Let The Battle Begin!

In this corner, the newcomer, SPHERE!

The Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch telescope trained and managed exclusively by the European Space Agency.

And in this corner, another newcomer, the Gemini Planet Imager! Born and trained in North America.

Both these bruisers are set to battle it out for the title of King of Exoplanet imaging!

File:Beta Pictoris.jpg

While most of their contemporaries find planets the old fashioned way, these two imager’s are going to take actual pictures of exoplanets!

Fighting it out down in Chile.  This battle is not to be missed!  And who will win this battle?  Why, we will!  Good luck to both teams and may the data flow begin.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Herschel Finds Water On Ceres.

Scientists using the Herschel space telescope have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on Ceres.

Ceres is the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt and is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Photo : CNRS

Scientists think that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when parts of its surface are warmed by the Sun.

 

In 2015 the Dawn spacecraft will be able to provide more information, hopefully confirming and expanding the data, when it arrives at Ceres next year.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Wake Up!

The ESA’s Rosetta comet probe has woken up to make its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta’s mission will take 10 years to complete.

During its trip Rosetta passed by two asteroids, Lutetia and Steins.  The image above shows landslide that happened on Lutetia.

When Rosetta reaches the comet, it will deploy a 220-pound (100 kilogram) lander called Philae.

Once on the comet’s surface the pair of craft will accompany the comet on its journey through the inner solar system, observing at close range how the comet changes as the Sun’s heat transforms the cold surface to a boiling gaseous mass.

Rosetta is about 500 million miles (about 800 million km) from Earth near Jupiter’s orbit.  At that distance radio transmissions take 45 minutes to reach Earth and vice versa.  What is fascinating is that, due to gravity, the radio signals don’t travel in a straight line back and forth.

Once Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock went off it took seven hours to warm up its star trackers,  fire thrusters to slow its spin, turn on its transmitter and send a message back to Earth.  And with all the advances in science the drumming monkey clock was the best we could do (just kidding, atomic clocks were used, although the monkey clock would be fabulously hilarious).

There are a lot of firsts for Rosetta, but the images from the comet as it starts out-gassing should be spectacular.  I just hope Philae doesn’t land on one of the explosive vents that many comets have.  We will know later this year as the comet passes by the Sun.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Colorful Universe

Let’s try this again.

I new that there were many colors seen throughout the universe, but this is a first for me.

This image taken on Dec. 28, 2013 from New Zealand shows Nova Centauri 2013, a bright naked eye nova in the Southern constellation of Centaurus. The nova appears pink because of emissions from ionised hydrogen. Credit and copyright: Rolf Wahl Olsen.

This image (Credit and copyright: Rolf Wahl Olsen.) of a pink supernova is pretty amazing.  Its color is due to the ionizing gas from the explosion, and very rare.

File:Orion Nebula - Hubble 2006 mosaic 18000.jpg

The Orion nebula shows all sorts of colors in the visible light spectrum in this image.

Even green objects like Hanny’s Voorwerp exist.

So why can you see them?

Illustration

The structure of the eye compared to the camera: taken from Wald, George (1953) ‘Eye and Camera’ in Scientific American Reader, New York, Simon and Schuster.

It turns out that our eyes aren’t really that good at imaging.  When visual astronomers look at objects, like the Orion nebula, it is mostly gray and sometimes, if your eyes are young enough, green.  This is due to the fact that the human eye is more like a motion picture camera, processing frame after frame and moving on.  Cameras, on the other hand, can collect those few and distant photons over a period of time and can capture all the colors that we miss.  This is why I do astrophotography.  Although it is a difficult process, the images are far more interesting to me.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Oh, The Places We’ve Been (https://plus.google.com/+KevinGill/posts/bGA7kwn48f5)

I found this amazing graphic (below) that shows where humans have ventured from the planet.

Kevin Gill used his very own creation, the Orbit Viewer WebGL, and data from the NASA/JPL Horizons ephemeris.

First, the program is very impressive itself (props to Kevin) and the graphics are incredible.

If you would like to play with Kevin’s program you can check it out here.  It is really amazing.

You can find the original article here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I’m Not Dead Yet!

Do you remember that scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail?  It goes like this:

The Dead Collector: Bring out yer dead.

Large Man with Dead Body: Here’s one.

The Dead Collector: That’ll be ninepence.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.

The Dead Collector: What?

Large Man with Dead Body: Nothing. There’s your ninepence.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not dead.

The Dead Collector: ‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.

Large Man with Dead Body: Yes he is.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m not.

The Dead Collector: He isn’t.

Large Man with Dead Body: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I’m getting better.

Large Man with Dead Body: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

The Dead Collector: Well, I can’t take him like that. It’s against regulations.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I don’t want to go on the cart.

Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, don’t be such a baby.

The Dead Collector: I can’t take him.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I feel fine.

Large Man with Dead Body: Oh, do me a favor.

The Dead Collector: I can’t.

Large Man with Dead Body: Well, can you hang around for a couple of minutes? He won’t be long.

The Dead Collector: I promised I’d be at the Robinsons’. They’ve lost nine today.

Large Man with Dead Body: Well, when’s your next round?

The Dead Collector: Thursday.

The Dead Body That Claims It Isn’t: I think I’ll go for a walk.

Large Man with Dead Body: You’re not fooling anyone, you know. Isn’t there anything you could do?

A very funny scene from a very funny movie.  However, it seems kind of ironic that it almost parallels what is going on with the Kepler mission right at the moment.

Kepler team has some succes in reaction wheel recovery attempt

 

As I reported earlier, in May of this year, the Kepler space telescope lost two of its four reaction wheels need to point the craft accurately to find exoplanets.

Well, it seems that Kepler isn’t quite dead in the water yet. Kepler  mission manager Roger Hunter says that the team has made progress unsticking one of the reaction wheels and has success in testing not one, but both of  the two failed reaction wheels. (P.S. I am glad to see that someone at NASA has a sense of humor).

“Over the next two weeks, engineers will review the data from these tests and consider what steps to take next,” Hunter said. “Although both wheels have shown motion, the friction levels will be critical in future considerations. The details of the wheel friction are under analysis.”

Kepler has found over 2,700 planetary candidates, with 130 confirmed planets, from the size of Earth’s moon to larger than Jupiter. There are two years of data that has yet to be combed through to detect other exoplanets.  Not bad considering Kepler is only looking at a small patch (about 12 degrees in diameter) of the Milky Way.

Hopefully, Kepler won’t suffer the same fate in the remaining part of our scene where:

[the Dead Collector glances up and down the street furtively, then silences the Body with his a whack of his club]

Large Man with Dead Body: Ah, thank you very much.

The Dead Collector: Not at all. See you on Thursday.

Large Man with Dead Body: Right.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I can see clearly now.

On July 17, 2013, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, spacecraft opened its spectrographic eyes to gaze at the heretofor unseen lowest layers of the sun’s atmosphere.

http://iris.lmsal.com/press/firstlight/iris_sji_image_color.png

IRIS is built to view the Sun’s interface region, a complex area between the photosphere and corona. Understanding the interface region is important because it forms the ultraviolet emission that impacts satellites in near-Earth orbit and the weather.  The region also drives solar wind.

IRIS’s instruments are a combination of an ultraviolet telescope and a spectrograph.

Light is split into its component parts.  Two of the components are used by IRIS to provide high-resolution images one wavelength of light at a time, the other is the whole spectrum that provides information about many wavelengths of light at once.

The data from IRIS is fed into supercomputers to help interpret the data.

I suppose this puts my 50mm Coronado and PST telescopes to shame, but I still enjoy the view.

Please remember not to look at the Sun without the proper protective eyewear (NOT sunglasses) or through any telescope not designed, or shielded, for solar viewing.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Can You See Yourself Waving?

This past Friday, the Cassini spacecraft captured a picture of Earth through Saturn’s rings.

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/.a/6a00d8341bf7f753ef0192ac23f9c6970d-pi

The image is only the third ever taken of Earth from the outer solar system (home to the gas giants and their moons).

It is also the first time that everyone knew the picture was going to be taken in advance.  As I reported earlier, that knowledge prompted a lot of interesting events to celebrate the occasion.

From 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away, the Earth is a small blue dot.  If you look closely, you can see the moon next to the Earth (naturally).

So did you see me waving?  Leave me a message and let me know how you celebrated this historic first.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Big Blue.

Once again, Hubble has expanded the Universe of our knowledge.

This time, Astronomers found the actual color of a planet orbiting another star 63 light-years away.  The planet, HD 189733b, isn’t just blue, its big, at least the size of Jupiter.  The cobalt blue color doesn’t come from water reflection, like Earth, but most likely from the blow-torched atmosphere.  There is even speculation that there is solid silica rain (glass rain).

However fun a glass rain storm would be probably pales in comparison to the 2,000 degree Fahrenheit  (1093 Celsius) temperature and 4,500/mph (7242/ kph) wind.  Shards of glass flying at you very fast, what’s not to love about a planet like that?

Using Hubble’s Imaging Spectrograph, Astronomers measured changes in the color of light from planet HD 189733b during its transit behind the star it orbits.  Fortuitously, the planet’s orbit is tilted edge-on with respect to the Earth so the planet routinely passes in front and behind its star.

Hubble’s instruments measured about 1/10,000 of the light you would normally see.  “We saw the light becoming less bright in the blue, but not in the green or the red. This means that the object that disappeared is blue because light was missing in the blue, but not in the red when it was hidden.”

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman