Earth sized planet found orbiting nearby star

Artist's impression of the planet orbiting Proxima Centauri

Artist's impression of the planet orbiting Proxima Centauri

We know there are planets orbiting other stars - we have been detecting them for 20 years.

Today it was announced that a planet which is Earth - sized (not necessarily Earth-like) is orbiting Proxima Centauri - one of the closest stars to our Sun - at a distance of only 4.5 Light Years.

Read more about it here:

Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Closest Star

NASA - Finding Habitable Exoplanets

New pictures of Pluto and Charon from New Horizons Released

Two months after the successful flyby of Pluto and its moons, NASA has released more pictures of the event.

New Horizons is slowly sending the pictures back to Earth - bit by bit. It will take over a year to transmit all the data as the space probe continues its way out of the solar system.

For more information see the Nasa site.

This synthetic perspective view of Pluto, based on the latest high-resolution images to be downlinked from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, shows what you would see if you were approximately 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) above Pluto’s equatorial area, looking northeast over the dark, cratered, informally named Cthulhu Regio toward the bright, smooth, expanse of icy plains informally called Sputnik Planum. The entire expanse of terrain seen in this image is 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) across. The images were taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

This synthetic perspective view of Pluto, based on the latest high-resolution images to be downlinked from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, shows what you would see if you were approximately 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) above Pluto’s equatorial area, looking northeast over the dark, cratered, informally named Cthulhu Regio toward the bright, smooth, expanse of icy plains informally called Sputnik Planum. The entire expanse of terrain seen in this image is 1,100 miles (1,800 kilometers) across. The images were taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

Mosaic of high-resolution images of Pluto, sent back from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft from Sept. 5 to 7, 2015. The image is dominated by the informally-named icy plain Sputnik Planum, the smooth, bright region across the center. This image also features a tremendous variety of other landscapes surrounding Sputnik. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size, and the mosaic covers a region roughly 1,000 miles (1600 kilometers) wide. The image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

Mosaic of high-resolution images of Pluto, sent back from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft from Sept. 5 to 7, 2015. The image is dominated by the informally-named icy plain Sputnik Planum, the smooth, bright region across the center. This image also features a tremendous variety of other landscapes surrounding Sputnik. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size, and the mosaic covers a region roughly 1,000 miles (1600 kilometers) wide. The image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

This image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft 10 hours before its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 290,000 miles (470,000 kilometers), is a recently downlinked, much higher quality version of a Charon image released on July 15. Charon, which is 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) in diameter, displays a surprisingly complex geological history, including tectonic fracturing; relatively smooth, fractured plains in the lower right; several enigmatic mountains surrounded by sunken terrain features on the right side; and heavily cratered regions in the center and upper left portion of the disk. There are also complex reflectivity patterns on Charon’s surface, including bright and dark crater rays, and the conspicuous dark north polar region at the top of the image. The smallest visible features are 2.9 miles 4.6 kilometers) in size.

This image of Pluto’s largest moon Charon, taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft 10 hours before its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015 from a distance of 290,000 miles (470,000 kilometers), is a recently downlinked, much higher quality version of a Charon image released on July 15. Charon, which is 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) in diameter, displays a surprisingly complex geological history, including tectonic fracturing; relatively smooth, fractured plains in the lower right; several enigmatic mountains surrounded by sunken terrain features on the right side; and heavily cratered regions in the center and upper left portion of the disk. There are also complex reflectivity patterns on Charon’s surface, including bright and dark crater rays, and the conspicuous dark north polar region at the top of the image. The smallest visible features are 2.9 miles 4.6 kilometers) in size.

This 220-mile (350-kilometer) wide view of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft illustrates the incredible diversity of surface reflectivities and geological landforms on the dwarf planet. The image includes dark, ancient heavily cratered terrain; bright, smooth geologically young terrain; assembled masses of mountains; and an enigmatic field of dark, aligned ridges that resemble dunes; its origin is under debate. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size. This image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

This 220-mile (350-kilometer) wide view of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft illustrates the incredible diversity of surface reflectivities and geological landforms on the dwarf planet. The image includes dark, ancient heavily cratered terrain; bright, smooth geologically young terrain; assembled masses of mountains; and an enigmatic field of dark, aligned ridges that resemble dunes; its origin is under debate. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size. This image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

n the center of this 300-mile (470-kilometer) wide image of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is a large region of jumbled, broken terrain on the northwestern edge of the vast, icy plain informally called Sputnik Planum, to the right. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size. This image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

n the center of this 300-mile (470-kilometer) wide image of Pluto from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft is a large region of jumbled, broken terrain on the northwestern edge of the vast, icy plain informally called Sputnik Planum, to the right. The smallest visible features are 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) in size. This image was taken as New Horizons flew past Pluto on July 14, 2015, from a distance of 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers).

Two different versions of an image of Pluto’s haze layers, taken by New Horizons as it looked back at Pluto's dark side nearly 16 hours after close approach, from a distance of 480,000 miles (770,000 kilometers), at a phase angle of 166 degrees. Pluto's north is at the top, and the sun illuminates Pluto from the upper right. These images are much higher quality than the digitally compressed images of Pluto’s haze downlinked and released shortly after the July 14 encounter, and allow many new details to be seen. The left version has had only minor processing, while the right version has been specially processed to reveal a large number of discrete haze layers in the atmosphere. In the left version, faint surface details on the narrow sunlit crescent are seen through the haze in the upper right of Pluto’s disk, and subtle parallel streaks in the haze may be crepuscular rays- shadows cast on the haze by topography such as mountain ranges on Pluto, similar to the rays sometimes seen in the sky after the sun sets behind mountains on Earth.

Two different versions of an image of Pluto’s haze layers, taken by New Horizons as it looked back at Pluto's dark side nearly 16 hours after close approach, from a distance of 480,000 miles (770,000 kilometers), at a phase angle of 166 degrees. Pluto's north is at the top, and the sun illuminates Pluto from the upper right. These images are much higher quality than the digitally compressed images of Pluto’s haze downlinked and released shortly after the July 14 encounter, and allow many new details to be seen. The left version has had only minor processing, while the right version has been specially processed to reveal a large number of discrete haze layers in the atmosphere. In the left version, faint surface details on the narrow sunlit crescent are seen through the haze in the upper right of Pluto’s disk, and subtle parallel streaks in the haze may be crepuscular rays- shadows cast on the haze by topography such as mountain ranges on Pluto, similar to the rays sometimes seen in the sky after the sun sets behind mountains on Earth.

Hubble Space Telescope celebrates 25th anniversary

The Hubble Space Telescope was launched 25 years ago, on April 24, 1990. Since then it has changed the way we look at the universe.

Hubble has given us clear views of the outer planets in our solar system, views of distant galaxies, star clusters, nebulae and black holes.

As a result astronomy text books have changed to reflect these new discoveries.

See the Hubble 25th Anniversary website for more details.

 

Demolition of McLaughlin Planetarium announced

Earlier this week the University of Toronto announced that the McLaughlin Planetarium would be demolished to make way for a Jewish museum and cultural centre. Toronto Star article.

THe McLaughlin Planetarium was open between 1968 and 1995.

THe McLaughlin Planetarium was open between 1968 and 1995.

Earthshine has long lobbied for a public outreach science facility in the western GTA. A new museum / technology innovation centre with an astronomy / space exploration component would be a great place for families to visit and explore the universe.

It seems many people in the Toronto area miss the McLaughlin Planetarium. Today (September 12) a Toronto Star article explores the impact of the planetarium on the city. Earthshine is quoted extensively in the article.

Earthshine President is quoted:

“We feel that the western GTA is underserviced for any kind of science outreach,” said Randy Attwood, Earthshine’s president. “You need something to introduce families to the wonders of the universe.”

“Essentially now (planetariums) take audiences on trips through the universe. You can in fact fly somebody through the solar system,” said Attwood, who is also the executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Not only are they a place for learning, but planetariums also provide an excellent spot for family outings and cultural engagement, he added.

“It’s like a library — a library does not make you money, but it’s an important component to a community.”

Here is a link to the Toronto Star article.

Any comments? Please add them on our comments site. 

 

 

 

 

RASC Mississauga Centre acquires solar telescope

The Mississauga Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has enhanced its public outreach program by adding a sophisticated solar telescope to its collection. This telescope views the Sun in a narrow wavelength of light, allowing various structures to be observed on the solar surface.

Prominences of hydrogen gas can be seen hovering above the limb of the Sun. Normally, there features are visible only during the few minutes of a total solar eclipse.

Prominences appear above the solar limb as seen through the new RASC telescope on Sunday June 15.

Prominences appear above the solar limb as seen through the new RASC telescope on Sunday June 15.

The Centre plans to have this telescope on hand for public viewing at upcoming Mississauga library events. We hope you can join us for these free events. Solar viewing is dependent on clear weather.

Saturday July 5 Burnhamthorpe Library 1-5 pm

Tuesday July 15  Lakeview Library  5:30 - 7:30 pm 

Saturday August 2 Lakeview Library 1-5 pm

Saturday August 9 Port Credit Library 1-5 pm

Saturday September 6 Lorne Park Library  1-5 pm

Saturday September 13  Erin Meadows Library 1-5 pm

 

 

 

 

Hubble Space Telescope takes amazing deep field image

The Hubble Space Telescope recently took a picture showing amazing detail in galaxies at extreme distances.

From the Hubble Space Telescope Institute:

JUNE 3, 2014: Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope have assembled a comprehensive picture of the evolving universe — among the most colorful deep space images ever captured by the 24-year-old telescope. This study, which includes ultraviolet light, provides the missing link in star formation.

The image shows galaxies so far away that they are seen at a time just a few hundred million years after the big bang.  The light from these galaxies took over 12 billion years to reach us.

The image is in ultraviolet light. UV light picks up young hot stars - stars visible not long after they were formed.

The further the galaxies that astronomers can image, the further back in time they can see, all the way back to just after the Big Bang.