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Christmas Comet Lovejoy Captured at Paranal

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Image Credit: G. Blanchard(eso.org/~gblancha)/ESO

Image Credit: G. Blanchard(eso.org/~gblancha)/ESO

The recently discovered Comet Lovejoy has been captured in stunning photos and time-lapse video taken from ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile. The comet graced the southern sky after it had unexpectedly survived a close encounter with the Sun.

A new time-lapse video sequence was taken by Gabriel Brammer from ESO less than two days ago on 22 December 2011. Gabriel was finishing his shift as support astronomer at the Paranal Observatory when Comet Lovejoy rose over the horizon just before dawn.

In the words of Gabriel Brammer himself: “On the last morning of my shift I tried to try catch it on camera before sunrise. The tail of the comet was easily visible with the naked eye, and the combination of the crescent Moon, comet, Milky Way and the laser guide star was nearly as impressive to the naked eye as it appears in the long-exposure photos.”

The sequence also features the pencil-thin beam of the VLT’s Laser Guide Star set against the beautiful backdrop of the Milky Way, as astronomers conduct their last observations for the night.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1153/

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Geoff Marcy Appointed to the Alberts Chair

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Astronomy professor Geoff Marcy has been appointed the next Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The Alberts, who have long held an interest in SETI-related research, established the chair in 1998. It is the first-ever endowed chair that supports the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “This chair ensures that SETI research will continue to be vigorously pursued at Berkeley, inspiring future generations of scientists to advance the field,” states Watson Alberts.

“It is a great honor to be appointed to the Alberts Chair,” says Marcy, a leading astrophysicist in the detection and characterization of exoplanets. “The discovery of extrasolar planets has spawned the search for Earth-like, habitable worlds and for life in the universe. Our recent discoveries will inevitably lead us to more SETI-related work as we find increasing numbers of potentially habitable planets. It is an extremely exciting time to be in this field.”

Full Story: http://ls.berkeley.edu/arts-ideas/archive/geoff-marcy-appointed-alberts-chair-0