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2015 Astronomical Guide Now Available As Free Download


2015 An Astronomical Year - CoverTo commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, 2015 An Astronomical Year is now available as a free download between July 20th and July 24th.

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:

(US) http://www.amazon.com/2015-Astronomical-Year-Reference-Astronomy-ebook/dp/B00LVEUJI2

(UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00LVEUJI2

 

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UCSB Professor Develops Cutting-Edge Detector Technology For Astronomical Observations

November 5, 2013 Leave a comment

Semiconductors have had a nice run, but for certain applications, such as astrophysics, they are being edged out by superconductors. Ben Mazin, assistant professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, has developed a superconducting detector array that measures the energy of individual photons. The design and construction of an instrument based on these arrays, as well as an analysis of its commissioning data, appear in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

“What we have made is essentially a hyperspectral video camera with no intrinsic noise,” Mazin said. “On a pixel-per-pixel basis, it’s a quantum leap from semiconductor detectors; it’s as big a leap going from film to semiconductors as it is going from semiconductors to these superconductors. This allows all kinds of really interesting instruments based on this technology.”

Link To Full Story

Astronomer Royal To Launch Pioneering New Research Centre To Improve Our Understanding Of The Universe

September 23, 2013 Leave a comment

The University of Southampton is launching a new pioneering research centre that will help improve our understanding of the Universe and the fundamental laws of nature.

The Southampton Theory Astrophysics and Gravity (STAG) Research Centre brings together world-leading academics from three research groups – Theoretical Particle Physics, Astronomy and General Relativity – to explore problems ranging from the ultimate building blocks of matter to dynamics over the longest distances in the universe and actively engage with high-profile international experiments and observational facilities.

Link To Full Story.

High Schoolers To Launch Scientific Balloons To Near Outer Space


Earth from an altitude of 20 miles (105,600 feet) as photographed by cameras onboard last year's Project SMART balloon.

Earth from an altitude of 20 miles (105,600 feet) as photographed by cameras onboard last year’s Project SMART balloon.

On Thursday, July 18, 2013, high school students and their University of New Hampshire Project SMART mentors will launch twin weather balloons that carry miniaturized scientific payloads designed to measure cosmic rays and environmental parameters such as air pressure and temperature. The flight will also serve as a test platform for a NASA-funded instrument built at the UNH Space Science Center to measure gamma rays.

The weather-dependent launch is slated for noon, give or take an hour, from the grounds of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site in Cornish. Given favorable winds at high altitude, the instrument payloads will ride up to 100,000 feet – the edge of outer space – in unique, three-foot, dish-shaped, Styrofoam and cardboard re-entry vehicles built by the students and designed to float safely down to Earth without aid of a parachute.

Full Story: http://www.eos.unh.edu/news/indiv_news.shtml?NEWS_ID=1395

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star! – New App Measures Sky Brightness


Photo: Jeremy Stanley

Photo: Jeremy Stanley

Researchers from the German “Loss of the Night” project have developed an app for Android smart phones, which counts the number of visible stars in the sky. The data from the app will be used by scientists to understand light pollution on a world wide scale.

n natural areas you can see several thousand stars with the naked eye” says Dr. Christopher Kyba, physicist at the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB) and Freie Universität. “In Berlin, we can still see several hundred, but the situation in most large cities and world capitals is far worse.”
The smartphone app will evaluate sky brightness, also known as skyglow, on a worldwide scale. It will be an extension to the “GLOBE at Night” citizen science project, which has been running since 2006. This data can be used to map the distribution and changes in sky brightness, and will eventually allow scientists to investigate correlations with health, biodiversity, energy waste and other factors.

“Life evolved periodic changes of bright days and dark nights” says Dr. Annette Krop-Benesch of the Leibniz-Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB). “The introduction of artificial light into the atmosphere is changing ecosystems worldwide, and might even have an impact on our health. Unfortunately, we have very little information about light levels in different habitats at night.”

Full Story and App Link: http://www.fv-berlin.de/news/twinkle-twinkle-little-star-2013-new-app-measures-sky-brightness?set_language=en

NASA Invites Public To Send Names And Messages To Mars


NASA is inviting members of the public to submit their names and a personal message online for a DVD to be carried aboard a spacecraft that will study the Martian upper atmosphere.

The DVD will be in NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch in November. The DVD is part of the mission’s Going to Mars Campaign coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).

The DVD will carry every name submitted. The public also is encouraged to submit a message in the form of a three-line poem, or haiku. However, only three haikus will be selected. The deadline for all submissions is July 1. An online public vote to determine the top three messages to be placed on the DVD will begin July 15.

“The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,” said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

Full Story and ‘Going To Mars’ Link: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2013/may/HQ_13-125_MAVEN_Name_to_Mars.html

Can One Buy The Right To Name A Planet?


In the light of recent events, where the possibility of buying the rights to name exoplanets has been advertised, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) wishes to inform the public that such schemes have no bearing on the official naming process. The IAU wholeheartedly welcomes the public’s interest to be involved in recent discoveries, but would like to strongly stress the importance of having a unified naming procedure.

More than 800 planets outside the Solar System have been found to date, with thousands more waiting to be confirmed. Detection methods in this field are steadily and quickly increasing — meaning that many more exoplanets will undoubtedly be discovered in the months and years to come.

Recently, an organisation has invited the public to purchase both nomination proposals for exoplanets, and rights to vote for the suggested names. In return, the purchaser receives a certificate commemorating the validity and credibility of the nomination. Such certificates are misleading, as these campaigns have no bearing on the official naming process — they will not lead to an officially-recognised exoplanet name, despite the price paid or the number of votes accrued.

Full Story: http://www.iau.org/public_press/news/detail/iau1301/