Archive for the ‘Astronomy’ Category

Stars That Appear Older Than The Universe


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

Something’s got to be wrong. But is it what we think about the star, the Universe, or something else? …

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Hubble Extreme Deep Field


Top 6 Discoveries of Cassini


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

On Friday, September 15th, Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere. Here are the top 6 things we learned from it while it was alive. …

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Earth (and Moon) from Saturn

Last Days of Cassini


(Discover Blogs::Out There) – Corey S. Powell:

As Cassini’s program manager and a veteran of the mission since 1993, Earl H. Maize of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a unique perspective on the last days of this remarkable spacecraft. There is no other comparable mission on the drawing boards; given current political realities, there may not be another like it in our lifetimes. And yet, Cassini is a beginning as well as an end. Maize notes that omnibus missions like Cassini allow more targeted follow-ups, like the upcoming Europa Clipper and (here’s hoping) future visits to the moons Enceladus and Titan.

I spoke with Maize just ahead of Cassini’s heroic final plunge. He offered an insider’s view of how it all ended. …

outthere 2017/09/16 last-days-of-cassini

Enceladus setting behind Saturn 2017-09-13

Cassini Must Die


(FTB Pharyngula) – PZ Myers:

The Cassini probe is being ordered to destroy itself by crashing into Saturn. It seems harsh. You’ve sent a tourist to an exotic location to go crazy taking vacation snaps, and then instead of a return trip, you reward them with a request to send more pictures of their suicide. I guess it is a spectacular way to go. …

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Cassini spacecraft at Saturn

Titanic Occultation


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Titan tries to hide behind Saturn’s rings in this image from 2012. Note the visible bluish haze layer in Titan’s upper atmosphere. …

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Titan behind Saturn_s rings

Lunar Eclipse @ ESO


(ESO PoTW) – During the early evening of 7 August, a partial lunar eclipse was visible in the sky above the ESO Headquarters in Garching bei München, Germany.

The Picture of the Week shown here is a compilation of over 50 images of the eclipse, starting from the peak of the eclipse just as the Moon rose above the horizon, to the eclipse’s conclusion when the Moon was high in the sky. …

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2017-08-07 Lunar Eclipse at ESO Garching

A New Type of Star: BLAPs


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

It’s not every night that astronomers discover a new kind of star. In this case, it’s not so much that the stars are totally different from other stars, and if you saw one you’d know right away something was amiss. Instead, these stars behave differently, in a way never seen before. And because of that, it took a special kind of survey to even find them at all.

The stars are called Blue Large-Amplitude Pulsators, or BLAPs. They’re called this because a) they’re blue, and 2) they pulsate, changing in brightness by the relatively large amount of 20 – 45%. That’s a lot. If the Sun did this we’d be alternately cooked and frozen. …

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Blue star

Voyager’s “Cosmic Map” of Earth’s Location is Hopelessly Wrong


(Starts With A Bang!) – Ethan Siegel:

The pulsar map to Earth was perfect when it was launched. By time aliens get it, it’ll be completely useless. …

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Voyager golden record

Sirius A+B


(Syfy Wire::Bad Astronomy) – Phil Plait:

Sirius B is the burned-out core of a star that was once much like the sun, though more massive. It likely started out life as a 5.6 solar mass star, putting it in the top tiers of “normal” stars. Something like 130 million years ago it ran out of useable hydrogen in its core to fuse into helium. It swelled up into a red giant, blew off its outer layers, and eventually all that was left was its dense inert core — the white dwarf we see today. …

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Sirius A+B

The Eclipse Conspiracy


(Atlantic Science) – James Hamblin:

The scientists are all talking like it’s a sure thing.

On August 21, the “moon” will pass between the Earth and the sun, obscuring the light of the latter. The government agency NASA says this will result in “one of nature’s most awe-inspiring sights.” The astronomers there claim to have calculated down to the minute exactly when and where this will happen, and for how long. They have reportedly known about this eclipse for years, just by virtue of some sort of complex math.

This seems extremely unlikely. I can’t even find these eclipse calculations on their website to check them for myself.

Something doesn’t add up. …

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Lunar shadow 2017-08-21