Sunday, May 31, 2009

Astronomers Observe Formation of Largest Bound Structures in the Universe

An international team of astronomers has mapped the density and temperature of X-ray-emitting gas in the outskirts of a distant galaxy cluster. The results, obtained with the orbiting Japanese X-ray telescope Suzaku, give the first complete X-ray view of a galaxy cluster, and provide insight into how such clusters come together.

“These Suzaku observations are exciting because we can finally see how these structures, the largest bound objects in the universe, grow even more massive,” said Matt George, the study’s lead author at the University of California, Berkeley.

The team trained Suzaku’s X-ray telescopes on the massive galaxy cluster PKS 0745-191, which lies 1.3 billion light-years away in the southern constellation Puppis. Between May 11 and 14, 2007, Suzaku acquired five images of the million-degree gas that permeates the cluster.

The X-ray images of the cluster helped astronomers measure the temperature and density of the gas. These provide clues about the gas pressure and cluster’s total mass. The hottest, densest gas lies near the cluster’s center, while gas temperature and density steadily decline away from the center.

Astronomers believe the gas in the inner part of a galaxy cluster has settled into an ordered “relaxed” state in equilibrium with the cluster’s gravity. But in the outer regions, where galaxies first begin a billion-year plunge towards the cluster’s center, the gas remains in a disordered state because it’s still falling inward.

“Clusters are the most massive, relaxed objects in the universe, and they are continuing to form now,” said team member Andy Fabian at the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy in the UK.

For the first time, this study shows X-ray emission and gas density and temperature out to the region where the gas is disordered, and where the cluster continues to assemble.

“It gives us the first complete X-ray view of a cluster of galaxies”, said Fabian.

In PKS 0745-191, the gas temperature peaks at 164 million degrees Fahrenheit (91 million C) about 1.1 million light-years from the cluster’s center. The temperature declines smoothly with distance, dropping to 45 million F (25 million C) more than 5.6 million light-years from the center.

To accurately measure X-ray emission at the cluster’s edge requires detectors with exceptionally low background noise. Suzaku has advanced X-ray detectors, and it lies in a low-altitude orbit near the Earth’s magnetic field, which protects the observatory from energetic particles from the sun and beyond.

“With more Suzaku observations in the outskirts of other galaxy clusters, we’ll get a better picture of how these massive structures evolve,” added George.

Suzaku (Japanese for “red bird of the south”) was launched on July 10, 2005. The observatory was developed at the Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science (ISAS), which is part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), in collaboration with NASA and other Japanese and U.S. institutions.

The results were published in the May 11 edition of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Source:www.universetoday.com

Friday, May 29, 2009

CELEBRATING THE 20TH CENTURY’S MOST IMPORTANT EXPERIMENT

In 1919, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) launched an expedition to the West African island of Príncipe, to observe a total solar eclipse and prove or disprove Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Now, in a new RAS-funded expedition for the International Year of Astronomy (IYA 2009), scientists are back.



Astronomers Professor Pedro Ferreira from the University of Oxford and Dr Richard Massey from the University of Edinburgh, along with Oxford anthropologist Dr Gisa Weszkalnys, are paying homage to the original expedition led by Sir Arthur Eddington and celebrating the 90th anniversary of one of the key discoveries of the 20th century.

Einstein first proposed his General Theory of Relativity in 1915. It describes how any massive object, such as the Sun, creates gravity by bending space and time around it. Everything in that space is also bent: even rays of light. Consequently, distant light sources, behind the massive object, can appear in a different position or look brighter than they would otherwise.

The total eclipse of 29th May 1919 gave scientists the chance to test the theory for the first time. Eddington travelled to Príncipe to observe the eclipse and measure the apparent locations of stars near the Sun. Heavy clouds parted minutes before the eclipse and, with the Sun almost directly in front of them, the stars appeared to be shifted from the positions that Eddington had recorded in Oxford 4 months earlier – direct evidence that our nearest star shapes the space around it.

“This first observational proof of General Relativity sent shockwaves through the scientific establishment,” said Professor Ferreira. “It changed the goalposts for physics.”

To mark the anniversary, in partnership with the International Astronomical Union, São Toméan and Portuguese governments, the team will gather with local people for a series of public talks, the installation of an exhibition in the capital Santo Antόnio, and the unveiling of a plaque at the plantation where the original observation was made. Dr. Weszkalnys feels it “particularly important that in 2009, the International Year of Astronomy, the dramatic role played in the history of science by a tiny island like Príncipe should not be forgotten.”

Eddington’s 1919 measurement of the bending of light was used to determine the nature of gravity. At the time, even Einstein saw no further uses. “But now that gravity is well understood,” said Dr. Massey, “the effect, known as ‘gravitational lensing’, has become one of our most powerful tools to study the Universe.”

Gravitational lenses work in a similar way to ordinary glass lenses, focusing and magnifying light – but on a huge scale. They enable astronomers like Dr Massey to see objects that are otherwise too far away or faint for even the largest telescopes on Earth.

For more information related to the celebration:
http://www.1919eclipse.org/

Thursday, May 28, 2009

United Nations support space science education

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs has congratulated staff and students on the successful conclusionn of the Sixth Postgraduate Course on Space and Atmospheric Science at the UN-affiliated Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP). The Course is a contribution to IYA2009, and emphasises the importance of education and research in astronomy and space science.



The Course was run from the Physical Research Laboratory at Ahmedabad, India, which is one of the world's leading institutions engaged in astronomy and space science research. The organisation has brought many benefits to India, and in true IYA2009 spirit is generously making research and applications available to the local region and beyond through long-term training and courses which began in 1995.

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs has wished all participants a very bright future and hopes their enthusiasm will continue to inspire them to explore humanity's place within the Universe.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cssteap.org/
Posted by Nepal Astronomical Society NASO at 8:03 PM 0 comments Links to this post
Star Peace event between Macedonia and Serbia concludes with great success on May 22,2009
After the difficult one month of preparations and weather concerns the StarPeace event between Macedonia and Serbia finally came true on the weekend between 22nd and 24th May. The event was held on the peak “Odvrakjenica” on the mountain Golija, near the city Novi Pazar in Serbia.

On this event there were participants from 5 astronomy clubs from Macedonia and Serbia: Skopje Astronomical Society from Skopje - Macedonia, AD Novi Pazar from Novi Pazar - Serbia, Astronomy club Aristarh from Kraguevac - Serbia, Astronomy club Univerzum from Backa Palanka - Serbia and Astronomical Society Ruger Boshkovic from Belgrade – Serbia. In total there were 11 participants on the event from all the clubs and we had one special guest from Brazil that also participate in the event.

The weather on both of the observation nights was good and we had good conditions for observations and for astrophotography. There were 7 telescope setups, from which 4 were used for making astrophotography, and 3 for observations, and two binoculars that were available to us.

As the goal of the Star Peace we tried to join our forces in everything that we did during the event. Participants were learning from each other different techniques about astrophotography, making together photos of different objects on the sky, and participating together during the hunting for the Messier and NGC objects in the sky.

During both observation nights there were more that 30 students that visited the event from the city of Novi Pazar that were really interested to have the chance for the first time to see the sky through a telescope. They were amazed to see Saturn and its rings, the colliding between the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) and NGC 5195. During their visit except of this objects they had a chance to see more than 15 different and beautiful objects on the sky. Also we gave a little task for them to try to count all the visible satellites of Saturn that were visible at the moment. Most of them were interested to learn the constellations, so during both nights we did a short presentation of the constellation in the sky. The ones that were most interested and could stand the cold during the night had the chance to learn more about cosmology and the creation of the Universe. Every one of the participants was giving their best to explain every question and uncertainty that the students had. You can see their excitement from all they had the chance to see and hear during both days; at the end they thanked us 100 times and tell to us to come another time and to show them again the beauty of the sky.

The weekend was fulfilled with a lot of companionship that connect the members of different astronomy clubs together, under one sky, so they can make new friends, tell about different astronomical experiences, giving advices about astronomical observations and equipment and trying to give their best to give their knowledge to all the children that came and visit the Star Peace event on Golija.

We can proudly say that the event went perfectly. Maybe the remote location of the observation spot and the high mountain peak didn’t allow for more people to come, but the point and the goal of Star Peace was fulfilled joining together people from Macedonia, Serbia and even Brazil. The International Year of Astronomy is still ahead of us and there is a lot of time to give our best to tell that astronomy is not just for the members of the amateur astronomy clubs and for people that are professionals, but also for every citizen of this beautiful planet of ours. The sky is one and the same for all of us, and there are no borders on it, the borders are just in our minds, and how much we can understand that out there, there are a lot of beautiful things that can connect us no matter of our nationality, religion or race.

For more information, please visit: http://www.cssteap.org/

O. Richard Norton passes away on May 17,2009 at the age of 72 :-(

O. Richard Norton(1937 - 2009 A.D.) passed away at Hospice House in Bend, Oregon, on May 17 after a long illness. A life-long educator and the author of popular books and articles about meteorites, astronomy and planetariums, Richard discovered his life’s passion when he built his first telescope at 14. His love for the sky and all things astronomical led him from an after-school job at Cave Optical Company in Long Beach, California, to a career in public science education.

While studying astronomy and meteoritics at UCLA, he was a lecturer at Griffith Observatory and Planetarium in Los Angeles. In 1957 he worked at the Nevada Test Site as a field researcher for the Atomic Energy Commission. There he witnessed the last 10 above-ground nuclear explosions and conducted research at the test site on the ecological effects of radiation. After graduation in 1960, he worked briefly as an optical engineer at Northrop Corporation and Tinsley Laboratories.

But he soon returned to his beloved planetariums. After 2 years at Morrison Planetarium in San Francisco, in 1963 he became Director of the University of Nevada’s Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno, where he also taught astronomy. There Richard designed the world’s first 35mm fisheye motion picture system, called the Atmospherium, which was used to project realistic time-lapse motion pictures of developing weather systems onto the interior of a planetarium dome. His first book, The Planetarium and Atmospherium, An Indoor Universe, was published in 1969. He was a planetarium design engineer and consultant for Minolta Camera Company in Osaka, Japan. Richard became the founding director of the University of Arizona’s Flandrau Planetarium in 1973, where he continued teaching and co-designed a fisheye projection camera system which flew on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984, producing the first full sky motion pictures from space. In 1978 he started Science Graphics, a company that manufactured sets of teaching slides in astronomy and other sciences for use in college level courses.

Richard loved teaching and sharing his enthusiasm for astronomy, the space program, photography, geology and telescope making. He gave public lectures and taught community education classes, even venturing into the Arizona State Penitentiary to teach in maximum security and protective custody. He led field trips to Cape Canaveral, where he had his fisheye cameras at most Apollo launches, and on solar eclipse trips around the world, from Mexico to Romania.

In 1986 he moved to Bend, where he taught astronomy at Central Oregon Community College for 7 years. In Bend he rediscovered his early passion for meteorites. His book Rocks From Space was published in 1994, followed by The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Meteorites in 2002. His wife Dorothy Sigler Norton, who is a scientific illustrator, produced the illustrations and cover designs. The Field Guide to Meteors and Meteorites, published in 2008, was co-authored with Bend geologist Lawrence Chitwood. Many of Richard’s meteorites are on display at the Sunriver Nature Center in Sunriver, Oregon.

Richard loved classical music and had studied piano since the age of 7. In Bend he started a series of concerts called the Four Seasons, which were held for more than 10 years at the Norton home on the equinoxes and solstices.

Richard is survived by his wife Dorothy, his sister Gloria Berg, three children from previous marriages and a granddaughter.

Star Peace event between Macedonia and Serbia concludes with great success on May 22,2009

After the difficult one month of preparations and weather concerns the StarPeace event between Macedonia and Serbia finally came true on the weekend between 22nd and 24th May. The event was held on the peak “Odvrakjenica” on the mountain Golija, near the city Novi Pazar in Serbia.

On this event there were participants from 5 astronomy clubs from Macedonia and Serbia: Skopje Astronomical Society from Skopje - Macedonia, AD Novi Pazar from Novi Pazar - Serbia, Astronomy club Aristarh from Kraguevac - Serbia, Astronomy club Univerzum from Backa Palanka - Serbia and Astronomical Society Ruger Boshkovic from Belgrade – Serbia. In total there were 11 participants on the event from all the clubs and we had one special guest from Brazil that also participate in the event.

The weather on both of the observation nights was good and we had good conditions for observations and for astrophotography. There were 7 telescope setups, from which 4 were used for making astrophotography, and 3 for observations, and two binoculars that were available to us.

As the goal of the Star Peace we tried to join our forces in everything that we did during the event. Participants were learning from each other different techniques about astrophotography, making together photos of different objects on the sky, and participating together during the hunting for the Messier and NGC objects in the sky.

During both observation nights there were more that 30 students that visited the event from the city of Novi Pazar that were really interested to have the chance for the first time to see the sky through a telescope. They were amazed to see Saturn and its rings, the colliding between the Whirlpool galaxy (M51) and NGC 5195. During their visit except of this objects they had a chance to see more than 15 different and beautiful objects on the sky. Also we gave a little task for them to try to count all the visible satellites of Saturn that were visible at the moment. Most of them were interested to learn the constellations, so during both nights we did a short presentation of the constellation in the sky. The ones that were most interested and could stand the cold during the night had the chance to learn more about cosmology and the creation of the Universe. Every one of the participants was giving their best to explain every question and uncertainty that the students had. You can see their excitement from all they had the chance to see and hear during both days; at the end they thanked us 100 times and tell to us to come another time and to show them again the beauty of the sky.

The weekend was fulfilled with a lot of companionship that connect the members of different astronomy clubs together, under one sky, so they can make new friends, tell about different astronomical experiences, giving advices about astronomical observations and equipment and trying to give their best to give their knowledge to all the children that came and visit the Star Peace event on Golija.

We can proudly say that the event went perfectly. Maybe the remote location of the observation spot and the high mountain peak didn’t allow for more people to come, but the point and the goal of Star Peace was fulfilled joining together people from Macedonia, Serbia and even Brazil. The International Year of Astronomy is still ahead of us and there is a lot of time to give our best to tell that astronomy is not just for the members of the amateur astronomy clubs and for people that are professionals, but also for every citizen of this beautiful planet of ours. The sky is one and the same for all of us, and there are no borders on it, the borders are just in our minds, and how much we can understand that out there, there are a lot of beautiful things that can connect us no matter of our nationality, religion or race.

Source:http://Starpeace.org

The mutual phenomena of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter

In 2009, the planet Jupiter will experience an equinox (it occurs only every six years) allowing the observation from Earth of mutual occultations and eclipses between the Galilean satellites. We will take the opportunity of the "International Year of Astronomy 2009" to encourage every one to look at these satellites and to make astronomical observations.

These satellites are very easy to observe and the mutual phenomena are accessible to amateur astronomers, to students and to anyone using even a small telescope. These phenomena are not only spectacular and easy to see, they are also rich in scientific information. Observations will allow us to improve our knowledge of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, objects as large as the planets Mercury or Mars: Io and its volcanoes, Europa and its ice crust, Ganymede and Callisto.

Then we call for more than observations only for fun: we also call for some more serious observations to be made according to some rules, simple but rigorous to be followed by the observers who have the material and the possibility to record such events. The data will be gathered and used for scientific purpose. Since the phenomena occur only from April to December 2009, we need a large worldwide network of observers to record as many events as possible. Observations have already started and some observers put their observations on YouTube at the address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFDwkMb6Lpw In these videos is possible to see exactly what is observed during such events.

We intend to list all the participating observers who send in valuable data in a final publication in an international journal as was been done in the past after previous campaigns of observations with amateur astronomers.

More explanations are available at: http://www.imcce.fr/hosted_sites/ama09/phemu09_en.html

We would be grateful to the National IYA2009 nodes if they would inform all the amateur astronomers, students and high schools able to make astronomical observations.

Source:http://www.astronomy2009.org

International Earth and Sky Photo Contest on Dark Skies Importance

Two global projects of the International Year of Astronomy 2009, The World at Night and Dark Skies Awareness jointly organize the International Earth and Sky Photo Contest. Participating photographs should focus on TWAN style. Therefore the photos must combine some elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) set against the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark somewhere in the World. They must show both the Earth and the Sky. This style of photography is called “landscape astrophotography”.



The special theme of the contest is “Dark Skies Importance”, so the image should try to impress people about how important and amazing the starry sky is, how it affects our life, and how bad the problem of light pollution has become. The contest organizers encourage participants to view examples of such photos on TWAN galleries. A special photo gallery entitled “Dark Skies Importance” is available on TWAN website. Educational article and tips on night sky photography is also available on TWAN online Education section.
The International Year of Astronomy 2009 photography contest is open to anyone of any age, anywhere around the world.

For more information.please visit:
http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/photos.asp?ID=3001775

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Historic Hubble Servicing Mission 4 Ends With Successful Landing

The remarkably successful Servicing Mission 4 — the fifth and final visit of the Space Shuttle to the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope — came to an end with a picture-perfect landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California on Sunday,24th May,2009 at 21:24 Hrs NST(Nepal Standard Time).

Astronauts Andrew Feustel (partially obscured at top) and John Grunsfeld work to install the new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) onboard the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope on the third spacewalk of Servicing Mission 4. (Credit: NASA)


Servicing Mission 4 was an intense, 13-day undertaking that revitalised Hubble, making the telescope more capable than ever. All mission objectives were accomplished during five spacewalks that totalled 36 hours, 56 minutes.

During the spacewalks the astronauts delivered two new instruments. The Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3), which replaced the workhorse WFPC2, is the first single instrument on Hubble to be able to image across the infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavebands. The Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) will help astronomers to determine the chemical composition and evolution of the Universe. Both instruments use advanced technology to improve Hubble's potential for discovery dramatically and enable observations of the faint light from young stars and galaxies in the Universe.

Astronauts were also able to repair the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS) that were both affected by power failures. A nail-biting moment occurred when the astronauts had to conquer a stubborn bolt on a handrail attached to STIS before taking on the tall task of removing 111 screws to access the instrument's power supply card. ACS's powerful imaging capabilities at ultraviolet and optical wavelengths are now both available, although its High Resolution Channel could not be fixed. ACS now perfectly complements the powerful new Wide Field Camera 3, and the duo will be vital for the study of dark energy and dark matter.

Constant monitoring of the angles of Hubble's solar panels, which are turned by drive mechanisms with associated control electronics, was the duty of a specialised team of engineers led by Michael Eiden, ESA HST Project Manager for the Science and Robotic Exploration Directorate. The team of four worked 12-hour shifts to provide 24-hour coverage for the entire mission, supervising the positioning of the telescope's "wings", so as to ensure the safety of spacewalkers and maintain the integrity of the solar array hardware.

"We are elated with the performance of ESA's Solar Array Drive Electronics and Solar Array Drive Mechanisms — they performed flawlessly", said Eiden. "I have worked on all of the servicing missions, but to be able to support the last mission to this extraordinary telescope was particularly gratifying".

ESA contributed both engineering and financial support, with 15 percent of Hubble's development costs covered by the Agency. In return European astronomers receive a guaranteed 15 percent share of observing time. This fraction of European time reached peaks of more than 25 percent.

"Extending Hubble's mission and increasing its capabilities gives scientists, both in Europe and worldwide, new tools to learn even more about our Universe and our origins. The addition of Hubble's renewed capabilities to those just brought to space by ESA's Herschel and Planck telescopes, launched last week, puts an impressive array of complementary and powerful tools at the disposal of scientists, and makes this a great moment for the International Year of Astronomy", said David Southwood, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration. "These space missions are bringing an enormous boost to our attempts to unlock the mysteries of the cosmos and decode its history".

Hubble's upgrade is expected to extend the iconic telescope's life until 2014. In that same year, the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) will launch. JWST is the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, and its mirror will have a diameter almost three times that of Hubble's. JWST has been designed to study the very distant Universe in infrared light, looking for the first stars and galaxies.Hubble will now begin a period of extensive testing and calibration. The first images from the new and repaired instruments are expected to be released in September.

Friday, May 22, 2009

With Moon Rocks in Hand, Parazynski Reaches Mt. Everest Peak of Nepal

We’ve been following former astronaut Scott Parazynski’s attempt to climb Mt. Everest, and now comes the news that he has successfully reached the summit, one year after a back injury forced him to give up his climb. “It was a wonderful experience, though and through,” Parazynski said in a Skype interview with Miles O’Brien, “and certainly the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life, both physically and mentally.” Parazynski brought several objects with him to the world’s highest summit, including rocks from the Moon, and remembrances of fallen astronauts. Parazynski is the first astronaut to summit Mt. Everest.

During the climb, Parazynski was doing research. “We’ll be collecting data for astrobiologists, looking for extremophile life,” Parazynski told Universe Today in an interview before he left for Mt. Everest. “If you understand how extremophiles live, you might be able to understand how life may have once evolved on Mars, or may still exist on Mars.”
Scott Parazynski on the summit of Mt. Everest. Credit: OnOrbit.com

Parazynski tested NASA-derived hardware, taking along a prototype lunar geology camera and other hardware for extreme environments. “Up high on the mountain there are limestone formations, which are wonderful places to look for fossilized life,” he said,” and we’ll also look for melt water and primitive forms of life there; algae lichens, etc. If liquid water exists even for brief periods on Mars it may be in similar conditions to what we’ll find on Mt. Everest. We hope to bring samples back for scientists to look at.”

Now that he has successfully reached the summit, Parazynski said he won’t return to Everest. “Once is enough,” he said, adding that his family is glad he now has the bug to climb Everest out of his system.

Check out all the videos of Parazynski’s climb at Miles O’Brien’s blog at True/ Slant, as well as more images from Keith Cowing at On Orbit.com. Congratulations to Scott Parazynski!

And I just had to share this image of Parazynski on the summit after the sun rose. It looks just like Luke Skywalker on the planet Hoth at the beginning of “The Empire Strikes Back.”


Scott Parazynski at the summit. Credit: OnOrbit.com

Look for an upcoming special on the Discovery channel about Parazynski’s climb.

Space Generation Advisory Council announces “Move An Asteroid 2009” competition

The competition focuses on students and young professionals to develop unique and innovative concepts for how to deflect an asteroid or comet that could impact the Earth. The Move an Asteroid Team is looking for sponsors to support the winners.
The competition calls for individuals or team of minimum 3 individuals under the age of 33 to write and submit a 3-10 page original technical paper on their innovative concept for mitigation. The 1st place winner is awarded with a trip to present the winning paper at this year’s Space Generation Congress (SGC) and International Astronautical Congress (IAC) which will take place in Daejeon, South Korea from 9th October 2009 to 19th October 2009. Entries are due on 26th June 2009. The winners will be announced on 26th July 2009.



The contest calls for papers to describe in technical detail a concept to move an asteroid or comet that is at least 50 meters in diameter. The contestants should make their own reasonable assumptions on asteroid composition, density, and orbit. It is suggested that the authors apply their concept on reasonable asteroid/comet examples. This competition is intentionally broad. Concepts can be very applicable to a large variety of asteroid/comets or targeted for a specific asteroid/comet. Contestants should attempt to understand the overall challenge of asteroid/comet mitigation.

For more rules and submission information, individuals can visit:
http://www.spacegeneration.org/asteroid

"Asteroids are an ever-present threat and the growing awareness of this problem is something future generations will have to deal with", said Alex Karl, Ex-Co-Chairperson of the Space Generation Advisory Council. "We are pleased to give young people a chance again to think creatively about such an important issue, and to introduce these people to the world space community at the Space Generation Congress in Deajon, South Korea later this year."

The Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC) is a non-government organization with observer status within UN COPUOS dedicated to representing the voice of today’s youth on tomorrow’s space issues. The SGAC was formed following the 1999 UNISPACE III conference in which 5 youth recommendations were included in the Vienna Declaration on Space and Human Development. SGAC has since dedicated itself to the pursuit of these recommendations and to encourage youth participation in space exploration and its applications on Earth. Space Generation Advisory Council projects rely entirely on volunteer contributions and support.

For more information about the Space Generation Advisory Council, please visit:
http://spacegeneration.org

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Planets Abound: Steady untwinkling Saturn is overhead from dusk til dwan!

In the May sky, we have the ringed planet Saturn in the evening, mighty Jupiter before dawn and some shooting stars early in the month.

As far as stars are concerned, at 8PM you can easily identify the bright constellation Leo the lion just overhead?it looks like an inverted question mark. At the base of the question mark, locate the bright star Regulus, which falls directly in the Ecliptic, the imaginary path of the planets. The bright star-like object to the east of Regulus is Saturn.


To the west from Leo, the faint constellation Cancer the crab, can be seen only from a dark location. If you can identify it, don't miss the Bee-hive star cluster, best seen through a pair of binoculars. Further to the west, you may find the constellation Gemini the twins above the western horizon.

To the east of Leo, there is another faint constellation Virgo the virgin, with the bright star Spica. To the north of Virgo, is the small constellation Coma Berenices and the fuzzy Coma Cluster of stars. To the east of Coma, there is the bright star Arcturus in the constellation of Bootes the herdsman.

Don't miss the brilliant Big Dipper (Saptarshi) display in the northern skies. At the 'handle' of the Big Dipper, identify the double star Mizar-Alcor that is visible to the naked eye. Please note that the two end stars of the Big-Dipper's bowl point to the North Star (Polaris).

The Eta-Aquarid meteor shower peaked on 5 May, when the Earth passed through the centre of a dust trail left by Halley's Comet when it visited us in 1986. As bits of Halley strike the Earth's upper atmosphere, we experience a meteor shower producing up to 30 shooting-stars an hour. Look towards the south east to the constellation Aquarius (where Jupiter is now located) in the early morning hours.

Other Highlights for May:

Mercury is at inferior conjunction (almost directly in front of the Sun) on 18 May. We may just be able to glimpse it after sunset, at the very start of May, but it will soon disappear and we won't see it again this month.

Venus is rising an hour or so before the Sun and we may be able to see the brilliant 'Morning Star' very low in the east at dawn. Don't confuse it with Jupiter, which is further right and somewhat higher up.

Mars is also in the morning sky, coming up in the east a few minutes after Venus. But the Red Planet is very much fainter than Venus, and will be virtually impossible to observe this month.

Jupiter is rising in the south-east in the early hours of the morning and it is well up in the south-eastern sky at dawn. If you're familiar with the three bright stars of the 'Summer Triangle', you will find Jupiter far below them.

Saturn, in Leo, is overhead at dusk, and doesn't set until dawn. Located well to the left of the bright star Regulus, Saturn appears brighter than Regulus, and shines with a steady, untwinkling light.

Source:Nepali Times

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Global Space Congress for Youth Interested in Tomorrow's Space Issues

This year, SGC will take place in Daejeon, South Korea on 8-10 October 2009



The Space Generation Congress (SGC) is the annual meeting of the most active members of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), so get involved today! This year, the SGC projects will be centered around the 5 themes of the IAC: agency, industry, climate, exploration, and peace. Participants are both students and young professionals under 35 years old. SGAC aims to promote space exploration and to be the voice of youth in support of space.

For information:www.spacegeneration.org

IYA2009 Boosts GLOBE at Night to Record Number of Dark-Skies Observations

The global citizen-science campaign GLOBE at Night 2009 recorded 80 percent more observations of the world's dark skies than the program's previous record-including double the number of digital measurements-thanks in large part to active participation and publicity from the network of 140 countries currently celebrating the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA2009).


Now in its fourth year, GLOBE at Night encourages people everywhere to observe the prominent constellation Orion at least once over a two-week period and compare the number of stars that are visible using their unaided eyes with a series of charts that show how Orion would appear in skies ranging from very dark to very bright skies. The program is designed to aid teaching about the impact of excessive artificial lighting on local environments, and the ongoing loss of a dark night sky as a shared natural resource for much of the world's population.


The 2009 campaign, held from March 16-28, garnered 15,300 geographically "mappable" measurements of Orion, nearly 7,000 more than the previous record of 8,491 that were contributed in 2007. Only 1 percent of the 15,456 observations in 2009 were "flagged" as not mappable. The percentage of flagged observations was reduced markedly this year thanks to a new online tool that helps identify the country from which the observation originated.

Measurements were received from more than 70 countries in the 2009 campaign, with 17 countries reporting more than 100 Orion measurements. About 73 percent of the total measurements came from the United States (approximately 11,270 observations), including all 50 states and the District of Columbia, followed by Chile (about 900), the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom (both over 200). Other countries reporting more than 100 observations were Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Macedonia, Mexico, Poland, Romania, South Africa, Spain and Turkey.

In addition, 19 countries contributed another 1,474 "mappable" digital measurements using handheld Sky Quality Meters (SQMs). Two-thirds of the SQM measurements were from the US, with nearly 200 from Chile. Romania and Mexico followed, with over 70 and 60 SQM measurements, respectively.
For more http://astronomy2009.org/news/updates/258/

The International Conference of Young Astronomers in September!

The International Conference of Young Astronomers (ICYA) is a scientific meeting of undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students of astronomy and physics as well as more advanced astronomers. We, as young scientists, feel a big need to contribute our share to this year’s International Year of Astronomy 2009 and use this opportunity to establish global, annual conference for all scientists, researchers and advanced amateur astronomers who could meet in future and work together in projects which will develop modern astronomy.

For this reason we aim to arrange an international conference to broaden our minds and to discuss challenging issues of astronomy. Furthermore, and most important, the meeting gives a chance to get in touch with other young scientists, with whom we might cooperate in the future.

Our goal is to establish ICYA as a regular conference, held once a year in different countries, connecting young astronomers from all over the world. Let's make it happen!

This year ICYA is organised by the Polish Astronomical Society in collaboration with Polish universities (Jagiellonian University of Cracow, University of Warsaw, Adam Mickiewicz University of Poznań, Nicolaus Copernicus University of Toruń, University of Zielona Góra, University of Szczecin and Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre of Polish Academy of Sciences) and hopefully will be supported by foreign universities and astronomical societies as well as international astronomical organizations.

The conference will take place in Cracow, Poland, September 7 – 13.

Source:http://www.icya2009.org