Auroras are the most visible manifestation of the Sun’s effect on Earth, but many aspects of these spectacular displays are still poorly understood. Thanks to ESA’s Cluster and NASA’s Image satellites working together, a particular type of very high-latitude aurora has now been explained.
Although separated by some 150 million kilometres, the Sun and Earth are connected by the solar wind. This stream of plasma – electrically charged atomic particles – is launched by the Sun and travels across the Solar System, carrying its own magnetic field with it.
This comprehensive, quick reference guide provides nearly 300 pages of night sky events for 2015, including many that are easily visible with just the naked eye.
To download your copy, go to:
Long before the term “citizen science” was coined, the field of astronomy has benefited from countless men and women who study the sky in their spare time. These amateur astronomers devote hours exploring the cosmos through a variety of telescopes that they acquire, maintain, and improve on their own. Some of these amateur astronomers specialize in capturing what is seen through their telescopes in images and are astrophotographers.
What happens when the work of amateur astronomers and astrophotographers is combined with the data from some of the world’s most sophisticated space telescopes? Collaborations between professional and amateur astronomers reveal the possibilities and are intended to raise interest and awareness among the community of the wealth of data publicly available in NASA’s various mission archives. This effort is particularly appropriate for this month because April marks Global Astronomy Month, the world’s largest global celebration of astronomy.
The images in this quartet of galaxies represent a sample of composites created with X-ray data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, and optical data collected by an amateur astronomer.
Millions of people around New York City and points north can plan to watch a faint asteroid dramatically black out a bright naked-eye star very late next Wednesday night (the night of March 19–20).
And if you’re anywhere from the Carolinas to Nova Scotia to Winnipeg, a citizen-science project is asking you to keep watch too!
Get ready for the best and brightest “asteroid occultation” ever predicted for North America. Late on the night of March 19–20, the faint asteroid Erigone (eh-RIG-uh-nee) will briefly eclipse the bright naked-eye star Regulus for more than 20 million people in the New York metropolitan area and parts of Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut, upstate New York, and Ontario. The star will vanish from sight for up to 14 seconds around 2:06 a.m. EDT on the morning of the 20th for New Yorkers, and a minute or two later farther north.
If the sky is clear, Regulus will be a cinch for anyone to spot — no astronomy experience required! Around 2 a.m. or a bit before, go out and face the Moon. Extend your arms straight out to your sides. Regulus will be straight above your right hand, roughly as high as the Moon is. It’s the brightest star in that area.
“Regulus shines right through moonlight and light pollution that’s in the sky — even the light pollution over a city like New York,” says Alan MacRobert, a senior editor at Sky & Telescope magazine. “Just be sure to shield your eyes against any glary lights, and Regulus should be easy to find.”
A team of scientists working with the CosmoQuest virtual research facility (CosmoQuest.org) has demonstrated that it is possible for everyday people to map the Moon with the same quality as a group of experienced professionals. These crowd-sourced results are being published in the journal Icarus and highlight the ability of citizen scientists to advance planetary research. CosmoQuest is a second-generation citizen science site run out of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) by Dr Pamela L. Gay.
While “crowdsourcing science” may sound like they are handing out lab sets and white coats, CosmoQuest has actually done something much more impactful.
They handed over the moon.
CosmoQuest’s MoonMappers research portal invites the public to learn about the lunar surface and aid professional researchers in mapping craters and other features on the Moon. MoonMappers is led by researchers Stuart Robbins (University of Colorado – Boulder) and Irene Antonenko (the Planetary Institute of Toronto). CosmoQuest community members are the first citizen scientists to demonstrate volunteers’ ability to accurately identify planetary surface features.
NASA trained several pairs of eyes on Saturn as the planet put on a dancing light show at its poles. While NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, orbiting around Earth, was able to observe the northern auroras in ultraviolet wavelengths, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, orbiting around Saturn, got complementary close-up views in infrared, visible-light and ultraviolet wavelengths. Cassini could also see northern and southern parts of Saturn that don’t face Earth.
The result is a kind of step-by-step choreography detailing how the auroras move, showing the complexity of these auroras and how scientists can connect an outburst from the sun and its effect on the magnetic environment at Saturn. A new video showing aurora images from Hubble and Cassini is available here.
“Saturn’s auroras can be fickle — you may see fireworks, you may see nothing,” said Jonathan Nichols of the University of Leicester in England, who led the work on the Hubble images. “In 2013, we were treated to a veritable smorgasbord of dancing auroras, from steadily shining rings to super-fast bursts of light shooting across the pole.”
365 Days of Astronomy will continue its service in 2014! This time we will have more days available for new audio. Have something to share? We’re looking for content from 10 minutes long up to an hour! Since 2009, 365 Days of Astronomy has brought a new podcast every day to astronomy lovers around the world to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy. Fortunately, the project has continued until now and we will keep going for another year in 2014. This means we will continue to serve you for a 6th year.
Through these years, 365 Days Of Astronomy has been delivering daily podcasts discussing various topics in the constantly changing realm of astronomy. These include history of astronomy, the latest news, observing tips and topics on how the fundamental knowledge in astronomy has changed our paradigms of the world. We’ve also asked people to talk about the things that inspired them, and to even share their own stories, both of life doing astronomy and science fiction that got them imagining a more scientific future.
365 Days of Astronomy is a community podcast that relies on a network of dedicated podcasters across the globe who are willing to share their knowledge and experiences in astronomy with the world and it will continue that way. In 2013, 365 Days of Astronomy started a new initiative with CosmoQuest. We now offer great new audio every weekend, while on weekdays we serve up interesting podcasts from CosmoQuest and other dedicated partners. We also have several monthly podcasts from dedicated podcasters and have started two new series: Space Stories and Space Scoop. The former is a series of science fiction tales, and the latter is an astronomy news segment for children.