Category Archives: Astronomy

Amateur astronomers: Discovering a multi-planet system + Awards for comet discoveries

Some news of amateur astronomy accomplishments:

Here is a story about amateur astronomers using the sophisticated technique of microlensing to  discover a multiple-planet system.

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The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics award a total purse of $30,000 to amateur astronomers who discovered comets in 2012:

Nearly all comet discoveries nowadays are made by automated telescopes which scan the skies with robotic eyes and check new appearances in a computer. But the Edgar Wilson Award celebrates the few lone amateurs that still practice the old ways of comet watching, scanning the skies during freezing cold nights to get that once-in-a-lifetime finding. Spotting comets is very competitive because the first person to report it gets the honor of having the comet named for him or herself.

The five winners this year all made their discoveries in 2011. For most of the recipients, it is their first time winning. The prize money was split evenly among the discoveries.

Asteroid 2012-DA14 to pass earth closer than GEO-sats

NASA’s ScienceCast program reports on the upcoming close fly-by of asteroid 2012-DA14:

On Feb. 15th an asteroid about half the size of a football field will fly past Earth closer than many man-made satellites. Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s, astronomers have never seen an object so big come so close to our planet.

More at Near-Earth Asteroid 2012 DA14 to make extremely close approach in February 2013 – The Watchers – Aug.22.12.

Planetary Society Hangout Jan 24th – Asteroid hunter Gary Hug

The latest Planetary Society Hangout included asteroid hunter Gary Hug who

scans the skies every night looking for new near-Earth objects and refining orbital measurements for existing ones. He is also one of the Planetary Society‘s Gene Shoemaker Fellows, which is our program to provide highly-skilled amateur astronomers with the equipment and support needed to continue the search for potentially hazardous asteroids.

Join Casey Dreier and Dr. Bruce Betts, who manages the Shoemaker program, as they talk to Gary Hug about how he hunts the night skies, the new NEO he discovered in January, and what drives him.

Kepler exoplanet scan suspended temporarily

The lifetime of Kepler, the great exoplanet finding machine, may be cut prematurely short if efforts to save a balky reaction wheel fall short:

 

Sloh space camera to webcast super close Moon/Jupiter conjunction

An announcement from the Slooh public membership astronomy enterprise:

Slooh Space Camera to Broadcast Live Feeds
of Super Close Moon /Jupiter Conjunction

On Monday, January 21st, the Moon will appear amazingly close in the sky to the largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter. The Waxing Gibbous Moon – the lunar phase between first quarter Moon and a full Moon – will be approximately one degree south of Jupiter appearing to be only a pen width apart. This will be closest conjunction between the two celestial bodies until 2026. Slooh Space Camera will cover the event live on Slooh.com, free to the public, Monday, January 21st at 6:00 PM PST / 9:00 PM EST / 02:00 UTC (1/22) – International times here: http://goo.gl/xySeo – accompanied by real-time discussions with Slooh President, Patrick Paolucci, Astronomy Magazine columnist, Bob Berman, and astro-imager Matt Francis of the Prescott Observatory. Viewers can watch live on their PC or IOS/Android mobile device at t-minus zero.

By good fortune, the Great Red Spot will be traveling across the middle of Jupiter’s disk during Slooh’s live broadcast.

If skies are clear, individuals can view the conjunction by looking at the Moon and finding the brightest star in the sky next to the Moon, which will be Jupiter. Individuals with binoculars or telescope may capture more detail of Jupiter, including some of the satellites.

About Slooh
Slooh is the leader in live, celestial event programming with weekly shows featuring the great wonders of the Universe – shown live by observatories worldwide. SLOOH is powered by its members—men, women and children in 80 countries who have taken 1.8 million photos of 46,000 unique objects and events in the night sky since our launch on Christmas Day, 2003. Slooh’s patented instant imaging technology makes astronomical objects appear in true color and in real time over a 5 to 10 minute time frame.

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