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Thursday, December 07, 2017

Night-Sky Light Pollution -- Satellite Imagery Confirms What We Already Know
Posted by Guy Pirro on 12/7/2017 6:39 PM
Five years of advanced satellite images show that there is more artificial light at night across the globe... And that light at night is getting brighter. The rate of growth is approximately two percent each year in both the amount of areas lit and in the radiance of the light. As streetlights the world over change from sodium lamps to LEDs, scientists wonder what this means for night skies. Scientists are finding that much of the financial savings derived from the improved energy efficiency of outdoor lighting is being wasted in the deployment of more lights. As a result, the projected large reduction in global energy consumption for outdoor lighting is not being realized.
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Sunday, December 03, 2017

It Came From Outer Space -- Astronomers Find First Interstellar Asteroid
Posted by Guy Pirro on 12/3/2017 7:02 PM
Astronomers recently scrambled to observe an intriguing asteroid that zipped through the Solar System on a steep trajectory from interstellar space -- the first confirmed object from another star. Now, new data reveals the interstellar interloper to be a rocky, cigar shaped object with a somewhat reddish hue. The asteroid, named Oumuamua by its discoverers, is up to one quarter mile (400 meters) long and highly elongated -- perhaps 10 times as long as it is wide. While its elongated shape is quite surprising and unlike asteroids seen in our Solar System, it may provide new clues into how other star systems formed.
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Friday, December 01, 2017

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of December 2017
Posted by Guy Pirro on 12/1/2017 12:05 PM
Welcome to the night sky report for December 2017 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase, so get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.
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Monday, November 27, 2017

Have the Imaginary Concepts of Dark Matter and Dark Energy Finally Run Their Course?
Posted by Guy Pirro on 11/27/2017 11:57 AM
A University of Geneva researcher has shown that the accelerating expansion of the Universe and the movement of the stars in galaxies can be explained without drawing on the concepts of Dark Matter and Dark Energy... And the work is pointing to a very inconvenient conclusion -- These two entities may not actually exist. History provides us with many examples where scientists have simply invented ideas out of thin air to help explain away things that are just not understood. In some ways, Dark Matter and Dark Energy bring to mind another imaginary concept -- the so called "Aether Wind." In 1887, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley proved that there was no such thing, even though everybody just "knew" that space was filled with it. Will this new work lead to the development of a Michelson-Morley-like experiment for the 21st century that does away with the concepts of Dark Matter and Dark Energy? Time will tell.
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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Posted by Paul Walsh on 11/25/2017 6:05 PM
From all of us here at Anacortes Telescope and Wild Bird: Have a great Thanksgiving with your family and friends.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Physicists Describe New Dark Matter Detection Strategy
Posted by Guy Pirro on 11/16/2017 6:50 PM
Though it has not yet been detected directly, physicists are fairly certain that dark matter must exist in some form. The way in which galaxies rotate and the degree to which light bends as it travels through the universe suggest that there's some kind of unseen stuff throwing its gravity around. The leading idea for the nature of dark matter is that it's some kind of particle, albeit one that interacts very rarely with ordinary matter. But nobody is quite sure what a dark matter particle's properties might be because nobody has yet recorded one of those rare interactions. Physicists from Brown University have now devised a new strategy for directly detecting dark matter.
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Friday, November 10, 2017

Space Launch System (Saturn V on Steroids) to Fly December 2019
Posted by Guy Pirro on 11/10/2017 3:33 PM
NASA has provided an update on the first integrated launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion spacecraft after completing a comprehensive review of the launch schedule. This first un-crewed mission, known as Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) is a critical flight test for NASA's human deep space exploration goals. EM-1 lays the foundation for the first crewed flight of SLS and Orion, as well as a regular cadence of missions thereafter near the Moon and eventually to the asteroids and Mars. NASA is currently managing the program to a scheduled December 2019 launch.
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Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of November 2017
Posted by Guy Pirro on 11/1/2017 7:00 PM
Welcome to the night sky report for November 2017 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase, so get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard.
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Sunday, October 22, 2017

WorldWide Telescope Application Now Universally Accessible Via Web Browser
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/22/2017 7:33 PM
Have you missed out on WorldWide Telescope (WWT) because you're not using a Windows computer? Good news -- WWT can now be accessed via a web interface, with no dependence on your Operating System. WWT is a powerful application that allows users to interactively browse the multi-wavelength sky. Based on feedback from the astronomy community, WWT has now expanded its support so that anyone can use the full features of this application from their web browser.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

First Time That a Cosmic Event is Observed Optically and With Gravitational Waves
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/17/2017 10:26 AM
For the first time, scientists have directly detected gravitational waves (ripples in space-time) together with the light from a spectacular collision of two neutron stars. This marks the first time that a cosmic event has been observed with both gravitational waves and light. The discovery was made using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the US, the Virgo detector in Italy, and some 70 ground and space-based observatories. As two neutron stars spiraled together about 130 million years ago, they emitted gravitational waves that were detected for about 100 seconds on August 17, 2017. In the days and weeks following the initial discovery, a full spectrum of light and electromagnetic radiation from the event (including X-ray, ultraviolet (UV), optical, infrared (IR) and radio waves) were detected and analyzed -- A treasure trove of material that will keep scientist busy for years to come.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

US Geological Survey Speculates -- What's in the Yellowstone Super Volcano's Future?
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/14/2017 10:07 AM
Yellowstone, one of the world's largest active volcanic systems, has produced several giant volcanic eruptions in the past few million years, as well as many smaller eruptions and steam explosions. Although no eruptions of lava or volcanic ash have occurred for many thousands of years, future eruptions are likely. In the next few hundred years, hazards will most probably be limited to ongoing geyser and hot spring activity, with occasional steam explosions and moderate to large earthquakes. To better understand Yellowstone's volcano and earthquake hazards and to help protect the public, the US Geological Survey, the University of Utah, and Yellowstone National Park formed the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, which continuously monitors activity in the region.
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Monday, October 09, 2017

Kiss the Sky Tonight -- Month of October 2017
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/9/2017 9:52 AM
Welcome to the night sky report for October 2017 -- Your guide to the constellations, deep-sky objects, planets, and celestial events that are observable during the month. The night sky is truly a celestial showcase, so get outside and explore its wonders from your own backyard. In the now famous words of James Marshall Hendrix (apparently a fellow admirer of the heavens), "Excuse me while I kiss the sky."
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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Sputnik 1 -- 60 Years Ago Today
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/4/2017 6:17 PM
History changed 60 years ago today, on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik 1. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a beach ball -- about 23 inches diameter -- and weighed less than 190 pounds. It took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That single launch ushered in a whole array of new political, military, technological, and scientific developments in the years that followed. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the Space Age and the US - USSR space race.
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Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Scientists Find Elusive Giant Black Hole Pairs
Posted by Guy Pirro on 10/3/2017 6:03 PM
Astronomers have identified a bumper crop of dual supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. This discovery could help astronomers better understand how giant black holes grow and how they may produce the strongest gravitational wave signals in the Universe. The new evidence reveals five pairs of supermassive black holes, each containing millions of times the mass of the Sun. These black hole couples formed when two galaxies collided and merged with each other, forcing their supermassive black holes close together.
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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Mercury's Poles Contain Ice -- And There's More of It Than Originally Thought
Posted by Guy Pirro on 9/27/2017 3:52 PM
The scorching hot surface of Mercury seems like an unlikely place to look for ice, but research over the past three decades has suggested that surface water is frozen at the two poles of the planet, hidden away on crater floors that are permanently shadowed from the Sun's blistering rays. Now, a new study led by Brown University researchers suggests that there could be much more ice on Mercury's surface than originally thought.
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Smallest-Ever Star Discovered by Astronomers in the UK
Posted by Guy Pirro on 9/20/2017 11:35 AM
The smallest star yet measured has been discovered by a team of astronomers led by the University of Cambridge in the UK. With a size just a sliver larger than that of Saturn, the gravitational pull at its stellar surface is about 300 times stronger than what humans feel on Earth. The star is likely as small as stars can possibly become, as it has just enough mass to enable the fusion of hydrogen nuclei into helium. If it were any smaller, the pressure at the center of the star would no longer be sufficient to enable this process to take place.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cassini Prepares for its September 15th Death Dive into Saturn
Posted by Guy Pirro on 9/12/2017 6:15 PM
After two decades in space, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is nearing the end of its remarkable journey of exploration. Having expended almost every bit of its rocket propellant, operators are deliberately plunging Cassini into the giant planet to ensure that Saturn's moons will remain pristine and uncontaminated for future exploration -- in particular, the ice covered, ocean-bearing moon Enceladus, and Titan, with its intriguing pre-biotic chemistry. From its launch in 1997 to its upcoming Grand Finale, the Cassini-Huygens mission has racked up a remarkable list of achievements, and in the process has paved the way for the next generation of probes that will explore the four outer gaseous planets.
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Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Distant Galaxy Sends Out 15 High Energy Radio Bursts -- Can You Hear Me Now?
Posted by Guy Pirro on 9/5/2017 9:14 AM
The Breakthrough Listen Program, an initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe, has detected 15 brief but powerful radio pulses emanating from a mysterious and repeating source far across the universe.
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Friday, September 01, 2017

Why is Yawning So Contagious?
Posted by Guy Pirro on 9/1/2017 7:17 AM
Do you yawn when you read an Astromart News posting? I hope not. But if you do, does your spouse or significant other also yawn even though he or she is across the room? Why is that so? Is this what Albert Einstein would label "Spooky action at a distance?" Nah. But still, why do we yawn if someone else does? Researchers at the University of Nottingham suggest that the human propensity for contagious yawning is triggered automatically by primitive reflexes in the primary motor cortex -- an area of the brain responsible for motor function. Their latest findings show that our ability to resist yawning when someone else near us yawns is limited... And our urge to yawn is increased if we are instructed to resist yawning.
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Astronomers Image the Surface and Atmosphere of the Red Supergiant Star Antares
Posted by Guy Pirro on 8/25/2017 8:11 PM
To the unaided eye the famous bright star Antares shines with a strong red tint in the heart of the constellation Scorpius. It is a huge and comparatively cool red supergiant in the late stages of its life, on the way to becoming a supernova. A team of astronomers, led by Keiichi Ohnaka, of the Universidad Catolica del Norte in Chile, used ESO's Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile to map Antares' surface and to measure the motions of the surface material. This is the best image of the surface and atmosphere of any star other than the Sun.
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