Archive for May 23, 2012

NASA Hosts Global Viewing Events For Rare Astronomical Reunion

WASHINGTON — NASA Television will air a live program starting at 5:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, June 5, showcasing the celestial phenomenon of the planet Venus trekking across the face of the sun. The rare event, known as the Venus Transit, will not occur again until 2117.

The transit occurs when Venus passes directly between Earth and the sun. Viewers will see Venus as a small dot gliding slowly across our nearest star. Historically, viewed by luminaries like Galileo Galilei, Captain James Cook and even Benjamin Franklin, this rare alignment is how we measured the size of our solar system.

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Updated Coverage For NASA/SpaceX Mission To Station

Thursday, May 24 (Flight Day 3): Live NASA Television coverage from NASA’s Johnson Space Center mission control in Houston as the Dragon spacecraft performs its flyby of the International Space Station to test its systems begins at 2:30 a.m. EDT and will continue until the Dragon passes the vicinity of the station. A news briefing will be held at 10 a.m. following the activities.

Friday, May 25 (Flight Day 4): Live coverage of the rendezvous and berthing of the Dragon spacecraft to the station begins at 2 a.m. and will continue through the capture and berthing of the Dragon to the station’s Harmony node. A news briefing will be held at 1 p.m. after Dragon is secured to the station.

Saturday, May 26 (Flight Day 5): Live coverage of the hatch opening and entry of the Dragon spacecraft begins at 5:30 a.m. and will include a crew news conference at 11:25 a.m.

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Colliding Galaxy Cluster Unravelled

An international team of astronomers has used the International LOFAR Telescope from ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, to study the formation of the galaxy cluster Abell 2256. Abell 2256 is a cluster containing hundreds of galaxies at a distance of 800 million lightyears. ‘The structure we see in the radio images made with LOFAR provides us with information about the origin of this cluster, explains lead author dr. Reinout van Weeren (Leiden University and ASTRON). The study will be published in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The research involved a large team of scientists from 26 different universities and research institutes.

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The Older We Get, The Less We Know (Cosmologically)

Cambridge, MA – The universe is a marvelously complex place, filled with galaxies and larger-scale structures that have evolved over its 13.7-billion-year history. Those began as small perturbations of matter that grew over time, like ripples in a pond, as the universe expanded. By observing the large-scale cosmic wrinkles now, we can learn about the initial conditions of the universe. But is now really the best time to look, or would we get better information billions of years into the future – or the past?

New calculations by Harvard theorist Avi Loeb show that the ideal time to study the cosmos was more than 13 billion years ago, just about 500 million years after the Big Bang. The farther into the future you go from that time, the more information you lose about the early universe.

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