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.

https://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.

https://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

Saturday Night with the RAS.

At this Saturday’s general meeting of the Riverside Astronomical Society (RAS) that are always open to the public (see our website ww.rivastro.org), Associate Professor Kevork N. Abazajian who gave a talk entitled: “Cosmological Large Scale Structure Surveys.”  Professor Abazajian teaches for the Department of Physics & Astronomy at the University of California Irivine.  You can read more about Kevork and his research interests by clicking here.

Dr. Abazajian’s talk encompassed the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and how it was the largest optical survey of galaxies in our universe and it found 3-dimensional positions of approximately one million galaxies to a distance of 1.9 Gly (1.9 billion light years).  He described the exciting results of this survey, its implications for cosmology, and the prospects for an even larger and deeper survey currently being designed for the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST).

He talked about how the survey done by Herschel in 1785 showed our first understanding of the Universe.  Which at that time was just our galaxy.

In 1921, our understanding deepened a little with the Shapley model of the Universe.

Then, after Hubble discovered that our galaxy was just one of billions, the next survey in 1985 started honing our knowledge of the universe.

Then, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey really started to allow scientists to verify many of the cosmological models that had been proposed.

Currently the SDSS bills itself as the largest color image of the sky ever made.

However, the WMAP spacecraft in 2003 pushed the boundaries of the universe to about 13.7 Billion years.  This is currently the farthest that we can see because of the plasma left over from the big bang is blocking our view beyond that time.  Dr. Abazajian said that it was like trying to look through an inverted sun.  The photons from the plasma are coming toward us from the edge instead of at us from a point.

The ESA’s Plank satellite has provided even more detailed structure of the universe.

New equipment is being built right now to make all the other surveys pale in comparison.  The large synoptic survey telescope (LSST) will be able to survey the entire sky in just 3 nights!  It has a 3200 Megapixel digital camera, and a 3 degree field of view.

Not surprisingly, one of our members asked: “So what are you going to do with it after those three days?”  Not to worry, the LSST will then be tasked with trying to locate and catalog all the  Kuiper Belt objects.

If you  want to see the universe in a few minutes, the SDSS have made a movie using the data collected from the survery.  You can find it here.  I highly recommend it.  A word of warning, your mind will have trouble grasping the scale of the universe after a while, at least mine did.

Another impressive movie was made by the American museum of natural history: The Known Universe, is also highly recommended.

Check our website for the next Star Party and meetings.  Everyone is welcome, you don’t need to bring anything but your wonder, we’ll handle the amazing.

– 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

A strange solar tail wind.

 

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft took the first complete pictures of the solar system’s downwind region and it revealed some interesting stuff.

It has been theorized for a long time that the heliosphere had a tail.

 

Taking images since 2009, IBEX has shown an unexpected ribbon of high energetic neutral atom (ENA) emissions and a structure comprising lower energy ENA emissions.

Also, there seems to be two low energy ENA tail regions to the side of the previously identified high energy one.  So, instead of the expected single tail, there appears to be two “lobes.”

IBEX data shows that the heliotail is a region where the Sun’s million mile per hour (1,000,000,000 mph or 2,200,000 kph) solar wind flows away from the center of the Milkyway, eventually ending up in interstellar space.

– 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

If you didn’t already know…space is still dangerous.

And so is getting there.

Liftoff

Yesterday a Russian Proton rocket crashed less than a minute after  lift-off from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, Monday.

Dive

The rocket started veering off course right after leaving the pad, and then plunged to the ground seconds later nose first.

sheer

The payload section and the upper stage were sheered off the vehicle moments before it impacted the ground and exploded. The flight lasted less than 30 seconds.

Luckily, the Russian space agency’s ground processing and launch contractor, TsENKI, was broadcasting the launch live and captured the entire process of the vehicle’s disintegration and its crash.

Fireball

Since the emergency cutoff of the first stage engines is blocked during the first 42 seconds of the flight to ensure that the rocket clears the launch complex, the vehicle continued flying with its propulsion system firing practically until the impact on the ground.

Crash

The impact of the rocket reportedly created a crater with a diameter of 150-200 meters. The access to the site was blocked by an emergency team and fire fighters, however there was fire at the site, Interfaxreported.

By the end of the day, it was discovered that the lift-off of the rocket was 0.4 seconds ahead of schedule, potentially forcing the vehicle to start its flight with its engines at less than full thrust. Also, telemetry showed that the temperature near the engine was three times higher than normal at 1,200 degrees.  This temperature points to a fire in the area.

This was the first time in the post-Soviet history that a Proton rocket, the largest launch vehicle in the current Russian rocket fleet, crashed in the vicinity of its launch facility.  The last time this occurred was April 2, 1969, when a Proton rocket carrying a Mars probe crashed shortly after lifting off from the same Pad 24.

https://www.russianspaceweb.com/images/rockets/angara/angara_family_2001_1.jpg

Obviously, the Proton rockets are showing their age.  The Russians already have plans for a new launch vehicle, the Angara, that will become operational later in the decade.

Three satellites, worth an estimated  $200 million, were lost with the rocket.

– 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

 

LADEE do you need some help?

As Jerry Lewis was fond of saying LAAYYYDEEE.  Although in this case it means something else.

NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) is scheduled to launch from Wallops Island in September.

This will be the first mission launched from Wallops Island to go beyond low Earth orbit.  I wasn’t even aware that Wallops Island had this capability (Go Navy!).

LADEE will orbit the moon to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.

LADEE is also the first spacecraft to use a new modular common spacecraft bus.

This will allow multi-use designs and assembly-line production, that could drastically reduce the cost of spacecraft development.  Much like the European Space Agencies Mars and Venus Express craft used many common items to cut costs and decrease the time it takes from production to launch.

– 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

Back from Heaven.

The three Chinese taikonauts (astronauts) arrived safely back on Earth on Tuesday, completing the longest manned space mission in the Chinese history.

The Shenzhou 10 spacecraft (“Divine Vessel”) touched down at 8:08 p.m. EDT Tuesday (0008 GMT), capping a 15-day mission to China’s orbiting Tiangong 1 lab module. The spacecraft landed in northern China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, where the local time was 8:08 a.m. on Wednesday.

 

The trio, Nie Haisheng, Wang Yaping (the second Chinese woman in space) and Zhang Xiaoguang performed a variety of experiments aboard the Tiangong 1, the Heavenly Palace.

 

The Shenzhou 10 launched June 11 and landed 14 days later.  Like the Russian space program, the Chinese land their craft on land.  The mission was China’s fifth human spaceflight.

Congratulations to the Chinese space program on a job well done.

– 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

Good photo op in tonight’s sky.

If you missed the last conjunction between Jupiter, Mercury and Venus this past month, you’ll get another chance at a good photo tonight.

This time it is the Moon, Venus and Mercury.  If you look to the west-northwest horizon tonight you will see all three.

The show will last for about 45 minutes after sunset (Venus sets right after that).

You should be able to see all three with the naked eye and you might even want to try and take a photograph.  You shouldn’t need anything fancier than your cell phone and a steady hand.  Orion even makes devices for holding your cellphone in place for you.

I am going to try my hand at getting a few images and I will post the results (provided the weather cooperates).  Let me know if you take any images, I would love to see your shots!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. 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