June 6, 2020

Review: 2011 Astronomy Calendars.

The year 2011 A.D. is almost upon us… certainly, you may be asking yourself “Where is my jetpack?” and wondering why we don’t yet commute by hover-car by now… but one constant is always assured; that of the yearly theme calendar. This year, instead of kittens and cows, we here at Astroguyz invite you to indulge in an astronomical themed calendar.

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18.03.10: ALMA in Action.

A unique trio of antennae has been successfully installed in the high Chilean desert. ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, is a series of 12-meter diameter antennae that will scan the sky between the infrared and radio wavelengths. This area of the spectrum is strongly absorbed by atmospheric water vapor, hence the high and dry locale of 9,500 on the Chanjnantor plateau. Recently, engineers linked the first of three antennae to observe an astronomical source; quasar 1924-292. The link up is crucial to ALMA’s use as an interferometer, and should start producing its first scientific results in 2011. Ultimately, ALMA will be a series of 66 dishes working in unison to probe the cosmos.

10.10.09: An Active Mercury?

An atmosphere. Magnetosphere. Signs of recent geological activity…is it Mars? Europa? Some far off exo-planet? Nope…its none other than Mercury, a visual twin of our own Moon and long thought of as just as inactive. The past three flybys of NASA’s Messenger spacecraft have revealed a world of dynamic activity. First, there is Mercury’s on-again, off-again magnetic field, a sign that it may possess an active core. Now that 95%+ of the surface has been visualized, a picture is emerging of a crater pocked surface that has also been shaped by recent volcanism. Finally, Messenger has picked up tenuous traces of magnesium out-gassing from the planet as a result of the intense solar radiation bombarding the sun-ward side, contributing to a tenuous trailing exosphere. The 3rd pass last week was the closest yet, and revealed more stunning photos of what is now the tiniest “planet…” Messenger will enter a permanent orbit in 2011. Google Mercury, anyone?