19
Jan 10

Herschel readies itself for the Orion Nebula

Source: ESA


The Orion Nebula. Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Robberto (STScI/ESA) and
The Hubble Space Telescope Orion Treasury Project Team

ESA's Herschel observatory is back to full operation following the reactivation of its HiFi instrument. HiFi, having been offline for 160 days while engineers investigated an unexpected problem in the electronic system, is now perfectly placed to resume its study of forming stars and planets.(read more)

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19
Jan 10

Watching the Moon

This is an excellent week to follow the moon as it travels across the sky, if you take a look at its shape and position over a number of nights (to the end of the week for example), you should notice some interesting changes. Here's what you need to do:

Take a look at the moon at the same time each evening (between 8pm and 9pm would be good) and note the following:

  • The shape or form of the moon
  • The position of the moon in the sky (high, low, above a tree or a building, etc)
  • The position of the moon with regards to nearby stars (to the left/right of a bright star, between two bright stars, etc.

When you've done that over a week you should be able to distinguish between the "apparent" motion of the moon and the "proper" motion of the moon, but we'll discuss that at the end of the week.

Photo credit: Bob Larcher (photo taken with a digital camera "hand-held" in front of the eye piece of an 8 inch reflector

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19
Jan 10

Watching the Moon

This is an excellent week to follow the moon as it travels across the sky, if you take a look at its shape and position over a number of nights (to the end of the week for example), you should notice some interesting changes. Here's what you need to do:

Take a look at the moon at the same time each evening (between 8pm and 9pm would be good) and note the following:

  • The shape or form of the moon
  • The position of the moon in the sky (high, low, above a tree or a building, etc)
  • The position of the moon with regards to nearby stars (to the left/right of a bright star, between two bright stars, etc.

When you've done that over a week you should be able to distinguish between the "apparent" motion of the moon and the "proper" motion of the moon, but we'll discuss that at the end of the week.

Photo credit: Bob Larcher (photo taken with a digital camera "hand-held" in front of the eye piece of an 8 inch reflector

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19
Jan 10

Tooling up ExoMars

Source: ESA


Artist's impression of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Credits: ESA

ESA and NASA are inviting scientists from across the world to propose instruments for their joint Mars mission, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Scheduled for launch in 2016, the spacecraft will focus on understanding the rarest constituents of the martian atmosphere, including the mysterious methane that could signal life on Mars.(read more)

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