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NASA TV Covers Space Station Cargo Ship Launch and Arrival

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the launch and docking of the next spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station.

Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank of NASA and his five crewmates will be standing by as the unpiloted Russian ISS Progress 46 resupply craft launches Wednesday, Jan. 25, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, to deliver almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the complex.

The new Progress craft is scheduled to launch at 5:06 p.m. CST on Jan. 25 (5:06 a.m. Baikonur time Jan. 26). NASA TV coverage will begin at 4:45 p.m.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jan/HQ_12-023_ISS_Progress_46.html

AAS Celebrates Frank Kameny’s Efforts for Equal Employment Rights

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

At its 219th semiannual meeting last week in Austin, Texas, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) presented a certificate of appreciation commemorating Dr. Frank Kameny’s lifetime efforts to secure equal employment rights for all. In 1957 Dr. Kameny, a Ph.D. astronomer and member of the AAS, was unjustly fired from his position with the U.S. government because he was gay. His subsequent efforts to advance the cause of gay rights included organizing some of the first public protests for homosexual rights in America, running as the first openly gay candidate for Congress, and writing the first petition to the Supreme Court to argue that discrimination based on sexual orientation violates constitutional civil-rights protections.

Full Story: http://aas.org/press/pr2012Jan19

Shooting Stars: Global Search for Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012 Begins

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

The Royal Observatory Greenwich, in association with Sky at Night Magazine, launches its 2012 Astronomy Photographer of the Yearcompetition today – kicking off its annual global search for the most beautiful and spectacular visions of the cosmos, whether they are striking pictures of vast galaxies millions of light years away, or dramatic images of the night sky taken much closer to home.

Entries to the competition must be submitted by midday on 29 June 2012 and the winning images will be showcased in the annual free exhibition at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich from 21 September 2012 to February 2013. Last year the competition, which was first launched in 2009, attracted a record number of entries with over 700 spectacular images submitted from around the world. The competition also saw its first UK overall winner, as amateur astronomer Damian Peach scooped the top prize for his incredibly detailed shot of Jupiter along with two of its 64 known moons, Io and Ganymede, showing the surface of the gas giant streaked with colourful bands and dotted with huge oval storms. Sir Patrick Moore, who is one of the competition judges, was impressed by the quality of entries describing Damian’s shot as a ‘very worthy winner against extremely strong competition’.

Full Story: http://www.rmg.co.uk/about/press/shooting-stars/75516

Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2012 for Reinhard Genzel

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

This year´s Crafoord Prize Laureates have found the most reliable evidence to date that supermassive black holes really exist. For decades Reinhard Genzel and Andrea Ghez, with their research teams, have tracked stars around the centre of the Milky Way galaxy. Separately, they both arrived at the same conclusion: in our home galaxy resides a giant black hole called Sagittarius A*.

Full Story: http://www.crafoordprize.se/press/arkivpressreleases/thecrafoordprizeinmathematics2012andthecrafoordprizeinastronomy2012.5.6018c17913483dc064280001363.html

Comet’s Demise Seen Deep Inside Sun’s Atmosphere

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

In a paper to be published tomorrow in the journal Science, for the first time ever scientists at the Lockheed Martin [NYSE:LMT] Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory (LMSAL) at the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto, and collaborators at other institutions, have reported observations and analysis of the final death throes of a comet, as it passed across the face of the Sun on July 6, 2011, to vanish in flight.

Using observations from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) instrument on board NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), the comet was first seen about 0.2 solar radii off the limb of the Sun, travelling at nearly 400 miles per second and was tracked for 20 minutes until it disintegrated and evaporated in the low solar corona, about 62,000 miles above the solar surface. The Extreme-Ultraviolet Imager (EUVI), on one of NASA’s twin Solar-Terrestrial Relations Observatories (STEREO), made simultaneous additional observations of the comet’s passage from its near-quadrature view relative to the Sun-Earth line.

The comet was discovered on July 4, 2011 by using the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) on the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and was designated comet C/2011 N3 (SOHO). It was the SOHO discovery that alerted Lockheed Martin scientists to watch the AIA data stream for the comet’s likely transit across the face of the Sun.

Full Story: http://www.lockheedmartin.com/us/news/press-releases/2012/january/1119ssc-observations-comets-demise.html

The Helix in New Colours

January 19, 2012 Leave a comment

ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson. Acknowledgment: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

ESO’s VISTA telescope, at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, has captured a striking new image of the Helix Nebula. This picture, taken in infrared light, reveals strands of cold nebular gas that are invisible in images taken in visible light, as well as bringing to light a rich background of stars and galaxies.

The Helix Nebula is one of the closest and most remarkable examples of a planetary nebula. It lies in the constellation of Aquarius (The Water Bearer), about 700 light-years away from Earth. This strange object formed when a star like the Sun was in the final stages of its life. Unable to hold onto its outer layers, the star slowly shed shells of gas that became the nebula. It is evolving to become a white dwarf star and appears as the tiny blue dot seen at the centre of the image.

The nebula itself is a complex object composed of dust, ionised material as well as molecular gas, arrayed in a beautiful and intricate flower-like pattern and glowing in the fierce glare of ultraviolet light from the central hot star.

Full Story: http://www.eso.org/public/news/eso1205/