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Posts Tagged ‘transit’

Asteroid To Black Out A Bright Star


Credit: IOTA / Stellarium / Sky & Telescope

Credit: IOTA / Stellarium / Sky & Telescope

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.”

Link To Full Story

Wide-Field Cameras In The High Arctic


Located within 10 degrees of the North Pole, northern Ellesmere Island in the High Canadian Arctic offers continuous darkness in the winter months. The lack of a day/night cycle greatly enhances the detection efficiency of planetary transit surveys and other time domain astronomy programs.

We deployed two wide-field cameras at 80 degrees N, near Eureka, Nunavut, for an observing campaign in February 2012. The camera systems were based on commercial f/1.2 lenses with 85mm and 50mm focal lengths, and they continuously imaged 504 and 1,295 square degrees respectively. Together, the cameras took over 44,000 images and produced precision light curves for approximately 70,000 stars.

Full Story: http://di.utoronto.ca/~law/arctic_cameras/

ESA Missions Gear Up For Transit Of Venus

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

ESA’s Venus Express and Proba-2 space missions, along with the international SOHO, Hinode, and Hubble spacecraft, are preparing to monitor Venus and the Sun during the transit of Earth’s sister planet during 5-6 June. ESA’s Venus Express is the only spacecraft orbiting Venus at the moment and while the transit is being watched from Earth, it too will use light from the Sun to study the planet’s atmosphere.

As sunlight filters through the atmosphere it reveals the concentration of different gas molecules at different altitudes.

Meanwhile, NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope will use the Moon as a giant mirror to capture diffuse, reflected sunlight: a small fraction of that light will have passed through the atmosphere of Venus en-route to the Moon.

This will test techniques aimed at measuring the atmospheres of Earth-sized rocky exoplanets that could potentially reveal traces of life on planets outside our Solar System.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/esaSC/SEM33Q4XX2H_index_0.html

Get Ready for the Transit of Venus!

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Scientists and amateur astronomers around the world are preparing to observe the rare occurrence of Venus crossing the face of the Sun on 5-6 June, an event that will not be seen again for over a hundred years. The occasion also celebrates the first transit while there is a spacecraft orbiting the planet – ESA’s Venus Express.

ESA will be reporting live from the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, where the Venus Express science team will be discussing the latest scientific results from the mission while enjoying a unique view of the 2012 transit under the ’midnight Sun’.

A transit of Venus occurs only when Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth. Since the orbital plane of Venus is not exactly aligned with that of Earth, transits occur very rarely, in pairs eight years apart but separated by more than a century. The last transit was enjoyed in June 2004 but the next will not be seen until 2117. Venus transits are of great historical significance because they gave astronomers a way to measure the size of the Solar System.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMLSGZWD2H_index_0.html

NASA Hosts Global Viewing Events for Rare Astronomical ReunionN

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

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.
There have been 53 transits since 2000 B.C. The last time the event occurred was on June 8, 2004, watched by millions worldwide. This year, observers on seven continents and a small portion of Antarctica will be in position to see it.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/may/HQ_M12-095_Venus_Transit.html

Extremely Rare Transit of Venus to Occur on June 5, 2012

May 22, 2012 Leave a comment

A few hours before sunset on June 5th, 2012 residents of the Washington, DC metropolitan area will have a chance to witness one of the rarest celestial phenomena known: a “Transit of Venus”. Such an event occurs when the planet Venus passes almost exactly between the Earth and the Sun, and they are incredibly rare. Since first predicted by the German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler in the 17th Century, only six Transits of Venus have been observed. Weather permitting, this will be the seventh. Transits of Venus occur at regular intervals that repeat over a 243-year period. Intervals between successive transits are 8 years, 105.5 years, 8 years, and 120.5 years. The next Transit of Venus won’t occur until December 11, 2117, and it will not be visible from Washington! Kepler predicted the transit of December 7, 1631 but died before the event occurred. The next transit, on December 4, 1639, was observed by only two individuals, Jeremiah Horrocks and William Crabtree, from England.

 

Link to PDF: http://www.usno.navy.mil/USNO/tours-events/news-from-the-naval-observatory