jtotheizzoe
jtotheizzoe:

The Moon Goes Red Tonight
Are you in North, Central, or South America? Do you like staying up late and staring up at the sky? Yes? Then I have good news!
You can catch a total lunar eclipse Monday night, in all of its dusty-red glory, from just about anywhere in North America with a clear view of the night sky. The moon will enter the darkest part of Earth’s shadow (the “umbra”) at 1:58 AM ET, and remain there until 4:24 AM ET. At 3:06 ET, the moon will be completely darkened by the Earth’s shadow!
Except that the moon won’t be completely dark. During a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a dusty shade of red. Why is that? You can thank Earth’s atmosphere.
To understand the red color of a lunar eclipse, it’s best to see how Earth would look from the moon. Check out the image of Earth eclipsing the sun (it’s not a real photo, btw. It was created from several images taken by Apollo astronauts):

(via Astro Bob)
See that halo of light around Earth? Our diffuse shell of air and dust bends and reflects a portion of the eclipsed sun’s light around the planet and onto the obscured moon. And since only the longest wavelengths of light make it through our atmosphere without being scattered away by the air molecules (the same reason that sunsets are red), the moon is bathed in crimson! Here’s a video I made about that atmospheric color show:

Check out more eclipse goodness at Bad Astronomy. Top image via Wikipedia.

jtotheizzoe:

The Moon Goes Red Tonight

Are you in North, Central, or South America? Do you like staying up late and staring up at the sky? Yes? Then I have good news!

You can catch a total lunar eclipse Monday night, in all of its dusty-red glory, from just about anywhere in North America with a clear view of the night sky. The moon will enter the darkest part of Earth’s shadow (the “umbra”) at 1:58 AM ET, and remain there until 4:24 AM ET. At 3:06 ET, the moon will be completely darkened by the Earth’s shadow!

Except that the moon won’t be completely darkDuring a lunar eclipse, the moon turns a dusty shade of red. Why is that? You can thank Earth’s atmosphere.

To understand the red color of a lunar eclipse, it’s best to see how Earth would look from the moon. Check out the image of Earth eclipsing the sun (it’s not a real photo, btw. It was created from several images taken by Apollo astronauts):

(via Astro Bob)

See that halo of light around Earth? Our diffuse shell of air and dust bends and reflects a portion of the eclipsed sun’s light around the planet and onto the obscured moon. And since only the longest wavelengths of light make it through our atmosphere without being scattered away by the air molecules (the same reason that sunsets are red), the moon is bathed in crimson! Here’s a video I made about that atmospheric color show:

Check out more eclipse goodness at Bad Astronomy. Top image via Wikipedia.

mucholderthen

kqedscience:

Watch Live Tonight as a Total Lunar Eclipse Turns the Moon Blood Red

"Tonight the Earth, moon, and sun will align just right to put on a celestial show known as a total lunar eclipse. Though you can just look up in the sky to catch the event, we’ve also got some spectacular live feeds of the eclipse for those trapped inside by cold, cloud cover, or agoraphobia.

The first video (above) comes courtesy of the Slooh Space Camera consortium, which will have a double-feature night starting with views of Mars, making its closest approach to Earth tonight, during a show at7:00 p.m. PT/10:00 p.m. ET. This will transition to views from telescopes trained on the moon and expert commentary beginning at 11:00 p.m. PT/2:00a.m. ET. The eclipse itself will require some patience and late-night stamina from sky watchers, only beginning at 10:58 p.m. PT/1:58 a.m. ET. The moon will fully enter Earth’s shadow and get tinged red starting a little after midnight PT/3:00 a.m. ET, returning to its normal color about an hour and a half later.”

Learn more from wiredhttp://goo.gl/w6nWnO

The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 in emission nebula IC 434) is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion’s Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The nebula was first recorded in 1888 by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light-years from Earth.
Photographer: Ken Crawford                                            via: Wikipedia

The Horsehead Nebula (also known as Barnard 33 in emission nebula IC 434) is a dark nebula in the constellation Orion. The nebula is located just to the south of the star Alnitak, which is farthest east on Orion’s Belt, and is part of the much larger Orion Molecular Cloud Complex. The nebula was first recorded in 1888 by Scottish astronomer Williamina Fleming on photographic plate B2312 taken at the Harvard College Observatory. The Horsehead Nebula is approximately 1500 light-years from Earth.

Photographer: Ken Crawford                                            via: Wikipedia

The star cluster Pismis 24 lies in the core of the large emission nebula NGC 6357, which extends one degree on the sky in the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Part of the nebula is ionised by the youngest (bluest) heavy stars in Pismis 24. The intense ultraviolet radiation from the blazing stars heats the gas surrounding the cluster and creates a bubble in NGC 6357. The brightest point of light above the centre of this image is Pismis 24-1, once thought to be the most massive known star but now known to be a binary system.
Photograph: HST/NASA/ESA                                                via: Wikipedia

The star cluster Pismis 24 lies in the core of the large emission nebula NGC 6357, which extends one degree on the sky in the direction of the constellation Scorpius. Part of the nebula is ionised by the youngest (bluest) heavy stars in Pismis 24. The intense ultraviolet radiation from the blazing stars heats the gas surrounding the cluster and creates a bubble in NGC 6357. The brightest point of light above the centre of this image is Pismis 24-1, once thought to be the most massive known star but now known to be a binary system.

Photograph: HST/NASA/ESA                                                via: Wikipedia

On April 8th, Earth will soar between the Sun and Mars.

When it does, the Red Planet will reach what astronomers call “opposition” in the night sky. Just a few days later, Earth will be closer to Mars than it’s been in more than six years. The resulting views should be extraordinary. Here’s what you need to know to catch a glimpse yourself…

Does Dark Energy Spring From the ‘Quantum Vacuum?’
by Mike Wall
The mysterious dark energy that’s driving the universe’s accelerated expansion may have its roots in the background “vacuum energy” that pervades all of the cosmos, a new study suggests.

"What we think is happening is a dynamic effect of the quantum vacuum, a parameter that we can calculate," co-author Joan Sola, of the University of Barcelona in Spain, said in a statement. "Nothing is more ‘full’ than the quantum vacuum since it is full of fluctuations that contribute fundamentally to the values that we observe and measure."
Though dark energy constitutes about 75 percent of the universe, scientists don’t know exactly what it is. They’ve developed several different ideas, including the theory of “quintessence,” which proposes a sort of anti-gravitating agent that repels rather than attracts…
(read more: Live Science)
image: European Space Agency

Does Dark Energy Spring From the ‘Quantum Vacuum?’

by Mike Wall

The mysterious dark energy that’s driving the universe’s accelerated expansion may have its roots in the background “vacuum energy” that pervades all of the cosmos, a new study suggests.

"What we think is happening is a dynamic effect of the quantum vacuum, a parameter that we can calculate," co-author Joan Sola, of the University of Barcelona in Spain, said in a statement. "Nothing is more ‘full’ than the quantum vacuum since it is full of fluctuations that contribute fundamentally to the values that we observe and measure."

Though dark energy constitutes about 75 percent of the universe, scientists don’t know exactly what it is. They’ve developed several different ideas, including the theory of “quintessence,” which proposes a sort of anti-gravitating agent that repels rather than attracts…

(read more: Live Science)

image: European Space Agency

Small World Spotted Far Beyond Pluto

by Ken Crosswell

Astronomers have detected a small world (inset) more than twice as remote as Pluto, lying 12 billion kilometers, or 83 AU, from the sun. (One AU, or astronomical unit, is the mean sun-Earth distance.)

As scientists report online today in Nature, the new object is the first ever found whose orbit (red curve) resembles that of Sedna (orange curve), a far-off body that never gets close to Neptune’s path (outermost magenta circle). Both Sedna and the new world, designated 2012 VP113, therefore differ from Pluto and other members of the Edgeworth-Kuiper belt (turquoise dots), which lie just past Neptune’s orbit.

The object journeys 80 to 452 AU from the sun, never approaching Neptune (30 AU) or Pluto (39.5 AU). The new world is roughly 450 kilometers across, just one-fifth Pluto’s diameter

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

images: Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science

A Hypergiant Star And Its Clingy Companion
This enormous star is a million times brighter than the sun.
by Francie Diep
The astronomer who discovered the size of this star says it’s shaped like a peanut, but we disagree; that one “lobe” is much too large. Perhaps that’s because the larger star is, in fact, one of the 10 largest stars ever discovered. Its diameter is 1,315 times that of Earth’s sun.
Astronomers have seen the star, named HR 5171, before. In a new study, however, an international team of scientists learned much more about it. For example, they discovered that HR 5171 is a binary system with a small companion star that touches and orbits the larger star. The astronomers also calculated HR 5171 A’s (the bigger star’s) surprising size. The star is almost twice as large as scientists expect for stars of its type.
HR 5171 A is a yellow hypergiant, a type of star that’s rare in our galaxy. Like its type-mates, HR 5171 A is big, bright and unstable. It’s about 1 million times brighter than the sun. Over the past four decades, it’s been cooling, enlarging and expelling material outwards…
(read more: Popular Science)
image: European Southern Observatory

A Hypergiant Star And Its Clingy Companion

This enormous star is a million times brighter than the sun.

by Francie Diep

The astronomer who discovered the size of this star says it’s shaped like a peanut, but we disagree; that one “lobe” is much too large. Perhaps that’s because the larger star is, in fact, one of the 10 largest stars ever discovered. Its diameter is 1,315 times that of Earth’s sun.

Astronomers have seen the star, named HR 5171, before. In a new study, however, an international team of scientists learned much more about it. For example, they discovered that HR 5171 is a binary system with a small companion star that touches and orbits the larger star. The astronomers also calculated HR 5171 A’s (the bigger star’s) surprising size. The star is almost twice as large as scientists expect for stars of its type.

HR 5171 A is a yellow hypergiant, a type of star that’s rare in our galaxy. Like its type-mates, HR 5171 A is big, bright and unstable. It’s about 1 million times brighter than the sun. Over the past four decades, it’s been cooling, enlarging and expelling material outwards…

(read more: Popular Science)

image: European Southern Observatory

Space-time ripples hint at physics beyond the big bang
by Lisa Grossman
Slivers of a second after the universe was born, IT ballooned exponentially in the blink of an eye. This vision of cosmic expansion, called inflation, got a big boost last week with the announcement of the first sighting of primordial gravitational waves, ripples in space-time linked to the universe’s rapid growth spurt.
The findings – reported by the team that ran the BICEP2 experiment at the South Pole – are already helping physicists sort through the mountain of theories for how inflation happened (see our video of gravitational waves explained with a towel and apple).
But there are a few wrinkles, including the fact that hints of the waves seem much more pronounced than they should be, according to previous observations of the early universe. Resolving the discrepancies – perhaps using results due out later this year from the Planck space telescope – might give a glimpse of physics from before the big bang. Or it might mean inflation is out, and that we actually have the first whiff of evidence for string theory…
(read more: New Scientist)

Space-time ripples hint at physics beyond the big bang

by Lisa Grossman

Slivers of a second after the universe was born, IT ballooned exponentially in the blink of an eye. This vision of cosmic expansion, called inflation, got a big boost last week with the announcement of the first sighting of primordial gravitational waves, ripples in space-time linked to the universe’s rapid growth spurt.

The findings – reported by the team that ran the BICEP2 experiment at the South Pole – are already helping physicists sort through the mountain of theories for how inflation happened (see our video of gravitational waves explained with a towel and apple).

But there are a few wrinkles, including the fact that hints of the waves seem much more pronounced than they should be, according to previous observations of the early universe. Resolving the discrepancies – perhaps using results due out later this year from the Planck space telescope – might give a glimpse of physics from before the big bang. Or it might mean inflation is out, and that we actually have the first whiff of evidence for string theory

(read more: New Scientist)

Scientists Totally Surprised By Saturn Like Rings Found Around Asteroid

by Sid Perkins

Even before astronomers pointed their telescopes at a dim star over Chile last June, they knew it would darken for a few seconds as an asteroid passed in front of it. What they didn’t expect were two brief flickers a few seconds beforehand and afterward, suggesting that the asteroid was encircled by Saturn-like rings. The find is the first evidence for such rings around anything in our solar system other than a giant planet.

Like other teams positioned in a 1500-kilometer-wide swath across South America, the astronomers had started out the night with one mission: They intended to measure the size of Chariklo, an icy body that circles the sun between the orbits of Saturn and Uranus. Knowing Chariklo’s speed across the sky, they could use the duration of the mini-eclipse to estimate the distant asteroid’s size, says Felipe Braga-Ribas, an astronomer at the National Observatory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“But then we saw the flickers,” he says. Because the team members weren’t looking for a ring, the discovery came as a complete surprise, he notes…

(read more: Science News/AAAS)

illustrations by Lucie Maquet

Black Holes have Simple Feeding Habits
This composite NASA image of the spiral galaxy M81, located about 12 million light years away, includes X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (green), infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (pink) and ultraviolet data from GALEX (purple). The inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image. At the center of M81 is a supermassive black hole that is about 70 million times more massive than the Sun.
A new study using data from Chandra and ground-based telescopes, combined with detailed theoretical models, shows that the supermassive black hole in M81 feeds just like stellar mass black holes, with masses of only about ten times that of the Sun. This discovery supports the implication of Einstein’s relativity theory that black holes of all sizes have similar properties, and will be useful for predicting the properties of a conjectured new class of black holes…
(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Black Holes have Simple Feeding Habits

This composite NASA image of the spiral galaxy M81, located about 12 million light years away, includes X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory (blue), optical data from the Hubble Space Telescope (green), infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope (pink) and ultraviolet data from GALEX (purple). The inset shows a close-up of the Chandra image. At the center of M81 is a supermassive black hole that is about 70 million times more massive than the Sun.

A new study using data from Chandra and ground-based telescopes, combined with detailed theoretical models, shows that the supermassive black hole in M81 feeds just like stellar mass black holes, with masses of only about ten times that of the Sun. This discovery supports the implication of Einstein’s relativity theory that black holes of all sizes have similar properties, and will be useful for predicting the properties of a conjectured new class of black holes…

(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Stellar Shrapnel Seen in Aftermath of Explosion
This beautiful composite image shows N49, the aftermath of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud. A new long observation from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown in blue, reveals evidence for a bullet-shaped object being blown out of a debris field left over from an exploded star.
In order to detect this bullet, a team of researchers led by Sangwook Park of Penn State University used Chandra to observe N49 for over 30 hours. This bullet can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the image (roll your mouse over the image above or click here) and is rich in silicon, sulphur and neon. The detection of this bullet shows that the explosion that destroyed the star was highly asymmetric…
(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Stellar Shrapnel Seen in Aftermath of Explosion

This beautiful composite image shows N49, the aftermath of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud. A new long observation from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, shown in blue, reveals evidence for a bullet-shaped object being blown out of a debris field left over from an exploded star.

In order to detect this bullet, a team of researchers led by Sangwook Park of Penn State University used Chandra to observe N49 for over 30 hours. This bullet can be seen in the bottom right hand corner of the image (roll your mouse over the image above or click here) and is rich in silicon, sulphur and neon. The detection of this bullet shows that the explosion that destroyed the star was highly asymmetric…

(read more: Chandra X-Ray Observatory)