Thursday, September 30, 2010

Recap: Sept 29

Thanks to all for coming out, here is a list of the things we talked about.

The US House of Representatives voted on the Senate version of the NASA funding bill on wednesday.  It has been passed.  Check out phil plait's blog for details.

Gemini North has used its Near Infrared Imager and Spectrometer to look at one of the coldest brown dwarfs ever known, and it's in our own backyard (just 13 ly away).

The STEREO satellites have take some images of Mercury's 'comet-like' tail.  The tail was observed previously during one of MESSENGER's flybys in 2008.  Check out here for details.

JWST has passed a pivotal test, the freezing vacuum of space.  In order to perform properly, JWST must not change shape when it cools down to 27 K in space.  It passed the test!

The LRO has taken a very cool mosaic of the south pole of the moon.  In it you can see the places where LCROSS impacted, and the craters where no sunlight has been seen for billions of years.

Cassini continues to awe its followers, it has put together a video tracking aurorae in the poles of saturn.  check out the video here.

Weather report on titan, planning a vacation?

Weekly Brain Teaser: Answer

QUESTION: If you were to scoop up a 10 cm cube of material from an average neutron star, how much mass would the cube have?

ANSWER: at a rough average density of 10^17 kg/m^3,  if you scooped up a 0.10 m cube of material from a neutron star, it would weigh roughly 10^14 kg

This is roughly the mass of Halley's Comet, which has a mean diameter of 11 km.  All that mass packed into a 10cm x 10cm x 10cm cube.  Neutron stars are dense!  

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recap: Sept 22 meeting

while the journal club future is in confusion at the moment we were still able to have a very interesting discussion.

Patrick Hall broke down the future of Gemini North.  As of roughy 2012 the UK will be pulling its funding in the project leaving a sizeable portion of the operation costs un accounted for.  While Gemini is open to new partnerships, expect all existing partners to scale their participation up according to the ratios at the moment, to make up the full 100%.  Both the U.S. and Canada seem to be in the position of putting more money into the project.  Gemini is also prepared to work with a skeleton staff and mostly queue observing mode to keep costs down and allow operations to continue uninterrupted.  We'll all be following this closely as the transition period begins to loom.

Laura Chajet had a few announcements.  There will be a two-day Slitless Spectroscopy Workshop organized by the Space Telescope Institute running Nov 15-16.

Dark matter awareness week running 1-8 Dec 2010 will provide each institute the opportunity to give a 45 min talk to their respective journal clubs on the basics of dark matter, and where it stands today.  See here for more details.

There is a workshop on Narrow line Seyfert 1 Galaxies and their place in the universe running 4-6 April 2011 in Italy, check the website for more details.

Stu Dack regailed us with the astronomy news of the week.

thanks to all for participating, we'll see you next wednesday!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Brain Teaser: Space Observatory

What was the first astronomical observatory in space?

ANSWER: Ares 1 - launched by the UK via Cape Canaveral in April of 1962. Launched to observe the Sun's UV and X-ray spectrums.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Recap Sept 8: String Theory, Cosmic Spirals, and Chris Hadfield

Another week, another set of astronomy news.  Thanks to all for the great discussion this week.  Here is what we talked about:

Two asteroids have come within the 0.5 lunar distances from Earth.  Luckily they won't be hitting us!

NASA has chosen the proposals made for the new solar probe to be launched by 2018.  Solar Probe Plus will be sent closer to the sun than we have ever been.

String theorists say that they can predict the properties of quantum entanglement using their theory.  Perhaps the first possible way to test string theory.  Look for this experiment in the coming years.

Herschel has found a dying red giant that has water vapor near the surface of the star.   An odd place to find it, but the principal investigator thinks they know why.

Chris Hadfield has been named the ISS commander for Expedition 35 in 2012.  He'll go up on a Soyuz before taking over.

A cosmic spiral that is not a galaxy.  Yes, take a look at THIS image.  Hubble GOTCHU.

thanks again to everyone for coming, NOTE:  next week's meeting is cancelled.   See you all in two weeks!


0.2, 0.6, 1.0, 1.9, ..... , 29.4, 84.3, 164.8

what number is missing?

ANSWER: 11.9 ... the sequence is the orbital period in Earth years from Mercury to Neptune

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Recap Sept. 1: Kepler,Massive Magnetars, and Exoplanet Spectrum

Another week, another journal club.  Here is a list of the news topics covered by Jesse Rogerson:

A cool time lapse video of all the asteroids we've discovered since 1980 has been put together, scary how many things are out there!

Check out this video of Titan occulting a binary star system.  Using the data, the researchers were able to determine Titan has high velocity high altitude clouds!

India/Russia plan to send a second Chandrayaan to the moon, here are the specs of the instruments to be onboard the rover and orbiter.

The new Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer that will be going up on the last shuttle mission has arrive at cape canaveral!

A weird crater on mars has scientists stumped.  Check it out and see what you think.  How could a crater of this shape be made?

Kepler astounds us once again by finding a star with a possible 3 planets orbiting it.  All found through the transit method.  Interesting enough, one planet is moving inward, and one is moving outward at non-negligible amounts!  Check out the article.

KeckII has taken a spectrum of an exosolar planet!  Wow, that's pretty awesome.  Check out the press release here to find out the temperature on a world outside our solar system.

How do you form powerful radio galaxies?  Gemini has a press release blaming galaxy-galaxy interactions.

The VLT has found evidence of a Magnetar who's progenitor star topped the scales at 40 solar masses (or more).  How is it not a black hole?

To cap things off, enjoy this time lapse video of earth from space.  

thanks everyone, see you next week!