May is graduation month, and with it, school star party season is about to conclude. If you happen to be out this coming weekend showing the sky off to the public, keep an eye out for one of the top celestial sights that you won’t see at the eyepiece, as we’re in for a slew of good visible passes of the International Space Station worldwide.Continue reading “The International Space Station Rides High Through the May Sky”
Welcome back to Messier Monday! Today, we continue in our tribute to our dear friend, Tammy Plotner, by looking at the elliptical galaxy also known as Messier 85!
During the 18th century, famed French astronomer Charles Messier noticed the presence of several “nebulous objects” while surveying the night sky. Originally mistaking these objects for comets, he began to catalog them so that others would not make the same mistake. Today, the resulting list (known as the Messier Catalog) includes over 100 objects and is one of the most influential catalogs of Deep Space Objects.
South America, especially the Atacama Desert in Chile has become one of the best places in the world to put a telescope. It’s dry, high, and the nights are clear. Today we’ll talk about the monster telescopes already in operation in this region, and the big ones coming soon.
Continue reading “Ep. 530: Astronomy of the Andes: Then and Now, Pt. 2”
When complete, the Square Kilometer Array (SKA) will be the largest radio telescope array in the entire world. The result of decades of work involving 40 institutions in 11 countries, the SKA will allow astronomers to monitor the sky in unprecedented detail and survey it much faster than with any system currently in existence.
Such a large array will naturally be responsible for gathering an unprecedented amount of data on a regular basis. To sort through all this data, the “brain” for this massive array will consist of two supercomputers. Recently, the SKA’s Science Data Processor (SDP) consortium concluded their engineering design work on one of these supercomputers.Continue reading “A Supercomputer has been Designed to run the World’s Largest Radio Telescope”
At the University of California, Santa Barbara, researchers with the UCSB Experimental Cosmology Group (ECG) are currently working on ways to achieve the dream of interstellar flight. Under the leadership of Professor Philip Lubin, the group has dedicated a considerable amount of effort towards the creation of an interstellar mission consisting of directed-energy light sail and a wafer-scale spacecraft (WSS) “wafercraft“.
If all goes well, this spacecraft will be able to reach relativistic speeds (a portion of the speed of light) and make it to the nearest star system (Proxima Centauri) within our lifetimes. Recently, the ECG achieved a major milestone by successfully testing a prototype version of their wafercraft (aka. the “StarChip“). This consisted of sending the prototype via balloon into the stratosphere to test its functionality and performance.Continue reading “Prototype of a Future Interstellar Probe was Just Tested on a Balloon”
Our first picture of a black hole was a huge moment for science. But we can’t stop there. We need better pictures that deliver more information. That’s how we’ll learn even more about these strange, rule-breaking behemoths.
Now a group of astronomers from the Radboud University in the city of Nijmegen, Netherlands, along with the European Space Agency and other partners, are developing a plan to get much sharper pictures of black holes.Continue reading “The Black Hole Picture Could Be So Much Better If You Add Space Telescopes”
Been following the Moon this week? The first sighting of the waxing crescent Moon this past weekend not only marked the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan worldwide, but also sets us up for an interesting Friday night encounter, as the waxing crescent Moon crosses the Beehive Cluster.Continue reading “Watch the Moon Buzz the Beehive”
Fraser Cain (universetoday.com / @fcain)
Dr. Kimberly Cartier (KimberlyCartier.org / @AstroKimCartier )
Dr. Morgan Rehnberg (MorganRehnberg.com / @MorganRehnberg & ChartYourWorld.org)
Dr. Paul M. Sutter (pmsutter.com / @PaulMattSutter)
There are 20,000 objects orbiting Earth at this moment that are larger than 10 cm. Out of that number, only about 2,000 are operational satellites. The other 18,000 objects are pieces of junk of varying sizes. But it’s not just junk: it’s dangerous junk.
If that doesn’t sound like a problem, keep this in mind: Thanks to SpaceX and others, we’re living in the age of cheap access to space, and we’re seeing more and more satellites boosted into orbit. The problem won’t go away on its own.Continue reading “Before We Ruin the Universe, We Should Follow Some Space Sustainability Guidelines”
Have you heard of Interstellar Technologies? They’re the latest private company to launch their own rocket into space. They’re a Japanese company, and like other private space companies, their stated goal is to lower the cost to access space.Continue reading “Japan’s First Private Rocket Flies to Space”