Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Project Searches for ET Waste Heat



So bright, the aliens need shades <i>(Image: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/Science Photo Library)</i>
(Image: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/UCLA/Science Photo Library)

By Rachel Ehrenberg

RATHER than searching for aliens phoning home, scientists are looking for signs of the homes themselves. A new project proposing that galaxy-spanning alien civilisations should generate detectable heat has turned up a few dozen galaxies that hold promise as harbours for life.

The best-known technique used to search for tech-savvy aliens is eavesdropping on their communications with each other. But this approach assumes ET is chatty in channels we can hear.

The new approach, dubbed G-HAT for Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies, makes no assumptions about what alien civilisations may be like.

"This approach is very different," says Franck Marchis at the SETI Institute in California, who was not involved in the project. "I like it because it doesn't put any constraints on the origin of the civilisation or their willingness to communicate."


Source: New Scientist Magazine.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Solar Storms May Have Altered Lunar Soil

This illustration shows a permanently shadowed region of the moon undergoing subsurface sparking (the "lightning bolts"), which ejects vaporized material (the "clouds") from the surface. Subsurface sparking occurs at a depth of about one millimeter. Image not to scale. Image: Andrew JordanThis illustration shows a permanently shadowed region of the moon undergoing subsurface sparking (the "lightning bolts"), which ejects vaporized material (the "clouds") from the surface. Subsurface sparking occurs at a depth of about one millimeter. Image not to scale. Image: Andrew Jordan






 

 

 

 

 

 






By David Sims, University of New Hampshire

The moon appears to be a tranquil place, but modeling done by Univ. of New Hampshire and NASA scientists suggests that, over the eons, periodic storms of solar energetic particles may have significantly altered the properties of the soil in the moon’s coldest craters through the process of sparking—a finding that could change our understanding of the evolution of planetary surfaces in the solar system.

The study, published recently in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets, proposes that high-energy particles from uncommon, large solar storms penetrate the moon’s frigid, polar regions and electrically charge the soil. The charging may create sparking, or electrostatic breakdown, and this “breakdown weathering” process has possibly changed the very nature of the moon’s polar soil, suggesting that permanently shadowed regions, which hold clues to our solar system’s past, may be more active than previously thought.

More - Link >>> http://www.rdmag.com/news/2014/08/electric-sparks-may-alter-evolution-lunar-soil?et_cid=4113094&et_rid=544605860&location=top

Sources: University of New Hampshire, R & D Magazine.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cassini Spacecraft: Saturn Rings Older Than First Thought

Saturn's rings
Saturn's iconic rings seem to have formed
early in the planet's history. 
Credit: CICLOPS/JPL/ESA/NASA

By Alexandra Witze and Nature magazine

Saturn’s spectacular ring system may date back some 4.4 billion years to the time when the planet itself formed, new findings suggest. The work could help to resolve a long-running debate about whether the rings are ancient or formed much more recently, on the order of hundreds of millions of years ago.

For the first time, NASA's Cassini spacecraft has measured the rate at which dust from outside the Saturn system is falling on the rings and polluting them. That rate turns out to be about 40 times lower than previously thought, which eliminates a major argument against the ‘old rings’ theory: that if the rings had been around for billions of years, they should have gotten coated with a dark spray of other particles and look a lot dirtier than they do.

"The rings can be three to ten times older than we used to think," says Larry Esposito, a planetary scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder.

More - :Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dust-reveals-ancient-origin-for-saturn-s-rings/?&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20140821

Sources: Nature Magazine, Scientific American Magazine.

Biography of Allegheny Observatory Director James E. Keeler, who discovered the true composition of Saturn's Rings in 1895:
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/bio/KeelerJ.htm

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Help NASA Classify Pix From Space

Slideshow Image
One of the images from space in large NASA photo collection.
(Image Source: NASA)


NASA is asking for your help.

No, you do not get to go to space.

You do, however, get to view hundreds of thousands of images taken from space. Via The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth, NASA is making available images ranging from the Mercury missions of the 1960s to photos recently snapped from the International Space Station.

The Complutense University of Madrid is spearheading efforts to catalog the photos and corral citizen input. It's broken the images into three components requiring different levels of participation:

1. Dark skies. This is the easiest project, as it requires no scientific expertise. "Anyone can help" by sorting the images into the categories: cities, stars or other objects, said Alejandro Sanchez, doctoral student at Complutense.

"Without the help of citizens, it is almost impossible to use these images scientifically. Algorithms cannot distinguish between stars, cities and other objects, such as the moon. Humans are much more efficient for complex image analysis," he said.

2. Night cities. Looking at night images, citizen scientists can tap their knowledge of local geography to match photos with positions on maps. Residents of a city can more easily identify a city's features than those who don't live there, Sanchez said. The data will be used to generate light maps of cities.

3. Lost at night. This is the trickiest, as it aims to identify cities in photos with 310-mile circumferences.

More - Link >>> http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/17/tech/nasa-earth-images-help-needed/

Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth: Link >>> http://eol.jsc.nasa.gov/

Sources: NASA, CNN.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Beautiful Morning Conjunction of Planets

Sleeping late is one of the simple pleasures of summer vacation.  This week, waking up early will be a pleasure, too.

Set your alarm for 30 minutes before sunrise.  Venus and Jupiter are converging in the dawn sky for a beautiful conjunction that will wake you up faster than a cup of strong coffee. To see it, you'll need a clear view of the east-northeastern horizon and … that's all.  No telescope is required. These are the two brightest planets in the Solar System, and they are visible to the naked eye even from light-polluted cities.

splash
A new ScienceCast video previews the spectacular morning conjunction of August 18, 2014.  Play it

More - Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/15aug_conjunction/

Source: NASA Science News.

2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Gravity Anomaly May Protect Earth From Asteroids

Asteroid 1950 DA. Image: NASAAsteroid 1950 DA. Image: NASA
Researchers at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville have made a novel discovery that may potentially protect the world from future collisions with asteroids.

The team studied near-Earth asteroid 1950 DA and discovered that the body, which rotates so quickly it defies gravity, is held together by cohesive forces, called van der Waals, never before detected on an asteroid

“Following the February 2013 asteroid impact in Chelyabinsk, Russia, there is renewed interest in figuring out how to deal with the potential hazard of an asteroid impact,” said Ben Rozitis, a postdoctoral researcher in the University's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “Understanding what holds these asteroids together can inform strategies to guard against future impacts.”

More - Link >>> http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2014/08/gravity-find-may-protect-earth-asteroids?et_cid=4099217&et_rid=544605860&type=image

Sources: University of Tennessee at Knoxville, LaboratoryEquipment.com .

Related Blog Post ---

Laser Satellite to Defend Earth from Asteroid Impacts?  (2014 Jan. 11):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/01/laser-satellite-to-defend-earth-from.html


2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks in Sky & Web-Casts

splash
A new ScienceCast video previews the competition between the SuperMoon of August and the 2014 Perseid meteor shower.  Play it  (Image / Video Source: NASA Science News)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The time of posting of this blog post (August 12, 8:00 p.m. EDT / August 13, 0:00 Coordinated Universal Time) is the actual peak time of the the most famous and best observed meteor shower of the year. The Perseid Meteor Shower always peaks sometime during the night / early morning of August 12 to 13.

During the peak time, often 50 to 80 meteors can be seen per hour, if observing conditions are ideal. To see these meteors you need to be away from city lights, as artificial lighting can often drown-out the dimmer meteors.

However, the "SuperMoon," a Full Moon at the closest point to the Earth in 2014, which occurred this-past weekend, means that some of the dimmer meteors will be drowned-out by the brightness of this so-called SuperMoon. But, the Perseid Meteor Shower is one of the year's best meteor showers for fireballs, huge meteors which seem to explode in the upper atmosphere; so these can be seen even in bright moonlight.

The debris which forms the Perseid Meteor Shower comes from the Comet Swift Tuttle, which swings into the inner part of our Solar System every 133 years, leaving behind a trail of dust and grit.

Although the time of this blog posting is the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, it is hardly the best time for viewing meteors in North America, considering that the vast majority of the continent has not yet experienced sunset this day. However, even after sunset, you may want to wait a little while before going out to look for meteors. The best time to view a meteor shower is always between local midnight and dawn, when our planet is actually rotating into the meteor shower.

Binoculars and telescopes are not very useful for finding meteors. Meteors streak across the sky in a very short period of time, too short to aim binoculars or a telescope. So, the best way to view a meteor shower is to lie on the ground, in an area with a good view of the entire sky (with few obstructions such as buildings, trees or hills), and keep scanning the entire sky.

Meteor showers appear to emanate from a radiant point in the sky. For the Perseid Meteor Shower, the radiant appears to be the Constellation Perseus. However, you should not, necessarily, be looking only at Perseus, when looking for meteors in this shower. Meteors can appear in any part of the sky at any time.

Of course, meteor showers. like all celestial observations, are weather-permitting. If the weather in your area does not permit direct viewing outdoors of this meteor shower, it can be viewed during special web-casts at a couple sites on the Internet.

Internet Sites to View the Perseid Meteor Shower Near Peak, August 12 to 13:

Slooh Community Observatory: Link >>> http://live.slooh.com/

NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center:
Link >>> http://www.nasa.gov/watchtheskies/perseids-2014.html

NASA Science News - Perseid Meteors vs. the Supermoon:
Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/28jul_perseids2014/

History of the Perseid Meteor Shower:
Link >>> http://meteorshowersonline.com/perseids.html 


Related Blog Posts ---

Another 'SuperMoon'  (2014 Aug. 9):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/08/another-supermoon.html


Moon Set Favors July Meteor Shower; Also Web-Casts  (2014 July 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/07/moon-set-favors-july-meteor-shower-also.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh, Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.


2014: 75th Year of Pittsburgh's Buhl Planetarium Historic Zeiss II Planetarium Projector at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science.


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >