May 23, 2019

Astro-Event: Spot the “Double-Double.”

 

 

Epsilon Lyrae finder chart. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

Epsilon Lyrae finder chart. (Created by Author in Starry Night).

 

 

Looking to expand your star-party repertoire beyond Saturn & Albireo? Let me introduce you to a sure northern hemisphere crowd pleaser, the famous “Double-double” star Epsilon Lyrae in the constellation Lyra. Located about 1 ˝ degrees to the northeast of the bright star Vega, this pair is easily resolved in binocs or by the keen eyed observer. The constellation Lyra lies high to the west during the Fall at dusk. But wait, there’s more; each pair is resolvable via moderate sized telescope into a pair of stars, making for a quadruple system. Now for the geometry of what you are seeing; the system is about 162 light years distant. [Read more...]

21.9.9 Will Kepler spot “exo-moons?”

Let the staring begin… the Kepler spacecraft has its shutters open and is now ready for business. Just out the gate, the results have been astounding. First, there was the discovery of HAT-P-7b, a transiting exo-planet that was spotted last month, complete with atmosphere. Now, calculations have shown that Kepler may be sensitive enough during the span of its four year mission to detect another first; exo-moons, or Earth-mass moons orbiting Saturn-mass planets. Kepler is in an Earth trailing orbit and sports a 0.95 meter 95 mega pixel (that’s an array of 42 2200×1024 pixel each CCDs!) aperture camera that will stare at the star-rich Cygnus-Lyra region looking for tiny dips in the apparent brightness of over a 100,000 stars. Expect the tally of new exo-planets to climb in the coming months!