Saturday 30 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Sunday December 1st

Eye in the Sky

Some part of ISON seems to have survived everyone is waiting to see how big this  piece is and will it become easily visible in the coming days.

Saturn, Mercury and a thin crescent Moon are low in the south eastern sky just before sunrise. They form an isosceles triangle.

On This Day

December 1st 1964

The first joint US/Argentinian rocket firing is made. The rocket was launched from the range at Chamical near to Cordova carrying a payload on instruments to collect data on the ionosphere.

Friday 29 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Saturday November 30th 2013

Eye in the Sky

We`re still waiting to hear about comet ISON!!

On This Day

November 30th 1964

NASA and PAN AM jointly announce that a scheduled airliner flight has received teletype messages from a communications satellite, SYNCOM 3 was used in this test.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Friday November 29th 2013

Eye in the Sky

We will see today if Comet ISON has survived its close encounter with the Sun. Here`s fingers crossed!!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Thursday 28th November 2013

Eye in the Sky

Comet ISON is at Perihelion today, the point in its orbit when it passes closest to the Sun. Astronomers will be watching to see if ISON survives its close encounter with the Sun.

On This Day
November 28th 1964.

The Launch of Mariner 4

The Mariner 4 mission to Mars would be the space craft that finally killed off the idea that Mars was covered in Canals and tundra like vegetation.

Mariner 4
When Mariner reached Mars in 1965 it sent back photos that showed that Mars was very inhospitable to life. Or is it?

On This Day
November 28th 1967

First Pulsar discovered.

The first Pulsar was observed by Jocelyn Bell using a radio telescope at Cambridge, England.  The word "pulsar" is a contraction of "pulsating star", and first appeared in print in 1968:

Jocelyn Bell

A Pulsar is a neutron star, the result of a supernova explosion, these stars are very small and dense.  These stars spin very quickly, sometimes in less than a second sending out bursts of energy.

Impression of a Pulsar

The first Pulsar to be discovered was nick named LGM 1 meaning Little Green Man, because some people thought these regular bursts of energy were from aliens trying to contact us! 

Astronomy Scrapbook Wednesday 27th November 2013

On This Day
November 27th 1872

The Andromedid or Beilid Meteor Shower

Biela’s Comet, named for the Austrian astronomer Wilhelm Freiherr (baron) von Beila (1782–1856). It was originally discovered by French amateur astronomer Jacques Leibax Montaigne in 1772. It was rediscovered by French astronomer Jean-Louis Pons in 1805 and was identified as the 1772 comet by German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. When it was rediscovered again by Biela in 1826, he suggested that the comet could be the same as that of 1772 and 1805 and that it had a period of about 6.75 years.
Beilas comet broken into two pieces

Biela’s Comet underwent remarkable transformations; it was observed in 1846 to break in two, and in 1852 the fragments returned as twin comets that were never seen thereafter. They were missed at the 1858 and 1866 returns however at the next predicted return in 1872 the comet was again absent but an incredible meteor shower with several thousand meteors per hour was observed.

The assumption is the Andromedid meteor shower was the remains of the dead  comet Beila. These day only a few Andromedids are seen each year.

Monday 25 November 2013

Astronomy scrapbook Tuesday November 26th 2013

Look in the sky

Mercury and Saturn are just 25 arc minutes apart in the sky at 06.30 UT.

On This Day

November 26th 1959

Pioneer P-3 Mission Failure

Pioneer P-3  (also known as Atlas-Able 4 or Pioneer X) was an American mission that was intended to be a lunar orbiter probe, but failed 70 seconds after launch. The objectives were to place a highly instrumented probe in lunar orbit, to investigate the environment between the Earth and Moon,  and to develop technology for controlling and manoeuvring spacecraft from Earth.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Monday 25th November 2013

On This Day
November 25th 1848

William Frederick Denning (25 November 1848 – 9 June 1931) was a British astronomer  who achieved considerable success without formal scientific training.
Denning devoted a great deal of time to searching for comets, and discovered several including the periodic comet 72P/Denning-Fujikawa and the lost comet D/1894 F1. The latter was the last comet discovered on British soil until the discoveries of George Alcock.
Denning also studied meteors and novas, discovering Nova Cygni 1920 (V476 Cyg). He won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1898.
W F Denning

.On This Day
November 25th 1964

It was announced that an Apollo spaceflight tracking station will be built  near Honeysuckle Creek 25 miles southwest of Canberra, Australia.

 / -35.58361; 148.97667 (Honeysuckle Creek) The station was opened in 1967 and closed in 1981.Its most noted achievement was providing the world with the first pictures of the Apollo Moonwalk on Monday, July 21, 1969. Apart from the television pictures they provided, Honeysuckle Creek had voice and telemetry with the lunar and command modules. Much of this was dramatized in the 2000 Australian film The Dish.

After the conclusion of the Apollo Moon missions in 1972, Honeysuckle Creek began supporting regular Skylab passes, the Apollo scientific stations left on the Moon. Honeysuckle Creek closed in December 1981.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Sunday November 24th 2013

In the sky tonight

Comet Encke and Comet ISON will be 2 degrees apart in the morning sky low in the south east.

On This Day
November 24th 1639 (Julian Calendar)

Jeremiah Horrocks watched the first ever seen Transit of Venus.

Jeremiah Horrocks (1618 – 3 January 1641),  was the only person to predict the transit of Venus in 1639, an event which he and his friend William Crabtree were the only two people to observe and record. His treatise on the transit, Venus in sole visa, was almost lost to science due to his early death and the chaos brought about by the English Civil War, but for this and his other work he has since been hailed as the father of British astronomy.

Friday 22 November 2013

Thursday 21 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Friday November 22nd 2013

Things are becoming very crowded in the east-south east part of the sky as dawn breaks. Here can be found comet ISON around mag +5 Comet 2P/Encke around 5th mag, Mercury at -0.6 and Saturn at mag +0.8.

On This Day November 22nd 1944.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington died this day, He was born in Cumbria, England. He was an astrophysicist of the early 20th century. He was also a  philosopher of science as well as a populariser of science. The Eddington Limit,  the natural limit to the luminosity of stars, or the radiation generated by accretion onto a compact object, is named in his honour.
He is famous for his work regarding the theory of relativity. Eddington wrote a number of articles which announced and explained Einstein`s theory of general relativity to the English-speaking world. He also conducted an expedition to observe the Solar eclipse of May 29th 1919 that provided one of the earliest confirmations of relativity, and he became known for his popular expositions and interpretations of the theory.

 Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, OM FRS(28 December 1882 – 22 November 1944)

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Thursday November 21st 2013

The Night Sky

The planet Jupiter will be about 5 degrees above the Moon tonight at about midnight.

The alpha Monocerotid meteor shower peaks tonight, normally a weak shower it does appear to sometimes have outbursts. The meteor shower could be connected with the orbit of comet van Gent-Peltier-Daimaca (1944 I).

The alpha Monocerotids  last outburst was in 1995 when 420 meteors per hour were observed. The normal rate is about 5 meteors per hour.

On This Day
November 21st 1964

NASA successfully places in orbit 2 satellites by means of the same launch rocket for the first time in the agency`s history. The two satellites are Explorer 24 and 25

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Wednesday 20th November 2013

On This Day
November 20th 1959

Discoverer 8

The Discoverer 8 spacecraft consisted of a main satellite body and a separable re-entry vehicle containing a recovery capsule. It was designed to test launching techniques, propulsion, communications, orbital performance, engineering, and recovery techniques. The spacecraft was successfully put into a near-polar orbit by the Thor-Agena A booster. After 15 orbits the re-entry vehicle was separated from the main body by ground command and the capsule released over the Pacific Ocean for descent to Earth. The descent parachute failed to deploy and the capsule impacted the ocean outside the planned descent area and was not recovered.

An example of a Discoverer capsule

Monday 18 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Tuesday November 19th 2013

Although all eyes are focusing on comet ISON there was another very important comet fact.

On This day
November 19th 1783

This is the 250th anniversary of the first comet to be named after the Englishman who discovered it.

Edward Piggot discovered a comet from his observatory in York. It was not very bright and could only be seen with a small telescope.

Edward Piggot worked with John Goodricke the deaf astronomer, for a brief moment in time during the 1780s they made York one of the astronomical centres of the world. They discovered several stars that change in brightness and today  astronomers call them variable stars. 

Sunday 17 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Monday 18th November 2013

Comet ISON lies very close to the star Spica in the constellation Virgo. Comet ISON has increased by 10 times in the last 3 days and is not at mag 5.5 which makes it just visible to the naked eye. Comet ISON can be seen in the sky before dawn.

On This day
November 18th 1964

A THOR-AGENA is launched from Vandenberg AFB by the USAF to place a classified payload into orbit. It is designed 1964-75

Saturday 16 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Sunday 17th November 2013

The Full Moon today is the Frost Moon, all of the full moons during the course of the year have their own special name. These names go back to the monastic period in English history during the medieval ages.  The November Full Moon is called the frost moon because this is usually when the frosts occur in England.

The Leonid Meteor shower will peak tonight, with the Full Moon and an activity of about 10 meteors per hour it will not be too spectacular.

On This Day
November 17th 1970

Lunokhod 1 the first automated rover to land on another celestial body. The spacecraft soft landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains.  During its 322 Earth days of operations, Lunokhod travelled 10,540 metres (6.55 miles) and returned more than 20,000 TV images and 206 high-resolution panoramas.

Lunokhod 1 was a lunar vehicle formed of a tub-like compartment with a large convex lid on eight independently powered wheels. Its length was 2.3 metres (7 ft 7 in). Lunokhod was equipped with a cone-shaped antenna a highly directional helical antenna, four television cameras, and special extendable devices to test the lunar soil, for soil density and mechanical property tests.

Friday 15 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Saturday November 16th 2013

On This Day
November 16th 1964

Boeing announced that BELL AEROSYSTEMS has been selected for the fabrication of the rocket propellant tanks for the LUNAR ORBITER spacecraft. The contract is valued at over $500,000.

On This Day
November 16th 1973

The Third and final skylab mission SKYLAB 4 was launched to America`s first space station.  This mission lasted 84 days.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Friday November 15th 2013

Comet ISON suffers an outburst today,(Thursday November 14th). In the last couple of days the comet has increased by about 2 magnitudes making it just visible to the naked eye.

On This Day
November 15th 1738

William Herschel was born this day. He became famous for discovering the planet Uranus in 1781, he also undertook a survey of the galaxy making many discoveries.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Thursday November 14th 2013

On This Day
November 14th 1971

The Mariner 9 space craft became the first space probe to go into orbit around another planet. In this Mars.
Mariner 9

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Wednesday 13th November 2013

On This Day

November 13th 1978

Einstein Observatory (HEAO-2) was the first fully imaging X ray telescope  put into space and the second of NASA`s  three High Energy Astrophysical Observatories. Named HEAO B before launch, the observatory's name was changed to honour Albert Einstein upon its successfully attaining orbit.

The Einstein Observatory satellite re-entered the Earth's atmosphere and burned up on March 25, 1982.

Science Highlights:
  • First high resolution spectroscopy and morphological studies of supernova remnants.
  • Recognized that coronal emissions in normal stars are stronger than expected.
  • Resolved numerous X-ray sources in the Andromeda Galaxy and the Magellanic Clouds.
  • First study of the X-ray emitting gas in galaxies and clusters of galaxies revealing cooling inflow and cluster evolution.
  • Detected X-ray jets from Cen A and M87 aligned with radio jets.
  • First medium and Deep X-ray surveys
  • Discovery of thousands of "serendipitous" sources
On This Day

November 13th 1577

Tycho Brahe, who is said to have first viewed the comet slightly before sunset on November 13 after having returned from a day of fishing, was the most distinguished observer and documenter of the comet's passing.

Tycho saw the comet pass behind the Moon thus proving that comets were not atmospheric phenomena and existed beyond the Earth`s atmosphere.

Monday 11 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Tuesday November 12th 2013

Comet ISON should be visible in binoculars and is about 3 degrees south of Gamma Virginis proper name Porrima.

On this day
November 12th 1833

The great Leonid meteor shower was seen on the night of November 12th/13th, it is estimated that 1,000s of meteors were seen every minute.

 Reactions to the 1833 display are varied from the hysterics of the superstitious claiming Judgement Day was at hand, to the just plain excitement of the scientific community.

The day of Judgement, the Leonids 1833

At the time of the 1833 display, the true nature of meteors were not known for certain, but theories were abundant in the days and weeks which followed. The Charleston Courier published a story on how the sun caused gases to be released from plants recently killed by frost. These gases, the most abundant of which was believed to be hydrogen, "became ignited by electricity or phosphoric particles in the air." The United States Telegraph of Washington, DC, stated, "The strong southern wind of yesterday may have brought a body of electrified air, which, by the coldness of the morning, was caused to discharge its contents towards the earth."

On This Day
November 12th 1916

Percival Lowell died, an American businessman, author, mathematician, and astronomer who believed that there were canals on Mars. He founded the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was here that the search for Pluto would begin. Pluto would be discovered 14 years after his death. The choice of the name Pluto was partly influenced by his initials PL.

Lowell and the 24 inch telescope at Flagstaff, plus the 'Canals on Mars'



Sunday 10 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Monday 11th November 2013

On This Day
November 11th 923 AD

The solar eclipse of 923 AD was observed by the Arab astronomers Abu al Hassan Ali ibn Amajur from  modern day Iraq. He observed the eclipse from an elevated platform on the outside of a building.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Sunday November 10th 2013

On This Day November 10th

November 10th 2084

One for the future, this is the date for the next transit of Earth from Mars will be visible.

Friday 8 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Saturday November 9th 2013

On This day
November 9th 1853

The Carrington rotation of the Sun is a system for comparing locations on the Sun over a period of time,  This allows for the following of sunspots.

 The Sun takes 27.2753 days for the purpose of Carrington rotations. Each rotation of the Sun under this scheme is given a unique number called the Carrington Rotation Number, starting from November 9, 1853 with Carrington Rotation number 1.

Richard Carrington (26 May 1826 – 27 November 1875) was an English amateur astronomer  whose 1859 observations of the Sun, demonstrated the existence of solar flares as well as suggesting their electrical influence upon the Earth and the Aurora.

On This Day
November 9th 1934

 Carl Sagan was born this day Brooklyn, New York. He was an American astronomer, astrophysicist , cosmologist, science popularizer and science communicator.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Friday 8th November 2013

Now is a good time to look for M31 the Andromeda Galaxy, its very high up and can be seen mid evening.

On This Day
November 8th 1942

Novae Puppis 1942

One of the brightest Novae Nova of the 20th century, Nova Puppis was discovered by Bernhard Dawson at the University Observatory, La Plata, Argentina. Today the nova is referred to as CP Puppis.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Thursday November 7th 2014

Comet ISON lies 1 degree from Beta Virginis proper name Zavajava which in Arabic means "Corner of the barking (dog)"

On this Day
November 7th 1631

The first observation of a transit of Mercury was observed by the French astronomer Pierre  Gassendi.

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Wednesday 6th November 2013

If it is clear tonight the waxing moon is about 8 degrees to the north west of Venus.

To get some idea of how far 8 degrees is simply use your hand as a rough guide to distances. (see chart below for guide)

On This Day
November 6th 1892

Comet Holmes (red arrow) was discovered by British amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes while he was observing the Andromeda Galaxy. It was fairly ordinary being just visible to the naked eye.

Comet Holmes was to become more notorious over 100 years after discover because   between October 23rd and 24th 2007 the come suddenly increased in brightness to become easily visible with the naked eye. There are various suggestions from a cosmic impact in space to an explosion of gases on the comet. Comet Holmes briefly became the largest object in the solar system when the coma the large ball of gas around the comet became larger than the Sun.  

On This Day
November 6th 1964

The UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space determines to establish a working group to decide on the planning for an international conference on the first 10 years of space research to be held in 1967 as proposed by the Soviet Union.


Monday 4 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Tuesday November 5th

There are celestial fireworks tonight especially in the UK with the Taurid meteor shower trying to upstage bonfire night.

On this day November 5th

Jesse Ramsden  scientific instrument maker died this day in 1800. Born in Salterhebble, Halifax, Yorkshire, England on October 6th 1835. Amongst the many instruments he designed he was responsible for the achromatic lens that is named after  him.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Astronomy Scrapbook Monday November 4th 2013

I had hoped to have done more blogs by now but work got in the way. So here goes again.

I am sure that most of what I write will be known to who ever reads this but for some I hope it might be interesting. I plan to say what happened in astronomy today or rather tomorrow historically by posting a day ahead. I will also indicate any highlights in the sky.

With regards to the night sky.

The Plough is still low in the north west with the 'W' of Cassiopeia being high.

Using the pointers from the Plough draw a line
 past the North Star leading to the 'W' of Cassiopeia

The Square of Pegasus can be found below Cassiopeia, it is actually larger than you might think. However once found it will easily be located again. With practise and clear skies you might be able the find the Andromeda Galaxy which at 2.2 million light years is the most distant object you can see without binoculars or a telescope.

Below and too the right of Cassiopeia is the Square of Pegasus

In the night sky tonight the Moon can be seen as a very thin crescent, look to the south west as soon as the sun sets.

You will need a clear sky and good
south west horizon to see this crescent moon

On This day November 4th
The Soviet Union unveils giant Space Obelisk

Russia or the Soviet Union as it was then unveiled this 100 metre high obelisk to commemorate the launching of the first artificial Earth Satellite Sputnik over 7 years earlier on October 4th 1957.