Saturday, December 28, 2013

Historic Lowell Observatory Telescope to be Renovated

File:Percival Lowell observing Venus from the Lowell Observatory in 1914.jpg
Percival Lowell observing Venus, on 1914 October 17, in the daytime from
the observer's chair of the 24-inch (61 cm) Alvan Clark & Sons refracting
telescope, installed in the summer of 1896 at the Lowell Observatory, which
he established in Flagstaff. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

Beginning January 1, Lowell Observatory's iconic Clark Telescope will undergo a much-needed facelift. After 117 years of constant use, the instrument will be closed for more than a year as engineers and technicians carefully remove telescope components and repair or replace poorly operating parts.

The Clark was built by the preeminent telescope makers of their time, the Alvan Clark & Sons firm of Cambridgeport, Massachusetts. The instrument saw first light on July 23, 1896, and Percival Lowell initially used it to study Mars in support of his controversial theories about life on that planet. Significant research with the Clark included V. M. Slipher's revolutionary discovery of the first evidence of the expanding nature of the universe, the confirmation of Pluto's discovery in 1930 (made by Clyde Tombaugh with another telescope at Lowell Observatory), and creation of lunar maps in the 1960s in support of the Apollo program that sent astronauts to the Moon.

 More - Link >>> http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=42189

Sources: Lowell Observatory, SpaceRef.com .

More on the Lowell Observatory: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lowell_Observatory

More about the historic, 1896 Clark Telescope: Link >>> http://www.lowell.edu/visit_clark.php

Info about an older, 1872 Alvan Clark re-figured objective lens in the 13-inch Fitz-Clark Telescope at the University of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory:
Link >>> http://www.pitt.edu/~aobsvtry/fitzclark.html

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 26, 2013

Finding Space Junk: DARPA Seeks New Sensors


(Image Source: Aviation Week and Space Technology Magazine)

In a bid to boost the ability to track orbital debris that could endanger satellites, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is seeking methods for the uncued detection of objects in low-inclined low Earth orbit (LILO).

The LILO project is part of Darpa’s OrbitOutlook (O2) program to bolster the U.S. Space Surveillance Network (SSN) with new sensor, database and validation capabilities. The SSN is tasked with observing and tracking space objects.

More - Link >>> http://www.aviationweek.com/Article.aspx?id=/article-xml/awx_12_13_2013_p0-646919.xml

Source: Aviation Week and Space Technology Magazine.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 24, 2013

45th Anniversary: Apollo 8 Orbits the Moon Christmas Eve

The famous 'Earthrise' photo from Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the Moon. The crew entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve, 1968 December 24. That evening, the astronauts held a live broadcast, showing pictures of the Earth and Moon as seen from their spacecraft. (Image Source: NASA)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Forty-five years ago today, Christmas Eve in 1968, three men from the Planet Earth, in the Apollo 8 space capsule, first went into orbit of another planetary body, Earth's Moon. It was 4:59 a.m. EST (9:59 Coordinated Universal Time) when Apollo 8 went behind the Moon and entered lunar orbit with the three-man crew: Commander Frank F. Borman, II, Command Module Pilot James A. Lovell, Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot William A. Anders (Lunar Module Pilot was his official title, even though the Lunar Excursion Module did not fly with the Apollo 8 mission).

On the evening of Christmas Eve in 1968, I (while on vacation with my family in Saint Petersburg Beach, Florida), along with millions of television viewers around the world, watched the three Apollo 8 astronauts take turns reading verses from the first chapter of the book of Genesis in the Bible. They ended the broadcast saying, "Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas and God bless all of you - all of you on the good Earth." At that time, their broadcast was the most watched television program ever, which was later given an Emmy Award by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

This was a welcome end to a very turbulent year in American history. Earlier in the year, both civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, had been assassinated. Dr. King's assassination was quickly followed by race riots in many major American cities including Pittsburgh. American military participation in the Vietnam conflict, which had become unpopular with many Americans, led to the surprising announcement that the incumbent U.S. President, Lyndon B. Johnson, would not seek reelection.

Internationally, 1968 was the year of the "Prague Spring," when, for a short time, political liberalization from Communist rule was attempted in Czechoslovakia. This continued until August when Soviet Union-backed Warsaw Pact troops and tanks invaded and occupied the eastern European country.

Almost two years earlier, the American Space Program had come to a temporary halt after three astronauts, Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee, had been killed in a space capsule fire during a launch pad test of Apollo 1 on 1967 January 27 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. The manned phase of Project Apollo was delayed 20 months while a wide array of lethal design and construction flaws in the Apollo Command Module space vehicle was corrected.

After three unmanned Apollo missions in late 1967 and early 1968, the next manned American space mission was the flight of Apollo 7 in October of 1968. Apollo 7 carried-out the original mission of Apollo 1: Earth orbital test of the (now redesigned) Apollo Command and Service Modules with a full crew. The first live television from an American spacecraft also occurred on Apollo 7.

A manned orbital mission of the Moon had not originally been planned for as early as 1968, and a Christmas Eve lunar orbital mission had never been envisioned, until spacecraft production problems required a different decision in August of 1968. What was originally planned as a manned test of the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) in Earth orbit became a lunar orbital mission, when the LEM proved to be unready for flight.

Apollo 8 was the first manned mission to use the Saturn V launch vehicle, which was necessary to reach the Moon. All previous Apollo missions (except the unmanned Apollo 4 and Apollo 6 flights) had been launched on Saturn IB rockets.

Apollo 8 was launched on the day of the Winter Solstice, 1968 December 21, and returned to Earth on December 27, when the Command Module splashed-down in the North Pacific Ocean. After taking two days to reach the Moon, Apollo 8 orbited the Moon 10 times over 20 hours-time.

The famous "Earthrise" photograph was taken by Apollo 8, as they came around for the fourth orbit of the Moon. It was the first time a human, behind the camera, had taken such a picture. This photograph is credited with inspiring the first Earth Day in 1970.

The Apollo 8 Command Module is now on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, along with the space suit worn by Frank Borman and a collection of personal items donated by Jim Lovell. Bill Anders' space suit is on display at London's Science Museum, while Jim Lovell's space suit is on display at the Visitor Center at NASA's Glenn Research Center, which since September of 2009 has been located inside the Great Lakes Science Center in Downtown Cleveland.

Yesterday, Jim Lovell, along with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 8 mission at the Museum of Science and Industry by reenacting their Christmas Eve 1968 broadcast from lunar orbit. Jim Lovell also said, "We felt very fortunate to be in a position ... where we had something upbeat to give to the world that was in turmoil."

More on Apollo 8:
Link 1 >>> http://er.jsc.nasa.gov/seh/apollo8.html
Link 2 >>> http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/apollo/missions/apollo8.html#.UrjZw7S4FYE
Link 3 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8
Reading of Genesis on Apollo 8: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_8_Genesis_reading

More on the 2013 Dec. 23 commemoration of Apollo 8 at the Museum of Science and Industry:
Link 1 >>> http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-apollo-broadcast-reenactment-met-1224-20131224,0,6756921.story
Link 2 >>> http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/12/23/3834069/apollo-8-astronaut-to-mark-1968.html

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

Related Blog Posts ---

John Fitzgerald Kennedy: Loss of the Man Who Sent Us to the Moon

A Personal Remembrance From 50 Years Ago

By Glenn A. Walsh  (2013 November 22):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/11/jfk-loss-of-man-who-sent-us-to-moon.html 

 

The Historic Mission of Apollo 11, Man Walks on the Moon for the First Time
A Personal Remembrance from 40 Years Ago By Glenn A. Walsh (2009 July):

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/bio/Apolloremembrance.htm

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 21, 2013

Winter Begins Sat.; Ursid Meteor Shower Peaks Sun. w/ Web-Cast

File:StonehengeSunrise1980s.jpg

Sunrise viewed between the stones at the ancient Stonehenge astronomical observatory in southern England, on the Winter Solstice in 1985. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The season of Winter begins in Earth's Northern Hemisphere at the moment of the Winter Solstice on Saturday Afternoon, 2013 December 21 at 12:11 p.m. EST (17:11 Coordinated Universal Time). At the same time, the Summer Solstice marks the beginning of the season of Summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

The annual Ursid Meteor Shower peaks the next morning at 9:00 a.m. EST (14:00 Coordinated Universal Time). An all-night long web-cast of this meteor shower will be available, beginning early Saturday evening.

                                     Winter Solstice 2013


In etymology, the word solstice comes from the Latin terms sol (Sun) and sistere (to stand still). In ancient times, astronomers / astrologers / priests recognized that one day of the year the Sun would appear to reach its lowest point in the sky for the year. The motion of the Sun's apparent path in the sky (what is known astronomically today as the Sun's declination) would cease on this day, before reversing direction.

With our current Gregorian Calendar, this usually occurs on, or very close to, December 21. In ancient times, when people used the Julian Calendar, the Winter Solstice occurred on, or very close to, December 25, what we now know as Christmas Day. Winter festivals, at the time of the Winter Solstice, were common in ancient times. Instead of competing with these traditions, the early Roman Catholic Church christianized the Winter festivals by observing the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25.

Today, we know that, while the Sun does have motions, it is actually the motion of the Earth, tilted on its axis 23.44 degrees while revolving around the Sun, that causes the Earth's seasons. Hence, as the Earth arrives at the point in its orbit around the Sun, when the south polar axis is most directly inclined toward the Sun (thus, the Sun appears at its lowest point for the year in the Northern Hemisphere sky), this marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere (and the Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere).


Alternately, the Summer Solstice marks the beginning of Summer in the Northern Hemisphere (and the Winter Solstice begins Winter in the Southern Hemisphere) when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit when the north polar axis is most directly inclined toward the Sun.


Although the Winter months in the Northern Hemisphere are known for the year's coldest weather, the Earth is actually at the point in its orbit closest to the Sun (astronomically known as the point of perihelion) on or very near January 2. The Earth is farthest from the Sun, each year shortly after the Northern Hemisphere's Summer Solstice, on or very near July 5 (the point of aphelion).


Solar radiation, and hence heat from the Sun, depends on the length of daylight and the angle of the Sun above the horizon. The tilt of the planet's axis toward the Sun determines the additional and more direct solar radiation received by a planet's northern or southern hemisphere, and hence, the warmer season of the respective hemisphere.

The Winter Solstice is known as the "shortest day of the year" and the "longest night of the year" as the Sun shines on the Northern Hemisphere for the shortest length of time for the entire year, on this day.


Interestingly, the climate of a locale in the Southern Hemisphere is, on average, slightly milder than a location at the same latitude in the Northern Hemisphere, because the Southern Hemisphere has significantly more ocean water and much less land. Water warms-up and cools-down more slowly than does land. The only exception is the Antarctic which is colder than the Northern Hemisphere's Arctic region.


The Vernal Equinox, in the Northern Hemisphere when Spring begins (coinciding with the Autumnal Equinox in the Southern Hemisphere when Autumn or Fall begins), occurs between the Winter and Summer Solstices when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun when the Earth's axis is tilted neither toward nor away from the Sun. Likewise, when the Earth reaches the point in its orbit around the Sun when the Earth's axis is inclined neither toward nor away from the Sun, between the Summer and Winter Solstices, this is known as the Autumnal Equinox when Autumn or Fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere (Vernal Equinox when Spring begins in the Southern Hemisphere). And, half-way between the beginning points of each season are Cross-Quarter Days, related to the traditional holidays of Groundhog Day, May Day, Lammas Day (traditionally, the first harvest festival of the year on August 1), and Halloween Day.


Homeless Persons' Memorial Day is now observed on the Winter Solstice, by the National Coalition for the Homeless and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. As many of the homeless spend their nights on the streets, this remembrance is purposely scheduled for the longest night of the year.



                           Ursid Meteor Shower 2013



About a day after the Winter Solstice, each year, comes the peak of the Ursid Meteor Shower, which begins around December 17 and could last until December 24, 25, or even 26. However, the Ursids seem to be a narrow stream of debris originating from Comet Tuttle, so it is difficult to see Ursid meteors outside of a 12-hour window before or after the December 22 peak. At the peak, the Ursid Meteor Shower can produce about 12 meteors per hour.


Clear skies are always a must for meteor viewing, something not always available during the early Winter skies. And, it is always best to get away from city lights, for the chance to see the dimmer meteors.


As always, the best viewing for a meteor shower is between local midnight and local dawn, when the Earth is rotating into the meteor shower. However, a nearly Full Moon (waning gibbous, with 77 percent of the Moon's visible surface illuminated by the Sun) will hinder meteor viewing this year. It could be possible to view some meteors in the early evening of December 21 after sunset and before moonrise (for the evening of December 21 in Pittsburgh, sunset will be 4:57 p.m. EST, moonrise at 9:13 p.m. EST); however, as already noted, this is not the optimal time for viewing a meteor shower.


The Ursids are so named because most meteors appear to radiate from a point near the Star Beta Ursae Minoris (apparent meteor shower radiant) in the Constellation Ursa Minor (“Little Dipper”), which is the brightest star in the bowl of the Little Dipper. However, during any meteor shower, meteors can appear in any part of the sky at any time.


Telescopes and binoculars are of little use for finding meteors. Such optical devices restrict the field-of-view, thus a viewer could easily miss a lot of meteors. The chance of viewing a meteor with a telescope or binoculars is not very good. The best way to look for meteors is to lie down on the ground, in an area with an unobstructed view of most of the sky. Then, just keep scanning throughout the sky until you see a meteor.


For areas such as Pittsburgh, where the weather may preclude direct viewing of this meteor shower this year, a live web-cast of the event will be available on the < http://events.slooh.com/ > Internet web site, all-night long beginning Saturday Evening (December 21) at 5:30 p.m. EST (22:30 Coordinated Universal Time).

More on the Winter Solstice:
Link 1 >>> http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/WinterSolstice.html
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winter

Popular Winter Planetarium Sky Shows Shown at Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (1939 to 1991):
The Star of Bethlehem >>> http://buhlplanetarium3.tripod.com/skyshow/bethlehem/
The Stars of Winter >>> http://buhlplanetarium3.tripod.com/skyshow/winter/

More on the Ursid Meteor Shower: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UrsidsA

All-Night Web-Cast (December 21 to 22) of Ursid Meteor Shower:
Link >>> http://events.slooh.com/

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

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 19, 2013

1st Battery-Powered Invisibility Cloak Design



Starship USS Enterprise Captain James T. Kirk about to steal Romulan
Cloaking Device, in the popular 1960s, science-fiction television series
Star Trek. (Image Source: scifilounge.blogspot.com )


Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have proposed the first design of a cloaking device that uses an external source of energy to significantly broaden its bandwidth of operation.

Andrea Alù, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Cockrell School of Engineering, and his team have proposed a design for an active cloak that draws energy from a battery, allowing objects to become undetectable to radio sensors over a greater range of frequencies.

The team’s paper, “Broadening the Cloaking Bandwidth with Non-Foster Metasurfaces,” was published in Physical Review Letters. Alù, researcher Pai-Yen Chen and postdoctoral research fellow Christos Argyropoulos co-authored the paper. Both Chen and Argyropoulos were at UT Austin at the time this research was conducted. The proposed active cloak will have a number of applications beyond camouflaging, such as improving cellular and radio communications, and biomedical sensing.

Cloaks have so far been realized with so-called passive technology, which means that they are not designed to draw energy from an external source. They are typically based on metamaterials (advanced artificial materials) or metasurfaces (flexible, ultrathin metamaterials) that can suppress the scattering of light that bounces off an object, making an object less visible. When the scattered fields from the cloak and the object interfere, they cancel each other out, and the overall effect is transparency to radio-wave detectors. They can suppress 100 times or more the detectability at specific design frequencies. Although the proposed design works for radio waves, active cloaks could one day be designed to make detection by the human eye more difficult.

More - Link >>> http://www.scientificcomputing.com/news/2013/12/researchers-design-first-battery-powered-invisibility-cloak?et_cid=3668140&et_rid=544605860&location=top#.UrM63uK4FYE

Sources: University of Texas at Austin, ScientificComputing.com .

Related Blog Post ---

3-D Printing: Do-it-Yourself Invisibility  (2013 May 7):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/05/3-d-printing-do-it-yourself-invisibility.html


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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 17, 2013

End of Research at Lick Observatory ?

File:Lick Observatory 3.JPG

View of the Lick Observatory main building and large dome housing the historic 1889, 36-inch James Lick Refractor Telescope, located on the summit of Mount Hamilton near San Jose. Astronomer and astrophysicist James E. Keeler, after being Director of Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory for seven years, became Director of Lick Observatory in 1898. After his untimely death in 1900 at age 42, his cremated remains lie in a crypt below the 30-inch Keeler Memorial Reflector Telescope at Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh, along with the remains of his wife, his son Henry, and the remains of John and Phoebe Brashear. (Image Source: Wikipedia.org )


The future of astronomical research at the iconic Lick Observatory is in peril, as the University of California threatens to cut funding and perhaps even convert most of its once-cutting-edge Mount Hamilton telescopes into museum relics.

Now, alongside the search for new celestial frontiers, scientists must hunt for a new source of outside funding to keep the 125-year-old observatory from going dark.

"It's heartbreaking. We're collapsing like a house of cards," said Steve Vogt, who leads a team of planet-hunting astronomers at UC-Santa Cruz.

Perched on the 4,200-foot summit of Mount Hamilton east of San Jose, the UC-run observatory is home to six telescopes, which are increasingly upstaged by newer and larger telescopes in other parts of the world. When constructed in 1888, Lick was the first permanently occupied mountaintop observatory in the world; for almost a decade, its original telescope was the largest ever built.

It has made major contributions to the field of astronomy, discovering asteroids, moons of Jupiter and planets outside our solar system.

More - Link >>> http://www.mercurynews.com/science/ci_24734951/lick-observatorys-astronomy-research-could-end

Source: San Jose Mercury News.

More on Astronomer & Astrophysicist James E. Keeler:
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/bio/KeelerJ.htm

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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 14, 2013

Smallest Full Moon of Year: Dec. 17, 4:28 a.m.



The rising Full Moon near the Winter Solstice. (Source: Old Farmer's Almanac)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The smallest Full Moon of 2013 occurs on Tuesday Morning, 2013 December 17 at 4:28 a.m. EST (9:28 Coordinated Universal Time). It is the smallest Full Moon as the Moon is at the apogee point in its orbit, the point farthest from the Earth, only two days later: 2013 December 19, 7:00 p.m. EST (December 20, 0:00 Coordinated Universal Time) - distance from Earth to the Moon: 406,269 kilometers.

The December Full Moon was known to native Americans as the Cold Moon or the Long Nights Moon, and sometimes also referred to as the Moon Before Yule. Other names given to the December Full Moon have been reported by the Farmers' Almanac (Oak Moon) and The American Boy's Book of Signs, Signals and Symbols published in 1918 for use by the Boy Scouts (Wolves Moon and Big Moon).

Of course Cold Moon refers to the cold temperatures that begin with the start of the Winter season this month. And, the Moon Before Yule was used by the Christian settlers to refer to the Full Moon before Christmas Day (Yule being an early religious festival observed by Germanic peoples, later absorbed and equated with Christmas); of course, this name would not be used during years when the December Full Moon is after Christmas Day.

With the longest night of the year occurring near the Winter Solstice, this justifies the term Long Nights Moon, as the Full Moon is visible all-night long. And, this month's Moon is high in the Northern Hemisphere sky, as this is the time of the year that the Sun is the lowest in the sky; traveling high in the sky also means it stays in the sky longer.

With this year's Full Moon being the smallest of the year, of course the term Big Moon would not be appropriate. However, a couple centuries ago, when night artificial lighting had little effect and the December Full Moon brightened a snowy field, one might see how some people may refer to this as a Big Moon.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the December Full Moon is known as the Strawberry Moon, Honey Moon, and Rose Moon.

More on the Full Moon: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon

More on Full Moon names ---
Link 1 >>> http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full_moon#Harvest_and_Hunter.27s_moons
Link 3 >>> http://www.farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/

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

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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 12, 2013

Geminid Meteor Shower, w/ Mysterious Origin, Peaks This Weekend


File:Meteor falling courtesy NASA.gif




















Geminid fireball falling Earthward. (Source: NASA)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The most intense meteor shower of the year, the Geminids, peaks this-coming weekend: officially the peak is Friday night / Saturday morning, 2013 December 14 at 1:00 a.m. EST (6:00 Coordinated Universal Time). Particularly in good years when Moon light does not hamper viewing, 100 to 120 meteors per hour can be seen. However, some people believe this meteor shower is intensifying, as 120 to 160 meteors have been seen, under optimal conditions, during this meteor shower in recent years.

Due to the intensity of the Geminid Meteor Shower, some meteors can be seen Thursday through Monday nights. Of course, the number of meteors that can be seen is less on nights other than the Friday night / Saturday morning peak.

Clear skies are always a must for meteor viewing, something not always available in late Autumn and early Winter skies. And, it is always best to get away from city lights, for the chance to see the dimmer meteors.

As always, the best viewing for a meteor shower is between local midnight and local dawn, when the Earth is rotating into the meteor shower. However, a nearly Full Moon (waxing gibbous, with 93 per cent of the Moon's surface illuminated by the Sun) will hinder meteor viewing until the Moon sets (Moon set in Pittsburgh for December 14: 4:54 a.m. EST). Dawn begins at Civil Twilight (for Pittsburgh: 7:05 a.m. EST with sunrise at 7:35 a.m. EST), which means there should be about two hours when the Moon and the Sun would not interfere with watching for Geminid meteors.

The Geminids are so named because most meteors appear to radiate from the Constellation Gemini the Twins (apparent meteor shower radiant), a constellation which becomes more prominent as the Winter season approaches in Earth's Northern Hemisphere. However, during any meteor shower, meteors can appear in any part of the sky at any time.

Telescopes and binoculars are of little use for finding meteors. Such optical devices restrict the field-of-view, thus that you could easily miss a lot of meteors, and the chance that you could observe a meteor with a telescope or binoculars is not very good. The best way to look for meteors is to lie down on the ground, in an area with an unobstructed view of most of the sky. Then, just keep scanning throughout the sky until you see a meteor.

While most meteor showers occur at a time when Earth's orbit coincides with a trail of debris from a comet, this is not the case for the Geminids. Amazingly, the most intense meteor shower of the year seems to come from a strange rocky object identified as Asteroid 3200 Phaethon, what some scientists call a "rock comet." Discovered by NASA's Infrared Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) in 1983, 3200 Phaethon has an eccentric orbit which brings it inside the orbit of Mercury every 1.4 years.

Even though this asteroid is regularly blasted with solar heat when it nears the Sun, scientists using NASA satellite data have concluded that the debris falling-off of the asteroid due to this heating could not have caused the amount of debris found in the debris trail which comprises the Geminid Meteor Shower. The amount of debris which scientists recorded as having fallen-off of this asteroid during a recent encounter with the Sun is too low.

Some researchers believe that 5-kilometer Phaethon may have been chipped-off of one of the largest asteroids in the Solar System, 2 Pallas (which is 544 kilometers in diameter). Could some past planetary collision, which caused Phaethon to break-off from Pallas, have caused the debris trail now known as the Geminid Meteor Shower? Scientists who have studied this possible scenario say no. They say that the Geminid meteoroids were created much closer to the Sun, not in the Asteroid Belt.

Hence, the explanation for the intensity of the Geminid Meteor Shower remains a mystery to scientists.

So, bundle-up this weekend and hope for clear skies to see the most intense meteor shower of the year, apparently caused by an astronomical anomaly.

More on the Geminid Meteor Shower ---

Link 1 >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2010/06dec_geminids/
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geminids

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

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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 10, 2013

Salty Water Seen Flowing Down Martian Slopes ?

Seasonal Changes in Dark Marks on an Equatorial Martian Slope These images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter show how the appearance of dark markings on Martian slope changes with the seasons. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
› Full image and captionc1


NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed to scientists slender dark markings -- possibly due to salty water - that advance seasonally down slopes surprisingly close to the Martian equator.

"The equatorial surface region of Mars has been regarded as dry, free of liquid or frozen water, but we may need to rethink that," said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona in Tucson, principal investigator for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera.

Tracking how these features recur each year is one example of how the longevity of NASA orbiters observing Mars is providing insight about changes on many time scales. Researchers at the American Geophysical Union meeting Tuesday in San Francisco discussed a range of current Martian activity, from fresh craters offering glimpses of subsurface ice to multi-year patterns in the occurrence of large, regional dust storms.

The seasonally changing surface flows were first reported two years ago on mid-latitude southern slopes. They are finger-like features typically less than 16 feet (5 meters) wide that appear and extend down steep, rocky slopes during spring through summer, then fade in winter and return the next spring. Recently observed slopes stretch as long as 4,000 feet (1,200 meters).

McEwen and co-authors reported the equatorial flows at the conference and in a paper published online Tuesday by Nature Geoscience. Five well-monitored sites with these markings are in Valles Marineris, the largest canyon system in the solar system. At each of these sites, the features appear on both north- and south-facing walls. On the north-facing slopes, they are active during the part of the year when those slopes get the most sunshine. The counterparts on south-facing slopes start flowing when the season shifts and more sunshine hits their side.

"The explanation that fits best is salty water is flowing down the slopes when the temperature rises," McEwen said. "We still don't have any definite identification of water at these sites, but there's nothing that rules it out, either."

More - Link >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-361

Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory / California Institute of Technology

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
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/ >
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, December 7, 2013

Historic Buhl Planetarium Flag Pole Refurbished, Back-in-Use

Photo
of historic & refurbished Buhl Planetarium flag pole

Once again, the American flag files proudly on the historic flag pole, outside of
the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building (now
used by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh), as seen from Buhl Community
Park at Allegheny Square..
(Photo taken 2013 November 20; Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Today, as we commemorate Pearl Harbor Day,  the American flag again flies proudly over the original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science building, which is now used by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh. The historic Buhl Planetarium flag pole, which was erected and started use with the opening of the building in October of 1939, was refurbished and returned to use last month, in time for Veterans' Day.

A second historic flag pole, built atop the Old Allegheny Post Office building (also now used by the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh) in 1897, is also back-in-use. A flag displaying the Children's Museum's "HI" logo now flies on this flag pole.

Angelo Galioto, a chef in the Children's Museum's "Big Red Room Cafe" (in Buhl Planetarium's Great Hall), spearheaded the drive to refurbish and reuse the historic Buhl Planetarium flag pole. A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Mr. Galioto originally voiced his displeasure with the condition of a huge artifact, the original anchor from the USS Pittsburgh (Baltimore-class heavy cruiser which served during World War II), which is displayed on the Allegheny Square Plaza near the flag pole.

Originally preserved by the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation (which hosted a city history museum in the Old Allegheny Post Office, before the Children's Museum was established) , Mr. Galioto and his brother Frank (also a Navy Veteran) sought to have the anchor painted and the area cleaned-up. Frank Galioto, a retired union worker, enlisted the aid of Joseph Delale, the AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison with the Allegheny County Labor Council, who in-turn called-on Giles Grinko, Business Representative from the Painters Union (IUPAT D.C.57).

At a meeting, they all agreed that the job could be accomplished by taking advantage of the apprenticeship program of the IUPAT D.C.57 union. They also decided to install a new flag pole with an American flag, directly beside the anchor.

After making an official request to the Children's Museum, Children's Museum Deputy Director Chris Siefert pointed-out that the property they were referring to is legally a right-of-way of the City of Pittsburgh. Before the 1960s construction of the original Allegheny Square Plaza and the office, retail, and apartment building complex known as Allegheny Center (originally developed by ALCOA), where several streets became pedestrian plazas, the area where the anchor is located was originally West Ohio Street at the intersection with Federal Street.

After speaking with city officials, Mr. Siefert suggested that the group consider refurbishing and reusing the original Buhl Planetarium flag pole (as with the Buhl Planetarium building and lawn, the flag pole is City property), which was near the anchor. The Buhl Planetarium flag pole (height: over 30 feet) had not been used for more than 20 years, when the SpaceWatchtower blog editor / author, Glenn A. Walsh, had used the flag pole to raise and lower the American flag on major American holidays, for Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science (a.k.a. Buhl Science Center). By this time, this area of the Buhl Planetarium lawn was overgrown with trees, making display of the American flag difficult to view.

Mr. Siefert arranged for the City of Pittsburgh Department of Forestry to remove one tree and trim the remaining trees, to enable better visibility of the flag pole. The Painters Union cleaned and painted this very tall flag pole, with the help of the Duquesne Light Company, their IBEW union local 29 employees, and the company's bucket truck.

Through their Power of Light program, Duquesne Light also set-up night-lighting for the flag pole, so the American flag could be displayed 24 / 7 / 365. Although there are no legal penalties for a violation, the U.S. Flag Code instructs that the American flag should always be illuminated, when displayed at night. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that any penalties for violation of the U.S. Flag Code would conflict with the right of Freedom of Speech in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Finally, U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle (who represents the congressional district which includes the Buhl Planetarium building) donated a new 5x8 American flag for use on the refurbished Buhl Planetarium flag pole. As with the American flag Mr. Walsh received, for the Buhl Planetarium flag pole about 25 years earlier from Mike Doyle's predecessor Congressman William J. Coyne, this new American flag had once flown over the U.S. Capitol building.

The following are the names of individuals and organizations which made this project a success:

Angelo Galioto, Chef, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and his brother Frank Galioto – both U.S. Navy Veterans
 
International Union Painters and Allied Trades District Council 57
Giles Grinko, IUPAT D.C. 57 Business Rep.
Pedro Ponce, Juan Nava, Dillon Martin, and Chris Matvia - Apprentices
 
Duquesne Light Co.
Lloyd Mullin, Bill Durso, and Mike Leimeyer – Foremen
Jeff Minehart, Rich Heintz and Brandon Leimeyer ( IBEW local 29 )
 
Joe Delale, Allegheny County Labor Council, AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison.
 
Vickie Watson, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh
Chris Siefert, Deputy Director, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh

City of Pittsburgh, City Council
City of Pittsburgh, City Department of Forestry – Lisa Coeffe
U.S. Congressman Mike Doyle

More on the historic Buhl Planetarium Flag Pole:

Special Thanks from the SpaceWatchtower: Chris Siefert, Deputy Director, Children's Museum of Pittsburgh.

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

Related Blog Post ---

Buhl Community Park at Allegheny Square Opens  (2012 June 25):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/06/buhl-community-park-at-allegheny-square.html


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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
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, December 5, 2013

Cassini Probe Shows Colorful Storm at Saturn's North Pole

In Full View: Saturn's Streaming Hexagon This colorful view from NASA's Cassini mission is the highest-resolution view of the unique six-sided jet stream at Saturn's north pole known as "the hexagon." This movie, made from images obtained by Cassini's imaging cameras, is the first to show the hexagon in color filters, and the first movie to show a complete view from the north pole down to about 70 degrees north latitude. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University
› Full image and caption


NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained the highest-resolution movie yet of a unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn's north pole.

This is the first hexagon movie of its kind, using color filters, and the first to show a complete view of the top of Saturn down to about 70 degrees latitude. Spanning about 20,000 miles (30,000 kilometers) across, the hexagon is a wavy jet stream of 200-mile-per-hour winds (about 322 kilometers per hour) with a massive, rotating storm at the center. There is no weather feature exactly, consistently like this anywhere else in the solar system.

"The hexagon is just a current of air, and weather features out there that share similarities to this are notoriously turbulent and unstable," said Andrew Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging team member at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "A hurricane on Earth typically lasts a week, but this has been here for decades -- and who knows -- maybe centuries."

Weather patterns on Earth are interrupted when they encounter friction from landforms or ice caps. Scientists suspect the stability of the hexagon has something to do with the lack of solid landforms on Saturn, which is essentially a giant ball of gas.

Better views of the hexagon are available now because the sun began to illuminate its interior in late 2012. Cassini captured images of the hexagon over a 10-hour time span with high-resolution cameras, giving scientists a good look at the motion of cloud structures within.

More & Hexagon Movies - Link >>> http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-350

Sources: NASA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Insstitute of Technology.

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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
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, December 3, 2013

Comet ISON: Remnants May Remain But Comet is Gone

NASA took a series of images to create this "timelapse" view of comet ISON's trip around the sun.

NASA took a series of images to create this "timelapse" view of comet ISON's trip around the sun.
(Image Source: NASA)

Comet ISON, a "shining green candle in the solar wind," is no longer with us, NASA declared Monday morning in a tribute to what many hoped would be the "comet of the century."

Astrophysicist Karl Battams of NASA writes that "while it is conceivable that small chunks of ISON's nucleus still exist, that possibility looks increasingly unlikely and it is with more than a little sadness that we have to declare the comet lost.

"Survived by approximately several trillion siblings, Comet ISON leaves behind an unprecedented legacy for astronomers, and the eternal gratitude of an enthralled global audience. In ISON's memory, donations are encouraged to your local astronomy club, observatory or charity that supports STEM and science outreach programs for children."

More - Link >>> http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/12/03/248202813/comet-ison-is-no-more-nasa-says

NASA explanation of what happened to Comet ISON:
Link >>> http://www.isoncampaign.org/potw-dec02

What Happened to Comet ISON?  {NASA Science News: 2013 Dec. 4):

Link >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2013/04dec_isonrecap/


Sources: NASA, National Public Radio.

Related Blog Posts ---

Comet ISON -

Comet ISON vs. the Solar Storm  (2013 Nov. 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/11/comet-ison-vs-solar-storm.html

 

Should We Worry About Comet ISON ?  (2013 Oct. 10):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/10/should-we-worry-about-comet-ison.html

 

Amateur Astronomers See Comet ISON  (2013 Sept. 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/09/amateur-astronomers-see-comet-ison.html

 

Comet ISON to Fly by Mars  (2013 Aug. 24):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/08/comet-ison-to-fly-by-mars.html

 

Comet ISON: Unique Meteor Shower Mid-January  (2013 April 20):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/04/comet-ison-unique-meteor-shower-mid.html

 

Astronomers Begin Study of Comet ISON  (2013 April 1):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/04/astronomers-begin-study-of-comet-ison.html

 

Comet of the Century? (2013 Jan. 19):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/comet-of-century.html

 

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 >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor/Author: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#GAW >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
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 >