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International Dark Sky Week 14 – 20 April, 2012 April 16, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Celestial Events, Current Events, Miscellaneous, News Stories, Projects & Fun Things.
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Celebrate the stars! Created in 2003 by high-school student Jennifer Barlow, IDSW has grown to become a worldwide event and a key component of Global Astronomy Month. The goals of IDSW are to appreciate the beauty of the night sky and to raise awareness of how poor-quality lighting creates light pollution.

Light pollution is a growing problem. Not only does it have detrimental effects on our views of the night sky, but it also disrupts the natural environment, wastes energy, and has the potential to cause health problems.

Full Story: http://www.darksky.org/idsw

Astronomy Lectures for FREE April 10, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Reblogged, Recommendations, Websites.
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astronewsus:

Thanks to Heavens With Lamps for a great resource :)

Originally posted on Heavens With Lamps:

Astronomy has been lately like a drug on me. So I have decided that I should study it (though at my own pace) but study it seriously. So I was looking up for astronomy lectures and I stumbled upon this MichiganTech University lectures on astronomy for first year freshers completely free of charge. Astronomy is considered as an expensive hobby per se…..but much to my astonishment much of astronomy stuff  could be acquired on the web for completely FREE.

So I am enrolling myself for this study and perhaps sit for an exam too later….I can’t say about that. But I think giving some of my time to learning something fascinating is worthwhile.

And though there are calculations and stuff requiring mental exercise and quite of reading yet I am jumping on this. By the way anyone interested to join the bandwagon, just hop on.

So, just to give a…

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Eyes on the Sky: Apr 9 thru Apr 15 April 9, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Celestial Events, Current Events, Reblogged.
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astronewsus:

Thanks to Heavens With Lamps for the weekly reminder of what to look out for in the skies above :)

Originally posted on Heavens With Lamps:

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 9 thru Apr 15

Seeing double in Taurus with the Goddess galloping by

Venus continues moving away from the Pleiades star cluster this week, nearby the Hyades instead, setting up both color contrasts with the 1st magnitude Aldebaran and helpfully pointing the way to some binocular double stars in the vicinity.  Saturn reaches opposition at the end of the week on April 15th, and offers up an even more steeply-tilted ring system this year compared to last.  With a handful of bright moons revolving around it – plus the planet splitting some 8th and 10th magnitude stars – there’s plenty to see in the sky naked eye, with binoculars and/or with a small telescope this week.  Wishing you clear and dark skies as you find and see what’s up this week!

Download Saturn chart here (file size is 2.9MB).

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Big Bigger Biggest Small Smaller Smallest April 6, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Miscellaneous, Reblogged.
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astronewsus:

Big Bigger Biggest Small Smaller Smallest – Another cool post by Heavens With Lamps :)

Originally posted on Heavens With Lamps:

Credits: IMAX movie Cosmic Voyage

Credits : POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE LLC

Which is better? I am not saying about the  age-old visual quality or the Morgan Freeman’s low sound quality, but about the clarity of  explanation. I prefer the latter.

If you want the mind blowing experience of How BIG is Big and How SMALL is small,  then just visit this one, it’s the updated version.

P.S: Sometimes I ask myself : What are you doing here?

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NASA Seeks Hosts for Space Station Interactive Education Events April 4, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in News Stories, Spaceflight.
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NASA is seeking formal and informal education organizations to host live in-flight interactive conversations between the next generation of explorers and astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Comprehensive proposals are being accepted for missions scheduled between September 2012 and March 2013. The deadline to submit is Friday, June 1, 2012.

During ISS Expeditions 33 and 34, NASA crew members Sunita Williams, Kevin Ford and Thomas Marshburn will participate in 20-minute question-and-answer sessions with students who will learn what it is like to live and work in space. While participants see and hear the crew members live from space, the crew does not see the audience.

U.S. education organizations including school districts, museums, science centers, national and regional education organizations and local, state and federal government agencies are eligible to participate. Organizations may apply individually or work together. NASA provides this opportunity at no charge to the host institution and will work with the organization to plan the event.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/apr/HQ_12-105_Hosts_Ed_Downlinks.html

Souvenir – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark April 3, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Binoculars, Deep Sky Objects, Equipment, Myths & Legends, Open Clusters, Personal Recollections, Reblogged.
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Souvenir (Single)
Souvenir (Single)

The last song I heard this lunchtime was Souvenir by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. This song was released in late August 1981 and reached #3 about a month later.

I love this song. I love OMD. Three groups sum up my love of synthpop in the 80’s – OMD, the Human League and the Pet Shop Boys. I love this song because it reminds me of the Pleiades star cluster and a time when my passion for astronomy was really beginning to blossom.

Actually, there are three songs that make me think of this time and really, although Souvenir was still in the Top 20, it was dropping out of the charts when I was staring at the stars. The two other songs are Open Your Heart by the Human League  (#6, mid October) and Under Your Thumb by Godley & Creme (#3 when Open Your Heart was #6).

The reason why I love and associate Souvenir specifically with the Pleiades is simply because it has a very ethereal quality to it, much like the star cluster itself. I really love this song.

Colin had started going to Putteridge High School in September of 1980 and he and Mum had signed up for “art classes: in the evening. I didn’t go that year – the class finished at about 9pm and being 9 years old, they thought I was too young.

So I stayed home and played in my room until it was time to go with Dad to pick them up in the car.  We’d get home at around 9:30pm and it was usually around that time that I would stare at the stars through my window. Art class was two nights a week – probably Tuesdays and Thursdays – but I would stare at the stars on a Sunday too, usually when the Top 40 was on. Hence, my association with music.

The first time I saw the Pleiades was in October of 1980 – another OMD song, Enola Gay was in the charts and that also reminded me of that star cluster. (I still associate Souvenir with the Pleiades far more though.)

I was learning the constellations at the time and I had the Usbourne spotter’s guide to the Night Sky. It was yellow. It was easy to use and it had a checklist at the back where you could tick things off once you’d seen them. Better yet, as an added incentive, you could score points for each object – the harder the object, the more points you scored.

The points didn’t really mean anything, they just gave you bragging rights with your imaginary astronomy friends. None of my friends really understood it – except for maybe Ian, but he had yet to stick his head over the garden fence at this time.

(Incidentally, the book was re-released in 2006 and is available on Amazon. I might buy it for you James :) On the other hand, I might just buy a used copy for myself, just for old times sake LOL)

So I would look for constellations and planets and star clusters and nebulae… I was racking up quite a few points, and like my nights in Oklahoma years later, I was getting quite a kick from seeing all these celestial sights.

A typical starry, starry night would involve me opening up my bedroom window and leaning out, as far as I could, with a pair of old World War I binoculars Uncle Gerald had given me. I would get my bearings and then scan the sky.

The air would be cold – it was autumn – the heating would be on, and somehow Dad would know I had the window open. He would yell at me to “close the bloody window, you’re letting all the heat out” but I never quite fathomed how he knew.

The (simulated) view from my bedroom. Can you spot the Pleiades? (Click to enlarge - created with Stellarium)
The (simulated) view from my bedroom. Can you spot the Pleiades? (Click to enlarge – created with Stellarium)

So there I am, leaning out the window in mid October, at about nine thirty at night, and I see this tiny grouping of little stars rising in the east over the tree tops. I grabbed my spotter’s guide. Hmmm… that looks like Delphinus, methinks, not knowing that I was completely wrong. That’s a really small constellation was my second thought.

The Pleiades (Taken with Slooh on Christmas Day, 2011 - Click to enlarge)
The Pleiades (Taken with Slooh on Christmas Day, 2011 – Click to enlarge)

I grabbed my binoculars and I squinted at the stars. They looked stunning, even in a pair of seventy year old binoculars. Sometimes I “borrowed” Dad’s much newer pair and I know I used those on more than a few occasions. The image that I took with Slooh years later resembles the view a little.

I don’t know when I realised this wasn’t Delphinus but rather the Pleaides. It might have even been that first night, but I do know I was pretty thrilled to see it. For one thing, nothing truly beats the excitement of seeing something like that for the first time. And besides, the Pleiades scored more points.

I was particularly excited because the Pleaides is one of those star clusters you see all the time in books, on TV and in the movies. It’s famous. Now I was looking at it with my own eyes. It was like seeing your favourite celebrity walking across the street. (I did once see Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman in London but – you’ve guessed it – that’s a story for another time. Spoilers!)

Despite my love for the stars, I really wanted to go to art class too, so I begged and I pleaded and eventually, much to Colin’s disgust, Mum gave in and I was allowed to go too. I believe my first year was 1981.

I wrote “art class” in parenthesis because it wasn’t really a class, just an excuse to sit around and paint and draw whatever you liked. Occasionally someone would stop by, nod appreciatively, make some vague remark about your unique use of charcoal and then wander on.

Most of my art consisted of stars, planets and a humungous rendition of the Battlestar Galactica whenever I had difficulty filling that space with something else. But again, like most things, that’s a story for another time.

Actually, that year was also the year that Mum decided my room needed a new lick of paint, so while we were at art class, Dad would dutifully be doing his own painting. Unfortunately, it made my room stink but more positively, the smell of paint can still bring me back to those nights.

Again, Dad would complain when I opened up my window and let all the warm air out, but this time, my argument was that I had to open up the window. The room stank of paint.

Best Of OMD (Album)
Best Of OMD (Album)

I didn’t know the title of Souvenir  – or who sang it – at the time. I didn’t know the title of Enola Gay from the year before or even had the slightest idea it was by the same group. It wasn’t until much later, in 1988, when I bought OMD’s Best Of album on vinyl that I came to those tracks and realised what they were. As stupid as it sounds, it was like meeting familiar old friends again.

In fact, that whole A side brought back a LOT of memories – besides Souvenir and  Enola Gay, Joan of Arc and Maid of Orleans also made me think of those star gazing nights. But nothing quite beat Souvenir.

Years later, when I was writing for Astronomy magazine, they asked me to write a piece about the myths and legends associated with the stars. Me being all artsy decided to write a fictional piece. It promptly got rejected, with a “it was nice, but not our kind of thing” email but I kept it anyway.

One of the myths I wrote about involved the Pleiades. I haven’t read it since. Knowing me, I’d probably read it and think it was crap, but if you’re interested, you can read it here. Enjoy. (But don’t judge me too harshly :P)

Lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/o/omd/souvenir_20103392.html

Sounds of Mars & Venus Revealed for 1st Time April 3, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Mars, Projects & Fun Things, Saturn, Solar System, Venus.
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In a world first, the sounds of Mars and Venus are revealed as part of a planetarium show in Hampshire this Easter.

Despite many years of space exploration, we have no evidence of the sound of other planets. While most planetary probes have focused on imaging with cameras and radar and a couple have carried microphones, none of them successfully listened to the sound of another world.

Now, a team from the University of Southampton, led by Professor Tim Leighton, has the answer. Using the tools and techniques of physics and mathematics, they created the natural sounds of other worlds, from lightning on Venus to whirlwinds on Mars and ice volcanoes on Saturn’s moon, Titan. In addition to these natural sounds, they have modelled the effects of different atmospheres, pressures and temperatures on the human voice on Mars, Venus and Titan (Saturn’s largest moon). They have developed unique software to transform the sound of a voice on earth to one that’s literally ‘out of this world’.

Full Story: http://www.southampton.ac.uk/mediacentre/news/2012/apr/12_59.shtml

Live Feed of Venus-Pleiades Conjunction, Apr. 3 April 2, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Celestial Events, Conjunctions, Deep Sky Objects, Open Clusters, Solar System, Venus.
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Slooh Space Camera will broadcast a free, real-time feed of the most famous star cluster in the heavens, the Pleiades, meeting up with our nearest and brightest planetary neighbor, Venus. Slooh’s coverage will begin on Tuesday, April 3rd starting at 1:30 PM PDT / 4:30 PM EDT / 20:30 UT. Slooh will provide an observatory feed from our world class observatory site in Canary Islands off the coast of Africa. The broadcast can be accessed at Slooh’s homepage or by visiting Slooh’s G+ page, where you will be able to see the panel interact live via G+ Hangouts On Air.

The Pleiades, otherwise known as the Seven Sisters, is a beautiful bright blue open star cluster 440 light years from Earth. The relative tightness of the cluster is indicative of its young age as the member stars were formed some 100 million years ago and will probably travel together through space as a bound cluster for another 250 million years before the gravity of the Milky Way breaks up the cluster into individual field stars. The central core radius of the cluster is only about 4.5 light years but the remote outer regions of the cluster may extend out as far as 52 light years from the center. The brighter members of the cluster, which make up the Seven Sisters, are blue stars with surface temperatures of about 20,000 degrees which is four times hotter than our own Sun.

Venus is sometimes called the Earth’s sister planet because they are so close in size. However, Venus is very different in many ways, with an atmosphere almost 100 times thicker than Earth’s composed of sulfuric acid and carbon dioxide. Even though it is only slightly closer to the Sun, the surface of Venus averages 900 degrees making it the hottest place in the solar system outside the Sun itself.

While Venus and Pleiades are hundreds of light years apart, they will appear together as neighbors in the same field of view. Venus will pass just below the bright blue star cluster. This incredible event happens only once every eight years.

Full Story: http://www.slooh.com/pr/slooh-live-feed-venus-pleiades-conjunction-april-2012.php

April 1, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
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thelastsongiheard:

Here’s an excellent challenge for April!

Originally posted on Heavens With Lamps:

To celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night in April, take on the Moore Marathon stargazing challenge – 55 night sky objects for you to observe. You can find the detailed and quick versions of the Marathon, listing all the objects in the challenge, here.

Sir Patrick Moore has picked his 55 favourite night sky objects and, over the month of April, would like you to see as many as you can. The Moore Marathon will help celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night, which was first broadcast on 24th April 1957. This show has been part of the fabric of astronomy interest in England for decades, and it has been often observed how Patrick Moore is to British astronomy on TV what Carl Sagan was for viewers in the United States.

[caption id="attachment_285" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="Patrick Moore as he appeared on the first ever episode
of…

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March 31, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
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thelastsongiheard:

Some excellent info about Global Astronomy month :)

Originally posted on Heavens With Lamps:

AWB is planning a rich schedule of programs and events for Global Astronomy Month 2012 (GAM2012), all designed to inform and inspire the public throughout the world. Below is a sampling of some major events listed by date but there is much more to come soon. For more information on each program, click on the highlighted links.

Date / Time Program
23 March to 27 April IASC Asteroid Search Campaign
1 April SunDay
1 April Online Messier Marathon (remote observing event)
1 to 7 April Lunar Week
1 to 22 April International Earth and Sky Photo Contest
7 to 8 April In the Interstices of Life (astroart video presentation)
8 April Bats & Radio Astronomy (live presentation)
11 to 20 April Globe at Night
12 April Yuri’s Night
14 to 15 April Spiral Galaxy (video presentation)
14 to 20 April International Dark Skies Week
15 April Saturn Watch (Beauty without…

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