The 2020 ‘Super Bowl of Astronomy’ Kicks Off in Hawaii – Space.com

Thousands of scientists from around the world are converging on Hawaii this week to unveil the latest discoveries about the universe at the so-called "Super Bowl of astronomy." If the event, the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society, had a stadium, it would be packed.

"This will be the biggest AAS meeting in history," AAS spokesperson Rick Feinberg told Space.com in an email.

More than 3,500 scientists are expected to attend the four-day conference in Honolulu, Hawaii, Feinberg said. The first press conferences and talks begin today (Jan. 5). They'll end on Wednesday (Jan. 8), with observatory tours and other presentations scheduled throughout the week.

NASA, as expected, will showcase its latest space findings at the conference, including the agency's recent exoplanet discoveries by the TESS space telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope, which celebrates its 30th anniversary in April.

"NASA researchers will present new findings on a wide range of astrophysics and other space science topics at the 235th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Saturday, Jan. 4, through Wednesday, Jan. 8, in Honolulu," NASA officials said in a statement. "Agency scientists and their colleagues who use NASA research capabilities also will present noteworthy findings during scientific sessions that are open to registered media."

The AAS and NASA will webcast press conferences from the conference daily from Sunday to Wednesday. There are two press conferences most days (there are three today) and they can be watched live on the AAS website here as well as on the NASA Live website here.

The briefings are scheduled for 10:15 a.m. HST (3:15 EST/2015 GMT) and 2:15 p.m. EST (7:15 p.m. EST/0015 GMT). The extra briefing on Sunday is at 12:45 p.m. HST (5:45 p.m. EST/2245 GMT).

You can find the list of the press conferences here, including what scientists will discuss in each session over the next four days.

The role of Hawaii in astronomy will take center stage at this year's AAS meeting.

"The main new feature of this meeting is our major effort to bring the astronomical community and the local community together as much as possible to discuss the future of astronomy in Hawaii," Feinberg said.

Hawaii has long been a focal point for astronomy. The Keck Observatory, which has the largest active optical telescopes on Earth, and other observatories sit atop the volcano Mauna Kea and an even larger telescope, the Thirty Meter Telescope, is planned to be built at the site.

But construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has been stalled due to ongoing protests by indigenous groups that consider Mauna Kea sacred. The demonstrations stepped up in 2019.

"TMT is committed to finding a peaceful way forward on Maunakea for all," the builders of the new telescope wrote in a Dec. 20 update.

"We are sensitive to the ongoing struggles of indigenous populations around the world, and we will continue to support conversations around TMT and the larger issues for which it has become a flashpoint," Gordon Squires, TMT VP for External Affairs, said in the statement. "We are participating in private conversations with community leaders, but these conversations will take time."

Email Tariq Malik attmalik@space.comor follow him@tariqjmalik. Follow us@Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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The 2020 'Super Bowl of Astronomy' Kicks Off in Hawaii - Space.com

Crater found from asteroid that covered 10% of Earth’s surface in deb – Astronomy Magazine

Most massive meteorites struck Earth so long ago their craters have almost completely eroded, Sieh says. But this impact was unusual in that it was huge and recent enough that the site where it hit should be identifiable.But with rocks from the impact spread across the world, zeroing in on the location proved difficult.

The site eluded geochemists for decades, but Sieh decided to take a new approach and look at satellite imagery from parts of the world where the meteorite might have hit. In the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos, he found an expanse of flat, shallow rock formed from hardened lava, just thick enough to obscure a crater of this size.

In-person excavations found the lava dated to around the same time as the impact, while surrounding sediments were older. Additional gravity measurements also hinted at a crater below. Altogether it's enough for Sieh to be confident he's finally located ancient ground zero.

With the help of Sieh and his teams find, researchers now have a slightly clearer sense of what must have happened after the asteroid hit. Roughly a mile and a quarter wide, the rock would have opened a hole larger than San Francisco in a span of seconds.

The rock's speed and force would have been enough to send pillow-sized boulders careening through the air at almost 1,500 feet per second. Sitting on the perimeter of the suspected impact site, these rocks are a tell-tale sign of a meteorite impact. It would not have been a healthy thing to be on the receiving end of that, Sieh says.

For now, Sieh wants to focus on some of the ashy material surrounding the meteor debris. The impact would have incinerated all plant and animal life within 300 miles of the impact site, and Sieh is curious how that kind of settling dust would impact all of us today. The odds of such an impact are extremely low, but still fascinate Sieh. "I've never worked on meteorites before, but I got sucked into this with my curiosity," he says.

As for drilling down through the rock to confirm that this is in fact the site? "I'm 98 percent convinced we found it, but Id be supportive of anyone who wanted to," he says.

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Crater found from asteroid that covered 10% of Earth's surface in deb - Astronomy Magazine

East Haven Coffee Shop To Host Astronomy Night on January 24th – East Haven, CT Patch

EAST HAVEN, CT - Break out the binoculars and take out the telescope The Astronomical Society of New Haven is bringing their wide range of viewing equipment and knowledge to East Haven's organic cafe One World Roasters on the evening of Friday January 24th at 6:30 p.m. for a winter sky viewing session open to all.

"The mission of our society is to bring interest to the general public about the topic of astronomy," says Al Washburn, member at large and former president of the Astronomical Society of New Haven.

The retired North Branford High School science teacher of 38 years speaks with an inexhaustible passion of the special sights guests can expect to see on this particular night. "One of the best objects to see in the sky is in the cold winter months and hopefully it will be a good, clear evening and we'll be taking a look at that," he says.

Washburn speaks of the Orion Nebula, a giant hydrogen gas cloud and one of the most photographed objects in the sky. "You can actually see it with your naked eye if you know where to look for it, but collecting more light from it with the mirror of a telescope will allow you to see the magnificent Orion Nebula," he says.

The evening's other astronomical attractions include an ideal view of the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, a potential glimpse of the Andromeda Galaxy, and a great number of open star clusters, which Washburn describes as "diamonds and sprinkled on a black velvet napkin."

As for the Society's choice of location, Washburn concedes that the proximity to coffee shop is a definite perk, but also mentions the unique elevation of the viewing site. "It has a nice low Eastern Horizon so we will be pointing our telescopes mostly to the East and South East to see the constellations of the wintertime as they take their positions above our skies," he says.

If you are new to the world of astronomy, telescopes, and viewing sessions, fear not, as the members of the society will be happy to assist all first time attendees. "People can expect just to walk over to a particular telescope, most everybody says "Hi, welcome, it's good to see you," and the person running the telescope will say what is inside the view so that they'll know what to look for when they look inside," Washburn says.

The former Astronomical Society president does have one request for first time stargazers "I would ask those who are arriving to bring a pair of binoculars," Washburn says. "There is an excellent star cluster called M 45 (also known as Pleiades or The Seven Sisters) and it is easily seen with the naked eye but in a pair of very simple binoculars it is magnificent," he adds.

Society members also encourage new telescope owners to bring their equipment for friendly tutorials and instruction on how to properly use their viewing tools.

One World Cafe will open at 6:30 p.m. on Friday January 24th and the viewing will begin at 7:00. "Astronomy is a fun science and everyone has a front row seat and you can do it with a pair of binoculars," Washburn says.

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East Haven Coffee Shop To Host Astronomy Night on January 24th - East Haven, CT Patch

Astronomy 2020: Every major meteor shower, supermoon and more – The Know

This is a composite of 27 images of the Super Blood Wolf moon as it goes from being a full moon into the full lunar eclipsed moon while rising over Red Rocks Amphitheatre on Jan. 20 in Golden. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)

This weekend could offer one of the best celestial events of2020 when the Quadrantids meteor shower reaches its peak, assuming the weather cooperates.

Thats just one of the nighttime shows for stargazers to note on their calendars this year. There also will be some fun things to watch regarding the planet Mars in February and October, a special full moon in April and the super conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in December, when the two largest planets in the solar system appear to come together. That also will coincide with the Winter Solstice.

Here are eight astronomical events to watch for this year:

According to the International Meteor Organization, the Quadrantids have the potential to be the strongest meteor shower of the year, and they are peaking this weekend. The average hourly rates one can expect under dark skies is 25, the IMO says. These meteors usually lack persistent trains (vaporized rock that glows after the meteor burns up in the atmosphere) but often produce bright fireballs.

Get out your binoculars or a telescope if you have one for Feb. 18, when the moon will pass in front of the planet Mars in an event called an occultation. The moon will glide in front of reddish, star-like Mars for viewers across North America, Central America, extreme northern South America, Cuba and Haiti, according to Space.com. A couple of hours later, Mars will show up on the other side of the moon (as seen from Earth). The moon will appear 23% full on that night.

This one comes recommended by John Keller, director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado.

Venus will be high in the evening sky in April and pass very close to the Pleiades star cluster, an easy naked-eye target, said Keller, adding that the Pleiades star cluster is easy to spot because it looks like the stars in the Subaru logo. Venus will be highest in the evening sky on March 24, passing by the Pleiades April 2 and April 3. Also of potential interest, Venus will then dive down towards the sun during the month of May and re-emerge in the morning sky in mid-June after passing by the sun on June 3. The waning crescent moon will pass very close by Venus on June 19 and provide a nice guide for observers looking for their first view of Venus in the morning sky.

The moon will be full when its orbit takes it closest to the Earth (called perigee) for the year at 221,772 miles. The moon has an elliptical orbit, and its average distance from Earth is 238,855 miles. Its apogee (farthest distance) is 252,088 miles. Because there is no consensus on what constitutes a supermoon its a matter of how close the moon is to the earth there will be one, two or three other supermoons this year (February, March and May). There also will be a second full moon in October, a so-called blue moon, and it will occur on Halloween.

This will be another highlight of the year for meteor lovers. Peaking Aug. 11-12, the Perseids are the most popular meteor shower in North America.

Normal rates seen from rural locations range from 50-75 shower members per hour at maximum, the International Meteor Organization reports. The Perseids are particles released from comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle during its numerous returns to the inner solar system. They are called Perseids since the radiant (the area of the sky where the meteors seem to originate) is located near the prominent constellation of Perseus the hero when at maximum activity.

The moon will be about half-full when the Perseids peak this year.

According to Space.com, Mars will be spectacular in October. Because of its proximity to Earth, Mars will appear brighter than Jupiter and will be the third-brightest object in the nighttime sky, after the moon and Venus. On Oct. 6, Mars will be only 38.6 million miles from Earth. It wont be that close again until 2035.

According to the IMO, the Geminids meteor shower is usually the strongest of the year, and this year we get a bonus: There will be no moonlight to obscure the view when the Geminids peak Dec. 13-14. Fans of meteor showers may recall that the Geminid peak in 2019 coincided with a nearly full moon.

The Geminids are often bright and intensely colored, the IMO says. Due to their medium-slow velocity, persistent trains are not usually seen.

A conjunction occurs when two planets come closest together on their individual orbits. Conjunctions for these two planets occur approximately every 20 years. On the Winter Solstice this year, Jupiter and Saturn will be the closest they have been to each other since 1623, a so-called super conjunction.

Finally, courtesy of the folks at the Fiske Planetarium, a list of National Aeronautics and Space Administration highlights for 2020:

Feb. 5: Launch of the Solar Orbiter, which was developed by the European Space Agency to study the sun at close approaches every five months

April 11: 50th anniversary of Apollo 13

April 24: 30th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope launch

June 30: International Asteroid Day

July 14: 55th anniversary of the first flyby of Mars by Mariner 4

July 17-Aug. 5: Launch window for the Mars 2020 Rover Mission, which will drill for core samples from Martian rocks and soil. The mission takes the next step by not only seeking signs of habitable conditions on Mars in the ancient past, according to the Mars 2020 mission website, but also searching for signs of past microbial life itself.

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Astronomy 2020: Every major meteor shower, supermoon and more - The Know

Rocket Launches, Trips to Mars and More 2020 Space and Astronomy Events – The New York Times

If you follow space news and astronomy, the past year offered no shortage of highlights. Astronomers provided humanitys first glimpse of a black hole. China landed on the moons far side. And the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing inspired us to look ahead to our future in space.

The year to come will be no less eventful:

No fewer than four missions to Mars could leave Earth this summer.

NASA may finally launch astronauts into orbit aboard capsules built by SpaceX and Boeing.

We expect to learn more secrets about the interstellar comet Borisov.

And private companies are working to demonstrate new abilities in space.

However much you love space and astronomy, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest news in orbit and beyond. Thats why weve put dates for some of these events on The Timess Astronomy and Space Calendar, which has been updated for 2020. Subscribe on your personal digital calendar to be automatically synced with our updates all year long. (We promise not to collect any personal information from your private calendar when you sign up.)

[Sync your calendar with the solar system.]

Below are some of the launches, space science and other events to look forward to.

Roughly every two years, the orbits of Earth and Mars come closer than usual. Space agencies on Earth often send missions to the red planet during that window, and in 2020 four such launches are scheduled.

Three of the missions will carry rovers. The United States is launching the soon-to-be-renamed Mars 2020 rover, which also carries a small helicopter. It will try to land in Jezero Crater, which once contained a lake and could preserve evidence of life, if life ever existed there.

Neither China, Europe nor Russia has deployed a rover on the Martian surface. But they will try, in a pair of missions. Chinas mission, its first on its own to the red planet, includes an orbiter in addition to a rover. The European Space Agency and Russia cooperated to build Rosalind Franklin, a rover named for the English chemist whose work was essential to finding the structure of DNA.

The rovers could be joined on Mars by Hope, an orbiter commissioned by the United Arab Emirates. It is being built in Colorado, and is to be launched on a Japanese rocket. If it succeeds, it could represent a new model for space programs, in which small, wealthy countries pay for off-the-shelf spacecraft to get themselves into orbit and beyond.

Since the space shuttles last flight, in 2011, NASA has relied on Russias Soyuz spacecraft for trips to and from the International Space Station. In 2019, NASA hoped to begin flying astronauts aboard capsules built by two private companies, SpaceX and Boeing, but persistent delays knocked back the timeline another year.

NASAs commercial crew program could finally achieve its goal in 2020. SpaceXs Crew Dragon is scheduled to conduct an uncrewed test of its in-flight abort system on Jan. 11. If the test succeeds, the capsule could carry astronauts to the space station not long after.

Boeings Starliner experienced problems during its first uncrewed test flight in December and was unable to dock with the space station. An upcoming review of that test will determine whether Starliner might still be able to fly into orbit with astronauts in the first half of this year.

Virgin Galactic, the space-plane company run by Richard Branson, conducted two successful test flights with crew aboard in the past 13 months. In the year to come, the company could carry its first passengers to the edge of space. Blue Origin, the company founded by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, may follow suit; it has conducted 12 crewless tests of its capsule for short tourist jumps to suborbital space. For now, only the very wealthy will be able to afford such jaunts.

Other private companies are looking to Earth orbit for the future of internet service. SpaceX launched 120 Starlink satellites in 2019 and could launch many more in 2020. A competitor, OneWeb, could send more of its satellites to orbit in the coming year, too. These companies are blazing the trail for orbital internet a business that Amazon and Apple are also pursuing and upsetting astronomers, who fear that large constellations of internet satellites will imperil scientific study of the solar system and stars.

In September, a comet called Borisov 2I was spotted in our solar system, only the second ever confirmed interstellar object. Unlike Oumuamua, which was spotted in 2017 only as it was leaving the solar system, astronomers caught sight of Borisov and its 100,000-mile-long tail as it flew toward the sun, before it turned and began its exit.

In 2020, scientists will continue to point ground and orbiting telescopes at Borisov as it speeds back toward the stars beyond unless, as some astronomers hope, it explodes into fragments after being heated by the sun. Whatever happens, other interstellar visitors are sure to follow, and professional sky gazers hope to find them with powerful new telescopes in the years ahead.

Before the end of 2020, the moon could see one more visitor from Earth. Change-5, a robotic probe built by China, aims to collect moon rock and soil samples and send them back to Earth. The last set of lunar samples was gathered in 1976 by a Soviet spacecraft.

The year to come may also bring greater clarity about American designs for returning to the moon. NASA is aiming to put the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024, with a program called Artemis. A wide range of political, budgetary and technological hurdles stand in the way of meeting that ambitious timeline.

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Rocket Launches, Trips to Mars and More 2020 Space and Astronomy Events - The New York Times

The Sky This Week from January 3 to 12 – Astronomy Magazine

Saturday, January 4The Quadrantid meteor shower reaches its peak this morning. The slightly gibbous Moon sets around 1 a.m. local time, leaving nearly five hours of darkness for watching. The Quadrantid shower typically produces up to 120 meteors per hour, an average of two per minute, so observers should be in for a great show if the weather cooperates. The meteors appear to radiate from a spot in the northern part of the constellation Botes an area once occupied by the now-defunct constellation Quadrans Muralis a region that climbs highest just before dawn.

Sunday, January 5Earth reaches perihelion, the closest point to the Sun during its year-long orbit, at 3 a.m. EST. The two then lie 91.4 million miles (147.1 million kilometers) apart. It surprises many people to learn that Earth comes closest to the Sun in the dead of winter, but the cold weather in the Northern Hemisphere at this time of year arises because the Sun lies low in the sky.

The Sun is in the news more than once today. Although people in the Northern Hemisphere experienced the shortest day of the year two weeks ago (at the winter solstice December 21), the Sun has continued to rise slightly later with each passing day. That trend stops this morning for those at 40 north latitude. Tomorrows sunrise will arrive a second earlier than todays. This turnover point depends on latitude. If you live farther north, the switch occurred a few days ago; closer to the equator, the change wont happen until later this month.

Monday, January 6Venus gleams in the southwestern sky after sunset. The brilliant planet stands out just a half hour after sunset, when it appears 20 above the horizon, and remains on display until 7:30 p.m. local time. Shining at magnitude 4.0, it is by far the brightest point of light in the night sky. A telescope shows Venus disk, which spans 13" and appears about 80 percent lit.

Tuesday, January 7The brightest star in the sky (after the Sun, of course) puts on quite a show on January evenings. Gleaming at magnitude 1.5, Sirius shines nearly four times brighter than the next brightest star visible from mid-northern latitudes: Arcturus in the constellation Botes. Sirius currently rises before 7 p.m. local time and ascends in the southeast throughout the evening hours.

Wednesday, January 8If youre game for a quick evening challenge, try to spot Neptune through binoculars. The distant planet lies 30 high in the southwest near the end of evening twilight and doesnt set until nearly 10 p.m. local time. The magnitude 7.9 world appears against the backdrop of Aquarius, 1.0 west-southwest of the 4th-magnitude star Phi (f) Aquarii. Youll need binoculars to spy Neptune and a telescope to see its blue-gray disk, which spans 2.2".

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The Sky This Week from January 3 to 12 - Astronomy Magazine

Hubble Team Produces 30th Anniversary Calendar for 2020 | Astronomy – Sci-News.com

In September 2019, the Hubble team announced a social media initiative to celebrate three decades of success in discoveries with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The campaign showcased 30 hidden gems from the Hubble image archive. The 12 images that received the most likes were compiled to produce a special 30th Anniversary Calendar for 2020 (.pdf file, high-resolution print-ready .pdf file).

The cover page of the Hubbles Hidden Gems 2020 Calendar. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Hubble.

The images featured in the Hubbles Hidden Gems 2020 Calendar are described below:

Cover: the calendars cover features NGC 3256, a distorted galaxy located some 131 million light-years away in the constellation of Vela; the galaxy is approximately the same size as our own Milky Way Galaxy and belongs to the Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster complex; it is the relic of a collision between two spiral galaxies, estimated to have occurred 500 million years ago.

January: this picture is the result of the Ultraviolet Coverage of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field project; it contains approximately 10,000 distant galaxies.

February: this colorful image shows a small section of the Veil Nebula, one of the best-known supernova remnants; also known as NGC 6960, the Cirrus Nebula and the Filamentary Nebula, this object spans approximately 110 light-years and lies in the constellation Cygnus, about 2,100 light-years away.

March: this Hubble picture shows IRAS 14568-6304, a young star that is cloaked in a haze of golden gas and dust.

April: this image shows Trumpler 14, one of the largest gatherings of hot, massive and bright stars in our Milky Way Galaxy.

May: this snapshot features the fine detail and exceptionally perfect spiral structure of NGC 634, a spiral galaxy located 250 million light-years away in the constellation of Triangulum.

June: this composite image shows Sh 2-106, a compact star forming region in the constellation of Cygnus, which combines two images taken in infrared light and one that is tuned to a specific wavelength of visible light emitted by excited hydrogen gas.

July: this image shows Saturn and six of its 82 known moons: Dione, Enceladus, Tethys, Janus, Epimetheus, and Mimas.

August: this Hubble image shows NGC 5189, a planetary nebula located in the constellation Musca, some 3,000 light-years away; the intricate structure of the stellar eruption looks like a giant and brightly colored ribbon in space.

September: this colorful and star-studded view of our Milky Way Galaxy was captured in 2016 when Hubble pointed its cameras towards the constellation of Sagittarius.

October: in January 2002, a moderately dim star called V838 Monocerotis suddenly became 600,000 times more luminous than our Sun; a Hubble snapshot shows remarkable details in the shells of dust that were lit up during the titanic stellar eruption.

November: in 2011, Hubble captured a stunning close-up shot of part of the Tarantula Nebula; this is a star-forming region rich in ionized hydrogen gas in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

December: in 2002, Hubble revealed a rainbow of colors in IC 4406, a planetary nebula located 2,000 light-years away near the western border of the constellation Lupus; like many other planetary nebulae, IC 4406 exhibits a high degree of symmetry; the nebulas left and right halves are nearly mirror images of each other.


This article is based on text provided by the European Space Agency.

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Hubble Team Produces 30th Anniversary Calendar for 2020 | Astronomy - Sci-News.com

Thousands of astronomers are gathering in Honolulu as TMT discord looms – Honolulu Star-Advertiser

An event described as the Super Bowl of astronomy kicks off Saturday in Honolulu as thousands of scientists descend on the Hawaii Convention Center for the biggest meeting of the year for American astronomers.

With the high-profile Thirty Meter Telescope controversy continuing to rage in Hawaii, it would be no surprise if the attendees are greeted by anti-TMT demonstrators.

Thats what happened four years ago when the worlds largest astronomy convention, the International Astronomical Union General Assembly, convened at the same venue.

This years convention, which runs through Wednesday, is the 235th meeting of the American Astronomical Society. More than 3,400 astronomers, educators and students are planning to take in numerous presentations, panels, lectures, town halls, exhibits and the unveiling of new discoveries.

Organizers said the meeting is shaping up to be the biggest and busiest in the societys 120-year history.

Anti-TMT organizer Laulani Teale said TMT opponents have asked the events organizers to let them address the convention.

We want to make sure the astronomers get the correct information, Teale said. We want them to know what it really means to align science with indigenous protection. Hopefully, we will find people who can understand that stopping the TMT is the first step in that alignment.

Teale said the convention hasnt responded to the request yet, but she did acknowledge it was made at the last minute.

Weve been a little busy on the mountain, she said.

For the last five months, protesters have been blocking Mauna Kea Access Road to prevent construction of the $1.4 billion project, planned as one of the worlds most powerful telescopes and highly anticipated within the astronomy community.

Last week Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim gave his personal guarantee there would be no attempt to move TMT equipment up the mountain to start construction in January or February, and the demonstrators agreed, moving to the side of the road.

According to the conventions web page, the American Astronomical Society plans to engage the controversy directly with a series of panels and presentations.

Among other things, there will be special sessions to discuss Innovative Collaborations of Integrity With the Hawaiian Community, The Many Facets of Hawaii Astronomy and Astronomy and Culture Best Practices for Systematic Transformation in an Increasingly Diverse and Interconnected Global Society.

No one who is directly involved in the ongoing protest appears to be involved in the sessions.

I hope they have a substantial dialogue about the TMT, science and the cultural aspect. You cant just look at it in a vacuum. The science needs to evolve into its own humanity, said Mauna Kea Hui leader Kealoha Pisciotta, a former Mauna Kea telescope technician.

In a news release, society President Megan Donahue of Michigan State University said the controversy is about much more than the construction of a new telescope on a mountain many Hawaiians consider sacred.

Its also about the historical mistreatment of indigenous people, the islands economy and many other complex and interrelated issues, she said.

There are a number of public events, including a talk called Physics of Po, by Larry Kimura, UH Hilos College of Hawaiian Language &Hawaiian Studies, and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Executive Director Doug Simons. The Monday presentation explores the intersection of astronomy and Hawaiian culture by examining the first 11 lines of the 2,102-line Kumulipo, a 1,000-year-old Hawaiian creation chant whose name has been translated to beginning in deep darkness.

On Sunday evening University of Hawaii astronomer Roy Gal will host a free star party at Ala Moana Park featuring telescopic views of Hawaiis winter sky.

On Sunday UH Institute for Astronomy professor emerita Ann M. Boesgaard will present the Henry Norris Russell Lecture about her work using light-element abundances to test big-bang nucleosynthesis and to probe stellar structure and stellar evolution. Last year Boesgaard was awarded the 2019 Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, the societys top award, bestowed each year on the basis of a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research.

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Thousands of astronomers are gathering in Honolulu as TMT discord looms - Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Astronomy Before the Telescope set – The Greater New Milford Spectrum

Published 12:00am EST, Friday, January 3, 2020

The John J. McCarthy Observatory in New Milford will present its next Second Saturday Stars program, Thycho at Uraniborg: Astronomy Before the Telescope, Jan. 11.

The program will run from 7 to 9 p.m. at the observatory located behind New Milford High School on Route 7 South.

Tycho Brahe was the worlds foremost astronomer just before Galileo first turned the telescope on the night sky.

It was Tychos accurate data that Kepler used to formulate his three Laws of Planetary Motion.

He as a well-educated Danish nobleman who was given his own island by the King of Denmark to use for his observatory.

Tycho led one of the most colorful lives in history.

The program will address his early life, why he wore a prosthetic nose, what happened to his pet elk, how his good manners killed him, and what has happened to him after he died.

The design and construction of his observatory and home will also be discussed as well as their reconstruction.

His instruments and observations and some of his other work will also be presented.

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Astronomy Before the Telescope set - The Greater New Milford Spectrum

Astronomy VLOG: What the 2020s Mean for Space Travel – WAVY.com

The 2010s were an important decade for astronomy, NASA and the private industry. During this past decade, we discovered Pluto for the first time, the Space Shuttle launched for the final time and the long time Mars rovers went silent.

This is the decade when I became more and more interested in backyard astronomy, looking up through a telescope, checking out the planets, seeing my first rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center and Wallops Island Flight Facility, this is why I am creating astronomy videos, to share my love of astronomy! Before we get into why I think this decade was so important, lets recap what we have seen happen in these past 10 years.

The last Space Shuttle Launch was on July 8, 2011. Check out these Highlights of the mission launch.

This mission was the final of the Shuttle program, the first launch was way back in 1981.

Who would have thought, just 7 years later, from the same launch pad we would be watching this

On Feb 8th, 2018, SpaceX Launched its first Falcon Heavy rocket from Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral Florida. Launching Starman and Elon Musks original roadster on an orbit further away from the sun than Mars!

Of course, both side boosters landing on Live TV and streaming for the first time, was an incredible moment to see which I believe ignited a new era in Space in the United States and the rest of the world. While there have been landings before from SpaceX on a Drone ship, seeing two side boosters land, at the same time, was incredible. And on top of that, we were treated with incredible views of Earth.

The future of space exploration is in the hands of the private industry, whether it takes us to nearby asteroids for mining precious metals or it helps us build a colony on Mars, the Private industry like SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab and others will take us there. In the past few weeks, Boeing tested an unmanned rocket for sending American Astronauts from American soil to the Space Station, SpaceX has a launch soon. Smaller companies like Rocket Lab have recently opened a launch Pad in Wallops Island, Virginia for launches in 2020 to allow companies to send satellites to Earths orbit. These are all things not possible just 5 to 10 years ago.

Jeff Edmondson

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Astronomy VLOG: What the 2020s Mean for Space Travel - WAVY.com

The Steady State: When Astronomers Tried to Overthrow the Big Bang – Discover Magazine

It all started with a Big Bang. Or maybe it didnt. In the mid-20th century, most physicists were split on how the universe began or if it even had a beginning at all. Today, scientists agree that the Big Bang theory best describes the birth of our universe nearly 14 billion years ago. The idea now has a lot of observational evidence, but in the 1940s and 50s it was still widely debated. The Big Bang theory roused the public and religious realms perhaps even more than the scientific community, which had previously accepted an idea called the steady state model. It was not only a scientific controversy, it also included some broader aspects, ideological and religious aspects. And that was one reason why it was so publicly controversial, says Helge Kragh, a science historian and professor emeritus at the Niels Bohr Institute. The steady state theory was, especially in England, often associated with atheism, and the Big Bang theory with Christian theism.If the universe had a creation point, then it probably had a creator, the thinking went.

Read More: What Came Before the Big Bang?

Humans have always held ideas about how the universe originated. But it wasnt until advances in the 20th century, including Albert Einsteins theories of relativity, that astronomers could really form educated ideas about how the universe formed.

Alexander Friedmann, a Russian physicist, was the first to realize that applying the rules of relativity across large scales described a universe that changed over time. With a mathematical approach, he showed the universe could have started small before expanding over enormous distances and, in some cases, eventually collapsing back in on itself.

Observations carried out by Lowell Observatorys V.M. Slipher and, later, Edwin Hubble, showed that the universe was in fact expanding. And this helped confirm these initial ideas of the Big Bang. Two years later, the Belgian physicist Georges Lematre published a paper describing how the expanding universe had started as a tiny, hot, dense speck, which he called the primeval atom. Ordained as a Catholic priest, Lematre reported the finding as a happy coincidence of cosmology and theology in an early draft of the paper, though the comment was removed for the final publication of the paper.

Two decades later, George Gamow would develop theories on the fallout of a hot-birthed universe namely, how it would create neutrons and protons and published a popular book on the subject. It even caught the eye of Pope Pius XII, who was taken by the parallels between the scripture of Genesis and the scientific theory.

Unlike the church, Einstein wasnt initially happy with the idea of a changing universe, preferring one invariable on large scales. British astronomer Fred Hoyle wasnt happy, either. Along with two other scientists, he developed a counter-theory the steady state model. The steady state model suggested that the universe had no beginning and had always been expanding. To explain why the universe looks identical in all directions, it proposed tiny traces of matter, too small to be experimentally measured, were continually being created.

This model initially garnered support of around half of the scientific community albeit one that was very small at the time and became the Big Bang theorys biggest rival.

This [debate between theories] was not in the mainstream of physics research, says David Kaiser, science historian and physics professor at MIT. Basically no one paid attention or very little attention, even among professional physicists and astronomers.

But as evidence started gathering, that would change.

Observations of distant ultra-bright galaxies in the 1950s suggested the universe was changing, and measurements of the helium content in the universe didnt match the steady state models predictions. In 1964, the monumental discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation direct evidence of a young, hot universe would deal the final deathblow to the steady state model.

It really seems to suggest the universe had very different conditions in early times than today, Kaiser says. And that was just not what the steady state model suggests.

In an ironic twist, Hoyle used the term Big Bang in an attempt to dismiss the theory in a BBC interview. Though his own theory would be largely lost to history, the irreverent name would stick.

To his death, Hoyle would never submit to the Big Bang theory. A small subset of cosmologists still work on resurrecting a steady state model; but, on the whole, the community overwhelmingly supports the Big Bang theory.

There are a couple of other puzzles, so cosmologists don't think we're done, but theyre now kind of patching or filling in some holes to the original Big Bang models certainly not replacing it, Kaiser says.

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The Steady State: When Astronomers Tried to Overthrow the Big Bang - Discover Magazine

We Have Absolutely No Idea Whats Out There Astronomers 2019 Views on Extraterrestrial Life (Weekend Featu – The Daily Galaxy –Great Discoveries…

From dark-matter life to billion-year old technological civilizations: In 2019, several leading astrophysicists from NASA to Harvard and Columbia universities have publicly announced their view that aliens are not science fiction: that advanced and ancient technological civilizations may exist but be beyond our comprehension or ability to detect. As early as the NASA Contact Conference in 2002, which focused on serious speculation about advanced extraterrestrial life, an attendee loudly interrupted the keynote speech with the observation that We have absolutely no idea what is out there!

In 2019, Harvard astronomers Avi Loeb wrote in his blog that aliens are not science fiction: I dont see extraterrestrials as more speculative than dark matter or extra dimensions. I think its the other way around.

Law of Large Numbers

Enter Silvano P. Colombano at NASAs Ames Research Center: Our form of life and intelligence may just be a tiny first step in a continuing evolution that may well produce forms of intelligence that are far superior to ours and no longer based on carbon machinery. Exoplanet discoveries made by the Kepler Mission (image above) have identified planetary system as old as 10.4 billion years (Kepler-10) and 11.2 billion (Kepler-444) providing a solid foundation for Columbanos speculations.

On average, every star in the Milky Way has two planets orbiting it. According to NASA, one-fifth of those stars have a planet that could be conducive to life as we imagine it. That translates into 50 billion potentially habitable planets just in the Milky Way one of two trillion galaxies in the observable universe.

If youre going to say that theres no chance were going to find any life elsewhere, you must think theres something really miraculous about Earth, says Seth Shostak at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. And thats a suspicious point of view, that were just miraculously better than all the other planets.

Eye of Heaven Thoughts of Chinas Astronomers on Advanced Extraterrestrial Life

Considering that the age of our solar system is about 4.5 billion years, earth-like planets could exist that are six billion years older than our own. Considering further that technological development in our civilization started only about 10,000 years ago and has seen the rise of science only in the past 500 years, Columbano observes that we might difficulty in predicting technological evolution even for the next thousand years, let alone six million times that amount.

Our form of life and intelligence, says Columbano, may just be a tiny first step in a continuing evolution that may well produce forms of intelligence that are far superior to ours and no longer based on carbon machinery. After a mere 50 years of computer evolution the human species is already talking about super-intelligence and we are quickly becoming symbiotic with computer power.

In other words, technological civilizations may exist but be beyond our comprehension or ability to detect, says Colombano who proposes that we may have missed signals when it comes to looking for UFOs. While it is still reasonable and conservative to assume that life is most likely to have originated in conditions similar to ours, the vast time differences in potential evolution renders the likelihood of matching technologies very slim, underscoring the obstacles to a quick discovery of signs of an advanced civilization in the Milky Way.

Spinning Like a Hypersonic Top US Navy Pilots Reported Strange, Unknown Objects

Visitors from the Dark Sector?

If you dropped in on a bunch of Paleolithic farmers with your iPhone and a pair of sneakers, says Columbia University astrophysicist, Caleb Scharf in Is Physical Law an Alien Intelligence? pointing out that Arthur C. Clarke suggested that any sufficiently advanced technology is going to be indistinguishable from magic, youd undoubtedly seem pretty magical. But the contrast is only middling: The farmers would still recognize you as basically like them, and before long theyd be taking selfies. But what if life has moved so far on that it doesnt just appear magical, but appears like physics?

Dark Energy New Exotic Matter or ET Force Field?

Scharf makes an even more exquisite leap, suggesting that dark matter may be hiding life. That its could contain real complexity, and perhaps it is where all technologically advanced life ends up or where most life has always been. What better way to escape the nasty vagaries of supernova and gamma-ray bursts than to adopt a form that is immune to electromagnetic radiation?

Mind-Bending Hyper-Advanced ET May Be What We Perceive to Be Physics

But not resting on his speculative laurels, Scharfs beautifully not-politically correct mind does a double-twist swan dive off the high board and suggests that perhaps the behavior of normal cosmic matter that we attribute to dark matter is brought on by something else altogether: a living state that manipulates luminous matter for its own purposes. Consider that at present we have neither identified the dark-matter particles nor come up with a compelling alternative to our laws of physics that would account for the behavior of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Would an explanation in terms of life be any less plausible than a failure of established laws?

Visitors from the Milky Way?

Its possible that the Milky Way is partially settled, or intermittently so; maybe explorers visited us in the past, but we dont remember, and they died out, says Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, an astronomer at the University of Rochester and his collaborators in a 2019 study that suggests it wouldnt take as long as thought for a space-faring civilization to planet-hop across the galaxy, because the orbits of stars can help distribute life, offering a new solution to the Fermi paradox. The solar system may well be amid other settled systems; its just been unvisited for millions of years.

Life in Infinite Space

If space is truly infinite, observes Dan Hooper, head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, in At the Edge of Time, the implications are staggering. Within an infinite expanse of space, it would be hard to see any reason why there would not be an infinite number of galaxies, stars, and planets, and even an infinite number of intelligent or conscious beings, scattered throughout this limitless volume. That is the thing about infinity: it takes things that are otherwise very unlikely and makes them all inevitable.

The Daily Galaxy, Max Goldberg, via NASA New Assumptions to Guide SETI Research, New York Times and Nautil.us

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We Have Absolutely No Idea Whats Out There Astronomers 2019 Views on Extraterrestrial Life (Weekend Featu - The Daily Galaxy --Great Discoveries...

What is the asteroid belt? | Space – EarthSky

Here is the inner part of our solar system, from the sun to the 5th planet, Jupiter. In this illustration, the asteroid belt is the white donut-shaped cloud. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Meet the asteroid belt, a place in our solar system where small bodies mostly rocky and some metallic orbit the sun. These little worlds are also sometimes called minor planets. They move mostly between the orbits of the fourth planet Mars and fifth planet Jupiter. Astronomers once thought they were all that was left of a rocky planet, long ago torn apart by Jupiters gravity. Now, most astronomers now think the asteroid belt is just rubble that Jupiters gravity prevented from ever coalescing into a planet. Thus the asterids are likely simply leftovers from the ordinary processes that created our solar system, 4.6 billion years ago.

Their name, asteroid, means starlike. They got this name because in the early 1800s, when the first asteroids were discovered astronomers thought they looked like stars. And yet their movement in front of the star background, caused by their nearness to us, showed them to be something other than stars.

Measurements of the amount of material in the asteroid belt suggest it contains about enough material combined together to form a body smaller than Earths moon.

Comprising an estimated one to two million asteroids more than half a mile (about a km) across, plus untold millions of smaller ones, the asteroid belt contains objects which vary wildly in size. The smallest are probably no bigger than pebbles. The biggest object in the asteroid belt was also the first one to be discovered, in the year 1801. It is 1 Ceres, which measures some 587 miles (945 km). Ceres is now classified as a dwarf planet, by the way, by the International Astronomical Union.

EarthSky 2020 lunar calendars are available! Nearly sold out. Order now!

This orthographic projection shows the largest body in the asteroid belt 1 Ceres, discovered in 1801 now categorized as a dwarf planet by the International Astronomical Union. Ceres is one of several main-belt objects visited by spacecraft. This composite image is from the Dawn spacecraft, still the only earthly spacecraft to have orbited first one body in our solar system (Vesta, 2011 to 2012), then gone on to orbit a second (Ceres, arrived 2015). See the 2 bright spots in Occator Crater? They spawned speculation about alien life on Ceres, but turned out to be salt deposits. This image is made from views Dawn took during its low-altitude mapping orbit, at about 240 miles (385 km) above the surface. Image via NASA.

Outer space is vast. And thus, despite there being many millions (possibly billions) of objects in the asteroid belt, the average distance between them is 600,000 miles (about a million km). This means that spacecraft can fly through the asteroid belt without colliding with any asteroids, although, obviously, a chance collision can never be ruled out completely. The asteroid belt is certainly nothing like the densely-packed asteroid fields depicted in fantasies like Star Wars and its ilk.

Standing on any asteroid in the belt, you would likely be unable to see any other asteroids, because of their distance.

The asteroid belt lies between 2.2 and 3.2 astronomical units (AU) from our sun. One AU is the distance between the Earth and sun. So the width of the asteroid belt is roughly 1 AU, or 92 million miles (150 million km).

Its thickness is similarly about 1 AU thick.

Heres asteroid 4 Vesta discovered in 1807 the 2nd-biggest asteroid after Ceres. The Dawn spacecraft orbited Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012. A towering mountain at this asteroids south pole more than twice the height of Mount Everest is visible at the bottom of the image. The set of three craters known as the snowman can be seen at the top left. Image via NASA.

The asteroid belt is often referred to as the main belt to distinguish it from other, smaller groups of asteroids in the solar system such as the Lagrangians (for example, Trojan asteroids orbiting in Jupiters orbit around the sun) and Centaurs in the outer solar system.

What was thought to be a homogeneous belt is now known to be slightly more complicated. There are different and distinct zones within the main belt asteroids, especially at its peripheries, where astronomers now recognize the Hungaria group at the inner edge and the Cybele asteroids at the outer. Toward the middle of the belt there is the highly-inclined Phocaea family.

In addition, astronomers have established that the age of asteroids in the main belt also varies. Theyve now classified several asteroid groupings by their age including the Karin family, a group of about 90 main-belt asteroids that share an orbit and are thought to have come from a single object an estimated 5.7 million years ago. And there is the Veritas family, from an estimated 8.3 million years ago. A very recent group is the Datura family, dating from just 530,000 years ago from a collision.

Read on Wikipedia about asteroid families.

Read on Wikipedia about asteroids that have been visited by spacecraft

In order to be round, a body in space has to have enough internal mass to have strong-enough gravity to have pulled itself into the shape of a ball. Most asteroids dont accomplish this, and thus they come in all sorts of shapes. Here is asteroid 433 Eros discovered in 1898 now famous as the 1st asteroid ever to be orbited by a spacecraft, NEAR Shoemaker, in 1998. This object is considered a main-belt asteroid: although its orbit crosses that of Mars, it doesnt quite reach that of Earth. Yet its also considered a near-Earth asteroid a subject for another day! Image via NASA.

Bottom line: The asteroid belt is a region of our solar system between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter in which many small bodies orbit our sun.

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What is the asteroid belt? | Space - EarthSky

Wanda Diaz Merced is a blind astronomer who hears the science of the stars – Boing Boing

Wanda Diaz Merced is an astronomer at the International Astronomical Union (IAU) Office for Astronomy Outreach in Mitaka, Japan. Diaz Merced is blind and uses a technique to transform data from astronomical surveys into sounds for analysis. Over at Nature, Elizabeth Gibney interviewed Merced about how "converting astronomical data into sound could bring discoveries that conventional techniques miss." From Nature:

Sonification has been around for a long time. In 1933, for example, US physicist Karl Jansky reported detecting the first radio waves from space, as an audible hiss in his antenna. But at some point, visualization came to dominate the way we interpret astrophysical data. When I was an intern at NASA in 2005, my mentor, Robert Candey, wanted me to create a prototype data analysis tool that would familiarize blind people with space-physics data. So we developed software that could map astronomical data into sound its pitch, rhythm and volume. Then, in my 2013 PhD dissertation at the University of Glasgow, UK, I proved that it is useful....

Can you describe a real-world example?

There are many. Sonification can help us to study the habitability of an exoplanet, by understanding how much high-energy cosmic and solar rays interact with its magnetic field or atmosphere. Such interactions cause fluctuations of electromagnetic emission from that star system that vary in a way that relates to frequency . BBut because astronomers usually separate out different frequency components into many graphs, this is easy to miss. With sonification, we can listen to all the different frequencies together and pick out the signal from the noise.

Anne Innis Dagg was the first female biologist to study giraffes; while all the men who preceded her had observed firsthand that male giraffes are super queer (their primary form of play is a game dubbed "penis fencing," which is exactly what it sounds like), only Dagg was willing to write it down and publish []

In the Galapagos Islands, a shoreside crane toppled over while loading a shipping container onto a barge, capsizing the boat and causing a terrible oil spill of hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel. It was Charles Darwins 1835 studies of the Galapagos Islandss biodiversity that sparked his theory of evolution by natural selection. From ABC []

Photographer Eric Brummel created this magnificent time-lapse video of the Milky Way in which the sky is stabilized so you can experience the Earths rotation. He captured the footage at Fonts Point, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California. From Universe Today: Eric created this time-lapse by using a star-tracker with his camera. A star-tracker rotates the []

When most of us think of IT, we picture towering stacks of servers and intense walls of code. And while, yes, servers and code both have their place in any IT pros day-to-day, theyre not nearly as scary as we make them out to beat least not when you have the right training under your []

Before you type word one on a resume, make sure youve got the basics covered. And, for a myriad of jobs in nearly any field, Microsoft Office skills are absolutely essential. Got the software but dont know where to start? This Ultimate Microsoft Office Certificate Mastery Bundle not only gets you up to speed on []

Bare minimum: To make a career as a programmer, you need to know a little about a lot. There are so many languages suited to so many different tasks, its hard to know where to start. If youre truly just starting, its hard to find a better curriculum than in the Ultimate Web Coding for []

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Wanda Diaz Merced is a blind astronomer who hears the science of the stars - Boing Boing

What the interstellar medium tells us about the early universe – Astronomy Magazine

Molecules containing noble gases shouldnt exist. By definition, these chemical elements helium, neon, argon, krypton, xenon and radon are the party poopers of the periodic table, huddling in the rightmost column and refusing to make molecules. Indeed, no one has ever seen any naturally occurring noble gas molecules on Earth. Earlier this decade, though, astronomers accidentally discovered one of these aloof elements in molecules in space.

Then, in 2019, observers reported finding a second kind of noble gas molecule, one they had sought for more than three decades and of a type that was the very first to form after the universes birth in the big bang. This newly found molecule lends insight into the chemistry of the early universe, before any stars began to shine or any galaxies had formed. The discovery may even help astronomers understand how the first stars arose.

Most chemical elements readily share electrons with other elements to make molecules, but noble gases normally dont. Noble gases are in some sense happy as they are, says Peter Schilke, an astrophysicist at the University of Cologne in Germany. Thats because the outer shell of a noble gas atom already has its fill of electrons, so it wont ordinarily exchange electrons to bond with other atoms and form molecules at least, not here on Earth.

In retrospect, space seems the perfect place to seek noble gas molecules, because these gases abound in the cosmos. Helium is the second most common element in the universe, after hydrogen, and neon ranks fifth or sixth. And in interstellar space, where extreme temperatures and densities are the rule, noble gases do things they would never do on Earth. That includes forming molecules.

In addition to providing insight into the universes infancy, these exotic molecules tell scientists about the current conditions in the space between the stars the gases that make up the interstellar medium which is of intense interest to astronomers. The interstellar medium is the place where stars and planetary systems are born, says Maryvonne Gerin, an astrophysicist at the Observatory of Paris and coauthor of a 2016 Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics article on interstellar molecules.

Here on Earth, scientists have been concocting noble gas molecules for nearly a century. In 1925, laboratory scientists were able to force the noble gas helium into a bond with hydrogen to form helium hydride, or HeH+ termed a molecule by astronomers but, because its electrically charged, a molecular ion by chemists.

In 1962 chemist Neil Bartlett coaxed xenon to mate with fluorine and platinum, yielding a mustard-colored compound that was a first: a substance consisting of electrically neutral molecules which both astronomers and chemists are happy to say is full of noble gas molecules. Still, no one has ever seen any naturally occurring noble gas molecules on Earth.

So it seemed this combo would be the most likely quarry for astronomers as well. Instead, they were caught off guard by an even stranger molecule.

But nobody was looking for an interstellar molecule containing argon. It was basically a serendipitous discovery, says University College London astrophysicist Mike Barlow, who led the team that accidentally found ArH+: argonium, which consists of argon and hydrogen.

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What the interstellar medium tells us about the early universe - Astronomy Magazine

Astronomers find 19 more galaxies missing their dark matter – Astronomy Magazine

But after an academic back-in-forth, where Trujillo and van Dokkum traded salvos in the form of research papers, the answer to whether these galaxies are really missing their dark matter still remains uncertain.

But now, the discovery of 19 more galaxies without dark matter makes DF2 and DF4 seem less bizarre. And if the latest results hold up, astronomers will have to seriously consider what this growing population of galaxies without dark matter means.

The latest batch of galaxies missing dark matter was discovered when Guo and her team explored the nature of 324 dwarf galaxies using data from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. With this data, they followed in the footsteps of Rubin and Ford, studying how fast hydrogen gas rotates around each galaxy. They also calculated how much normal matter in the form of both gas and stars they contained.

After crunching the numbers, Guo and her colleagues determined that, of the 324 dwarf galaxies they investigated, 19 of them contain enough visible matter to solely explain the motions of the galaxies' hydrogen. In other words, a lot of dark matter seems to be missing from these galaxies.

According to the study, "Our results suggest that a population of dwarf galaxies could form in a particular way such that much less dark matter is required than for those in the Local Group [our cosmic neighborhood] and those found in simulations."

And what's the significance of finding galaxies without dark matter? According to van Dokkum, it would mean that astronomers don't really understand how galaxies form in the first place. Scientists currently suspect galaxies only form when the gravity from copious amounts of dark matter attracts the gas and dust needed to kick-start star formation.

"The thing is, we have no idea how star formation would proceed in the absence of dark matter," van Dokkum explained. "All we can say is that there must have been very dense gas early on in their history." Otherwise, the galaxies wouldn't be able to create any new stars.

Moving forward, Guo and her team say that astronomers need to do more work to map the motions of hydrogen gas within these galaxies. And with that, they hope to learn more about how these galaxies without dark matter came to be in the first place.

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Astronomers find 19 more galaxies missing their dark matter - Astronomy Magazine

Europe’s XMM-Newton Telescope Celebrates 20 Years of X-Ray Astronomy – Space.com

A European Space Agency telescope celebrated 20 years of exploring the secrets of the X-ray universe this week.

The XMM-Newton telescope, which launched on Dec. 10, 1999, has made contributions in various fields of science and astronomy, and has observed objects ranging from galaxy clusters to star flares. But in a press release celebrating the anniversary, scientists zeroed in on the observatory's black hole discoveries.

Black holes are areas in space that are so dense that no other object can escape their pull after passing beyond a point of no return known as the "event horizon." Even light can't escape, which means the black holes can't be seen. But when black holes munch on nearby gas, dust or objects, they produce a distinctive glow that can be mapped out in X-rays.

Video: XMM-Newton Space Observatory at 20 - HighlightsRelated: Our Galaxy's Heart Glows in Psychedelic X-Ray Light

Although XMM-Newton can't see black holes directly in fact, the first-ever image of a black hole was just produced this year using data from the Event Horizon Telescope, a collaboration of observatories from around the world (that does not include XMM-Newton).

What XMM-Newton is good at is seeing X-rays produced by iron molecules. These molecules are heated to high temperatures and ionized, or stripped of their electrons, on their death plunge toward the black hole.

The observatory has made several discoveries in the field of supermassive black holes, which are thousands of times the mass of the sun and which tend to be embedded in galaxies. XMM-Newton made a key find using iron molecules in a supermassive black hole in 2013.

"The X-rays given out from the iron contain information about the geometry and dynamics of the black hole," ESA said in a statement. "XMM-Newton was used to measure such emission in order to study the rotation rate of the supermassive black hole at the center of the spiral galaxy NGC 1365."

XMM-Newton also spotted flashes from a black hole embedded in the galaxy GSN 069, emanating about once every nine hours. "These eruptions are thought to be coming from the matter caught in the black holes gravitational grip, or from a less massive black hole circling the more massive one," ESA said in the statement.

XMM-Newton is still working well, and the observatory will focus on supermassive black holes and the galaxies in which they are hosted in the coming years.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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Europe's XMM-Newton Telescope Celebrates 20 Years of X-Ray Astronomy - Space.com

See interstellar comet Borisov on its way toward the Sun – Astronomy Magazine

In August, astronomers discovered interstellar Comet 2I/Borisov a visitor from outside our solar system. On Sunday, the space rock passed its closest point to the sun, and it will makes its closest approach to Earth later this month.

In the meantime, astronomers around the world have turned their telescopes to get a good look at this interstellar visitor while it's here.

Here are some of our favorite shots.

NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA)

Comet 2I/Borisov passed perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun, in December 2019. The Hubble Space Telescope captured this shot of the comet on December 9, just after perihelion. At the time, the comet was near the inner edge of the asteroid belt, about 185 million miles from Earth.

NASA, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA)

Hubble captured this shot of Borisov passing a distant background galaxy in November, when the comet was just over 200 million miles from Earth. Because the telescope was tracking the fast-moving comet, the galaxy (which seems stationary due to its distance) appears somewhat smeared.

Composite image by Travis Rector/Gemini Observatory/NSF/AURA)

The Gemini Observatory in Hawaii caught this first-ever color image of the interstellar comet Borisov and its faint tail in September.

In October, the Hubble Space Telescope captured this shot of 2I/Borisov, which distinctly shows the concentration of dust around the comet's nucleus, separate from the rest of the comet's fuzzy appearance. The nucleus itself is too small to see with Hubble.

P. van Dokkum, G. Laughlin, C. Hsieh, S. Danieli/Yale University

Astronomers captured this shot of Comet 2I/Borisov, an interstellar space rock passing through our solar system, with the Keck Observatory, Hawaii, in November. According to astronomers who captured this image, the comet's tail was several times longer at this point than Earth is across.

NSFs National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory/NSF/AURA/Gemini Observatory

Astronomers used the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii to capture this view of the interstellar comet Borisov along with some background galaxies in November. Because they combined multiple images to create the shot, they needed to average the location of the comet in the photos since it had moved relative to the galaxies.

NASA, ESA, J. Olmsted, F. Summers (STScI)

This illustration shows comet Borisov's path through our solar system in the panel on the left. The panel on the right shows where Borisov was relative to Earth when the Hubble Space Telescope observed it in October.

ESA/Hubble, NASA, ESO, M. Kornmesser

This artist's illustration depicts Oumuamua, the first-known interstellar space rock to visit our solar system. While 'Oumuamua was different from rocky objects in our solar system in many ways, the interstellar comet Borisov seems similar to solar system comets, astronomers have found.

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See interstellar comet Borisov on its way toward the Sun - Astronomy Magazine

The Sky This Week from December 6 to 15 – Astronomy Magazine

Friday, December 6A lone bright star now hangs low in the south during early evening. First-magnitude Fomalhaut often called the Solitary One belongs to the constellation Piscis Austrinus the Southern Fish. From mid-northern latitudes, it climbs 20 above the horizon at its best. How solitary is Fomalhaut? The nearest 1st-magnitude star to it, Achernar at the southern end of Eridanus the River, lies some 40 away.

Saturday, December 7The variable star Algol in Perseus reaches minimum brightness at 7:07 p.m. EST, when it shines at magnitude 3.4. If you start watching it after darkness falls this evening, you can see it more than triple in brightness, to magnitude 2.1, over the course of a few hours. This eclipsing binary star runs through a cycle from minimum to maximum and back every 2.87 days. Algol appears in the northeastern sky after sunset and passes nearly overhead around 10 p.m. local time.

Sunday, December 8Although people in the Northern Hemisphere wont experience the shortest day of the year for another two weeks (at the winter solstice December 21), those at 40 north latitude will see the Sun set earlier today than at any other time this year. Tomorrows sunset will arrive about two seconds later and, by the solstice, our star will set three to four minutes later than today. The date of earliest sunset depends on latitude the farther north you live, the closer it occurs to the solstice.

Monday, December 9Uranus reached opposition and peak visibility in late October, but it remains a tempting target in December. The outer planet appears in the southeastern sky after darkness falls and climbs highest in the south around 9 p.m. local time. The magnitude 5.7 world lies in southwestern Aries the Ram, near that constellations border with Pisces the Fish and Cetus the Whale. Although Uranus shines brightly enough to glimpse with the naked eye from a dark site, youll need binoculars to locate it this week with a gibbous Moon sharing the sky. The closest guide star is magnitude 4.4 Xi1 (1) Ceti, which lies 4 to the southeast. A telescope reveals Uranus disk, which spans 3.7" and shows a distinct blue-green hue.

Tuesday, December 10Venus gleams in the southwestern sky after sunset. The brilliant planet stands out just a half hour after sunset, when it appears 15 above the horizon. Wait another 30 minutes and you should see magnitude 0.6 Saturn just 1.8 to Venus north (upper right). Although magnitude 3.9 Venus stands out to the naked eye, binoculars deliver the best views of the pretty conjunction. Target the planets individually through a telescope and youll see Venus 12"-diameter disk and 87-percent-lit phase, as well as Saturns 15"-diameter globe surrounded by a ring system that spans 35".

The nearly Full Moon sits among the background stars of Taurus the Bull early this evening, just west of the Hyades star cluster. As the night wears on, Earths only natural satellite slides through the northern fringes of this V-shaped star group. The conjunction affords a good opportunity to witness the Moons motion.

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The Sky This Week from December 6 to 15 - Astronomy Magazine

Mars 2020’s landing site could be a good place to hunt for fossils – Astronomy Magazine

Silica is a crystalline structure made of silicon and oxygen that can be found in quartz, glass and sand. Hydrated silica holds water within its crystal structure. On Earth, hydrated silica can form in a variety of environments, like in volcanic glass and on the ocean floor.

The oldest evidence definitive evidence of microfossils that we have on Earth are usually found in silica, said Jesse Tarnas, a planetary scientist at Brown University and one of the authors of the paper.

The researchers found evidence for hydrated silica in Jezero Crater when data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft matched up with similar measurements taken of hydrated silica in the lab. Once the rover lands in 2021, scientists will be able to study the minerals up close and figure out how they formed and whether they might contain signs of past life.

Jezero Crater was once home to rivers that carved a delta into the planets surface. Its possible that the hydrated silica formed in these deltas, Tarnas said. Other possibilities are that it formed in volcanoes or rocks upriver, and that wind or water carried it into the delta. Some of these scenarios are more promising for preserving signs of life than others.

The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to launch in July 2020 and land on Mars in February 2021. Once its there, the rover's instruments can carefully analyze the chemistry of the hydrated silica and surrounding rocks. These observations will let scientists figure out how the hydrated silica formed and if they contain complex organic molecules.

If the rovers on-site analysis looks promising, it can pack samples that a future Mars mission could try to bring back. Scientists would likely need to study the samples in person, Tarnas said, to confirm or deny whether they contain signs of life.

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Mars 2020's landing site could be a good place to hunt for fossils - Astronomy Magazine