Dec 09

Looking down from above - Our future


Global warming has been the topic of many debates during the last 20 years. Unfortunately its effects become to be more visible and undeniable at every moment.

Beginning next week Copenhagen will host the historic two-week 15th UN Climate Change Conference (COP15), where government representatives from around the world are expected to decide on the future extent of reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by working out a new international agreement before the Kyoto protocol expires in 2012.(Read more)

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Dec 09

Stellarium - A free software tool for schools

Stellarium_iconStellarium is a free open source planetarium for your computer. It shows a realistic sky in 3D, just like what you see with the naked eye, binoculars or a telescope. It is being used in planetarium projectors because it is a free software planetarium, licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License, available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X. It uses OpenGL to render a realistic sky in real time. With Stellarium, it's possible to see what one cannot see with the naked eye, binoculars or a small telescope. This is a very nice tool to use with your students in classroom and in night-time observations preparation. One can see past, present and future events like eclipses, Venus and Mercury transits or even reproduce Galileo's observations about Jupiter's moons.

250px-StellariumA screenshot of Stellarium

Stellarium is developed by the French programmer Fabien Chéreau, who launched the project in the summer of 2001. Other developers include Robert Spearman, Johannes Gajdosik, Matthew Gates, Nigel Kerr and Johan Meuris. John Meuris is responsible for most of the the artwork done with the constellations and landscapes.

Stellarium was featured on SourceForge in May 2006 as Project of the Month.


Stellarium webpage

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Dec 09

First image of cool extrasolar planet candidate around Sun-like star

Source: Max-Planck Institute

Extrasolar planet list keeps on growing. Another planet outside of our Solar System has been directly imaged using the Subaru telescope. Given that the first visible light image of an extrasolar planet was taken a little more than a year ago, the list is growing pretty fast since now we are over ten.


Discovery image of GJ 758 B, taken in August
2009 with Subaru HiCIAO in the near infrared.


The newest one, planet GJ 758 B is also the coolest directly imaged planet, with a temperature of 600 Kelvin, and it orbits a star that is much like our own Sun. GJ 758 B has a mass of between 10-40 times that of Jupiter, making it either a really big planet or a small brown dwarf.

Other links:
Astrophysical Journal Letters (arXiv.org)
Universe Today

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