October 18, 2017

12.05.11: New Cosmic Minerals Part II.

A view of Krotite. (Credit: university of Hawaii/American Mineralogist).

Faster than you can say carbonaceous chondrite, another new meteorite-bound mineral was recently announced from the University of Hawaii. Readers of this space will remember the recent discovery of Wassonite last month. Now, enter Krotite, a low-pressure refractory inclusion with a chemical composition of CaAl2O4. [Read more...]

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.

[Read more...]

27.01.10: As Titan Turns.

Sequence showing an evolving storm on Titan. (Credit: Gemini Obs/AURA/H. Roe/E. Schaller).

Sequence showing an evolving storm on Titan. (Credit: Gemini Obs/AURA/H. Roe/E. Schaller).


Think that this winter is brutal here on Earth? As February is about to set in, we here at Astroguyz invite you to contemplate the seasons on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. At over 3,000 miles in diameter, Titan is larger than some planets, and possesses an opaque hydro carbon smog veil of an atmosphere. There, a balmy summer day might reach 290°F on the thermometer, and sunshine is a dim murk at best. Scientists have recently found out that this seemingly dismal world is in fact a dynamic place, and a world well worth further scrutiny. The Cassini spacescraft has already conducted fly-bys of the mysterious moon since its orbital insertion in 2004, and even deposited the Huygens probe, which still stands as the most distant soft landing of a manned spacecraft ever made. Now, scientists Emily Schaller of the University of Hawaii and Henry Roe of the Lowell Observatory have been successful in tracking storms in Titan’s turbulent atmosphere. Like Earth, Titan is one of the very few rocky worlds in the solar system that possesses a hydrological cycle and weather. On Titan, however, it rains liquid methane and pools of ammonia dot the surface of this bizarre world. Using the 3-meter Infra-red Telescope Facility, Schaller and Roe monitored Titan 138 nights over 2.2 years in the 2.1 micron range, using the much more sensitive Gemini North telescope also on Mauna Kea for follow up observations when things started to look interesting. Titan is a tough target to image; at its best, it presents a disk no more than 0.8” in diameter. The 2008 storm pictured about demonstrates that Titan is indeed a changing world, one that deserves further examination. Cassini has already performed another flyby of Titan earlier this month on January 12th as part of its mission extension.