Category: Space


All These Stars Will Explode Together Like a String of Firecrackers [Space]

via Gizmodo by Jesus Diaz on 3/12/12

Click here to read All These Stars Will Explode Together Like a String of Firecrackers

This is one of the most impressive Hubble Space Telescope’s images I’ve ever seen. It shows a massive group of young stars called R136, in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way. But that’s not what makes them so special: More »

full?d=H0mrP-F8Qgo full?d=yIl2AUoC8zA full?i=iyLfH8ROTUQ:14KARW5epaE:D7DqB2pKExk full?i=iyLfH8ROTUQ:14KARW5epaE:V_sGLiPBpWU
iyLfH8ROTUQ

Things you can do from here:

Advertisements

A Ghostly Snake on Mars

via Gizmodo by Casey Chan on 3/7/12

Click here to read A Ghostly Snake on Mars

There’s only two ways to look at this: it’s a ghastly looking serpent snaking its way on the red planet, swallowing everything in its path and burrowing itself inside the planet’s core. OR it’s a gigantic floating sperm…

Strong Solar Storm Could Produce Auroras Over Northern U.S.

via Wired: Wired Science by Adam Mann on 3/8/12


The most powerful solar storm in five years hit Earth on March 8, and could create northern lights far south of their usual range.
On March 6, the sun produced two enormous X-class flares – the most powerful types of blasts to erupt from the sun’s surface – that flung waves of charged particles into space. The particle bursts are called coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, and as they hit Earth’s atmosphere they can disrupt communication satellites and power grids. But the interaction of CMEs with Earth’s magnetic field also produces the incredible displays known as the northern lights.
When the storm reached Earth, it was slightly weaker than expected, and the alignment of Earth’s magnetic field with the CME’s magnetism further weakened the storm. On the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center’s Facebook page, the effect was likened to two bar magnets placed side-by-side with their poles misaligned. But NOAA goes on to note that the storm may take 24 hours to completely pass and could intensify further. Officials predict a “strong” geomagnetic storm before the CME is done.
If the storm reaches predicted intensities, it could cause northern lights as far south as geomagnetic latitude 50 (this is not identical to geographic latitude). This includes most of the northeastern U.S., the upper Great Plains region, and Washington state. You can check your geomagnetic latitude at the SWPC website.

If you’re in line to potentially see the northern lights tonight, you can increase your chances by getting away from bright cities and looking for clear, cloudless skies. Any amateur photographers can send their best shots to us.
The sun is currently waking up from a lull in its 11-year solar cycle. The next several years should see increased activity, and there’s a real possibility of a dangerously strong solar storm occurring in the next decade. In addition to the double burst on March 6, another powerful X1.1-class flare erupted from the sun’s surface on March 4, but its CME missed Earth.
NASA has also built an app that can send the most up-to-date space weather information directly to your smartphone.

Image: NASA/SDO/AIA
Video: NASA/SDO/AIA

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/03/envisat-anniversary/?pid=3266&viewall=true

View as gallery

Von Karmen Vortices

Ten years ago on March 1, the European Space Agency launched an 8-ton satellite called Envisat that would deliver back to Earth some of the most beautiful images of our planet taken from space.

Since then, Envisat has orbited Earth more than 50,000 times and has lived twice as long as planned.

The satellite has more than seven instruments on board that can use radar to see through clouds, capture ocean color and land cover, monitor the ozone layer and atmospheric pollutants, measure thermal-infrared radiation, and register surface topography.

To celebrate the satellite’s 10th anniversary, we’ve selected a few of its most beautiful images for this gallery. Good luck deciding which one to use as wallpaper for your computer desktop.

Above:

Von Karmen Vortices

This false-color Envisat image, acquired on June 6, 2010, highlights a unique cloud formation south of the Canary Island archipelago, some 95 km from the northwest coast of Africa (right) in the Atlantic Ocean. Seven larger islands and a few smaller ones make up the Canaries; the larger islands are (left to right): El Hierro, La Palma, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and Lanzarote.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Northwest Passage

Northwest Passage

Envisat ASAR image of the McClure Strait in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, acquired on Aug. 31, 2007. The McClure Strait is the most direct route of the Northwest Passage and has been fully open since early August 2007.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Algerian Sahara

Algerian Sahara

Envisat radar image of the Tanezrouft Basin in the Algerian Sahara. Radar images reveal surface roughness – the rougher the surface, the brighter it appears. Hence, darker areas represent softer rock with a sandy or small-stoned surface. This image was created by combining three Envisat radar passes (March 23, 2009, June 1, 2009 and Sep. 14, 2009) over the same area. The colors result from changes in the surface between acquisitions.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Galapagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

This Envisat image features the Galapagos Islands, an archipelago situated some 1,000 km to the west of Ecuador in the Pacific Ocean. Galapagos’s largest island is Isabela (visible). The five volcanoes seen on the island are (from north to south): Wolf Volcano, Darwin Volcano, Alcedo Volcano, Sierra Negra Volcano and Cerro Azul Volcano. The bigger island to the right of Isabela is Santiago Island.

The image was obtained by combining three Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) acquisitions (March 23, 2006, Aug. 14, 2008 and Jan. 1, 2009) taken over the same area. The colors in the image result from variations in the surface that occurred between acquisitions. Apart from mapping changes on the land surface, radar data can also be used to determine sea surface parameters like wind speed, wind direction and wave height. Different wave types and wind speeds are visible in the image as ripples on the water surface.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Ganges Delta

Ganges Delta

This Envisat image highlights the Ganges Delta, the world’s largest delta, in the South Asia area of Bangladesh (visible) and India. The delta plain, about 350-km wide along the Bay of Bengal, is formed by the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.

As radar images represent surface backscatter rather than reflected light, there is no color in a standard radar image. This image was created by combining three Envisat Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar acquisitions (Jan. 20, 2009, Feb. 24, 2009 and March 31, 2009) taken over the same area. The colors in the image result from variations in the surface that occurred between acquisitions.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Himalayan Mountains

Himalayan Mountains

This Envisat image captures Asia’s diverse topography, altitude and climate with the snow-sprinkled Himalayan Mountains marking the barrier between the peaks of the Tibetan Plateau (top) in Central Asia and the plains of Nepal, Buthan and India in the Indian subcontinent. In this false-color image, lush or green vegetation appears bright red. This image was acquired by Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on Feb. 20, 2009, working in Full Resolution mode to provide a spatial resolution of 300 m.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Ireland

Ireland

Resembling the brush strokes of French Impressionist Claude Monet, electric blue-colored plankton blooms swirl in the North Atlantic Ocean off Ireland in this Envisat image. Plankton, the most abundant type of life found in the ocean, are microscopic marine plants that drift on or near the surface of the sea.

While individually microscopic, the chlorophyll they use for photosynthesis collectively tints the surrounding ocean waters, providing a means of detecting these tiny organisms from space with dedicated “ocean color” sensors, like Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), which acquired this image on May 23, 2010 at a resolution of 300 m.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

American West

American West

The contrasting landscape of the western U.S. states of California (left) and Nevada (right) are highlighted in this Envisat image, acquired Feb. 9, 2011. The Sierra Nevada mountain range (snow-capped) runs along California’s eastern edge. Lake Tahoe (visible) is located in the Sierra Nevada on the California–Nevada border. Also visible in the image are the California cities of San Francisco (whitish area on the peninsula surrounding the San Francisco Bay, center left) and Los Angeles (sprawling grey area, bottom left).

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Kamchatka Peninsula

Kamchatka Peninsula

This image, acquired by Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) instrument on Nov. 12, 2009, captures the rugged and remote Kamchatka Peninsula on Russia’s East Coast. The 1,250-km long peninsula lies between the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Sea of Okhotsk to the west.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina as seen by Envisat’s MERIS in Reduced Resolution mode, off southern Florida on Aug. 25, 2005, when it was still Category One on the Saffir-Simpson scale measuring hurricane intensity. The storm caused great damage after landfall, mostly due to heavy rainfall.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

This Envisat image features one of the natural wonders of the world – the Great Barrier Reef in the Coral Sea off the east coast of Queensland, Australia. Australian researchers have discovered that Envisat’s Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS) sensor can detect coral bleaching down to 10 m deep. This means Envisat could potentially map coral bleaching on a global scale. MERIS acquired this image on May 18, 2008, working in Full Resolution mode to yield a spatial resolution of 300 m.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Yukon Delta

Yukon Delta

This Envisat image features Alaska’s Yukon Delta, where the Yukon River fans out into a labyrinth of distributaries before emptying into the Bering Sea. The Yukon, North America’s fifth-longest river system, flows some 3,190 km across central Alaska in the US before emptying into Norton Sound (top left).

This image was created by combining three of Envisat’s Advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) acquisitions (Nov. 19, 2009, April 8, 2010 and May 13, 2010) over the same area. The colors represent changes in the surface between acquisitions.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Etna Erupting

Etna Erupting

This Envisat MERIS image, acquired on Jan. 11, 2011, shows the plume of smoke billowing into the atmosphere from Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy. Activity gradually increased the following day, peaking in the evening.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Strait of Gibraltar

Strait of Gibraltar

This Envisat radar image shows internal waves in the Strait of Gibraltar, between the southern coast of Spain (top) and the northern coast of Morocco. From space, internal waves can be detected very efficiently using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) instruments that are sensitive to changes in the small-scale surface roughness on the ocean surface. Internal waves in this image show up as a semi-circular rippled pattern east of the strait’s entrance in the Mediterranean Sea. Additional sets of internal waves generated in the Atlantic Ocean are visible as dark pink lines on the western side of the strait. This image was created by combining three Envisat SAR acquisitions (Aug. 12, 2010, Oct. 1, 2009 and Aug. 27, 2009) over the same area. The colors result from changes in the surface between acquisitions.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Hawaiian Islands

Hawaiian Islands

This Envisat radar image features six of Hawaii’s eight major volcanic islands. Visible from right to left are the Big Island of Hawaii, Kahoolawe, Maui, Lanai, Molokai and Oahu. In addition to two other major islands, there are also 124 islets. This image was created by combining three Envisat ASAR acquisitions (March 27, 2006, April 16, 2007 and Jan. 21, 2008) taken over the same area. The colors in the image result from variations in the surface that occurred between acquisitions.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Magnetic North Pole

Magnetic North Pole

Sea ice around the North Magnetic Pole, a wandering point on the Earth’s surface, is featured in this Envisat radar image, acquired on Dec. 8, 2008. Just as Earth has two geographic poles, the North Pole and the South Pole, it also has a North and South Magnetic Pole. Although the geographic and magnetic poles are near each other, they are not located in the same places. Currently, the North Magnetic Pole is located in the Canadian Arctic at approximately 82.7 north and 114.24 west.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Indus River

Indus River

This Envisat image shows western India and southern Pakistan, with the Indus River snaking through Pakistan’s Sindh province before emptying into the Arabian Sea. The red area in the lower-central portion of the image covers a seasonal salt marsh over Pakistan’s border with western India.

This image is a compilation of three passes by Envisat’s radar on May 15, July 14 and Sep. 12, 2011. Each is assigned a color (red, green and blue) and combined to produce this representation. The colors reveal changes in the surface between Envisat’s passes.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

Phytoplankton Bloom

Phytoplankton Bloom

In this Envisat image, acquired on Dec. 2, 2011, a phytoplankton bloom swirls a figure-of-8 in the South Atlantic Ocean about 600 km east of the Falkland Islands. Different types and quantities of phytoplankton exhibit different colors, such as the blues and greens in this image.

Earth-observing satellites like Envisat can monitor these algal blooms. Once a bloom begins, an ocean color sensor can make an initial identification of its chlorophyll pigment, and therefore its species and toxicity.

High-resolution version

Image and caption: ESA

These are awesome movies!

http://www.photographyblogger.net/soothing-milky-way-time-lapse/

This soothing time-lapse is a perfect follow up to one of our latest posts about how to photograph the Milky Way.

How to Photograph the Milky Way

via Photography Blogger by Luis Argerich on 2/24/12

Photographing our own galaxy: The Milky Way is a great experience. From a dark location without light pollution the dusty band of the Milky Way is a wonderful sight to the naked eye and it looks even better in long exposure photographs. Summer in the North Hemisphere and Winter in the South Hemisphere is the best time to photograph the Milky Way and here’s a short article about how to do it.

Preparation
Good preparation is critical if you want to get a good shot of the Milky Way. I use Stellarium (free) to forecast how the sky will look from any location at a given time. For the Milky Way, you will get a good shot around 3am in March, around 2am in April, around 1am in May, and at midnight on June. In July and August you the ideal times are from 9 or 10pm.
The brightest part of the Milky Way is towards the direction of Scorpius/Sagitarius. Look for those constellations on Stellarium and take note of the direction where you need to point the camera and the best time of the night to do it (when the constellations are higher in the sky).
Then you need to find a location that has little or no light pollution in the direction of your shot. This can be hard depending on where you’re at. Rural areas are fine but make sure the Milky Way is not in the direction of a town or city.

Setup & Taking the shot
To take a good photo of the Milky Way you need to avoid star trails. Use a very wide lens, a fast one if you have it and a solid tripod with a good ballhead.
The following procedure will help you frame the shot and take the best possible exposure.
First Stage: Framing
– lens wide open
– ridiculous ISO (12800,25600 etc)
– 2 or 4 second exposures
Use this short exposures moving the camera around to find the framing you like. The photos are useless but we are using the camera as an extra pair of eyes, eyes that are far more sensible to the light than ours.
Once the framing is found we move to stage 2, the exposure.

Second Stage: Exposure
– lens wide open
– ISO800 or 1600
– 20 seconds exposure
Take a shot and in the camera LCD examine the stars near the borders of the frame (not the center) if you see trails, then repeat with a shorter exposure. If you don’t see trails repeat with a longer exposure. Do this until you find the longest exposure you can afford without trails.
Note: when you check the stars for trails you might see the stars at the borders display a strange triangular shape. That’s called “comma” and is an optical defect on the lens. To solve that close the aperture 1 step (for example move from F2 to F2.8). Some lenses are good at F2.8 others at F4 and others around F5 for night time photography.

Following these steps you will get a shot with a framing you like and the longest possible exposure time without trails or optical defects. That’s your Milky Way photograph!
The Milky Way will move in the sky following Earth’s rotation as the stars move, this means you will have different compositions at different times of the night. You can get the band of our galaxy in vertical or horizontal orientation and in the middle you will have a diagonal.
The Milky Way is huge, you can attempt a panorama to get the whole band of the Milky Way in the sky. Just make sure to allow a gentle 40% overlap between shots to make things easier to your stitching software. Besides that it’s like any other panorama.

A NASA spacecraft has captured an amazing video of solar twisters blowing across the surface of the sun.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/46434871/ns/technology_and_science-space/#.Tz8nV_GPUzc

The tornado-style eruptions of super-hot plasma were spotted by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is constantly recording high-definition videos of the sun.

  1. More space news from msnbc.com

    1. AP / NASA
      Godspeed John Glenn: 50 years since first US orbit As John Glenn, the world’s most enduring and endearing spaceman, gets set to celebrate what no other living astronaut has done — mark the 50th anniversary of his own spaceflight — he finds himself in overdrive reflecting on what has been an undeniably charmed, golden life.
    2. To infinity and beyond: Investing in space travel
    3. Fill ‘er up: Robotic space ‘gas attendant’ touted
    4. Black hole survives a galaxy wreck

The sun tornado video shows swirling fountains of plasma creeping across the surface of the sun during a 30-hour period between Feb. 7 and 8. But unlike tornadoes on Earth, which are wind-driven phenomena, the sun’s plasma tornadoes are shaped by the powerful magnetic field of our star.

“An active region rotating into view provides a bright backdrop to the gyrating streams of plasma,” SDO mission scientists explained in a video description. “The particles are being pulled this way and that by competing magnetic forces. They are tracking along strands of magnetic field lines.”

In the video, cooler plasma material appears as darker spots on a bright background. The SDO spacecraft recorded the video in the extreme ultraviolet range of the light spectrum, giving the movie an eerie yellow hue.

NASA released the new SDO video to mark the second anniversary of the spacecraft’s mission, which launched on Feb. 11, 2010. The $850 million spacecraft is on a five-year mission to record high-definition videos of the sun to help astronomers better understand how changes in the sun’s solar weather cycle can affect life on Earth.

The sun is currently in an active period of its 11-year weather cycle. The current cycle is known as Solar Cycle 24 and will peak in 2013.

You can follow Space.com Managing Editor Tariq Malik on Twitter @tariqjmalik. Follow Space.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

Vibrant Nebula Wallpaper

Vibrant Nebula [Wallpaper]
via How-To Geek by Asian Angel on 2/14/12

sshot4f3a60f7edcbd.jpg

Nebula [Wallpaper Abyss]

Scheduled to take place in Roswell, New Mexico, later this year, Red Bull Stratos will see Felix Baumgartner jump from the edge of space in an attempt to break four records that have stood for over half a century. These include the highest manned balloon flight (120,000ft/36,000 meters); freefall from the highest altitude; becoming the first person to hit supersonic speed while in freefall (around 690mph); and the longest freefall duration. Baumgartner wants to become the first person to break the speed of sound without the protection of an aircraft while simultaneously collecting data never obtained before for the advancement of medical science.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/video/2012/feb/08/felix-baumgartner-freefall-from-space-video?newsfeed=true

Moon and Space Station

The International Space Station can be seen as a small object in lower right of this image of the moon in the early evening Jan. 4 in the skies over the Houston area flying at an altitude of 390.8 kilometers (242.8 miles).
CREDIT: NASA

View full size image

Late Thursday night (Feb. 9), skywatchers who cast a glance toward the waning gibbous moon will also notice the presence of a very bright, yellow-orange "star" shining with a steady glow hovering a bit above and to the moon’s right.

That’s no star, though. It’s the planet Mars.

The apparent distance between the moon and Mars will be rather large, amounting to about 9 degrees. That’s roughly equal to the width of your fist held at arm’s length.

But even though the gap is quite large, the brightness of Mars at this time makes it stand out despite the much greater brilliance of the nearby moon. On this night, Mars will be 69 million miles (111 million kilometers) from Earth. [Our Solar System: A Photo Tour of the Planets]

Mars is unmistakable once it rises in the east around 7:45 p.m. Its fiery-colored luster shines nearly twice as bright as the lighter-hued Arcturus star far to its lower left (Arcturus rises in the east-northeast a couple of hours after Mars). Mars currently shines at magnitude -0.8; excluding the moon, it is outshone in our current evening sky by only Venus, Jupiter and Sirius.

Mars will reach aphelion — its farthest point from the sun — on Feb. 15, a distance of 1.666 astronomical units, which corresponds to a distance of 154.9 million miles (249.2 million km). That doesn’t bode well for getting good views of Mars at its upcoming opposition on March 3. In fact, the red planet will appear little more than half as large as it did at its close approach to Earth in August 2003.

Telescopes show Mars’ disk growing by about 13 percent during this month, though it will still appear relatively small; when it comes to opposition in just over three weeks, observers will need an eyepiece magnifying 133-power to make it appear as large as the full moon does with the naked eye.

Nonetheless, skywatchers should take this opportunity for some serious observing because Mars’ apparent size is going to begin to slowly diminish by mid-March.

It is currently late spring in Mars’ northern hemisphere, equivalent to early June here on earth. In good telescopes, you might get a view of the shrinking polar cap appearing as a bright spot on the planet’s disk. Wait until Mars is high in the southeast around 10:30 p.m. and start scrutinizing this most famous planet. It will reach its highest point in the sky in the south as it crosses the meridian soon after 2 a.m. local time.

Late at night, as Mars rises high, note its exact position beneath the right-triangle pattern of stars that represents the lion’s hind quarters.

The planet came to a standstill against the background stars on Jan. 23. Since that date, it has been in retrograde motion (moving westward) and is approaching the bright bluish star Regulus. Right now, the two are separated by 21 degrees, but they’ll be less than 5 degrees apart on April 15, when Mars’ retrograde motion comes to an end and it comes to a standstill again before reversing direction and heading back toward the east.

%d bloggers like this: