December 18, 2017

The Rise of Glovelite.

Glovelight in action…(All photos by Author).

In our never-ending quest to explore the cosmos, we here at Astroguyz HQ probably own more red lights than conventional flashlights. As we mentioned last month in our post about tips for observing, light at red wavelengths can give us star chart reading capability while still preserving that all important night vision. [Read more...]

20.03.11: An Occultation Update.

Mu Geminorum ingress…(Photo by Author).

This Super-moon Sunday, we’d just like to give a brief self promotional shout-out to an astronomical success we had last weekend. Last Sunday we managed to catch the occultation of the 4th magnitude star Mu Geminorum by the waxing gibbous moon from Astroguyz HQ here in Hudson, Florida; [Read more...]

16.03.11: The LIGO/Virgo Collaboration Passes “The Envelope.”

On the hunt for Gravitational Waves in the heart of Louisiana… (Photo by Author).

Amidst a week of killer-moons and earthquake paranoia, a real science story with potentially big implications was shaping up in Arcadia, California.  On March 14th, the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and European-based Virgo scientists gathered to “pass the envelop” (their spelling!) On a hoped-for first detection of a gravitational wave. [Read more...]

13.03.11: STRESS: A New Way to Hunt Exoplanets.

Our Milky Way as seen from STEREO. (Credit: NASA/JPL).

A new and innovative tool in the hunt for extra-solar worlds just came to our attention recently. Traditionally, to find these elusive beasts, astronomers utilized ground-based instruments to detect transits, Doppler shifts, and even the occasional odd gravitational lensing event. [Read more...]

10.03.11: A Planetary Exploration Wish List.

What extra cool orbiters or landers would you like to see funded? Earlier this week, the National Research Council’s Space Studies Board unveiled its exhaustive 400 page report that outlines a vision for unmanned space exploration of the solar system from 2013 through 2022. This was presented at the ongoing Lunar & Planetary Science Conference, and as suspected there were big winners, a few potential losers, and a lot of maybes that have to whittle down their budget-busting prices a bit.

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02.03.11: Rise of the Robonauts.

The International Space Station (ISS) has a new permanent resident, one that will assist astronauts and become a valued member of the space station team. Robonaut 2 (R2) arrived at the ISS this week, delivered by STS-133 on the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery. Initially, Robonaut 2 will be a stationary resident, to be installed in the Unity Node until it can perform more complex mobile tasks.

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AstroChallenge: Beta Monocerotis: A True Triple.

This week, we’d like to turn your attention towards an interesting object in an often overlooked constellation; Monceros. Sandwiched between the flashier constellations of Orion and Canis Major, this rambling constellation sports an interesting multiple star that should be part of your spring repertoire; Beta Monocerotis.

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19.02.11: V1647 Orionis-A Request for Observations.

This past Tuesday, a call for observations went out from the American Association for Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) for observations past and present of a very poorly understood variable. In AAVSO Special Notice #235 Dr. Colin Aspin of the University of Hawaii has requested images past and present of the area surrounding M78 and the object known as McNeil’s Nebula.

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13.02.11: A Monster in M87.

NASA’s Chandra X-Ray observatory recently peered into the heart of the M87 galaxy in the constellation Virgo. Well known to backyard observers as one of the highlights of the Virgo galaxy cluster, M87 harbors something truly spectacular; one of the most massive black holes known. In fact, researchers American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle Washington earlier last month upgraded to WOW factor of the M87, calculating a mass of 6.6 billion suns.

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Review: Seeing Further Edited by Bill Bryson.

Few realize in this relatively enlightened age that our outlook on the world around us has been shaped by a pioneering few who often went against the grain. This week, we look at Seeing Further: The Story of Science, Discovery, & the Genius of the Royal Society. This collection of essays traces the 350 year history of the British Royal Society, first established in 1660. Over the years, the Society has hosted such luminaries as Isaac Newton, Joseph Banks, and Francis Crick, to name a very brief few.

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10.02.11: A Valentine’s Day Rendezvous.

There. Out there. That faint moving smudge in the image above is about to become the target of a cometary flyby of historic proportions next week.

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How to Measure the Height a Building… with a Barometer!

(Editor’s Note: This week’s big expose post is totally tongue and cheek, but does serve as a good creative mental exercise in scientific thinking. Back in our High School pre-Internet days, an interesting science dilemma came our way (we used to read BOOKS and NEWSPAPERS in those benighted days). This idea, like so many others, has morphed over decades (via the Internet) to monstrous (re: silly) proportions. It appears to have had its hoary roots way back in a Saturday Review article dated December 21, 1968 and, well, things just get crazier from there…More images are forthcoming!)

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06.02.11- A “Sail-Flare” Contest!

NanoSail-D2 unfurled in the lab! (Credit: NASA/MSFC/D. Higginbotham).

I have wanted to give a shout out to a cool contest that came to our attention a few weeks back, and this weekend seemed as good a time as any. Last month, NanoSail-D2, everyone’s favorite solar sail test-bed in low Earth orbit, stunned the satellite-spotting community with its amazing comeback. [Read more...]

04.02.11: A Gravitational Lensing Exoplanet.

Artist’s rendition of the gravitational lens technique MOA uses to spot exoplanets…(All Images coutesy of the MOA Consortium: Used with Permision).

Amid the sexier transiting exoplanet discoveries released earlier this week by the NASA Kepler team came an exoplanet discovered by a lesser known technique; that of gravitational lensing. MOA, or Microlensing Observations for Astrophysics, is a joint Japan/New Zealand venture looking for dark matter objects passing in front of stars and bending their light via gravitational lensing. First predicted by Einstein and famously observed during the total solar eclipse of 1919, several gravitational lenses are now known and documented in nature, from stellar type objects to massive galaxy clusters. [Read more...]

February 2011: Life in the Astro-Blogosphere.

The Moon, the ISS, & Jupiter… Van Gogh would be proud! (Photo by Author).

The shortest month of the year is upon us. The month of February brings with it some curious moon alignments, a possible shuttle launch, and some rip roarin’ good Sci-Fi;

Coming to a Sky near You: February 1st kicks off with Jupiter’s moons arranged in 1-2-3-4 visual order. The 3rd sees a good occultation of a bright star by asteroid Irmintraud for the central Florida peninsula (re: Astroguyz HQ), and the 8th sees Saturn’s moons in order. [Read more...]

Review: How Old is the Universe? By David A. Weintraub.

Out from Princeton Press.

Probably the toughest questions an astronomer ever has to field with the public are those in cosmology. How old/how big/how far are truly mind bending questions, and difficult to explain to the average man on the street in sound-bite style. This week, we look at David Weintraub’s latest, How Old is the Universe? out by Princeton Press. Fans of this site will remember our review of Is Pluto a Planet? also by Mr. Weintraub a few years back. [Read more...]

23.01.11: A Hail of Anti-Matter?

Lightning (& antimatter?) as seen over Astroguyz HQ…

An anti-matter barrage may be underway high overhead. Recently, NASA scientists have released evidence that antimatter in the form of positron emission may be created right here on Earth during terrestrial thunderstorms. The evidence comes from the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, designed to monitor extra-galactic gamma-ray bursts. Since its launch in 2008, Fermi’s Gamma-ray Burst Monitor instrument has detected 130 of what are known as Terrestrial Gamma-ray Flashes, (TGF’s) generated by lightning. [Read more...]

19.01.11: A Valentine’s Day Flyby.

The view of Comet Tempel-1 as seen from Deep impact in July 2005; this year’s visit plans to be friendlier… (Credit:NASA-JPL-Caltech-UMD).

One down, and one to go… next month, NASA intends to perform another first; the first follow up flyby of a cometary nucleus. The spacecraft is Stardust, and the comet is Tempel 1. Today’s mission briefing gave a glimpse of the action that is in store. Launched in February, 1999 Stardust has performed an array of firsts, including the first sample return from Comet Wild 2 in 2004, and one of the highest re-entry velocities ever attempted during its successful sample return in 2006. [Read more...]