You know you’ve always wanted your own sidereal clock. Now, here’s your chance. We’re giving away 10 access codes for the new Sideral Clock astronomy iPhone app. Just send an email to us with “Sidereal Clock” in the subject line and Fraser will choose five winners at random.
Sidereal time is a time-keeping system astronomers use to keep track of the direction to point their telescopes to view a given star in the night sky. A a sidereal day is the time scale that is based on the Earth’s rate of rotation measured relative to the fixed stars. All observatories have a Sidereal Clock, and you can find sidereal time on the Internet, but you don’t always have access to the internet while observing. If you have an iPhone you can now install “SiderealClock” application and carry it with you everywhere you go.
This app uses iPhone geopositioning, and the application displays the current time (LMT), Greenwich time (GMT), your local Sideral Time (LST) and also the Julian Day. SideralClock is a real time clock and runs in any iPhone with geopositioning system and iOS 4.2 or higher.
How did the Universe begin and evolve? How did life start on Earth? These questions are discussed in a new book, “Cosmic Heritage — Evolution from the Big Bang to Conscious Life.” Thanks to the folks at Springer Astronomy, we have 10 copies of this engaging book to give away! Just send us an email with “Shaver Book” in the subject line and Fraser will randomly choose 10 winners. Deadline for the contest is Thursday Oct. 20, 2011 at 1200 GMT. The contest is open to anyone around the world.
This book follows the evolutionary trail all the way from the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago to conscious life today. It is an accessible introductory book written for the interested layperson – anyone interested in the ‘big picture’ coming from modern science. It covers a wide range of topics including the origin and evolution of our universe, the nature and origin of life, the evolution of life including questions of birth and death, the evolution of cognition, the nature of consciousness, the possibility of extraterrestrial life and the future of the universe. The book is written in a narrative style, as these topics are all parts of a single story. It concludes with a discussion on the nature and future of science.
Editor’s note: This guest post was written by Andy Tomaswick, an electrical engineer who follows space science and technology.
Imagine a rover on the Moon nimbly gliding around boulders and crevices until it finds something that looks interesting. It stops to pick up a sample and then rushes back to its home platform only to venture out again soon. Now imagine that it was doing all of this without any humans telling it to.
That’s the idea behind NASA’s new Sample Return Robot Challenge, part of its Centennial Challenge program. The space agency announced a potential $1.5 million prize for what it terms “an autonomous robotic system to locate and collect a set of specific sample types from a large planetary analog area and then return the samples to the starting zone.”
NASA recently released a set of rules that requires the participating robots to go big. Like 80,000 square meters big. That’s the amount of area of rough terrain, complete with trees and creeks, the autonomous bots will have to cover in order to find different samples spread randomly throughout.
Teams will collect those samples during two different levels of competition. Level one will require the participants to retrieve a randomly placed sample with a distinct packaging. The second level, and the one that pays the most cash prizes, requires the recovery of different types of samples, including ones specifically designed to test a team’s pattern recognition skills.
The competition is open to everyone and teams have until the end of the year to register. The event is expected to be held next year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. If one a team manages to win the prize, NASA’s dream of autonomous rovers won’t be too far off.
What’s a good way to generate excitement around the whole world for the International Space Station? Create a contest for kids from anywhere on the planet to have their idea for a science experiment performed by astronauts on the space station, with it live-streamed back to Earth. YouTube SpaceLab is an open competition inviting 14 – 18 year olds to come up with an idea for a science experiment for space. You don’t have to actually do the experiment, you just have to make a 2-minute video of yourself explaining it.
This week we’ve been talking with Professor Brian Cox about physics, space exploration and the future. He also talks about all those things in his two television series, Wonders of the Solar System and Wonders of the Universe. Cox has written a companion book to Wonders of the Universe, and thanks to HarperCollins, Universe Today has four copies to give away to our readers! Just send us an email with “Brian Cox Book” in the subject line. Fraser will randomly choose four winners from the emails we receive. The contest ends at 12:00 GMT on Monday, August 22, 2011. This contest is limited to people living in North America and Europe.
There’s a brand new astronomy app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad that provides information on what you should be able to see with different combinations of eyepieces on your telescope. AstroView displays key telescope-eyepiece performance characteristics, provides recommendations on equipment, and with the field of view display, for example, what you see on screen is what you should be able to see through your telescope. Developer George Douvos says this new app is all very intuitive, easy to read, and easy to understand.
Would you like to try a AstroView for free? Universe Today has 10 copies of this new app to give away. Just send an email to [email protected] with the word “AstroView App” in the subject line, and we’ll pick ten winners at random. The contest ends on Thursday, August 18, 2011.
Astro View supports the following gear:
* Telescopes with objective diameter from 50 mm to 610 mm, selectable in 5 mm increments (or diameters from 2 inches to 24 inches, in 1/2 inch increments), and focal ratios from f/3 to f/15.
* Eyepieces with focal lengths from 2 mm to 55 mm and apparent field of view from 30 to 110 degrees.
Thanks to George Duvous for providing us with the apps to giveaway!
Astrophotography is one thing we can’t get enough of here on Universe Today and some of the best amateur astronomy images can be found at the Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Interested in entering? There’s just over a month to go until the Royal Observatory in Greenwich’s annual contest closes. If you have taken some astrophotos this year, why not enter? You’ll need to submit any entries by 13 July, 2011 for a chance of winning what has become a prestigious award for amateur astronomers.
The prizes include a top prize of £1,500 and pride of place in the exhibition of photos which opens at the ROG in September. I was fortunate to be on hand for the award ceremony in 2010, and it was a wonderful event. Each entrant can submit up to five images to the competition and some truly breathtaking photos can already be seen on the official Flickr page for the competition.
There are four main categories you can enter: Earth & Space, Our Solar System, Deep Space and Young Astronomy Photographer of The Year. And this year there are also three special awards – one for newcomers, another for shots that creatively capture people and space, and a third for images that have been taken by robotic/remote telescopes and that have been processed by you.
Photographers can enter online by visiting www.nmm.ac.uk/astrophoto, where full competition rules and some top tips on photographing everything from star trails to deep space objects are also available.
The panel of judges includes Sir Patrick Moore and the ROG’s Public Astronomer Dr. Marek Kukula. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on the 8 September, and an exhibition of the winning images will open to the public at the Royal Observatory the following day.
Good luck, and we hope to be posting YOUR winning image here on Universe Today!
You can follow Universe Today senior editor Nancy Atkinson on Twitter: @Nancy_A. Follow Universe Today for the latest space and astronomy news on Twitter @universetoday and on Facebook.
What are the top 100 discoveries in the history of astronomy? In his book, “Atlas of Astronomical Discoveries,” noted astronomy journalist Govert Schilling tells the story of 400 years of telescopic astronomy. He looks at the most important discoveries since the invention of the telescope, highlighting how astronomers discovered new planets, mapped nebulae, determined the distances to stars, unraveled the structure of the Milky Way, and discovered the expansion of the universe, among other things. And, as telescopes became bigger and more powerful, astronomers delved deeper into the mysteries of the cosmos. It is a beautiful book filled with marvelous images and Schilling’s style of captivating storytelling.
Would you like to have a copy of your very own? Thanks to Springer, and Jeff Rutherford Media Relations, Universe Today has 10 copies of this book to give away! Just send an email to [email protected] with the words “Schilling’s Atlas” in the subject line by Monday, June 13th at 12 Noon PDT to be eligible, and Fraser will randomly pick the winners.
Meteorologists have a tough time predicting weather on Earth let alone knowing what the weather is like on other planets, but discoveries from spacecraft, observatories, and laboratories have revealed some of the mysteries of weather across the Solar System. A new book by Science journalist Michael Carroll, “Drifting on Alien Winds: Exploring the Skies and Weather of Other Worlds,” explores the bizarre weather found on the other worlds of our solar system.
How to win? Just send an email to [email protected] and put “Shepard Book” in the subject line to enter the contest. Fraser will choose three winners randomly and we’ll notify you via email. The contest will end on Monday, May 9 at 12 Noon PDT. Good luck!