Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Sutherland by Night - Milky Way, Melkweg

Sutherland by Night - Milky Way, Melkweg
In this beautiful image by SAAO Astronomer Stephen Potter we see the Milky Way setting behind the 20, 30, 40 inch, MONET and SALT telescopes. Jupiter is the bright star at the top and Venus is setting into the MONET dome. The bright glow on the horizon is from distant city lights.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Key Signature of the Big Bang's Origin Discovered

  South pole telescope detects echoes of Big Bang

UPDATE MARCH 17: All the rumors were true. The story below was written yesterday, before today's announcement that "primordial B-waves" have been found in the cosmic background radiation. These must have arisen from inflation-driven gravitational waves rippling through spacetime in the first 10–34 second of the Big Bang. 
MARCH 16: Rumors have been racing through the physics and cosmology communities for the last few days that long-sought, Nobel Prize-worthy evidence for cosmic inflation driving the Big Bang will be announced on Monday, March 17th. A press conference for a "major discovery" regarding this topic is scheduled for noon EDT (16:00 UT) at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, just up the street from Sky & Telescope. We'll be there.

Word of what may be announced first broke into wide circulation late Friday night, when The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. published an article online, Gravitational waves: have US scientists heard echoes of the big bang? Here are excerpts:

Sunday, 9 March 2014

ESA's Gaia Mission Launches to Map the Milky Way


“Gaia promises to build on the legacy of ESA’s first star-mapping mission, Hipparcos, launched in 1989, to reveal the history of the galaxy in which we live,” says Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA’s Director General.


-          Universe Today


-          ESA


Cosmos Reborn - J. Kelly Beatty - Sky and Telescope

Beginning Sunday evening, March 9th, Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey will air on the Fox television network, the rebirth of Carl Sagan's classic Cosmos. In the cover story of our April 2014 issue, contributing editor J. Kelly Beatty reveals a behind-the-scenes look at the new series. 

Scientists detect extraterrestrial neutrinos (Down South)

Buried deep in the pristine Antarctic ice lie 5,160 basketball-sized detectors that look for flashes of blue light. 

This radiation signals that a high-energy particle has interacted with an atom of the ice and given off some energy in the process. Scientists built the underground cubic kilometer IceCube detector to find a specific type of particle called a neutrino. This particle has no electric charge, is nearly massless, and interacts extremely weakly with matter. (In fact, billions of them are zooming through you as you read  this story.)

Astronomers have detected neutrinos from the Sun and from Supernova 1987A when a massive star exploded. Now, the IceCube team reports in the November 22 issue of Science that it has found 28 high-energy neutrinos during a two-year all-sky search. The newly discovered particles have energies at least a million times that of the SN 1987A neutrinos.

At most, 11 of the 28 detected signals could result from background events or atmospheric neutrinos — those created as high-energy particles called cosmic rays collide with atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere and create secondary particles. However, the researchers say the neutrinos don’t have the characteristics of atmospheric ones.

They looked in the data for evidence of multiple neutrinos originating from a specific location on the sky or arriving at a similar time but were unable to trace the 28 neutrinos to specific sources. Most of the detected signals correspond to locations on the Southern Hemisphere sky.

Scientists can calculate the energies of the incoming neutrinos from the light the detectors register. The 28 particles discussed in the Science study had energies ranging from 30 trillion electron volts (TeV) to 1,141 TeV; visible light has energy between 1.5 and 3 electron volts. The data also include the two highestenergy neutrinos ever observed. — L. K.

Source:  Astronomy March 2014

Mark Kelly, twin brother enlisted for NASA study

This undated photo provided by NASA, astronauts Mark Kelly, right, STS-124 commander, and Scott Kelly are pictured in the check-out facility at Ellington Field near NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA announced Friday, March 7, 2014, that Mark Kelly and astronaut Scott Kelly will participate in 10 different investigations. Craig Kundrot, deputy chief scientist of NASA's Human Research Program, says in a news release that the brothers provide a unique opportunity to study two people with the same genetics who were in different environments. Officials say Scott Kelly spent a year in space while Mark Kelly was on Earth. NASA says it is hoping the studies can be the basis for future research initiatives. (AP Photo/NASA)

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Klubbyeenkoms: ASSA Bloemfontein - 1 Februarie 2014

Die Bloemfonteinse Amateur Sterrekunde Vereniging  (ASSA Bloemfontein) hou op Saterdag 1 Februarie sy eerste byeenkoms van die jaar. Voornemende amateur sterrekundiges is welkom om die geleentheid by te woon.

Op die program is onder meer:
  • Die gebruik  van 'n teleskoop insluitende die eienskappe van verskillende oogstukke;
  • Wat kan gesien word in die nagruim in verskillende ligomstandighede (Limiting Magnitude);
  • Ons kyk ook na `n nova wat onlangs uitgebars het en met `n verkyker sigbaar is;
  • As die weer saamspeel soek ons die Perdekopneuwel in Orion.

Koste: Gratis vir lede en R50 per persoon vir besoekers. Die bedrag word terugbetaal as jy by die   vereniging aansluit. Ledegeld is R100 per jaar vir `n gesin.
Datum: 1 Februarie 2014
Tyd: 18:30 (Ons braai, so bring jou eie kosmandjie met vleis, eetgoed, eetgerei en koeldrank. Braaivuur en roosters is beskikbaar.)
Plek: Boyden-sterrewag (Langs Maselspoort)

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Naked Eye Nova Centauri 2013 - Astronomy Picture of the Day

Source: Astronomy Picture of the Day 

 Naked Eye Nova Centauri 2013
Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Las Campanas Observatory, Carnegie Institution)

Explanation: Brightest stellar beacons of the constellation Centaurus, Alpha and Beta Centauri are easy to spot from the southern hemisphere. For now, so is new naked eye Nova Centauri 2013. In this night skyscape recorded near Las Campanas Observatory in the Chilean southern Atacama desert on December 5, the new star joins the old in the expansive constellation, seen at early morning hours through a greenish airglow. Caught by nova hunter John Seach from Australia on December 2 as it approached near naked eye brightness, Nova Cen 2013 has been spectroscopically identified as a classical nova, an interacting binary star system composed of a dense, hot white dwarf and cool, giant companion. Material from the companion star builds up as it falls onto the white dwarf's surface triggering a thermonuclear event. The cataclysmic blast results in a drastic increase in brightness and an expanding shell of debris. The stars are not destroyed, though. Classical novae are thought to recur when the flow of material onto the white dwarf eventually resumes and produces another outburst.

Monday, 4 November 2013

1% Solar Eclipse in Bloemfontein, South Africa

Hybrid Solar Eclipse of 2013 Nov 03 - 1% visible in Bloemfontein - 3:51 - 4:35pm (Sunday - 3 November 2013)

Frans Human, member of the Bloemfontein Center of The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa took this image of the hybrid eclipse on Sunday, 3 November 2013. Some sunspots are also visible.

1% visible in Bloemfontein  3:51 - 4:35pm (Sunday - 3 November 2013)