Friday, April 21, 2017

Saturday: March for Science in Cities Around the World

Washington October 2016-6 (cropped) (cropped).jpg
The Washington Monument, on the Washington DC
National Mall, will be the beginning of the Washington
March for Science.
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org , By Alvesgaspar - Own work, 
CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?
curid=56582162)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

On the annual Earth Day this Saturday a new event, the March for Science, is a series of marches and rallies which will occur in Washington DC and more than 500 other cities world-wide including Pittsburgh. According to the March for Science Internet web-site, “The March for Science is the first step of a global movement to defend the vital role science plays in our health, safety, economies, and governments.”

The organizers and supporters of the March for Science insist that it is a non-partisan event. The goal of the March for Science is to call for science which upholds the common good and provides for evidence-based information to be used for developing good public policy.

The March for Science was inspired by the Women's March held on January 21, the day after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald J. Trump. The organizers of the March for Science have been skeptical of the lower priority that the Trump Administration, thus far, has given to scientific issues related to public policies.

It is hoped that the March for Science will give greater exposure to all of the elements of science which provide us with the good quality of life we have today and impress upon policy-makers that advancement in the sciences is a necessity to maintain such a good quality of life. It is also hoped that the March for Science will inspire the public to engage policy-makers regarding the decisions being made, or neglected, regarding science public policy.

The March for Science in Washington, along with all satellite marches (including the one in Pittsburgh) is free-of-charge to the public and open to everyone! No prior registration is required. All events will go-on, rain or shine!

For people who do not live in or near Washington and would like to participate in a satellite march, the March for Science Internet web-site (link to this web-site at the end of this blog-post) provides a listing of all satellite marches that are currently planned.

In Washington, the March for Science will be an all-day event concentrating on the National Mall in Downtown Washington. The event begins at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) on the National Mall just north of the grounds of the Washington Monument, on Constitution Avenue NW between 15th and 17th Streets NW.

The Washington event will include 21 science teach-in sessions, beginning at 9:00 a.m. EDT and running until around Noon, or a little after. The 18 organizations sponsoring these teach-in sessions include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Anthropological Association, American Chemical Society, and the University of Rochester. Several other special events, as part of the March for Science, are also scheduled throughout the weekend at different venues in Washington.

The actual Washington March begins at 2:00 p.m. EDT. The March will form on the National Mall at the grounds of the Washington Monument. The March will proceed east on Constitution Avenue NW from 15th Street to 3rd Street NW, then south on 3rd Street NW terminating in Union Square.

In Pittsburgh, the March for Science will center on the University of Pittsburgh campus in the Oakland Civic Center section of the city. Scheduled for 12:00 Noon to 2:00 p.m. EDT, it will begin on Bigelow Boulevard between Fifth and Forbes Avenues [between the Cathedral of Learning and the William Pitt Student Union (originally, the historic Hotel Schenley)]. The main event will be a march completely around the large city block encompassing the University of Pittsburgh's signature, 42-story Cathedral of Learning (tallest academic building in the Western Hemisphere, second tallest in the World!).

Around 1:00 p.m. EDT, the Pittsburgh March will be followed by several speakers from the Pittsburgh scientific community in the closed block of Bigelow Boulevard (between Fifth and Forbes Avenues).

Friends of the Zeiss, parent organization of the SpaceWatchtower Blog and Twitter News Feed, will participate in the March for Science in Pittsburgh.

Friends of the Zeiss is a non-profit organization with the mission to promote Astronomy, Space Science, and other sciences to the general public through Internet web sites, SpaceWatchtower Blog, and SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed, as well as public observing sessions of special astronomical events and other public educational programs and services regarding Astronomy, Space Science, and other sciences. This organization also promotes the history and preservation of the historic equipment, artifacts, and building of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science, including the Zeiss II Planetarium Projector (prior to 2002 dismantling, oldest operable major planetarium projector in the world!) and the fairly unique 10-inch Siderostat-type Refractor Telescope.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

March for Science -
     Internet Web-Site: Link >>> https://www.marchforscience.com/
     Wikipedia Page: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_for_Science
     March for Science Pittsburgh: Link  >>> https://www.facebook.com/MarchForSciencePGH/

Related Blog Posts ---

"NASA & the Trump Administration." 2017 Jan. 23.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/01/nasa-trump-administration.html

 

"U.S. Presidential Candidates Answer Science Questions." 2016 Sept. 18.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/09/us-presidential-candidates-answer.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 April 21.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

4 Comets May Be Visible w/ Small Telescopes

https://assets.cdn.astronomynow.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/02211027/Comet_C2015_V2_40x10s_2Apr2017_0044BST_v3.jpg
Image of Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2) at visual magnitude +8, with an obvious tail, photographed in the Constellation Hercules the Hero on the night of April 1-2 by Ade Ashford.
(Image Source: AstronomyNow Magazine from the United Kingdom)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

This month, four comets may be visible to stargazers with small telescopes, and possibly binoculars. Although it is unlikely any of these comets will be bright enough to see with the naked-eye (at least, not this month), those with a small telescope, or possibly good binoculars, may have a chance to see one or more of these cosmic “dirty snowballs.”

American astronomer Fred Whipple described a comet as a “dirty snowball.” Comets are a combination of rocks, dust, water ice, and other frozen gases, from the early days of our Solar System.

The solid core of a comet is known as the nucleus. Streams of dust and gas released from the comet, as it nears the Sun, form a thin atmosphere around the comet nucleus called the coma. The coma is composed mostly (90 per-cent) of water, with dust making-up the rest of the coma.

Most, but not all, comets have one or more visible tails. The tail(s), which is usually not visible in the Outer Solar System, is composed of dust and gases emanating from the comet, caused by solar radiation as the comet comes closer to the Sun; this radiation usually is too weak to create tails in the Outer Solar System. Normally, a comet's tail(s) points away from the Sun, no matter the direction of movement of the comet; hence, a comet leaving the Inner Solar System often has a tail pointing in the direction of the comet's motion.

Comets usually have a highly-eccentric, elliptical orbit around the Sun, which brings a comet into the Inner Solar System for a short time, while it spends most of its time in the Outer Solar System. Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper Belt, just beyond the orbit of the Planet Neptune, while long-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort Cloud, a spherical cloud of icy bodies beyond the Kuiper Belt.

Short-period comets may have an orbit of only a few years, while long-period comets, potentially, could have an orbit of several million years. Some comets have very short lives, and they disappear into the Sun before they can resume traveling to the Outer Solar System. Other comets, known as hyperbolic comets, go around the Sun once and never come back, continuing into Interstellar Space forever.

To more easily see comets, it is better to be away from city lights, as artificial lighting can drown-out the dimmer comets. Bright moonlight can also drown-out some of the dimmer comets, so monitor the Moon Phase on the monthly SpaceWatchtower Astronomical Calendar.

When looking for a comet, it is best to be in an area that gets a good view of the entire sky (with few obstructions such as buildings, trees, or hills). Of course, you definitely want an unobstructed view for the area of the sky where you expect to find the comet. And, if the comet is expected to be low on the horizon where you expect to view it, you want your observation site to be as high in elevation as possible.

Of course, viewing comets, like all celestial observations, are weather-permitting. If there are more than a very few clouds in the sky, a comet will be much more difficult to find.

And, you want to go out ahead of time, before you actually start looking for comets, to get your eyes accustomed to the dark sky. Dark-adapting your eyes for comet-watching could take up to a half-hour.

                                    Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacombini-Kresák

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacombini-Kresák has been called by some the “April Fool's Comet,” because it approached Earth, on the first day of this month, at a closer point than any other fly-by since the comet's discovery in 1858: 13.2 million miles / 21.2 million kilometers. Today (April 12), this comet reaches the point in its orbit called perihelion (closest approach to the Sun for this apparition): 97.1 million miles / 156.3 million kilometers.

This is a short-period comet, which comes around once every 5.5 years. Astronomer Horace Tuttle of the Harvard College Observatory first discovered this comet on 1858 May 3. It was next observed by Professor M. Giacombini of France's Nice Observatory on 1907 June 1, and after that by Slovak astronomer Lubor Kresak on 1951 April 24.

It was only after this third observation that it was realized that the comets of 1858, 1907, and 1951 were all the same comet. Hence, all three astronomers' names were given to this comet as the comet's discoverers.

On April 18 and 19, this comet will be in the Constellation Draco the Dragon, passing the bright Star Rastaban, in the dragon's head on the 18th. After that, the comet heads into the Constellation Hercules the Hero, where it will start to fade in brightness as it travels further from the Earth.

                                          Comet Lovejoy (C/2017 E4)

A new Comet Lovejoy should not be confused with the Comet Lovejoy (C/2014 Q2) SpaceWatchtower reported on back on 2015 January 7. Discovered just last month by a prolific amateur astronomer, Terry Lovejoy in Australia, this Comet Lovejoy has continued brightening to about +7.0 visual magnitude.

This Comet Lovejoy rises in the early morning just above the east-northeast horizon, having just passed the Constellation Pegasus the Winged Horse a few days ago.

                                         Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2)

Discovered in 2015, it is unsure whether Comet Johnson is a long-period comet (that might not come back to the Inner Solar System for another 14 million years) or a hyperbolic comet (which is destined to leave our Solar System after this one pass around our Sun).

Later this month, Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacombini-Kresák will join Comet Johnson in the Constellation Hercules. Comet Johnson will be easier to spot when it passes three bright stars in Hercules on April 22 [when it will lie between Stars Tau (τ) Herculis and (υ) Upsilon Herculis], and again on April 25 [when it will lie between Stars Phi (φ) Herculis and (υ) Upsilon Herculis].

Comet Johnson is expected to reach visual magnitude +7.4 by the end of the month. However, since it will not fly-by the Sun until mid-June, there is a chance it could get even brighter—perhaps, reaching naked-eye brightness. So, this is a comet to keep watching!

                                    Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2015 ER61)

This month, we may get to see another Comet Pan-STARRS, this time C/2015 ER61. On 2013 March 5, SpaceWatchtower reported on a Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2011 L4), that was then brightening in the sky.

Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) is a robotic system of astronomical cameras, telescopes, and computers continually watching the sky for asteroids (particularly near-Earth asteroids which could one day threaten Earth), comets, variable stars, and other celestial objects. It is expected to eventually create a data-base of space objects, down to 24th visual magnitude, over 75 percent of the sky—the part of the sky visible from its base in Hawaii.

Although this Comet Pan-STARRS was very dim (visual magnitude +21) when it was discovered two years ago, it has brightened considerably as it approaches our Sun. This month, it has brightened to visual magnitude +6.5.

It passes the Earth on April 19 at a distance of 109 million miles / 175 million kilometers, before it swings around the Sun on May 10. So, it could brighten even more over the next few weeks.

Currently, this Comet Pan-STARRS appears as a tiny fuzz-ball in Constellation Aquarius the Water Bearer, very low in the pre-dawn sky. It may become a little easier to spot as it rises just before dawn, but it will become more difficult to see as the sky brightens.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

SpaceWatchtower Monthly Astronomical Calendar ---
Current Month (2017 April):
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/04/astronomical-calendar-2017-april.html
Calendar Archives: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium3.tripod.com/Buhlnews.htm#astrocalarchiv

Comet: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comet

Comets ---
Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacombini-Kresák:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/41P/Tuttle%E2%80%93Giacobini%E2%80%93Kres%C3%A1k
Comet Lovejoy (C/2017 E4): Link >>> https://theskylive.com/c2017e4-info
Comet Johnson (C/2015 V2): Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2015_V2
Comet Pan-STARRS (C/2015 ER61):
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C/2015_ER61_(PANSTARRS)

Pan-STARRS: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan-STARRS

Related Blog Posts ---

"Two Dim Comets May Be Visible in a Telescope." 2017 Feb. 19.

 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/02/two-dim-comets-may-be-visible-in.html

 

"Comet Lovejoy: Best View Next 2 Weeks." 2015 Jan. 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/01/comet-lovejoy-best-view-next-2-weeks.html

 

"European Space Probe Aims for 1 Comet, Finds 2." 2014 July 22.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/07/european-space-probe-aims-for-1-comet.html

 

"Comet ISON vs. the Solar Storm." 2013 Nov. 26.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/11/comet-ison-vs-solar-storm.html?m=0

 

"Comet LINEAR Suddenly Brightens." 2013 Oct. 22.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.de/2013/10/comet-linear-suddenly-brightens.html

 

"Comet ISON to Fly by Mars." 2013 Aug. 24.

Link >>> https://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/08/comet-ison-to-fly-by-mars.html?m=0


"Comet: Source of Mysterious Water on Jupiter." 2013 May 4.
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/pearcee/pe-jupiterwater.html


"Possible Naked-eye Comet in March." 2013 Feb. 7.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/02/possible-naked-eye-comet-in-march.html


"Comet of the Century?" 2013 Jan. 19.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2013/01/comet-of-century.html


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 April 12.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Astronomical Calendar: 2017 April


A very rare color photograph from 1917 (although digitally enhanced), of a Nieuport Bi-Plane Fighter used during World War I. The United States of America entered World War I on April 6, one hundred years ago.
(Image Source: Wikipedia.org , By Paul CastelnauThe factual accuracy of this description or the file name is disputed.Reason: Attributed to Fernand Cuville by Réunion des musées nationaux [1] - Source BNF Available at http://gallica.bnf.fr/scripts/ConsultationTout.exe?E=0&O=03300083 (bad link), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5967740 )

Astronomical Calendar for 2017 April: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#apr

 Related Blog Post ---


"Astronomical Calendar: 2017 March." 2017 March 1.

Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#mar


     Safe Public Viewing of the Great American Solar Eclipse
                         Monday, August 21, 2017
     Mt. Lebanon Public Library, South Suburban Pittsburgh
More Info: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/archivenews/releases/poster-flyer/2017SolarEclipse-Flyer.htm

Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2017 April 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Monday, March 27, 2017

Public Invited to Search for Planets in Other Star Systems

KeckTelescopes-hi.png
W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii.
(Image Sources: Wikipedia.org , By T. Wynne / JPL - http://planetquest.jpl.nasa.gov/images/keckTelescopes-hi.tif, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4963229 )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Last month, NASA opened an Internet web-site to engage the public in the search for the long-sought “Planet Nine” in the outer reaches of our Solar System. A huge data-set has also been released on the Internet, by a team led by the Carnegie Institution for Science (a.k.a. Carnegie Institution of Washington), inviting the public to help in the search for exo-planets, planets outside of our Solar System.

With a technique called radial velocity being used to help hunt for exo-planets, this data-set is the largest collection of observations utilizing this particular technique. It took more than two decades for the W.M. Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea in Hawaii to collect all of these observations. At an elevation of 13,600 feet / 4,145 meters, Keck's twin telescopes, each with a 10-meter / 33-foot mirror-aperture, saw “first-light” in the mid-1990s.

The huge observation data-set is being made available for public use, along with a computer software package to help process the data and an on-line tutorial of how to use the data-set. With almost 61,000 observations of more than 1,600 nearby stars, scientists are hoping that fresh, public eyes using this user-friendly data-base will bring new results in the search for exo-planets.

Internet links to this data-base, along with tools to assist in its use, are located at the end of this blog-post.

Much of this observation work was done by a spectrometer mounted on the Keck-I Telescope called HIRES. HIRES (High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer), a large and complex instrument of the Keck Observatory, analyzes the light spectra coming into the telescope from the various star systems observed.

"HIRES was not specifically optimized to do this type of exoplanet detective work, but has turned out to be a workhorse instrument of the field", said Steve Vogt of the University of California Santa Cruz, who built the instrument. "I am very happy to contribute to science that is fundamentally changing how we view ourselves in the universe."

Thus far, scientists looking over this data have found more than 100 possible exo-planets, including one orbiting Star GJ-411, the fourth closest star to our Solar System (8.1 light-years from Earth). An academic research paper about this find was recently published in the scientific journal, The Astronomical Journal.

“This is an amazing catalog, and we realized there just aren’t enough of us on the team to be doing as much science as could come out of this dataset,” says Jennifer Burt, a Torres Postdoctoral Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. “We’re trying to shift toward a more community-oriented idea of how we should do science, so that others can access the data and see something interesting.”

"I think this paper sets a precedent for how the community can collaborate on exoplanet detection and follow-up", said team-member Johanna Teske of Carnegie’s Observatories and Department of Terrestrial Magnetism. “With NASA’s TESS mission on the horizon (scheduled for launch a year from now), which is expected to detect 1000+ planets orbiting bright, nearby stars, exoplanet scientists will soon have a whole new pool of planets to follow up.”

Keck Observatory Observation Data-Base: Link >>> http://home.dtm.ciw.edu/ebps/

Software Package (Downloadable) to Assist with Searching Data-Base:
Link >>> http://www.stefanom.org/console-2/

On-Line Tutorial for use of Software Package: Link >>> http://oklo.org/

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

News Release from the Carnegie Institution for Science:
Link >>> https://carnegiescience.edu/news/team-makes-planet-hunting-group-effort-finds-more-100-candidates

News Release from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:
Link >>> http://www.rdmag.com/news/2017/02/scientists-make-huge-dataset-nearby-stars-available-public?et_cid=5828674&et_rid=544605860&location=top&et_cid=5828674&et_rid=544605860&linkid=content

Carnegie Institution for Science: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnegie_Institution_for_Science

W.M. Keck Observatory: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._M._Keck_Observatory 

HIRES - High Resolution Echelle Spectrometer:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._M._Keck_Observatory#Instruments

TESS: Transiting Exo-Planet Survey Satellite:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transiting_Exoplanet_Survey_Satellite

Citizen Science Projects: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html

Related Blog Post ---

"Citizen Science: Help NASA Find 'Planet Nine'." 2017 March 10.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/03/citizen-science-help-nasa-find-planet.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 March 27.

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            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
TransportWatchtower Blog: < http://transportwatchtower.blogspot.com  >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Season of Spring Begins Early Monday Morning

http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/pix/graphics/solsticeimage008.png
This diagram shows the position of the Earth, in relation to the Sun, at the time of the Vernal Equinox, the official beginning of the Season of Spring, as well as the other solstices and equinox of the year.
(Graphic Source: ©1999, Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club; permission granted for only non-profit use with credit to author.)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The Vernal Equinox, which marks the beginning of the Season of Spring in Earth's Northern Hemisphere, occurs for 2017 on Monday Morning, March 20 at 6:29 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 10:29 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

In the Southern Hemisphere, this marks the astronomical beginning of the Season of Autumn.

On the day of Equinox, the Sun appears directly overhead at local Noon on the Equator. At the moment of Equinox, the Northern and Southern Hemispheres of Earth are illuminated equally. And, the time of Equinox is the only time when the terminator (dividing line on Earth between daylight and darkness) is perpendicular to the Equator.

This, and the reason for seasons on Earth in the first place, is due to the fact that Earth rotates on its axis, which is tilted at a 23 degrees, 26 minutes, 13.4 seconds (23.43705 degrees) angle from the plane of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. As the Earth revolves around the Sun, this axial tilt causes one hemisphere of the planet to receive more direct solar radiation during that hemisphere's Season of Summer and much less direct solar radiation a half-year later during that hemisphere's Season of Winter. As mentioned, during an Equinox [about half-way between Summer and Winter (for Autumn or Fall), and about half-way between Winter and Summer (for Spring)] both planetary hemispheres receive an equal amount of solar radiation.

In Latin, Equinox, is defined as equal-night, the day when daylight and darkness are about equal in length. Such actual equal-night never occurs on the actual date of an Equinox on Earth. This is due to the fact that the Sun is so large, in relation to the Earth, and hence, the entire Sun does not appear at actual sunrise, only a portion of the Sun; it takes a few more minutes for the entire Sun to appear above the horizon. Also, due to the refractive nature of Earth's atmosphere, daylight can be seen before the Sun's disk can be observed.

The date of actual equal-night varies by a location's longitude and latitude. At the Earth's Equator, daytime is always longer than night. Hence, the Equator never has equal-night.

While the Vernal Equinox, the true beginning of the Season of Spring, occurs on March 20 at 6:29 a.m. EDT / 10:29 UTC, the literal Equinox for Spring, termed the Spring Equilux, actually occurs each year a few days earlier, usually around March 16 or 17 (depending on the specific location).

The Vernal Equinox is used in the solar calendars of Iran and Afghanistan as the beginning of their calendar year. In ancient times, the Vernal Equinox, then celebrated by the old style calendar on or near March 25, was also the beginning of the calendar year for many ancient civilizations.

An urban legend that has been making the rounds for decades has it that eggs can be stood on their ends only during an Equinox, whether the Vernal Equinox in the Spring or the Autumnal Equinox in the Fall. This is completely false. Depending greatly on the size and shape of the particular egg, eggs can be stood on their ends any day of the year! Astronomy has nothing to do with whether an egg can stand on its end. If an egg can stand on its end on the Equinox (and, due to the shape and size of some eggs, this is not even possible), it can stand the same way any other day of the year.

In the last few years, with the help of the Internet and Social Media, another urban legend has become prevalent. Now it is claimed that brooms can stand on their own, on their bristles, only on an Equinox day. This is also false. Again, as with eggs, if a broom can stand on its bristles by itself (this usually only works with newer brooms, with more even bristles) on an Equinox, it can do so any day of the year!

This year, the Primary Moon Phase of Last Quarter for March occurs just a few hours after the Vernal Equinox: March 20 at 11:58 a.m. EDT / 15:58 UTC.

There is now an effort to have the day of the Vernal Equinox designated to commemorate the life of the first female astronomer, Hypatia of Alexandria, in ancient Egypt: Hypatia Day / Women in Science Day. Astronomical historian Ari Belenkiy, who finished an academic paper in 2016 on the life and death of Hypatia, has started an effort to have the day of the Vernal Equinox, March 20, designated by the Canadian Parliament as a day commemorating Hypatia's life. According to Professor Belenkiy, Hypatia's last days were dedicated to finding the exact time of the Vernal Equinox.

Hypatia was a Greek astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher, daughter of the mathematician Theon Alexandricus, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt during the late 4th and early 5th centuries. At that time Alexandria was part of the Eastern Roman Empire, which had a great rivalry with the Church of Rome. This led to deep divisions in Alexandria.

Due to the fog of time, there is much dispute regarding the events surrounding the death of Hypatia. According to the Church historian Socrates Scholasticus, a clique of Bishop Cyril's zealots killed Hypatia, due to a deep conflict between the Governor and Bishop of Alexandria. Hypatia's astronomical calculations regarding the date of Easter may have set the mob against her.

Although none of Hypatia's writings survive, she is reported to have made significant academic contributions in the fields of Astronomy and Mathematics.

The beginning of Spring also marks the beginning of the National Cherry Blossom Festival held each year in Washington, DC. This festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from the Mayor of Tokyo to the City of Washington. This year, the festival runs from March 15 through April 16.

Physicians have declared the first week of Spring as Medicine Cabinet Clean-Up Week. They urge families, as part of their annual Spring cleaning, to clean-out the medicine cabinet of old and expired pharmaceuticals which are no longer being used. This would prevent other family members from using these old drugs by accident, or the beginning of drug abuse.

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

Vernal Equinox: Link >>> http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/astronomy/VernalEquinox.html

Season of Spring: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_%28season%29

Equinox: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equinox

Earth's Seasons: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Season

Tilt of a planet's axis: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_tilt

Hypatia:
Link 1 >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia
Link 2 >>> http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/15700720-12341264

Petition to designate March 20 to commemorate the life of Hypatia:
Link >>> https://www.change.org/p/canada-s-parliament-commemorating-the-first-female-astronomer-hypatia-of-alexandria

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington:
Link >>> http://www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/?id=404

Medicine Cabinet Clean-Up Week: Link >>> http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/include-medicine-cabinets-on-your-spring-cleaning-list-300042760.html

Special Thanks: Eric G. Canali, former Floor Manager of Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of Popular Science and Founder of the South Hills Backyard Astronomers amateur astronomy club.

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 March 19.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Friday, March 10, 2017

Citizen Science: Help NASA Find 'Planet Nine'


This is an artist's concept of a cool, Brown-Dwarf Star, a type known as a "Y-Dwarf," which is one possibility of being the proposed Planet Nine. Such "Y-Dwarf" stars are the coldest star bodies known, with temperatures that can be cooler than the human body! Hence, such an object in the Outer Solar System would be very difficult to find, as it would generate or reflect very little light.
(Image Source: NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory of the California Institute of Technology)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

NASA is seeking help from Citizen Scientists – that is, regular people who have not trained to be scientists - to help find the elusive “Planet Nine” (which some people also refer to as Planet X), which scientists are convinced exists in our Outer Solar System. Although the Planet Pluto, originally considered the ninth planet, was re-designated as a “Dwarf Planet” about a decade ago due to its small size, scientists recently hypothesized that one (or possibly more than one) much larger, and very difficult to see, planet is still yet to be found beyond the orbit of Neptune.

NASA has funded a new Internet web-site, titled Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 (Internet link to this web-site at the end of this blog-post), for members of the general public to assist with the search for Planet Nine, and possibly other yet-unfound celestial bodies between the orbit of Neptune and the closest star (not including our Sun) to our Solar System, Proxima Centauri. Proxima Centauri is 4.25 light-years from Earth, and in that distance there possibly is one or more planetary bodies that are very difficult to find.

The data-base used in the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 web-site comes from a scan of stars in the entire sky, between 2010 and 2011, by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission. While it may be difficult to find outer planets using normal light, it is hoped that these objects can be found in a WISE infrared scan.

"There are just over four light-years between Neptune and Proxima Centauri, the nearest star, and much of this vast territory is unexplored," said lead researcher Marc Kuchner, an astrophysicist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "Because there's so little sunlight, even large objects in that region barely shine in visible light. But by looking in the infrared, WISE may have imaged objects we otherwise would have missed."

On the new web-site, public participants can view brief "flip-book" movies of WISE scans of parts of the sky. It is believed that human eyes, looking at these infrared scans, could discern objects more readily than would a computer search-algorithm. There are some things that human eyes can still do better than a computer!

In addition to the possibility of finding Planet Nine, or other possible planets, asteroids / planetoids, or comets,  Brown-Dwarf Stars in the vicinity of our Solar System, some known as "Y-Dwarfs" (somewhat similar to Jupiter), may also be found in this new search. It may actually turn-out that Planet Nine is a Y-Dwarf or Brown-Dwarf.

Once a public participant views these brief movies, if they find an object that seems not to be a normal star, they can contact a Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist (by flagging a questionable object) about the find. If it turns out that a new planet or a Y-Dwarf or Brown-Dwarf Star has actually been discovered, the citizen scientist(s) who participated in the discovery will be credited in the scientific literature.

So, give the new Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 web-site a try and see if you can find any yet-unchartered worlds. And, if NASA confirms that you did help find a new world, let SpaceWatchtower know (E-Mail address: < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >); we will include your name and your new discovery in an up-coming SpaceWatchtower blog-post!

Internet Link to the Backyard Worlds: Planet 9 Web-Site:

Internet Links to Additional Information ---

NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission:
Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wide-field_Infrared_Survey_Explorer

Planet Nine: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planet_Nine

Planet X: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planets_beyond_Neptune

Brown-Dwarf Stars: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_dwarf

Y-Dwarf Stars: Link >>> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_dwarf#Spectral_class_Y

"NASA-funded Website Lets the Public Search for New Nearby Worlds."
NASA / Jet Propulsion Laboratory 2017 Feb. 15.
Link >>> https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6747

More Citizen Science Projects:
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/FAQ/citizenscience.html

Related Blog Posts ---

Walsh, Glenn A.
"Public Invited to Search for Planets in Other Star Systems." Blog-Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2017 March 27.
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/03/public-invited-to-search-for-planets-in.html

Walsh, Glenn A.
"Undiscovered 'Planet Nine' May Be Cause of Tilt of Our Solar System." Blog-Post.
SpaceWatchtower 2016 Oct. 22.
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2016/10/undiscovered-planet-nine-may-be-cause.html

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.
             2017 March 10.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Astronomical Calendar: 2017 March

Image result for images daylight savings time
Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday Morning, 2017 March 12, at 2:00 a.m. Local
Prevailing Time. (Image Source: Austin College, Sherman TX)

Astronomical Calendar for 2017 March: 
Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium4.tripod.com/astrocalendar/2017.html#mar

 Related Blog Post ---


"Astronomical Calendar: 2017 February." 2017 Feb. 1.

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2017/02/astronomical-calendar-2017-february.html


Source: Friends of the Zeiss.
              2017 March 1.

                             Like This Post? - Please Share!

            More Astronomy & Science News - SpaceWatchtower Twitter Feed:
            Link >>> https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower

        Astronomy & Science Links: Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks

                Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your in-box ?
                Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >.

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director, Friends of the Zeiss: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
& SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
Astronomy Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#astrolinks >
Science Links: < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#sciencelinks >
SpaceWatchtower Twitter News Feed: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
LibraryWatchtower Blog: < http://librarywatchtower.blogspot.com >
South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin Blog: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, etc.: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >