a smudge representing parts of the outer shell and/or something resembling a parachute.Sign up now at Mars Polar Lander .

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