Carnival of Space No.124Posted: October 12, 2009
So we are hosting Carnival of Space this week. The idea of this is to collate together the writing on astronomy blogs over the last week. If you want more info have a look at the Carnival Homepage.
Let’s start with the Nobel Prize for Physics which this year was partly won by the scientists responsible for inventing the CCD. The Chandra Blog and Commercial Space celebrate this and explain how CCDs have been indispensable to astronomy and our understanding of the Universe. As well as, of course, giving us lots of pretty desktop pictures.
Speaking of pretty pictures, over at Bad Astronomy Phil Plait gives us a visual treat in the form of an image of our nearest galactic neighbour, Andromeda, as you have never seen it before. Taken as 330 separate images, it shows Andromeda in Ultra Violet light. The UV traces both the regions of star formation in the spirals, where young, incredibly bright stars pump out UV light, and the older, densely packed population of stars in the central region of the galaxy.
And one of the biggest stories of this week is also about looking at a familiar object in new wavebands, I am talking of course about the discovery of a new ring around Saturn. Spotted by the Spitzer space telescope, which sees the sky in the infrared, this ring is like no ordinary ring. Spanning a volume which could fit a billion Earths, this gargantuan collection of dust and ice would appear in the sky to be the size of two full moons ether side of Saturn, if only our eyes could see infra-red like Spitzer. See Cosmic Ray for details and pretty pictures and Universe Today for an interview with Anne Verbiscer, a member of the team that found it.
While the rings of Saturn contain small clumps of ice, the solar system is full of their bigger brothers. You might vaguely remember hearing about one of these, a comet named Lulin, which was briefly visible in very dark skies last February. Well Lulin won’t be visiting our part of the solar system for a million years or more, but space_disco writes about a group of astronomers over at the Lowell Observatory who were watching Lulin closer than most. Using their telescope they were able to work out the rotational period of Lulin and even hope to use their data to create a 3D model of its nucleus.
Talking of comets, this October the Earth will be ploughing through the dusty trail left by Halley’s Comet. When it does so the night sky will (hopefully) play host to a spectacular meteor show. Head over to Visual Astronomy for the details. Cheap Astronomy latest podcast has also been considering some of our solar system’s icy bodies. Tune in to learn all about trans-Neptunian objects.
While you are outside enjoying these celestial fireworks why not dust off your old pair of binoculars and have a look at what else there is to see in the sky. What’s that you say… you find it hard to hold your beloved binoculars steady and so the stars are all shaky? Well never fear, just head over to this fantastic post about fixing your binocs to a mount. And speaking of fireworks Wierd Warp has some thoughts about the effects of sunspots.
Getting the telescopes like Spitzer in to space, so they can show us beautiful images of our cosmos, is no easy feat. While this has traditionally been the job of massive rockets like the Arianne rockets, or the Saturn 5, Next Big Future wonders if in the future payloads couldn’t be “shot” in to orbit using massive Orbital Gun Launch Systems.
While this might be fine for inanimate payloads, I think it might be a suggestion to worry the “chumps”. This affectionately nicknamed crowd is the new class of future NASA astronauts. To learn more about who the “chumps” are, and who gave them their nickname, head over to Collect Space .
It seems nostalgia is in the air as Beyond Apollo, 21st Centrury Waves, Cumbrian Sky, and The Gish Bar Times are all taking time to remember times gone by. Beyond Apollo looks to 1972 when, because of a faulty Apollo Command and Service module, three astronauts almost had to be rescued from the Skylab Orbital Workshop. Gish Bar, ten years on, takes a look back at some of the stunning pictures of the Galileo fly by of Jupiter’s moon Io. In other solar system exploration news Cumbrian Sky looks at the award of the Sagan Medal to the man behind the Mars Rover. Meanwhile 21st Century Waves takes a look at a new book by Fred Kaplan called “1959 — The Year Everything Changed”.
Another good book review comes from Simostronomy who gives us the low down on a new book by Douglas Isbell and Stephen E. Strom, about the observatories of the American southwest , imaginatively entitled “Observatories of the Southwest”. While Paul at Centauri Dreams uses his latest reading material as a springboard for musings about how bizarre and alien our ancestors’ civilizations would look to us.
Finally, Habitation Intention is looking for speakers from the aerospace or engineering industry for a conference at Columbia University later this month. They might find what they are looking for over at Kentucky Space, where cubesat pioneer Bob Twiggs described his new role at Morehead State University.