Black Friday Sales!

Friday, November 24th 2017 10:59 AM


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Black Friday Deal

Friday, November 24th 2017 10:54 AM

  “The diversity of science represented by these 13 teams is amazing,” said Daniel Weisz, an assistant professor of astronomy and leader of one of the teams. “We are definitely excited about this opportunity.” The teams are hoping for new discoveries, but they’ve also been selected because of promises to provide baseline information for future observers and computer software tools that those astronomers will need to make sense of their observations on the telescope. “With the telescope’s five-year lifetime, we need to use it very efficiently to maximize the return,” Weisz said. “The early release science program is supposed to produce science-enabling results within five months of the observations, which in the astronomy world is basically yesterday.” Letting astronomers rather than staff take the telescope for a test drive is a new concept for NASA, said Imke de Pater, a UC Berkeley professor of astronomy...

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A Mars Mystery: How Did Land Form Without Much Water?

Wednesday, November 22nd 2017 09:37 AM

The surface of Mars, with its dune flows, gullies and slope movements, is the result of sediment being transported downwards in the recent past as well as today. But this "mass wasting," typically caused by flows of water – for example, how the gullies on Earth are shaped – has proved a mystery to planetary scientists. This is because it is assumed that huge amounts of water are needed to form these features. The problem is, there is a lack of enough water on Mars now and in the planet's recent past. In a new study published in Nature Communications, we simulated the atmospheric conditions on Mars to discover how these features could have come about without a big flow of water. For example, scientists have made assumptions about the water budget necessary to form the so-called "recurring slope lineae" – dark streaks at the surface which appear annually (687 days) during peak temperatures and which dissolve in colder months at the martian surfac...

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Big deals are coming for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

Tuesday, November 21st 2017 10:15 AM

Big deals are coming for Black Friday and Cyber Monday!Save $50 on Explore FirstLight 80mm telescope this Friday through Sunday!There’s no better way to get started in astronomy than the Explore FirstLight series of telescopes. Whether you’re looking to delve into the details of our solar system or explore inspiring deep sky treasures, our versatile Explore FirstLight series has an observing package that will fit your individual needs.For three days only beginning on Black Friday, the Explore FirstLight 80mm refractor with Twilight Nano Mount will be on sale for $99.99. Sized for grab-and-go observing sessions, this telescope will reveal celestial wonders like the desolate beauty of the lunar terrain, the serene structure of Saturn’s rings or the brightest deep sky treasures of the Messier catalog.The accompanying Twilight Nano is a light-duty alt-azimuth mount with a long panhandle control that makes it easier to smoothly navigate the night sky and track objects. T...

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Wow! 1st Interstellar Asteroid Is a Spinning Space Cigar

Tuesday, November 21st 2017 09:27 AM

When astronomers using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope in Hawaii spotted a mysterious object dashing through our solar system on Oct. 19, they immediately knew it was something special.    This artist’s illustration shows the first interstellar asteroid, ‘Oumuamua. This unique object was discovered on Oct. 19, 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Subsequent observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that ‘Oumuamua seems to be a dark red highly elongated metallic or rocky object, about 1,300 feet (400 meters) long, and is unlike anything normally found in the solar system. Credit: M. Kornmesser/ESO Traveling at high speed and originating from interstellar space, this object was originally thought to be an ancient comet, but observations revealed it was, in fact, an asteroid from another star system.    For decades we’ve theorized that such interstellar...

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Physicists Describe New Dark Matter Detection Strategy

Monday, November 20th 2017 11:11 AM

Coma Galaxy Cluster - The Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky first used the term "dark matter" in the 1930s. He studied the Coma Galaxy Cluster and specifically, how fast it revolves. Clusters are like merry-go-rounds. Their speed of revolution depends on the weight and position of the objects in the clusters, like the weight of the objects and their positions on a merry-go-round. The speed he measured implied the cluster had much more mass than the observable light suggested. In the 1970s, US astronomer Vera Rubin and her colleagues confirmed this result by studying galaxy rotation. They also discovered single galaxies, not just clusters, have more mass than their observable light suggested. The work of Rubin and her team helped to firmly establish the notion of dark matter. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team - STScI/AURA, D. Carter - Liverpool John Moores University, and the Coma HST ACS Treasury Team)   Though it has not yet been detected directly, ph...

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Ready for cold weather observing?

Monday, November 20th 2017 09:37 AM

   Winter in the Northern hemisphere is a great time for celestial observation. The nights start earlier and last longer. A bucket full of spectacular and interesting "winter" objects appear. Some of the most stable and clear skies occur in many places. Winter is arguably the best season to get out and use your telescope. However, there is a galactic sized "BUT" for many regions, especially high latitudes and elevations. It's cold, and in many cases dangerously cold.Not all regions are not affected by winter temperatures equally; our brothers and sisters to the south do face some "evening" cooling and "cold". However those terms are relative; let's say in southern Arizona, a hooded sweatshirt and light pair of gloves may suffice through most winter evenings. However in southern NH (where I am), a hoodie and light gloves won't even cut it inside a warming hut. As for our friends in the Canadian provinces well let's say not many of us face clear skies at -20(f).The key to en...

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  Venus's atmosphere is the heaviest of any planet in the solar system, roughly equivalent to deep-ocean pressure at a depth of 1 kilometer. The crushing weight and layers of sulfuric acid make it utterly inhospitable — but investigators could read the planet's atmospheric pressure from above to find earthquakes on the hellish surface. A team at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory proposes deploying a balloon in the upper reaches of Venus's atmosphere that would be equipped with a sensor to detect seismic activity. "On Venus, the atmosphere has about 90 times the pressure as what you find on the surface of the Earth. It's almost like an ocean surrounding the solid crust," Siddharth Krishnamoorthy, a postdoctoral associate with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a member of the team working on the Venus mission, told Seeker. He and his colleagues will present the proposal at the American Geophysical Union meeting in New Orleans on Thursday, Dec. 14. Floating at 34 mile...

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  Hundreds of meteors will dash across the sky when Earth passes through the cosmic dust of Comet Tempel-Tuttle tonight.  The annual Leonids meteor shower is set to peak tonight with anywhere between 10 to 15 meteors an hour set to burst out. How to see the Leonid meteor shower tonight The best time to see the meteors will be between midnight and sunrise on Saturday November 18. The shooting stars will appear to arrive from a radial near the stars of Adhafera and Algieba in the constellation Leo the Lion.   Leo can be easily found in the night sky by looking for Leo's sickle – a distinct backward reverse question mark pattern.  But the radial point is mostly irrelevant because meteors streak in a sort of directions. In fact, American space agency NASA says: “You should not look only to the constellation of Leo to view the Leonids – they are visible throughout the night sky. “It is actually better to view the...

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