Connect with us

Science

Sechelt Skies: All around Orion's neighbourhood – Coast Reporter

Published

 on


I hope everyone enjoyed the trivia tour of Orion. My two articles barely scratched the surface, however, and there are enough interesting things in and around Orion to bore people to tears. I’ll finish by pointing out the sky around Orion and then you’ve got about half the northern hemisphere in your head. Note – in order to help with stellar pronunciations, I’ve underlined the emphasized syllable.

I covered the bright massive stars Betelgeuse and Rigel at the upper left and lower right corners of Orion in my first article. Find the three Belt stars between them; they point roughly down and east (left) to a bright star – brightest in our sky, in fact – known as Sirius, the bright star in Canis Major. It’s a binary system only 8.6 light years (ly) from us, one of the closest stars. There is a bright A-class star about twice our sun’s mass along with a faint companion white dwarf orbiting it about as far away as Neptune is from our sun. It’s estimated the system is about 200-300 million years old and the white dwarf is the remains of a bigger star that expanded into a red giant, blew off its outer layers and began to cool and die as a white dwarf.

If you visualize Sirius and Betelgeuse as two points of an equilateral triangle, you’ll see another bright star up and to their left roughly equidistant from both. This is Procyon, the bright star in Canis Minor, a star about 50 per cent more massive than ours, hotter and likely starting to turn into a reddish subgiant. It’s about 14 ly away and it too has a white dwarf binary companion, somewhat smaller than Sirius B, that orbits it every 40 years or so. Trivia note – The genus ‘procyon’ contains all of the known species of raccoons. Why the bright star in Canis Minor – the ‘lesser dogs’ – should be named after raccoons is a mystery to me.

Next, move clockwise around Orion to a close pair of stars about equally bright and just east of a line from Rigel through Betelgeuse. The eastern star is Pollux; the western is Castor, the two bright stars in Gemini, The Twins. If you forget which is which: Pollux is closer to Procyon; Castor is closer to Capella (to its right).

Pollux is a red-orange giant star 34 ly distant, about twice the sun’s mass and about nine times its diameter. It has expanded and cooled as it fuses heavier elements in its core. Originally a white Type A star, it is destined to die as a white dwarf. It is believed to have a planet more than twice Jupiter’s mass orbiting every 600 days or so.

Castor is 54 ly distant, then it gets messy. There are two Type A stars each about two solar masses orbiting each other and each of them with a close white dwarf – a spectroscopic binary. But wait – there’s more: about a light year or so away there is another pair of red dwarf stars that orbit each other and together the other four. Each of the two big stars’ dwarf companions orbit them with periods in days, the two big ones orbit each other with a period of about 450 years and the little red guys orbit each other daily and orbit the other two pairs every 14,000 years or so. Whew.

Next to clockwise is Capella, the bright star in Auriga, The Charioteer. Naturally, it’s another multiple system – quadruple this time. Two big yellow giant stars about twice the sun’s mass orbit each other closely every few months at about 42 ly distance. The other are a pair of red dwarfs much further out that orbit each other every 300 years or so.

Okay, back to Orion’s Belt. Look up and west this time about twice the distance to Bellatrix at the upper right corner. The bright reddish star is Aldebaran in the constellation of Taurus and it sits at the top left of a V-shaped group of stars that point down and right known as the Hyades open cluster. While the cluster is about 150 ly away, Aldebaran is only 65 ly or so distant and it’s not part of the cluster. It is about 16 per cent more massive than the sun and a little older so it has consumed its hydrogen, fused helium into heavier elements and expanded to a giant phase. This is us in four billion years, folks.

And, (finally), about the same distance out from Aldebaran as from Bellatrix to Aldebaran is the Pleiades open cluster. This cluster is about 120 million years old and is about 445 ly away. Also known as the Seven Sisters, the young, bright O and B stars we see are potentially massive enough to end as supernovae but there are also apparently quite a number of brown dwarfs in the cluster – ‘stars’ not quite massive enough to ignite hydrogen fusion. Not sure what will happen to them.

Okay, that’s Orion and the neighbourhood. I promise not to do any more. Suggestions are welcome in the comments.

The Astronomy Club’s next Zoom will be March 11 and the club website at: https://sunshinecoastastronomy.wordpress.com/ will have information on the speaker and topic and how to register for the meeting the week prior.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

Blood moon, big city: Skywatcher captures total lunar eclipse over New York (photos) – Space.com

Published

 on


The eclipsed moon burns red high above the bright lights of New York City in gorgeous photos captured by amateur astronomer Alexander Krivenyshev.

Krivenyshev, the president of WorldTimeZone.com, snapped images of the total lunar eclipse on Sunday night (May 15) from Guttenberg, New Jersey, which is across the Hudson River from the Big Apple. 

He persevered through cloudy conditions, Krivenyshev told Space.com via email, to get shots of the blood-red moon shining like a beacon in a light-polluted sky.

Related: Amazing photos of the Super Flower Blood Moon of 2022

A closeup of the eclipsed moon on May 15, 2022, as photographed by Alexander Krivenyshev. (Image credit: Alexander Krivenyshev, WorldTimeZone.com)

The eclipse began at 9:32 p.m EDT on Sunday (0132 GMT on May 16) when the moon nosed into the light part of Earth’s shadow, known as the penumbra, and ended five hours later. The total eclipse phase, in which the moon was completely darkened by Earth’s heavier umbral shadow, lasted 85 minutes, the longest of any lunar eclipse in 33 years.

Earth’s nearest neighbor temporarily turns a coppery red during total lunar eclipses. This “blood moon” effect is caused by Earth’s atmosphere, which bends some red light onto the lunar surface while scattering away shorter-wavelength light. (No sunlight is hitting the moon directly at this point, of course; Earth is blocking the sun from the moon’s perspective.)

Another series of shots of the total lunar eclipse over New York City, photographed by Alexander Krivenyshev on May 15, 2022.  (Image credit: Alexander Krivenyshev, WorldTimeZone.com)

Related stories:

Last weekend’s sky show was best observed from the Americas and parts of Western Europe and West Africa. It was the first total lunar eclipse of the year, but it won’t be the last; another one will occur on Nov. 8. The Nov. 8 lunar eclipse will be best observed from Australia, eastern Asia and the western United States. 

If you’re hoping to photograph the moon, or want to prepare for the next total lunar eclipse, check out our best cameras for astrophotography and best lenses for astrophotography. Our guides on how to photograph a lunar eclipse, and how to photograph the moon with a camera, also have some helpful tips to plan out your lunar photo session.

Editor’s Note: If you snap an amazing lunar eclipse photo (or your own eclipse webcast) and would like to share it with Space.com’s readers, send your photo(s), comments, and your name and location to spacephotos@space.com.

Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.  

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

NASA's Mars InSight mission coming to an end as dust covers solar panels – CBC News

Published

 on


A NASA spacecraft on Mars is headed for a dusty demise.

The Insight lander is losing power because of all the dust on its solar panels. NASA said Tuesday it will keep using the spacecraft’s seismometer to register marsquakes until the power peters out, likely in July. Then flight controllers will monitor InSight until the end of this year, before calling everything off.

“There really hasn’t been too much doom and gloom on the team. We’re really still focused on operating the spacecraft,” said Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Bruce Banerdt, the principal scientist.

Since landing on Mars in 2018, InSight has detected more than 1,300 marsquakes; the biggest one, a magnitude 5, occurred two weeks ago.

It will be NASA’s second Mars lander lost to dust: A global dust storm took out Opportunity in 2018. In InSight’s case, it’s been a gradual gathering of dust, especially over the past year.

WATCH | NASA scientists discuss InSight’s goals on Mars: [embedded content]

Rethinking solar power

NASA’s two other functioning spacecraft on the Martian surface — rovers Curiosity and Perseverance — are still going strong thanks to nuclear power.

The space agency may rethink solar power in the future for Mars, said planetary science director Lori Glaze, or at least experiment with new panel-clearing tech or aim for the less-stormy seasons.

InSight currently is generating one-tenth of the power from the sun that it did upon arrival.

Deputy project manager Kathya Zamora Garcia said the lander initially had enough power to run an electric oven for one hour and 40 minutes; now it’s down to 10 minutes max.

The InSight team anticipated this much dust buildup, but hoped a gust of wind or a dust devil might clean off the solar panels. That has yet to happen, despite several thousand whirlwinds coming close.

“None of them have quite hit us dead-on yet enough to blow the dust off the panels,” Banerdt told reporters.

Another science instrument, dubbed the mole, was supposed to burrow five metres underground to measure the internal temperature of Mars. But the German digger never got deeper than a half-metre because of the unexpected composition of the red dirt, and it finally was declared dead at the beginning of last year.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Science

See Astronaut's Sublime Shot of Total Lunar Eclipse Snapped From the ISS – CNET

Published

 on


Earthlings on Earth weren’t the only ones who got to witness the lovely blushing of the “flower blood moon” total lunar eclipse on Sunday night and Monday morning. Residents of the International Space Station had a great view of the spectacular celestial event.

European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti shared a beautiful series of photos of the eclipse as seen from orbit. “A partially eclipsed moon playing hide-and-seek with our solar panel,” Cristoforetti tweeted on Monday.

The photos show the eclipse in progress, with the moon peeking under the station’s solar panels. One stunning view also shows Earth below, clouds visible against an expanse of blue. The images highlight the subtle shading of the moon as our planet threw its shadow across it.

Cristoforetti shared another look with just the eclipsed moon peeking over the curve of Earth.

Cristoforetti is an accomplished space photographer, having snapped plenty of gorgeous images during her last stay on the ISS in 2014 and 2015. Her most recent stint started in late April as part of NASA’s Crew-4 mission launched by SpaceX. 

I watched the eclipse last night from New Mexico. As the shadow moved across the moon, the ISS flew over, a bright bead of light crossing against the starry sky. So as I was seeing the ISS, Cristoforetti was likely tracking the eclipse, too. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on the ground or up in orbit, an eclipse is worth witnessing.

Adblock test (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending