Category Archives: Astronomy

Night sky highlights for July 2022

** What’s Up: July 2022 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL

What are some skywatching highlights in July 2022? The naked-eye planets of dawn – Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn – dominate the sky, appearing more spread out each morning. Next, if you’re feeling the July heat, note the origin of “the dog days” of summer has to do with the bright star Sirius. Finally, if you can find a certain teapot-shaped pattern of stars in the evening, you’ll be looking toward the center of the Milky Way.

0:00 Intro
0:11 Morning planet lineup
0:40 Sirius and the “dog days” of summer
1:50 The Teapot and Milky Way core
3:11 July Moon phases

Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch….

** Tonight’s Sky: July Space Telescope Science InstituteTonight’s Sky

In July, find the Scorpius constellation to identify the reddish supergiant Antares, which will lead you to discover a trio of globular star clusters. Keep watching for space-based views of these densely packed, spherical collections of ancient stars, as well as three nebulas: the Swan Nebula, the Lagoon Nebula, and the Trifid Nebula.

** What’s in the Night Sky July 2022 #WITNS | Milky Way core | Supermoon | Noctilucent Clouds Alyn Wallace

00:00 Intro
01:40 Squarespace
02:40 Northern Hemisphere Night Sky
05:30 Southern Hemisphere Night Sky
07:24 Close Approaches
08:06 Full Moon
08:37 Meteor Showers
09:44 #WITNS Winners

** Sky & Telescope’s Sky Tour Podcast – July 2022 – Sky & Telescope Youtube

Our monthly Sky Tour #astronomy #podcast provides an informative and entertaining 10-minute guided tour of the nighttime sky. Listen to July’s episode for #stargazing tips and learn about the #stars of #summer.

See also

** Night Sky Notebook July 2022Peter Detterline

** See also:

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Stellaris: People of the Stars

ESO: Violent star formation mapped in Tarantula Nebula

The latest report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):

The Tarantula’s cosmic web:
Astronomers map violent star formation
in nebula outside our galaxy

This composite image shows the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula. The background image, taken in the infrared, is itself a composite: it was captured by the HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), shows bright stars and light, pinkish clouds of hot gas. The bright red-yellow streaks that have been superimposed on the image come from radio observations taken by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), revealing regions of cold, dense gas which have the potential to collapse and form stars. The unique web-like structure of the gas clouds led astronomers to the nebula’s spidery nickname.

Astronomers have unveiled intricate details of the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, using new observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). In a high-resolution image released today by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and including ALMA data, we see the nebula in a new light, with wispy gas clouds that provide insight into how massive stars shape this region.

“These fragments may be the remains of once-larger clouds that have been shredded by the enormous energy being released by young and massive stars, a process dubbed feedback,”

says Tony Wong, who led the research on 30 Doradus presented today at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting and published in The Astrophysical Journal. Astronomers originally thought the gas in these areas would be too sparse and too overwhelmed by this turbulent feedback for gravity to pull it together to form new stars. But the new data also reveal much denser filaments where gravity’s role is still significant.

“Our results imply that even in the presence of very strong feedback, gravity can exert a strong influence and lead to a continuation of star formation,”

adds Wong, who is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA.

Located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way, the Tarantula Nebula is one of the brightest and most active star-forming regions in our galactic neighbourhood, lying about 170 000 light-years away from Earth. At its heart are some of the most massive stars known, a few with more than 150 times the mass of our Sun, making the region perfect for studying how gas clouds collapse under gravity to form new stars.

“What makes 30 Doradus unique is that it is close enough for us to study in detail how stars are forming, and yet its properties are similar to those found in very distant galaxies, when the Universe was young,”

said Guido De Marchi, a scientist at the European Space Agency (ESA) and a co-author of the paper presenting the new research.

“Thanks to 30 Doradus, we can study how stars used to form 10 billion years ago when most stars were born.”

This image shows the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, in radio wavelengths, as observed by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The bright red-yellow streaks reveal regions of cold, dense gas which have the potential to collapse and form stars. The unique web-like structure of the gas clouds is characteristic of the Tarantula Nebula.

While most of the previous studies of the Tarantula Nebula have focused on its centre, astronomers have long known that massive star formation is happening elsewhere too. To better understand this process, the team conducted high-resolution observations covering a large region of the nebula. Using ALMA, they measured the emission of light from carbon monoxide gas. This allowed them to map the large, cold gas clouds in the nebula that collapse to give birth to new stars — and how they change as huge amounts of energy are released by those young stars.

“We were expecting to find that parts of the cloud closest to the young massive stars would show the clearest signs of gravity being overwhelmed by feedback,” says Wong. “We found instead that gravity is still important in these feedback-exposed regions — at least for parts of the cloud that are sufficiently dense.”

In the image released today by ESO, we see the new ALMA data overlaid on a previous infrared image of the same region that shows bright stars and light pinkish clouds of hot gas, taken with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and ESO’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA). The composition shows the distinct, web-like shape of the Tarantula Nebula’s gas clouds that gave rise to its spidery name. The new ALMA data comprise the bright red-yellow streaks in the image: very cold and dense gas that could one day collapse and form stars.

This infrared image shows the star-forming region 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula, highlighting its bright stars and light, pinkish clouds of hot gas. The image is a composite: it was captured by the HAWK-I instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA).

The new research contains detailed clues about how gravity behaves in the Tarantula Nebula’s star-forming regions, but the work is far from finished.

“There is still much more to do with this fantastic data set, and we are releasing it publicly to encourage other researchers to conduct new investigations,”

Wong concludes.

Links

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An Infinity of Worlds:
Cosmic Inflation and the Beginning of the Universe

Night sky highlights for June 2022

** What’s Up: June 2022 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL

What are some skywatching highlights in June 2022? The morning quartet of Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mars continues to shine, though they will spread farther apart over the next couple of months. Globular cluster M13, aka the Hercules Cluster, is best observed with a telescope, but binoculars will reveal it as a fuzzy spot. And the constellation Lyra is easily located thanks to its brightest star, Vega.

0:00 Intro
0:11 Morning planets spread out
0:44 Globular Cluster M13
2:20 Find the Constellation Lyra
3:42 June Moon phases

Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch….

** Tonight’s Sky: June Space Telescope Science InstituteTonight’s Sky

Though the nights are shorter in June, they are filled with fine sights. Look for the Hercules constellation, which will lead you to a globular star cluster with hundreds of thousands of densely packed stars. You can also spot Draco the dragon, which will point you to the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Keep watching for space-based views of globular star clusters and the nebula.

About this Series: “Tonight’s Sky” is a monthly video of constellations you can observe in the night sky. The series is produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope, in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning. This is a recurring show, and you can find more episodes—and other astronomy videos—at TONIGHT’S SKY

** What to see in the night sky: June 2022BBC Sky at Night Magazine

What can you see in the night sky tonight? Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel reveal their pick of June 2022’s night-sky highlights.

** What’s in the Night Sky June 2022 #WITNS | 5 Planet Alignment | Supermoon | Noctilucent Clouds Alyn Wallace

00:00 Intro
01:04 Northern Hemisphere Night Sky
03:36 Southern Hemisphere Night Sky
05:37 Full Moon
06:02 Squarespace
06:51 Noctilucent Clouds
09:25 #WITNS Winners

** Night Sky Notebook June 2022Peter Detterline

** See also:

=== Amazon Ads ===

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Portable Refractor Telescope
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Stellaris: People of the Stars

Night sky highlights for May 2022

** What’s Up: May 2022 Skywatching Tips from NASA – NASA JPL

What are some skywatching highlights in May 2022? May provides some great planet spotting, including a close conjunction of Jupiter and Mars. At mid-month, a total eclipse of the Moon should delight skywatchers across the Americas, Europe, and Africa. And all month long, the Coma star cluster (aka, the Coma Berenices star cluster, or Melotte 111) is a great target for binoculars in the evening. YouTube Full Description (i.e., “Show More”)

0:00 Intro
0:11 Planet-spotting opportunities

1:02 Lunar eclipse
2:27 The Coma star cluster
3:33 May Moon phases

Additional information about topics covered in this episode of What’s Up, along with still images from the video, and the video transcript, are available at https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/skywatch….

** Tonight’s Sky: May Space Telescope Science InstituteTonight’s Sky

In May, we are looking away from the crowded, dusty plane of our own galaxy toward a region where the sky is brimming with distant galaxies. Locate Virgo to find a concentration of roughly 2,000 galaxies and search for Coma Berenices to identify many more. Keep watching for space-based views of galaxies like the Sombrero Galaxy, M87, and M64. About this Series “Tonight’s Sky” is a monthly video of constellations you can observe in the night sky. The series is produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute, home of science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope, in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning. This is a recurring show, and you can find more episodes—and other astronomy videos—at https://hubblesite.org/resource-galle….

** What to see in the night sky: May 2022BBC Sky at Night Magazine

What can you see in the night sky tonight? Pete Lawrence and Paul Abel reveal their pick of May’s night-sky highlights.

** Night Sky Notebook May 2022Peter Detterline

What’s happening in the skies above for May 2022.

** See also:

=== Amazon Ads ===

Celestron
70mm Travel Scope
Portable Refractor Telescope
Fully-Coated Glass Optics
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Stellaris: People of the Stars

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Envisioning Exoplanets:
Searching for Life in the Galaxy

ESO: VLT tracks surprising variations in Neptune’s temperatures

A new report from the European Southern Observatory (ESO):

ESO telescope captures surprising changes in Neptune’s temperatures

This composite shows thermal images of Neptune taken between 2006 and 2020. The first three images (2006, 2009, 2018) were taken with the VISIR instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope while the 2020 image was captured by the COMICS instrument on the Subaru Telescope (VISIR wasn’t in operation in mid-late 2020 because of the pandemic). After the planet’s gradual cooling, the south pole appears to have become dramatically warmer in the past few years, as shown by a bright spot at the bottom of Neptune in the images from 2018 and 2020.

An international team of astronomers have used ground-based telescopes, including the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT), to track Neptune’s atmospheric temperatures over a 17-year period. They found a surprising drop in Neptune’s global temperatures followed by a dramatic warming at its south pole.

“This change was unexpected,” says Michael Roman, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Leicester, UK, and lead author of the study published today in The Planetary Science Journal. “Since we have been observing Neptune during its early southern summer, we expected temperatures to be slowly growing warmer, not colder.”

Like Earth, Neptune experiences seasons as it orbits the Sun. However, a Neptune season lasts around 40 years, with one Neptune year lasting 165 Earth years. It has been summertime in Neptune’s southern hemisphere since 2005, and the astronomers were eager to see how temperatures were changing following the southern summer solstice.

Astronomers looked at nearly 100 thermal-infrared images of Neptune, captured over a 17-year period, to piece together overall trends in the planet’s temperature in greater detail than ever before.

These data showed that, despite the onset of southern summer, most of the planet had gradually cooled over the last two decades. The globally averaged temperature of Neptune dropped by 8 °C between 2003 and 2018.

The astronomers were then surprised to discover a dramatic warming of Neptune’s south pole during the last two years of their observations, when temperatures rapidly rose 11 °C between 2018 and 2020. Although Neptune’s warm polar vortex has been known for many years, such rapid polar warming has never been previously observed on the planet.

“Our data cover less than half of a Neptune season, so no one was expecting to see large and rapid changes,”

says co-author Glenn Orton, senior research scientist at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the US.

The astronomers measured Neptune’s temperature using thermal cameras that work by measuring the infrared light emitted from astronomical objects. For their analysis the team combined all existing images of Neptune gathered over the last two decades by ground-based telescopes. They investigated infrared light emitted from a layer of Neptune’s atmosphere called the stratosphere. This allowed the team to build up a picture of Neptune’s temperature and its variations during part of its southern summer.

Because Neptune is roughly 4.5 billion kilometres away and is very cold, the planet’s average temperature reaching around –220°C, measuring its temperature from Earth is no easy task.

“This type of study is only possible with sensitive infrared images from large telescopes like the VLT that can observe Neptune clearly, and these have only been available for the past 20 years or so,”

says co-author Leigh Fletcher, a professor at the University of Leicester.

The image of the planet Neptune on the left was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image on the right is a comparable image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Note that the two images were not taken at the same time so do not show identical surface features.

Around one third of all the images taken came from the VLT Imager and Spectrometer for mid-InfraRed (VISIR) instrument on ESO’s VLT in Chile’s Atacama Desert. Because of the telescope’s mirror size and altitude, it has a very high resolution and data quality, offering the clearest images of Neptune. The team also used data from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope and images taken with the Gemini South telescope in Chile, as well as with the Subaru Telescope, the Keck Telescope, and the Gemini North telescope, all in Hawai‘i.

Because Neptune’s temperature variations were so unexpected, the astronomers do not know yet what could have caused them. They could be due to changes in Neptune’s stratospheric chemistry, or random weather patterns, or even the solar cycle. More observations will be needed over the coming years to explore the reasons for these fluctuations. Future ground-based telescopes like ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) could observe temperature changes like these in greater detail, while the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope will provide unprecedented new maps of the chemistry and temperature in Neptune’s atmosphere.

“I think Neptune is itself very intriguing to many of us because we still know so little about it,” says Roman. “This all points towards a more complicated picture of Neptune’s atmosphere and how it changes with time.”

Links

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The Planet Factory:
Exoplanets and the Search for a Second Earth

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The Demon in the Machine:
How Hidden Webs of Information
Are Solving the Mystery of Life