Nov 11

"Catch a Star" winners announced today

The juri of "Catch a Star" has announced the winners of the contest. To improve child participation the juri decided to create a special award for young children. The prizes that were awarded this year are the following:

SPECIAL GRAND PRIZE: One observational session on 2m Faulkes telescopes
The Faulkes Telescope Project is the education arm of Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGTN).
The aim is to provide free access to robotic telescopes and a fully supported education programme to encourage teachers and students to engage in research-based science education. LCOGTN operates a network of research class robotic telescopes. Currently there are two telescopes, one in Hawaii and the other in Australia. These telescopes are available to teachers for them to use as part of their curricular or extra-curricular activities and are fully supported by a range of educational materials and a team of educators and professional astronomers.

First place: 60 min remote observations with the 2m RCC Telescope by National astronomical obervatory "Rozhen", Bulgaria (TWO)

Second place: 60 min remote observations with the 50/70 Schmidttelescope by National astronomical obervatory "Rozhen", Bulgaria

Third place: 60 min remote observations with the Cassegrain-telescope"Zeiss-600" by National astronomical obervatory "Rozhen", Bulgaria

Fourth place: Hubble - Cosmic Collisions - The Hubble Atlas of Merging Galaxies, European Southern Observatory
Written by Lars Lindberg Christensen, Raquel Yumi Shida and Davide De Martin

Fifth place: 15 Years of Discovery book, European Southern Observatory
Written by Lars Lindberg Christensen and Bob Fosbury. Illustrations & Layout: Martin Kornmesser

Sixth place: Hidden Universe, European Southern Observatory
Written by Lars Lindberg Christensen, Robert Fosbury and Robert Hurt

Additional prizes: 10 DVDs - Eyes on the Skies, European Southern Observatory

New : Special prize for young children: Star maps and ESO Posters

This year the EAAE juri of the contest decided to award two first prizes. And the winners are...

Project Prizes Country School Teacher



Determination and Modeling of the shape of an asteroid by analysis of its light curve

Special Grand Prize


High-school Léonard De Vinci, MONTAIGU

Mr Jean-Jacques RIVES

LIVET Florian, PASQUIER Corentin and COISLIER Titouan

23 The sizes of the Moon


Spain "Santo Domingo Savio" UBEDA (Jaén) Francisco Trillo Poveda Elvira Díaz de la Torre, Manuel Martínez Jurado y Marina Sánchez Valera
1 Sunspots


Bulgaria Vaptsarov Language School , Shumen Aneta Marinova Valentina Stancheva, Vladislava Jordanova
15 Astronomy in Navalcarnero


Spain IES Carmen Martín Gaite José Luis García Herrero Rubén Iglesias Buendía, Marina Álvarez Alamillo, Miriam González Fernández
2 Astronomical examination of Be-Stars with spectral methods


Germany Lore-Lorentz Schule Heinrich Kuypers Benedikt Gröver
14 Sun and Refraction


Bulgaria Astronomical Observatory by Youth Center, Haskovo Yoanna Kokotanekova Yovelina Zinkova, Radostina Velevska, Ivana Yankova
31 Solar modulation of galactic cosmic radiation and VLF …


Croatia XV. Gimnazija, Zagreb Ljiljana Neme Julio Car
24 The Draconides 2011 and comets!


Denmark Alssundgymnasiet Sønderborg Michael Lentfer Jensen Rune Lassen, Morten B. Ochelka, Anders Goosmann og Nivethan Shanmugaratnam

Betelgeuse, the mysterious star

Special Prize for young team

Spain CEIP "Salvador de Madariaga". Daganzo (Madrid) Elena Alcacera Pérez Luis Fernandez Codeseda (9 years), Fidel Martínez García (9 years), Elia Sufuentes Arija (9 years).
Project Prizes Country School Teacher Students

DVD prizes were also awarded to the following projects:

Project 3 My EX Hydrae observations, Młodzieżowe Obserwatorium Astronomiczne im. Kazimierza Kordylewskiego w Niepołomicach, Poland.

Project 4 The Sun-a Binary Star, Kaunas Jesuit Gymnasium, Lithuania

Project 7 The Universe's Zoo, "Ştefan cel Mare" High School , Romania

Project 8 Using sky quality meter to measure sky Brightness, SOU,,Orde Copela,, - Prilep , Macedonia

Project 10 Drinking with Einstein: gravitational lenses, Colegio San Gabriel (Madrid) , Spain

Project 18 Star clusters, Astronomical Observatory by Youth Center Khaskovo , Bulgaria

Project 19 The Spectroscope, School no 14 "Ion Ţuculescu", Craiova, Romania

Project 27 Cassiopeia: a queen, a pirate and a journey "relative" the fourth dimension, Colegio El Carmelo de Granada, Spain

Project 28 The Milky Way and Andromeda collision, Skrundas Secondary School, Latvia

Project 32 Moon project, Escola Salesiana "Mare de Déu dels Dolors, Sant Boi, Barcelona, Spain.


Link: "Catch a Star" webpage

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Nov 11

MRO catches Mars sand dunes in motion

Source: NASA News

A dune in the northern polar region of Mars shows significant changes between two images
taken on June 25, 2008 and May 21, 2010 by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Ariz./JHUAPL.

Images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) show sand dunes and ripples moving across the surface of Mars at dozens of locations and shifting up to several yards. These observations reveal the planet's sandy surface is more dynamic than previously thought. (read more)

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Nov 11

Cygnus X-1: Chandra Adds to Black Hole Birth Announcement

Source: Chandra

Credit: Optical: DSS; Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

On the left, an optical image from the Digitized Sky Survey shows Cygnus X-1, outlined in a red box. Cygnus X-1 is located near large active regions of star formation in the Milky Way, as seen in this image that spans some 700 light years across. An artist's illustration on the right depicts what astronomers think is happening within the Cygnus X-1 system. Cygnus X-1 is a so-called stellar-mass black hole, a class of black holes that comes from the collapse of a massive star. The black hole pulls material from a massive, blue companion star toward it. This material forms a disk (shown in red and orange) that rotates around the black hole before falling into it or being redirected away from the black hole in the form of powerful jets. (read source)

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Nov 11

Probe data shows evidence of liquid water on icy Europa

Source: NASA/Galileo Mission

Artist's concept depicts Europa's "Great Lake.
Image credits: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel VFX/Univ. of Texas at Austin.


Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water, equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa's icyshell and the ocean beneath. This information could bolster arguments that Europa's global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature.(read more)

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Nov 11

Hubble observes young dwarf galaxies bursting with stars

Source: NASA

18 tiny galaxies discovered by Hubble Space Telescope.
Image credits: NASA, ESA, A. van der Wel (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany), H. Ferguson and A. Koekemoer (STScI.), and the CANDELS team.

Using its near-infrared vision to peer 9 billion years back in time, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered an extraordinary population of young dwarf galaxies brimming with star formation. While dwarf galaxies are the most common type of galaxy in the universe, the rapid star-birth observed in these newly found examples may force astronomers to reassess their understanding of the ways in which galaxies form. (read more)

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Nov 11

Cosmic particle accelerators get things going

Source: ESA

Artist's impression of the four Cluster spacecraft flying through the thin layer of Earth's bow shock.
Image credits: SA/AOES Medialab.

ESA's Cluster satellites have discovered that cosmic particle accelerators are more efficient than previously thought. The discovery has revealed the initial stages of acceleration for the first time, a process that could apply across the Universe.

On 9 January 2005, Cluster's four satellites passed through a magnetic shock high above Earth. The spinning craft were aligned almost perfectly with the magnetic field, allowing them to sample what was happening to electrons on very short timescales of 250 milliseconds or less.

The measurements showed that the electrons rose sharply in temperature, which established conditions favourable to larger scale acceleration. (read more)

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Nov 11

The Cool Clouds of Carina

Source: ESO Photo Release eso1145

The cold stellar formation clouds in the Carina Nebula, seen by APEX.
Image credits: ESO/APEX/T. Preibisch et al. (Submillimetre);
N. Smith, University of Minnesota/NOAO/AURA/NSF (Optical)

Observations made with the APEX telescope in submillimetre-wavelength light reveal the cold dusty clouds from which stars form in the Carina Nebula. This site of violent star formation, which plays host to some of the highest-mass stars in our galaxy, is an ideal arena in which to study the interactions between these young stars and their parent molecular clouds. (read more)

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Nov 11

Mystery of the Lunar Ionosphere

Source: NASA Science Casts

How can a world without air have an ionosphere? Somehow the Moon has done it. Lunar researchers have been struggling with the mystery for years, and they may have finally found a solution.

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Nov 11

NASA Extends MESSENGER Mission

Source: NASA/Messenger

Rembrandt, the second largest impact basin on Mercury discovered during the second MESSENGER flyby.
Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington.

NASA has announced that it will extend the MESSENGER mission for an additional year of orbital operations at Mercury beyond the planned end of the primary mission on March 17, 2012. The MESSENGER probe became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet on March 18, 2011.

“We are still ironing out the funding details, but we are pleased to be able to support the continued exploration of Mercury,” said NASA MESSENGER Program Scientist Ed Grayzeck, who made the announcement on November 9, 2011, at the 24th meeting of the MESSENGER Science Team in Annapolis, Md.

The spacecraft’s unprecedented orbital science campaign is providing the first global close-up of Mercury and has revolutionized scientific perceptions of that planet. The extended mission will allow scientists to learn even more about the planet closest to the Sun, says MESSENGER Principal investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

“During the extended mission we will spend more time close to the planet than during the primary mission, we’ll have a broader range of scientific objectives, and we’ll be able to make many more targeted observations with our imaging system and other instruments,” says Solomon. “MESSENGER will also be able to view the innermost planet as solar activity continues to increase toward the next maximum in the solar cycle. Mercury’s responses to the changes in its environment over that period promise to yield new surprises.”

The extended mission has been designed to answer six scientific questions, each of which has arisen only recently as a result of discoveries made from orbit:

1.            What are the sources of surface volatiles on Mercury?

2.            How late into Mercury’s history did volcanism persist?

3.            How did Mercury's long-wavelength topography change with time?

4.            What is the origin of localized regions of enhanced exospheric density at Mercury?

5.            How does the solar cycle affect Mercury’s exosphere and volatile transport?

6.            What is the origin of Mercury’s energetic electrons?

“Advancements in science have at their core the evaluation of hypotheses in the light of new knowledge, sometimes resulting in slight changes in course, and other times resulting in paradigm shifts, opening up entirely new vistas of thought and perception,” says MESSENGER Project Scientist Ralph McNutt, of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. “With the early orbital observations at Mercury we are already seeing the beginnings of such advancements. The extended mission guarantees that the best is indeed ‘yet to be’ on the MESSENGER mission, as this old-world Mercury, seen in a very new light, continues to give up its secrets.”

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Nov 11

Kepler Quarter 3 now available for Planet Hunters

Zooniverse team has announced the addition of Kepler Quarter 3  (Q3) data to the interface at www.planethunters.org.  This means that there are an additional ~90 days worth of Kepler observations for you to sort through, nearly doubling what they had before - meaning you should be able to find longer period planets hidden in the data. There is still some Quarter 2 data left to search through, and the site will be showing a mix of the two quarters.

This is great news for all planet hunters that have been cooperating with the project of finding planets around other stars. (go to Planet Hunters)

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Nov 11

30 Doradus and The Growing Tarantula Within

Source: Chandra

30 Doradus.
Image credits: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/L.Townsley et al.;
Infrared: NASA/JPL/PSU/L.Townsley et al.

Chandra has taken another outstanding image this time of the star-forming region, 30 Doradus, is one of the largest located close to the Milky Way that is found in the neighboring galaxy Large Magellanic Cloud. About 2,400 massive stars in the center of 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, are producing intense radiation and powerful winds as they blow off material.(read more)


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Nov 11

Lutetia: a Rare Survivor from the Birth of the Earth

Source: ESO Science Release eso1144

Close-up view of Lutetia by ESA's Rosetta.

New observations indicate that the asteroid Lutetia is a leftover fragment of the same original material that formed the Earth, Venus and Mercury. Astronomers have combined data from ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, ESO’s New Technology Telescope, and NASA telescopes. They found that the properties of the asteroid closely match those of a rare kind of meteorites found on Earth and thought to have formed in the inner parts of the Solar System. Lutetia must, at some point, have moved out to its current location in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. (read more)

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Nov 11

Space and its benefits for citizens and society: A top priority for Europe

Source: ESA

Image credits: ESA.

After the recent launch of the first Galileo satellites – an event of paramount political importance for Europe – politicians, policymakers, space agency managers, industrialists, satellite operators and members of civil society gathered at the European Parliament in Brussels on 8–9 November for the 4th Conference on EU Space Policy. (read more)

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Nov 11

Battered Tharsis Tholus volcano on Mars

Source: ESA

Tharsis Tholis towers 8 km above the surrounding terrain.
Image credits: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum).

The latest image released from Mars Express reveals a large extinct volcano that has been battered and deformed over the aeons.(read more)

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Nov 11

NASA Captures New Images of Large Asteroid Passing Earth

Source: NASA

Radar image of asteroid 2005 YU55.
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

NASA's Deep Space Network antenna in Goldstone, Calif. has captured new radar images of Asteroid 2005 YU55 passing close to Earth.

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Nov 11

Stellar Extremophiles

Source: NASA Science Casts

A NASA space telescope named "GALEX" has found stars forming in extreme galactic environments, places where researchers thought stars should not be. The finding could affect astronomy much as the discovery of microbial extremophiles affected biology in the 1970s.

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Nov 11

Hubble Directly Observes the Disc Around a Black Hole

Source: ESA/Hubble Science Release heic1116

Image credits:NASA, ESA and J.A. Muñoz (University of Valencia)

A team of scientists has used the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope to observe a quasar accretion disc — a brightly glowing disc of matter that is slowly being sucked into its galaxy’s central black hole. Their study makes use of a novel technique that uses gravitational lensing to give an immense boost to the power of the telescope. The incredible precision of the method has allowed astronomers to directly measure the disc’s size and plot the temperature across different parts of the disc.(read more)

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Nov 11

Fermi Finds a Youthful Pulsar Among Ancient Stars

Source: NASA Science Cast


In three years, NASA's Fermi has detected more than 100 gamma-ray pulsars, but something new has appeared. Among a type of pulsar with ages typically numbering a billion years or more, Fermi has found one that appears to have been born only millions of years ago.

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Nov 11

Galileo satellites handed over to control centre in Germany

Source: ESA

Artist's impression of the first two of four Galileo In-Orbit Validation satellites.
Credits: ESA - P. Carril

Europe’s first two Galileo satellites have reached their final operating orbits, opening the way for activating and testing their navigation payloads.(read more)

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Nov 11

Mars500 hatch opening - watch the replay

Source: ESA


At last the 'journey' is at an end for the Mars500 crew of six, who complete their simulated mission to Mars on 4 November. Watch the replay of the hatch opening and the egress of the crew, including the two ESA volunteers Romain Charles from France and Diego Urbina from Italy.

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