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March 31, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
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Some excellent info about Global Astronomy month 🙂

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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March 31, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
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Heavens With Lamps

Looking up and finding patterns in the stars is a pastime that’s as old as humanity. The constellations are rich with mythology that has been passed on for millennia.

The name for these unofficial constellations is “asterism.” Like constellations, asterisms have a long history. Some are regional, (this particular asterism list  is from Germany) while others are universally recognized. Some are ancient, while others are more modern. If you enjoy stargazing, you may even have a few of your own personal asterisms. So go and be creative in the night sky and have fun.

If you are willing to find these asterisms, my advice would be to use Stellarium, if you still haven’t downloaded it, go grab it for free. you just have to type in the stars names in the Search field, for example: “delta Ori”,”epsilon Ori” and “zeta Ori”. And then you could be able…

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March 29, 2012

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Lights in the Dark

Enceladus, Saturn’s 318-mile-wide moon that’s become famous for its ice-spraying southern jets, is on astronomers’ short list of places in our own solar system where extraterrestrial life could be hiding — and on March 27, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft was in just the right place to try and sniff it out.

Why does Cassini team director Carolyn Porco think Enceladus is THE place in the solar system where we are most likely to find life? Find out here.

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Entends-Tu Les Chiens Aboyer? – Vangelis March 29, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Personal Recollections, Reblogged.
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Ignacio (Album)
Ignacio (Album)

The last song I heard tonight was Entends-Tu Les Chiens Aboyer?  by Vangelis, from the album Ignacio. This is going to be a short post tonight because I’m pretty beat. I’ve had to get up every day at about 4:30am and then train from 6am to 3pm. On the plus side, I get out of work early – sometimes too early, as some eateries don’t open for dinner until 5pm.

I called you from my hotel but you weren’t home. In fact, you called me back right not long after I listened to this music. You told me about your swimming and your soccer practice and then, at the end of it all, as I was saying goodbye, you asked, “can I push the red button now?” 😛

Anyway, this music was used quite substantially in Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, the documentary I wrote about a few weeks ago. I didn’t know what it was called for quite some time and Ignacio wasn’t an easy album to find at the time. Now you can easily order it from the internet.

This makes me think of the clear dark nights I spent under the stars in Lawton, Oklahoma. It was hard to do any real astronomy in England. My hometown, Luton, was too large and the light pollution was too bad. I couldn’t really get far enough from the lights and, consequently, there was always a dismal orange glow in the sky.

To make matters worth, Luton is almost 52 degrees north and I never really got to see anything of the southern constellations, such as Scorpius or Sagittarius. The first time I saw either was when I flew out to see Wendy in New York, in late June of 2000.

There were so many deep sky wonders that I feared I would never get the chance to see – the  Lagoon, Trifid, Eagle and Dumbbell nebulae, the globular clusters of Sagittarius, Ptolemy’s Cluster, the Butterfly Cluster… a myriad of double stars. I had read about these sights and seen the pictures in books and magazines but figured my skies were too bright or too northerly to see such faint fuzzies.

I originally bought the Orion 4.5 XT Dobsonian for your big brother, when I first came over to visit in September 2003. I bought it online, from England, and had it shipped to your Mum’s apartment. We took it to a cabin one weekend, where I assembled it and we looked at the stars. Mars was still close to opposition at that time too and I remember squinting at that from a park in Lawton.

It wasn’t until I’d emigrated and we were living in the house we bought that I truly had a chance to get back under the stars. We moved into that house in late August, 2005 – our first day was actually the day after our first anniversary and the summer stars were still visible. I started to use the telescope almost immediately and within days (or more precisely, nights) I was finding some of the things I had always wished I could see. The Lagoon Nebula was one of the first. I also saw Uranus for the first time too, closely followed by Neptune – the last time I’d seen that distant blue world was twenty years previously with the Luton Astronomical Society.

I was lucky because that house was like a square donut – it had an enclosed courtyard in the middle and the walls were high enough to block the light from the streetlamps on the road. Also, luckily for me, Lawton didn’t use nearly as many streetlamps as my hometown of Luton. In fact, the biggest light polluter was a nearby car dealership.

So I’d wait until everyone had gone to bed and then set up the ‘scope in the courtyard. It was fantastic. Sometimes, if your Mum was still awake, I’d persuade to come outside too, but she never stayed out for long. I loved every minute.

It became an adventure – every moonless Friday and Saturday night I would be outside, determined to find something new. And I did. More often than not, I’d find 2 or 3 new wonders. I knew I wasn’t the first to see them, but it was exciting all the same. I’d usually go looking for an object of interest – sometimes I’d see it, sometimes I wouldn’t – but occasionally, I’d stumble onto something unexpected. I’d dash back inside to the office and check my software to identify it. Another stellar treasure bagged.

I saw comets, double stars, nebulae, star clusters, galaxies… everything… but let me tell you about one of my favourite memories. It involves you, James 🙂

I started taking pictures of the Moon – I found a way to adjust the settings on our digital camera to make it easy. I set the ISO to 100 (because the Moon is bright) and raised the shutter speed so the exposure time was as short as possible. I held the camera up to the eyepiece, held it as steadily as I could, pressed the button and hoped for the best. About one in four was a keeper.

The problem was that my photos were mostly of the Moon when it was waxing – between new moon and full moon. The reason for this is because when the Moon is waxing, it always rises before sunset. Actually, the full moon always rises at sunset. I would sometimes get photos of the slightly post-full moon but I never got photos of the last quarter moon and waning crescent moon because they always rose after midnight. (Waning is when the Moon is between being Full and New.)

That is, until the week before you were born. One Sunday night, August 13th 2006, we thought you were on your way because your Mum started having contractions. My Mum and Dad had come over for your birth so we all rushed off to the hospital. A few hours later, you weren’t with us yet so Mum and Dad went home with your big brother and I stayed with your Mum. It was about one in the morning before the doctors finally agreed you’d changed your mind and sent us home.

“We’ll see you for sure tomorrow,” they said.

James’ Moon. (Click to enlarge)

We got home and your Mum went to bed but I was still somewhat awake. It was a last quarter moon and I realised this was my chance to get that elusive photo. I was determined to get a photo of the moon on the day you were born and if you were coming later that day, this would be the perfect opportunity. Plus it would be my first last quarter moon photo.

I snapped a couple of pics and rushed inside to see what I’d got. One of them was a gem. It was taken at 2:29am on Monday, August 14th, 2006. I figured this would be your birthday moon photo.

But it was not to be. You didn’t arrive that day. You kept us waiting another eight days and, of course, you being you, you picked the day of the new moon and the moon wasn’t visible. This photo was as close as I got.

I was a little disappointed but I’m glad you’re here. I still sang “…give you a night, dipped in moonshine…” to you 🙂

Texas Students to Chat Live with Space Station Crew Members March 29, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in News Stories, Spaceflight.
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Students at O. Henry Middle School in Austin, Texas, will learn about living and working in space by speaking with Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, April 3. The live question-and-answer session will take place at 11:20 a.m. EDT and be broadcast live on NASA Television. Media representatives are invited to attend.

More than 100 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students will participate through their science classes. Texas Congressman Lamar Smith is expected to join the group for this special event.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/mar/HQ_M12-056_Texas_Students_ISS_Downlink.html

March 28, 2012

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When the Curves Line Up

Image Credit

Moon Phases

New — 21
First — 29
Full — 6
Last  — 13

April provides lengthening daylight and a continued dazzling display of Venus in the western sky after sunset.  During the month daylight increases by an hour to nearly 14 daylight hours by month’s end in the Chicago area.

Mercury is a morning object throughout the month. From the northern mid-latitudes it lies low in the eastern sky during predawn hours. The moon is nearby on the mornings of April 18 and 19.  On the first date, locate the moon, then use binoculars to find Mercury.

Throughout the month, Venus continues its brilliant display in the western sky.  The chart above shows the length of time between sunset and Venus setting.  During the first several days of the month, Venus sets nearly seven hours after sunset.  From that point until mid-May, when it disappears into the…

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March 28, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Reblogged.
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Heavens With Lamps

The Constellations Table :A complete table with information about all the 88 Constellations as defined by the I.A.U. ( International Astronomical Union ). Abbreviations, Genitive and Latin Names, English Names and more.FIELD LIST

ABBREV : IAU abbreviation
CONSTELLATION : latin name
GENITIVE : latin genitive ( possessive )
ENGLISH NAME : english translation
AREA : constellation size or area, in square degrees
HEM : position in the celestial sphere :
NH – northern celestial hemisphere – declination between 0° and +90°
SH – southern celestial hemisphere – declination between 0° and – 90°
ALPHA STAR : proper name of the alpha star.

ALPHABETICAL ORDER

Cosmobrain’s Constellation Table

No. Abbrev. Constellation Genitive English Name

Area

Hem.

Alpha Star

1

And

Andromeda Andromedae Andromeda

722

NH

Alpheratz

2

Ant

Antlia Antliae Air Pump

239

SH

3

Aps

Apus Apodis Bird of Paradise

206

SH

4

Aqr

Aquarius Aquarii Water Carrier

980

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Join the 2012 Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Competition March 27, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Competitions, News Stories.
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Over two decades in orbit, the Hubble Space Telescope has made a huge number of observations. Every week, we publish new images on the ESA/Hubble website.

But hidden in Hubble’s huge data archives are still some truly breathtaking images that have never been seen in public. We call them Hubble’s Hidden Treasures — and we’re looking for your help to bring them to light.

We’re inviting the public into Hubble’s vast science archive to dig out the best unseen Hubble images. Find a great dataset in the Hubble Legacy Archive, adjust the contrast and colours using the simple online tools and submit to our Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Contest Flickr group, and you could win an iPod Touch in our Hubble’s Hidden Treasures Competition.

Full Story: http://www.spacetelescope.org/announcements/ann1203/

I need your help :) March 26, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Site News.
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I’m looking for contributors to this site… I’d like to really get it up and running but I don’t have the time right now to fully devote my attention to it.

If anyone is willing to contribute anything – it can be advice, a news story, photos, reviews – anything that can benefit parents and kids learning astronomy, please feel free to email me at thelastsongiheard@gmail.com

Thanks 🙂

A Little Pas de Deux: Tethys and Dione March 20, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Saturn, Solar System.
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Jason Major has posted an excellent animated GIF  of the moons Tethys and Dione passing one another, as imaged by the Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn.

Check it out 🙂

A Little Pas de Deux: Tethys and Dione.