Astronomers Capture Image of Second Known Interstellar Object - ExtremeTech - Canadanewsmedia
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Astronomers Capture Image of Second Known Interstellar Object – ExtremeTech

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Astronomers around the world were elated in 2017 when ‘Oumuamua appeared in the sky, becoming the very first confirmed alien object to visit our solar system. Sadly, ‘Oumuamua was already on its way out of the solar system before its discovery by the Pan-STARRS observatory, and we couldn’t capture an image. Now, astronomers have successfully snapped a photo of the second known interstellar visitor, called Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov). 

Unlike ‘Oumuamua, this new object was spotted by amateur astronomer Gennady Borisov. The Minor Planet Center has confirmed the tentative discovery of the second alien object, noting that Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) is on an extreme hyperbolic orbit. Therefore, it has enough velocity to escape the solar system. That strongly suggests that it did not originate in our solar system. 

Follow-up observations of Comet C/2019 Q4 have proven more fruitful than expected. Astronomers using the Gemini Multi-Object Spectrograph instrument at the Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii captured the above image of our potential alien visitor. The team made preparations to image the object even before the final coordinates were available. Those figures didn’t come in until 3 AM September 10th, and the team completed its observation about two hours later. The image consists of four 60-second exposures in bands R and G. The blue and red streaks in the background are distant stars that appear to stretch due to the motion of the comet. 

This artist’s impression shows the first interstellar object, `Oumuamua.

You might notice everyone seems comfortable calling this object a comet. There was a lot of back and forth about what ‘Oumuamua was. At first, we assumed it was a comet, but there was no detectable coma. So an asteroid? Later examinations confirmed there was light out-gassing from ‘Oumuamua, so astronomers decided it was actually a very old comet. Comet C/2019 Q4, on the other hand, has a very bright coma and tail caused by its proximity to the sun. 

Luckily, astronomers have homed in on Comet C/2019 Q4 early during its transit of our solar system. It’s currently near the sun, and it’s going to swing closer to Earth before it heads out into deep space. Astronomers will be able to get even better images of Comet C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) in the coming months. These observations will help nail down the object’s orbit and confirm that it is indeed from beyond our solar system. Presumably, someone will also check to make sure it’s not a cleverly disguised alien spaceship

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Billionaire Bezos unveils plans to land humans on Moon, with a little help from some old friends – The Register

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Blue Origin and industry vets eye a slice of NASA’s lunar lander largesse

Richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, yesterday pitched NASA a team mostly made up of the usual suspects to build a lunar lander for the agency’s ambitious 2024 boots-on-Moon goal.

Speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington, Bezos announced the “national team”, of which his Blue Origin would be the prime contractor (naturally). The members consist of Lockheed Martin for the Ascent Stage, Northrop Grumman for the Transfer Element and Draper providing the guidance and navigation systems.

“We could not ask for better partners,” intoned the billionaire, which is fair enough. After all, elements of all the companies in the team-up worked on the Apollo program back in the day (although those engineers will have long been put out to pasture.)

The Transfer Element will guide the stack from lunar orbit to close to the Moon, from whence the Descent Element will conduct a powered descent. Lockheed Martin’s ascent module will then send the freshly minted Moonwalkers back into space.

Blue Origin will also be building the descent element of the lander, which uses the company’s BE-7 engine. The powerplant, Bezos said, is fuelled by liquid hydrogen and oxygen and as well being “highly throttleable” and developing 10,000 pounds of thrust.

The BE-7, of course, has yet to actually leave the test stand. Bezos told the audience that to date, the company had managed 13 minutes of test time, including a three-minute continuous firing.

That same engine, Bezos added, would be used by Northrop Grumman in the transfer element of the lunar lander stack.

Bezos unveiled the Blue Moon lander back in May and the announcement of the National Team is an indicator that it will take more than one company to meet the 2024 goal. It will also reassure those within NASA nervous about flinging cash at a company that has yet to even make Earth orbit, let alone do anything in deep space.

And NASA has lots of experience in giving money to Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman after all.

Grumman, of course, built the original Apollo Lunar Module back in NASA’s glory days while Draper provided the guidance systems for the Moon missions.

These days, Northrop Grumman provides NASA with ISS cargo services and is working on both the boosters for the eternally-delayed Space Launch System and the habitat for the agency’s Lunar Gateway.

Draper has continued to work on precision guidance, although there is a delightful hole to tumble down in researching the Apollo guidance units, particularly efforts to fire up the old things once more. Naturally, the hand-woven circuitry of the Apollo era won’t feature this time around.

NASA is due to select two contractor teams in late 2020 to actually build the lander, having asked for proposals (and deleted certain reusability requirements in the rush to 2024). ®

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Bezos's Blue Origin partners with Lockheed, others on moon lander – Financial Post

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WASHINGTON — U.S. billionaire Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday his space company Blue Origin has signed agreements with Lockheed Martin Corp, Northrop Grumman Corp and research and development organization Draper for development of its lunar lander designed to help NASA put humans on the moon by 2024.

Blue Origin’s so-called Blue Moon lunar lander, unveiled by Bezos in May, is in development and sits at the center of the space company’s ambition to ferry humans into deep space and land key contracts from the U.S. space agency for space exploration.

“I’m excited to announce that we put together a national team to go back to the moon,” Bezos, founder and CEO of online retail giant Amazon, said at the International Astronautical Congress.

The four companies, with Blue Origin as the lead contractor, plan to submit a proposal for the lander to NASA under its Artemis lunar program, an accelerated mission to the moon kickstarted in March by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

Bezos called the partnerships a “national team” whose history in space exploration fits the Blue Moon’s mission. Lockheed is separately developing the moon-bound astronaut capsule named Orion. Northrop helped NASA build the Apollo lunar landers in the 1960s. Draper, a not-for-profit research and development organization, built NASA’s navigation computers for Apollo lunar landers. (Reporting by Joey Roulette; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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A giant full beaver moon set to dazzle Metro Vancouver skies – Vancouver Courier

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While it is getting darker earlier in Metro Vancouver, this month’s full beaver moon promises to illuminate the night sky.

The November full moon is thought to have derived its funny name because it occurred during the optimal time to trap the furry creatures. In fact, both colonial Americans as well as the Algonquin tribes referred to it as such.

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“Why this name? Back then, this was the month to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs,” reports Farmer’s Almanac.

While it is commonly known as the beaver moon, it was also called the Full Frost Moon by other North American Tribes.

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the moon will be fullest during the day on Tuesday, Nov. 12. However, Vancouver stargazers will still be able to see the nearly-full moon in all her celestial glory the night before (Nov. 11) as well as later that night (Nov. 12).

What’s more, this full moon casts long, hauntingly beautiful shadows in the Northern Hemisphere. They are similar to those cast by the midday summer sun, as the moon is extremely high in the sky during this time.

Stargazers should opt to travel as far away from city lights as possible in order to avoid light pollution that will obscure the clarity of heavenly bodies. While this works best the in more remote places, anywhere that has a higher elevation will also provide more ideal viewing conditions.

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