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Thousands in Maryland watch ‘SuperBowl of astronomy’ the first … – Baltimore Sun

About 3,000 people flocked to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore Monday to see the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in nearly a century.

Lines stretched out the front door as hundreds waited for their chance to get on the rooftop to peer through telescopes made safe for viewing through special filters. Some donned special glasses. Still others used viewers made from pizza boxes, index cards and coffee cups.

“It’s the Super Bowl of astronomy, said Samantha Blau, a program manager at the Science Center, adding that the eclipse would likely be the centers busiest day of the year. During the regular season people may not be paying attention, but everyone is paying attention today.

It was an event America hasnt experienced since 1918: the passage of a total solar eclipse across the continental United States

Across Maryland, thousands of people spent their afternoons outdoors in parks and on rooftops in hopes of seeing the sun mostly blocked by the moon. Other Marylanders hit the road, many to South Carolina, into the path where the moon completely blotted out the sun.

Monica and Fred Alvarado of Annapolis traveled south to sit on the green grass of the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball park.

Far above them the moon passed in front of the sun, casting a direct shadow on the Earth for a couple of minutes.

The sky was a 360-degree sunset. Then it was twilight in the middle of the day and Venus shone brightly.

“Wow. this is amazing,” Fred Alvarado said.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever seen,” Monica Alvarado said.

The view in Baltimore was dimmed by storm clouds, but the sun peeked out multiple times partially blocked out by the moon. The eclipse in Baltimore reached about 80 percent, while a strip of the country running largely from Oregon through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina saw a total eclipse.

Michael E. Ruane, Sarah Kaplan and William Wan

Atop the Science Center, visitors looked upward, hoping the sun would peak out from between storm clouds. Whenever it did, cheers broke out.

Alex Madsen, 16, of Towson, came equipped with a viewer made out of a shoe box he tested in his backyard.

Its my first time ever seeing an eclipse, he said. Its incredible because the sun is something like 400 times bigger than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to us.

Looking through the shoe box, his mother, Lauren, exclaimed: Oh, my God. Oh, its so pretty. Thats amazing. Who knew an UGGs box could be so valuable?

Dr. Lisa Schocket, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, cautioned those about to gaze upward about the dangers of staring directly into the sun.

Its no more dangerous than another day, she said, but most folks dont typically have reason to stare.

We see solar burns more commonly under other conditions, like psychosis or drugs, she said.

Dan Richman, a Johns Hopkins University biophysicist from Mt. Vernon, said he thinks the eclipse generated so much excitement because it reminded us of our place in the universe.

We dont usually think about the fact that we are standing on the surface of the planet and we are orbiting this huge extremely bright star, he said. We just experience the daily cycle. You just take it for granted. But this is a reminder than we are actually part of a solar system; we are out in space. … We orbit the center of the galaxy at an unbelievable speed.

The Earth moves around the sun at an estimated 66,000 miles per hour. The moon orbits the Earth at more than 2,000 miles per hour.

There are usually six or seven total solar eclipses per decade somewhere in the world. There are many more partial eclipses, when the moon does not fully cover the suns face, and annular solar eclipses, when the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, creating an apparent ring of fire in the sky at the point of greatest eclipse.

On top of the Science Center, Baltimore Astronomical Society President Darryl Mason said it was his fifth time viewing at least a partial solar eclipse. Hes seen others in Antarctica, Argentina, Chili and Ecuador, he said.

I like to see the diamond ring effect, he said.

In Carroll County, residents greeted the eclipse Monday afternoon with exclamations of Wow! and I see it!

The eclipse began at 1:17 p.m. and reached its peak at 2:42 p.m.

It looks like a Jack-o Lantern in the sky! shouted Sebastian Isaza, 11, at the Carroll County Public Librarys Eldersburg branch.

Eldersburg library branch manager Nadine Rosendale said people started lining up for glasses at 9 a.m. Monday.

We had 500 glasses to give away. At noon, we started giving out the glasses and they were gone in 20 minutes, Rosendale said.

How Baltimore experienced theGreat American Eclipse.

How Baltimore experienced theGreat American Eclipse.

Amateur astronomer Skye Korzie, of Eldersburg, set up a Dobsonian telescope outside of the library to share his view with other observers.

Im a space nerd, Korzie said. I just wanted to see as much as I can and let other people see it too. I think its a good way to get little kids interested in science.

The wait to get into Towson Library to score a pair of the hard-to-find glasses needed to safely watch the eclipse reminded Peggy Szczerbicki of waiting in line for books in the popular Harry Potter series.

More than 150 people snaked around the librarys spiral rotunda staircase Monday in hopes of snagging a pair of the cardboard spectacles.

After arriving at the Towson branch just as employees opened the doors at 9 a.m., Szczerbicki was first in line. The fourth grade teacher said she decided to come to the library after calling around to area stores for glasses and finding them all sold out.

Its the golden ticket, Szczerbicki said.

In Harford County, Hannah Nigrin stepped up to the telescope manned by Harford County Astronomical Society president Rick Fensch, excited to see her first-ever solar eclipse.

The 18-year-old Harford Community College student later described a mix of emotions upon seeing the near-total eclipse. She was one of about 1,000 people who gathered in the parking lot of the community colleges observatory.

It’s very intimidating to look at, and it’s awesome it’s very beautiful, said Nigrin, a Bel Air resident.

More than 100 Howard Community College faculty, staff, students and their family members packed the front lawn of the schools science, engineering and technology building for a glimpse of the solar eclipse.

As Bonnie Tylers Total Eclipse of the Heart played in the background, Luda Bard, a genetics and microbiology professor at the college, and her two children, Ari, 10, and Ammi, 7, smiled when they spotted the eclipse. The family arrived earlier in the afternoon so Ari and Ammi could make their own pinhole cameras out of shoe boxes, aluminum foil and duct tape.

Its very exciting, said Bard, an Ellicott City resident. My husband is an engineer and Im a biologist, so we had a little bit of background to explain the science to the kids.

Total solar eclipses will cross the continental United States twice more in the next 30 years, on April 8, 2024, and Aug. 12, 2045.

For those who missed Mondays view, the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse will be only about 300 miles from Baltimore at its closest, visible from Texas to Maine. The 2045 eclipse will track from northern California to Florida.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Scott Dance, Margarita Cambest, Chase Cook, Michael Eben, David Anderson and Andrew Michaels contributed to this article.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

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Thousands in Maryland watch ‘SuperBowl of astronomy’ the first … – Baltimore Sun

A crescent sun: Solar eclipse to mark astronomy event of the decade, even in New England – The Sun Chronicle

Weve all seen a crescent moon.

But how many people can say theyve seen a crescent sun?

On Monday, area residents will be able to add themselves to that list, many for likely the first time ever, as a partial solar eclipse passes over New England for the first time in decades.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moons path around the earth falls directly in line with the sun, blocking the natural sunlight and effectively turning day to night for a few short minutes.

The event itself isnt all that rare, Wheaton College Professor Anthony Houser said. But the moons position around the earth limits who can take part in the event when, creating the illusion that the astronomical phenomenon only comes about every once in a blue moon.

It happens about every two years, Houser, who runs the astronomy observatory at Wheaton, said. Its just rare that it happens locally. We havent had one on the contiguous United States since 1979. Whereas, I have foreign students from China, and they had two solar eclipses within two years not too long ago.

Its always happening somewhere. Were just fortunate its happening coast to coast here.

But, while the solar eclipse event is spanning across the entire United States for the first time in years, area residents wont be able to enjoy its full effect.

A total eclipse is visible when a location on earth is directly within the suns main shadow or umbra. If you happen to be within the wider shadow, called the penumbra, you see only a partial eclipse.

The path of totality this time around is limited to a stretch of the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina based on the positioning of the solar spheres in the universe Monday.

But even when the moon is directly aligned between the earth and sun, it doesnt guarantee a total eclipse says amateur astronomer Roger Menard of The Astronomy Association of Southeastern New England.

Thats because the moons orbit isnt a circle, its an oval. That orbit means the moon is closer to the earth at some times than others.

When the moon is closest to the earth, its disc totally covers the sun. When its farther away its disc appears smaller and doesnt quite obscure the entire sun. Instead, the result is an annular eclipse in which the moon is encircled by a bright rim of sun sort of like the candy shell on an M & M.

So, knowledge that Mondays solar eclipse will see the astronomical event at its prime pure totality has left thousands across the U.S. vying for a spot along the eclipses trail.

But, area residents wont be left out.

Makeshift astronomers in our area can count on a second best, Houser said. About 65 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon, leaving residents with an unusual sight. The events peak takes place about 2:46 p.m.

When you look at the sun on a normal day, it doesnt look that big, about the size of a fingernail, Houser said. But at the height of the eclipse youll see the moon take a bite out of it. Weve all seen a crescent moon, but on Monday well see a crescent sun.

Attleboro will not see night, as will areas in the path of totality, but gradually as the eclipse takes place between 1:30 and 4 p.m., the outside will seem dimmer than usual, Houser said.

But because the event will draw watchful eyes to the sky, Houser and other astronomers are urging observers to take precautions in making sure theyre viewing the eclipse safely.

Instinctively, we dont look at the sun, Houser said. Its a natural reflex to look away from the bright sun or to blink to protect our eyes.

But those instincts go to the wayside for special events, and Houser said looking at the suns ultraviolet rays for an extended period of time, waiting for the eclipse to take place, could cause serious damage to ones retina even as far as partial blindness.

Its really important to observe safely, Houser said.

Regular sunglasses dont make the cut.

Special eclipse glasses can be found online or in stores although most vendors have struggled to keep up with demand in recent weeks. After fake glasses were discovered on the online market, NASA and the American Astronomical Society have endorsed brands with sufficient protection and urge viewers to buy from those vendors directly.

If you have proper glasses, when you put them on during the day it should be very dark, Houser said. You should see nothing.

But if you cant get your hands on eclipse glasses, Houser said theres other ways to view safely. NASA has compiled a list of techniques to view the eclipse indirectly on its website, and will also be streaming the eclipse live.

And, area astronomers and recreation facilities have committed to viewing parties, where eclipse glasses will be available to share.

Wheatons observatory deck will be open, and Houser said about six telescopes with safety filters will be available for those who want an even closer look at the sun.

In Foxboro, Troop 7 Boy Scouts will join the recreation department in hosting a special viewing party at Booth Playground from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Eclipse glasses will be on sale for $5.

And Recreation Director Debbie Giardino went to extra lengths to make sure no one will be without. Her department and the Boy Scouts will have 450 pairs of glasses on hand.

I didnt want to run out of glasses and have people miss the experience or put themselves in danger, Giardino said. If theres extra, theres extra.

Giardino said the event will be a party complete with food and a live stream of the total eclipse on a TV nearby.

She heard about plans of the gathering from the Boy Scouts, who will earn a badge from the event, and joined forces to make the event an experience all of Foxboro can enjoy.

We have the mechanics: The building, the wherewithal, the staff, all of the amenities that they were looking for, she said. But this was their idea from the start.

I think its a great community event. This is what we do. I hope families will come and made a day out of it. Its the end of summer and lifes too short not to enjoy an event that last took place 38 years ago.

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A crescent sun: Solar eclipse to mark astronomy event of the decade, even in New England – The Sun Chronicle

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 August 24

Explanation: The Eagle Nebula and the Swan Nebula span this broad starscape, a telescopic view toward the Sagittarius spiral arm and the center of our Milky Way galaxy. The Eagle, also known as M16, is at top and M17, the Swan, at bottom of the frame showing the cosmic clouds as brighter regions of active star-formation. They lie along the spiral arm suffused with reddish emission charactistic of atomic hydrogen gas, and dusty dark nebulae. M17, also called the Omega Nebula, is about 5500 light-years away, while M16 is some 6500 light-years distant. The center of both nebulae are locations of well-known close-up images of star formation from the Hubble Space Telescope. In this mosaic image that extends about 3 degrees across the sky, narrowband, high-resultion image data has been used to enhance the central regions of the Eagle and Swan. The extended wings of the Eagle Nebula spread almost 120 light-years. The Swan is over 30 light-years across.

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP) NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply. NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Bad Astronomy – : Bad Astronomy

Well now, this is an interesting discovery: astronomers have found what looks like a “super-Earth” a planet more massive than Earth but still smaller than a gas giant orbiting a nearby star at the right distance to have liquid water on it! Given that, it might might be Earthlike.

This is pretty cool news. Weve found planets like this before, but not very many! And it gets niftier: the planet has at least five siblings, all of which orbit its star closer than it does.

Now let me be clear: this is a planet candidate; it has not yet been confirmed. Reading the journal paper (PDF), though, the data look pretty good. It may yet turn out not to be real, but for the purpose of this blog post Ill just put this caveat here, call it a planet from here on out, and fairly warned be ye, says I.

The star is called HD 40307, and its a bit over 40 light years away (pretty close in galactic standards, but I wouldnt want to walk there). Its a K2.5 dwarf, which means its cooler, dimmer, and smaller than the Sun, but not by much. In other words, its reasonably Sun-like. By coincidence, it appears ot be about the age as the Sun, too: 4.5 billion years. It was observed using HARPS, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (I know, it should be HARVPS, but thats harvd to pronounce). This is an extremely sensitive instrument that looks for changes in the starlight as a planet (or planets) orbits a star. The gravity of the star causes the planet to orbit it, but the planet has gravity too. As it circles the star, the star makes a littler circle too (I like to think of it as two kids, one bigger than the other, clasping hands and swinging each other around; the lighter kid makes a big circle and the bigger kid makes a smaller circle). As the star makes its circle, half the time its approaching us and half the time its receding. This means its light is Doppler shifted, the same effect that makes a motorcycle engine drop in pitch as it passes you.

Massive planets tug on their star harder, so theyre easier to find this way. Also, a planet closer in has a shorter orbit, so you dont have to look as long to find it. But in the end, by measuring just how the star is Doppler shifted, you can get the mass and orbital period of the planet. Or planets.

In this case, HD 40307 was originally observed a little while back by HARPS, and three planets were found. But the data are public, so a team of astronomers grabbed it and used a more sensitive method to extract any planetary signatures from the data. They found the three previously-seen planets easily enough, but also found three more! One of them is from a planet that has (at least) seven times the mass of the Earth, and orbits with a 198 day period. Called HD 40307g (planets are named after their host star, with a lower case letter after starting with b), its in the “super-Earth” range: more massive than Earth, but less than, say Neptune (which is 17 times our mass).

We dont know how big the planet is, unfortunately. It might be dense and only a little bigger than Earth, or it could be big and puffy. But if its density and size are just so, it could easily have about the same surface gravity as Earth that is, if you stood on it, youd weight the same as you do now!

But the very interesting thing is that it orbits the star at a distance of about 90 million kilometers (55 million miles) closer to its star than is is to the Sun but thats good! The star is fainter and cooler than the Sun, remember. In fact, at this distance, the planet is right in the stars “habitable zone”, where the temperature is about right for liquid water to exist!

Thats exciting because of the prospect for life. Now, whenever I mention this I hear from people who get all huffy and say that we dont know you need water for life. Thats true, but look around. Water is common on Earth, and here we are. We dont know that you need water for life, but we do know that water is abundant and we need it. We dont know for sure of any other ways for life to form, so it makes sense to look where we understand things best. And that means liquid water.

Heres a diagram of the system as compared to our own:

Note the scales are a bit different, so that the habitable zones of the Sun and of HD 40307 line up better (remember, HD 40307g is actually closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun an AU is the distance of the Earth to the Sun, so HD 40307 is about 0.6 AU from its star). What makes me smile is that the new planet is actually better situated in its “Goldilocks Zone” than Earth is! Thats good news, actually: the orbit may be elliptical (the shape cant be determined from the types of observations made) but still stay entirely in the stars habitable zone.

And take a look at the system: the other planets all orbit closer to the star! We only have two inside Earths orbit in our solar system but all five of HD 40307s planets would fit comfortably inside Mercurys orbit. Amazing.

So this planet if it checks out as being real is one of only a few weve found in the right location for life as we know it. And some of those weve found already are gas giants (though they could have big moons where life could arise). So what this shows us is that the Earth isnt as out of the ordinary as we may have once thought: nature has lots of ways of putting planets the right distances from their stars for life.

Were edging closer all the time to finding that big goal: an Earth-sized, Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star at the right distance for life. This planet is a actually a pretty good fit, but we just dont know enough about it (primarily its size). So Im still waiting. And given the numbers of stars weve observed, and the number of planets we found, as always I have to ask: has Earth II already been observed, and the data just waiting to be uncovered?

Image credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser; Tuomi et al.

Related Posts:

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Bad Astronomy – : Bad Astronomy

From NASA to Burlington – Burlington Hawk Eye

Will Smith

As director of planetary sciences at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C., Burlington native Jim Green has spent much of his adult life sending research vehicles into space.

But as Green put it, it took a gravity assist to get him there. In space, the term is used to describe a ship maneuver that uses the gravitational field of another planet to slingshot toward its destination.

In life, a gravity assist can be a teacher, or a telescope, or a particularly encouraging parent. When Green, a 1969 BHS graduate, was in high school, he was blessed by two gravity assists. One was his chemistry teacher and astronomy buff Don Vinson.

The other was the 12-inch Alvan Clark and Sons refractor telescope that sat atop the now defunct Apollo High School. Built in 1937, the telescope was moved from the school to John Witte Observatory 30 years ago the same year the observatory was built.

It (the influence of the telescope on Greens career) was enormous, he said. I could observe whatever I wanted to.

Green returned to Burlington for the first time in five years Wednesday morning to celebrate that 30th anniversary. He saw that fabled telescope again Wednesday night during a meet and greet with the Southeastern Iowa Astronomy Club.

Its a fabulous tool, he said.

Back in high school, the ever ambitious Green wasnt satisfied with peering through the telescope. He wanted to take 35mm pictures in color and black and white, and worked with Vinson to construct tools to help him do that.

He even constructed a work-around so the telescope could be used to view the sun. Technically, the roof of the Apollo School wasnt a very stable position for a telescope. But its ability to open young minds surpassed any technical limitations.

We got to the point where we just did the best we could. Its on top of an old building, cars would go by, the place would shake. It just never tracked well. After a few minutes, the tracking was off, Green said.

When he was informed by members of the astronomy club that it works fine at the observatory, Green was ecstatic.

I knew it was the school he said. We really messed with that so much.

Green will speak at at Aldo Leopold and Edward Stone Middle School this morning, capping off his tour with with a public presentation at 7 p.m. tonight titled “Search for Life Beyond Earth and Space and Time. The presentation will be at Edward Stone Middle School, and there is no admission fee. The doors open at 6 p.m.

Im going to be talking about what weve been finding out from our missions, scouring the solar system. And many of them (missions) are looking for life,” he said.

Most recently, Green and his team of NASA scientists conducted a detailed analysis of the solar eclipse that took place Monday. The benefits of that research will be uncovered in the months to come.

We had the ability during the eclipse to look at the lower corona. Thats actually very hard to do with satellites, he said.

NASA spent a year-and-half planning for the eclipse, and that preparation included 56 high-altitude balloons equipped with cameras that documented the sun’s shadow.

We watched the shadow of the sun racing across the country at 2,000 miles an hour,” Green said.

Green said the research will be helpful, but it doesnt compare to the inspiration the eclipse sewed in the hearts of impressionable children.

“When you think about everybody who saw that, there might be several thousand kids for which this event was so impressive to them, they want to learn more about the moon. Then they want to learn more about the sun. And then they want to do well in school. And then they want to become scientists and engineers, he said.

The visit and presentations were made possible by the Southeastern Astronomy Club and the Rand Lecture Trust.

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From NASA to Burlington – Burlington Hawk Eye

Antares: astronomers capture best ever image of a star’s surface and atmosphere – The Guardian

Astronomers have produced the most detailed ever images of a star other than the sun.

The red supergiant, called Antares, is known as the heart of the Scorpius constellation because of its rosy hue, discernible to the naked eye, and location in the body of the astronomical beast. The new images, produced using the European Southern Observatorys Very Large Telescope in Chile, are the most detailed yet of the surface and atmosphere of a star beyond our solar system.

Antares, which is 550 light years from Earth, has a mass about 15 times that of the sun, but is rapidly losing material to surrounding space as it expands outwards in the last phase of its life before becoming a supernova. If Antares sat at the centre of our own solar system its outer layers would extend as far as Mars.

However, until now the exact process by which giant stars lose mass from their upper atmosphere has remained unknown.

The latest images aim to tackle this question by mapping the motions of surface material in intricate detail using the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI).

The instrument combines the light from up to four telescopes to create a virtual telescope with a resolution equivalent to that of a single mirror up to 200 metres across.

How stars like Antares lose mass so quickly in the final phase of their evolution has been a problem for over half a century, said Keiichi Ohnaka, of the Universidad Catlica del Norte, Chile, and the papers first author. The VLTI is the only facility that can directly measure the gas motions in the extended atmosphere of Antares a crucial step towards clarifying this problem. The next challenge is to identify whats driving the turbulent motions.

The observations reveal unexpected turbulence large clumps of upwelling and receding gas in the stars outer atmosphere. These movements could not be explained by convection currents, where the flow of gas transfers heat from the core to the outer limits of a star, pointing to the existence of new, currently unknown processes. The findings are published in the journal Nature.

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Antares: astronomers capture best ever image of a star’s surface and atmosphere – The Guardian

Uranus and Neptune: Cloudy with a chance of diamonds – Astronomy Magazine

On Earth, we experience rain composed of liquid water. On Titan, it rains liquid methane. And on Uranus and Neptune, it rains solid diamonds. For the first time, researchers have now simulated and observed this process here on Earth, proving that this long-held assumption is likely correct, once and for all.

The work, published August 21 in Nature Astronomy, combined a high-powered optical laser with the X-ray free-electron laser at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). The LCLS creates X-ray pulses that last a million-billionths of a second, allowing for ultrafast high-precision monitoring of processes that occur all the way down to the scale of atoms. As a result, the researchers were able to watch tiny diamonds form as shock waves passed through plastic, offering a peek at processes that take place in planetary atmospheres on a much grander scale.

The experiment focused on inducing shock waves in a plastic material called polystyrene, which contains hydrogen and carbon two elements found in abundance inside Uranus and Neptune. According to theory, methane (four hydrogen atoms and one carbon atom) inside the planets atmospheres forms hydrocarbon chains that in turn form diamonds in response to the right temperature and pressure. This occurs more than 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) beneath the planets surface. There, the diamonds precipitate out and sink deeper into the atmosphere, a diamond rain.

Though this has been assumed to be the case for decades, the exact process has never been observed in experiments on Earth before now. Some previous experiments failed because the pressures and temperatures inside the atmospheres of these planets cannot be created in the lab for long, and without the ability to record data at the speed afforded by the LCLS, any transitions were missed. Other experiments produced graphite or diamond, but were conducted at lower pressures or required the introduction of additional materials.

Using an optical laser, the researchers induced one, then a second shockwave in a polystyrene sample at the temperatures and pressures found within Uranus and Neptune. As they probed the material with 50-femtosecond X-ray pulses (a femtosecond is a quadrillionth of a second), they watched the carbon atoms in the plastic become part of tiny diamonds (called nanodiamonds) where the shockwaves overlapped, creating areas of higher pressure.

For this experiment, we had LCLS, the brightest X-ray source in the world, said Siegfried Glenzer, professor of photon science at SLAC and a coauthor on the paper, in a press release. You need these intense, fast pulses of X-rays to unambiguously see the structure of these diamonds, because they are only formed in the laboratory for such a very short time.

Dominik Kraus of Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf and lead author on the paper, added, When I saw the results of this latest experiment, it was one of the best moments of my scientific career.

This work will benefit not only planetary scientists seeking to understand the conditions inside our own local ice giants, but those studying extrasolar planets as well. Learning more about how elements combine and precipitate out of atmospheric layers allows researchers to create better models for a deeper understanding of these planets, including not only their weather, but their sources of energy as well. Diamond rain could create friction as the diamonds sink deeper within the atmosphere, generating heat and affecting atmospheric circulation and other conditions.

We can’t go inside the planets and look at them, Kraus said, so these laboratory experiments complement satellite and telescope observations.

The nanodiamonds resulting from this experiment could have other applications closer to home as well, such as use in the medical and technology industries. While such nanodiamonds can be produced in explosions, manufacturing them with lasers could be a cleaner alternative.

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Uranus and Neptune: Cloudy with a chance of diamonds – Astronomy Magazine

Thousands in Maryland watch ‘SuperBowl of astronomy’ the first … – Baltimore Sun

About 3,000 people flocked to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore Monday to see the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in nearly a century.

Lines stretched out the front door as hundreds waited for their chance to get on the rooftop to peer through telescopes made safe for viewing through special filters. Some donned special glasses. Still others used viewers made from pizza boxes, index cards and coffee cups.

“It’s the Super Bowl of astronomy, said Samantha Blau, a program manager at the Science Center, adding that the eclipse would likely be the centers busiest day of the year. During the regular season people may not be paying attention, but everyone is paying attention today.

It was an event America hasnt experienced since 1918: the passage of a total solar eclipse across the continental United States

Across Maryland, thousands of people spent their afternoons outdoors in parks and on rooftops in hopes of seeing the sun mostly blocked by the moon. Other Marylanders hit the road, many to South Carolina, into the path where the moon completely blotted out the sun.

Monica and Fred Alvarado of Annapolis traveled south to sit on the green grass of the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball park.

Far above them the moon passed in front of the sun, casting a direct shadow on the Earth for a couple of minutes.

The sky was a 360-degree sunset. Then it was twilight in the middle of the day and Venus shone brightly.

“Wow. this is amazing,” Fred Alvarado said.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever seen,” Monica Alvarado said.

The view in Baltimore was dimmed by storm clouds, but the sun peeked out multiple times partially blocked out by the moon. The eclipse in Baltimore reached about 80 percent, while a strip of the country running largely from Oregon through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina saw a total eclipse.

Michael E. Ruane, Sarah Kaplan and William Wan

Atop the Science Center, visitors looked upward, hoping the sun would peak out from between storm clouds. Whenever it did, cheers broke out.

Alex Madsen, 16, of Towson, came equipped with a viewer made out of a shoe box he tested in his backyard.

Its my first time ever seeing an eclipse, he said. Its incredible because the sun is something like 400 times bigger than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to us.

Looking through the shoe box, his mother, Lauren, exclaimed: Oh, my God. Oh, its so pretty. Thats amazing. Who knew an UGGs box could be so valuable?

Dr. Lisa Schocket, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, cautioned those about to gaze upward about the dangers of staring directly into the sun.

Its no more dangerous than another day, she said, but most folks dont typically have reason to stare.

We see solar burns more commonly under other conditions, like psychosis or drugs, she said.

Dan Richman, a Johns Hopkins University biophysicist from Mt. Vernon, said he thinks the eclipse generated so much excitement because it reminded us of our place in the universe.

We dont usually think about the fact that we are standing on the surface of the planet and we are orbiting this huge extremely bright star, he said. We just experience the daily cycle. You just take it for granted. But this is a reminder than we are actually part of a solar system; we are out in space. … We orbit the center of the galaxy at an unbelievable speed.

The Earth moves around the sun at an estimated 66,000 miles per hour. The moon orbits the Earth at more than 2,000 miles per hour.

There are usually six or seven total solar eclipses per decade somewhere in the world. There are many more partial eclipses, when the moon does not fully cover the suns face, and annular solar eclipses, when the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, creating an apparent ring of fire in the sky at the point of greatest eclipse.

On top of the Science Center, Baltimore Astronomical Society President Darryl Mason said it was his fifth time viewing at least a partial solar eclipse. Hes seen others in Antarctica, Argentina, Chili and Ecuador, he said.

I like to see the diamond ring effect, he said.

In Carroll County, residents greeted the eclipse Monday afternoon with exclamations of Wow! and I see it!

The eclipse began at 1:17 p.m. and reached its peak at 2:42 p.m.

It looks like a Jack-o Lantern in the sky! shouted Sebastian Isaza, 11, at the Carroll County Public Librarys Eldersburg branch.

Eldersburg library branch manager Nadine Rosendale said people started lining up for glasses at 9 a.m. Monday.

We had 500 glasses to give away. At noon, we started giving out the glasses and they were gone in 20 minutes, Rosendale said.

How Baltimore experienced theGreat American Eclipse.

How Baltimore experienced theGreat American Eclipse.

Amateur astronomer Skye Korzie, of Eldersburg, set up a Dobsonian telescope outside of the library to share his view with other observers.

Im a space nerd, Korzie said. I just wanted to see as much as I can and let other people see it too. I think its a good way to get little kids interested in science.

The wait to get into Towson Library to score a pair of the hard-to-find glasses needed to safely watch the eclipse reminded Peggy Szczerbicki of waiting in line for books in the popular Harry Potter series.

More than 150 people snaked around the librarys spiral rotunda staircase Monday in hopes of snagging a pair of the cardboard spectacles.

After arriving at the Towson branch just as employees opened the doors at 9 a.m., Szczerbicki was first in line. The fourth grade teacher said she decided to come to the library after calling around to area stores for glasses and finding them all sold out.

Its the golden ticket, Szczerbicki said.

In Harford County, Hannah Nigrin stepped up to the telescope manned by Harford County Astronomical Society president Rick Fensch, excited to see her first-ever solar eclipse.

The 18-year-old Harford Community College student later described a mix of emotions upon seeing the near-total eclipse. She was one of about 1,000 people who gathered in the parking lot of the community colleges observatory.

It’s very intimidating to look at, and it’s awesome it’s very beautiful, said Nigrin, a Bel Air resident.

More than 100 Howard Community College faculty, staff, students and their family members packed the front lawn of the schools science, engineering and technology building for a glimpse of the solar eclipse.

As Bonnie Tylers Total Eclipse of the Heart played in the background, Luda Bard, a genetics and microbiology professor at the college, and her two children, Ari, 10, and Ammi, 7, smiled when they spotted the eclipse. The family arrived earlier in the afternoon so Ari and Ammi could make their own pinhole cameras out of shoe boxes, aluminum foil and duct tape.

Its very exciting, said Bard, an Ellicott City resident. My husband is an engineer and Im a biologist, so we had a little bit of background to explain the science to the kids.

Total solar eclipses will cross the continental United States twice more in the next 30 years, on April 8, 2024, and Aug. 12, 2045.

For those who missed Mondays view, the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse will be only about 300 miles from Baltimore at its closest, visible from Texas to Maine. The 2045 eclipse will track from northern California to Florida.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Scott Dance, Margarita Cambest, Chase Cook, Michael Eben, David Anderson and Andrew Michaels contributed to this article.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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Thousands in Maryland watch ‘SuperBowl of astronomy’ the first … – Baltimore Sun

Astro Nite to bring wow factor of astronomy to community – Burtonview

Astro Nite is designed to allow all ages to delight in astronomy. Photo provided BURTON The University of Michigan-Flint astronomy team will take their high-powered telescopes to For-Mar Nature Preserve and Arboretum and lead participants on a solar system tour set up on the ground, designed to teach participants about the planets and other astronomical features of the solar system.

With over an estimated 9,000 visible stars to our eye across the entire night sky, and billions visible using telescopes, it is hard not to be fascinated by astronomy, said Nicole Ferguson, head naturalist at For-Mar.

The program will be held 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, partners U of M-Flint and For-Mar and will feature a campfire with astronomy storytelling, astronomy crafts and a moon phase activity which will reproduce the solar eclipse which occurred Monday are part of the planned activities.

There will also be solar eclipse and constellation crafts. The crafts are great takeaway reminders that help families remember all of the things they learned during Astro Nite at For-Mar, Ferguson said. She added the campfire is a great addition to any nocturnal fun.

For Astro Nite, a campfire provides that perfect place for participants to gather and tell stories about the stars, she said.

The U of M-Flint Astronomy team will point the telescope to the sky to look at the moon and its many craters, planets like Saturn and Jupiter and different stars and far off galaxies.

We will also be talking about nocturnal animals, Ferguson said.

Ferguson said Astro Nite is suitable for all ages and abilities because of the wide variety of activities for kids and adults.

Dr. Rajib Ganguly, associate professor of physics, heads up the volunteer team. Ganguly also is the astronomy professor for U of M-Flint.

Ferguson said For-Mar has a great dark sky location that makes it great for both looking at and learning about astronomy first-hand. For-Mar is one of the leading outdoor educator facilities in our area, she said.

Astro Nite has taken place for the last five summers at For-Mar.

Nature centers and outdoor education facilities are perfect locations for astronomy classes and events, Ferguson said. In addition to our once-a-year Astro Nite event, we also lead monthly full moon hikes (and) talk about what is in the night sky each month.

The Astro Nite team puts on two annual Astro Nites at the U of M -Flint campus in collaboration with the Longway Planetarium, and shares astronomy information on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UmFlintAstroNite/.

For details on Astro Nite, visit geneseecountyparks.org There is no cost, and preregistration is not required.

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Astro Nite to bring wow factor of astronomy to community – Burtonview

Chasing the eclipse from China to Dallas, Oregon – Astronomy Magazine

As it is told in some Chinese folk stories, dragons chase away the Sun during a total solar eclipse. These stories have been told for generations. Now, some new stories will be passed on. This time, the main characters are a team of Chinese astronomers and the local people in a small Oregonian town.

Dallas, Oregon, might not be on many peoples radar. But its not short on lovers of the sky. Just down the road from the farm where the Chinese team stayed, a local man had built his own observatory into his house. And hes surely not alone.

A kind invitation When I wrote a story earlier this year about this same Chinese astronomy team, which would travel 7,000 miles to observe the Great American Solar Eclipse, I didnt expect any follow-ups or readers responses. The team later told me, however, the story netted many readers. And in the meantime, a library manager from Dallas, Oregon, invited them to Dallas, instead of their original destination of Lincoln City, for a better chance of clear skies.

In general, Dallas has less cloud cover than Lincoln City. The latter is near the coast, which makes it more likely to have a marine layer of clouds, said Mark Johnson, manager of the Dallas Public Library. Dallas, 40 miles from Lincoln City, is less affected by the sea.

Johnson is also the guy who contacted the Chinese team after reading my story. When we talked on the phone several weeks ago, he told me his town would close the main street and many lecturers and events had been scheduled.

“It will be a large party for three days, he said. The library itself also planned to close from 10 to 12, because staff members would want to experience totality.

Who wouldnt?

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Chasing the eclipse from China to Dallas, Oregon – Astronomy Magazine

A crescent sun: Solar eclipse to mark astronomy event of the decade, even in New England – The Sun Chronicle

Weve all seen a crescent moon.

But how many people can say theyve seen a crescent sun?

On Monday, area residents will be able to add themselves to that list, many for likely the first time ever, as a partial solar eclipse passes over New England for the first time in decades.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moons path around the earth falls directly in line with the sun, blocking the natural sunlight and effectively turning day to night for a few short minutes.

The event itself isnt all that rare, Wheaton College Professor Anthony Houser said. But the moons position around the earth limits who can take part in the event when, creating the illusion that the astronomical phenomenon only comes about every once in a blue moon.

It happens about every two years, Houser, who runs the astronomy observatory at Wheaton, said. Its just rare that it happens locally. We havent had one on the contiguous United States since 1979. Whereas, I have foreign students from China, and they had two solar eclipses within two years not too long ago.

Its always happening somewhere. Were just fortunate its happening coast to coast here.

But, while the solar eclipse event is spanning across the entire United States for the first time in years, area residents wont be able to enjoy its full effect.

A total eclipse is visible when a location on earth is directly within the suns main shadow or umbra. If you happen to be within the wider shadow, called the penumbra, you see only a partial eclipse.

The path of totality this time around is limited to a stretch of the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina based on the positioning of the solar spheres in the universe Monday.

But even when the moon is directly aligned between the earth and sun, it doesnt guarantee a total eclipse says amateur astronomer Roger Menard of The Astronomy Association of Southeastern New England.

Thats because the moons orbit isnt a circle, its an oval. That orbit means the moon is closer to the earth at some times than others.

When the moon is closest to the earth, its disc totally covers the sun. When its farther away its disc appears smaller and doesnt quite obscure the entire sun. Instead, the result is an annular eclipse in which the moon is encircled by a bright rim of sun sort of like the candy shell on an M & M.

So, knowledge that Mondays solar eclipse will see the astronomical event at its prime pure totality has left thousands across the U.S. vying for a spot along the eclipses trail.

But, area residents wont be left out.

Makeshift astronomers in our area can count on a second best, Houser said. About 65 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon, leaving residents with an unusual sight. The events peak takes place about 2:46 p.m.

When you look at the sun on a normal day, it doesnt look that big, about the size of a fingernail, Houser said. But at the height of the eclipse youll see the moon take a bite out of it. Weve all seen a crescent moon, but on Monday well see a crescent sun.

Attleboro will not see night, as will areas in the path of totality, but gradually as the eclipse takes place between 1:30 and 4 p.m., the outside will seem dimmer than usual, Houser said.

But because the event will draw watchful eyes to the sky, Houser and other astronomers are urging observers to take precautions in making sure theyre viewing the eclipse safely.

Instinctively, we dont look at the sun, Houser said. Its a natural reflex to look away from the bright sun or to blink to protect our eyes.

But those instincts go to the wayside for special events, and Houser said looking at the suns ultraviolet rays for an extended period of time, waiting for the eclipse to take place, could cause serious damage to ones retina even as far as partial blindness.

Its really important to observe safely, Houser said.

Regular sunglasses dont make the cut.

Special eclipse glasses can be found online or in stores although most vendors have struggled to keep up with demand in recent weeks. After fake glasses were discovered on the online market, NASA and the American Astronomical Society have endorsed brands with sufficient protection and urge viewers to buy from those vendors directly.

If you have proper glasses, when you put them on during the day it should be very dark, Houser said. You should see nothing.

But if you cant get your hands on eclipse glasses, Houser said theres other ways to view safely. NASA has compiled a list of techniques to view the eclipse indirectly on its website, and will also be streaming the eclipse live.

And, area astronomers and recreation facilities have committed to viewing parties, where eclipse glasses will be available to share.

Wheatons observatory deck will be open, and Houser said about six telescopes with safety filters will be available for those who want an even closer look at the sun.

In Foxboro, Troop 7 Boy Scouts will join the recreation department in hosting a special viewing party at Booth Playground from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Eclipse glasses will be on sale for $5.

And Recreation Director Debbie Giardino went to extra lengths to make sure no one will be without. Her department and the Boy Scouts will have 450 pairs of glasses on hand.

I didnt want to run out of glasses and have people miss the experience or put themselves in danger, Giardino said. If theres extra, theres extra.

Giardino said the event will be a party complete with food and a live stream of the total eclipse on a TV nearby.

She heard about plans of the gathering from the Boy Scouts, who will earn a badge from the event, and joined forces to make the event an experience all of Foxboro can enjoy.

We have the mechanics: The building, the wherewithal, the staff, all of the amenities that they were looking for, she said. But this was their idea from the start.

I think its a great community event. This is what we do. I hope families will come and made a day out of it. Its the end of summer and lifes too short not to enjoy an event that last took place 38 years ago.

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A crescent sun: Solar eclipse to mark astronomy event of the decade, even in New England – The Sun Chronicle

Don urges West African countries to invest in astronomy, space science – Vanguard

By Kelechukwu Iruoma

Prof. Emeritus Francis Allotey has urged government at all levels in the West African countries to invest heavily in Astronomy and Space Science as parts of efforts set to realise the millennium development goals.

Allotey said this at the West African International Summer School 2017 Tagged: Ghana West African International Summer School for young Astronomers 2017, held at Ghana Atomic Energy Centre (GAEC)/ Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI).

The two week Astronomy Summer School was organised for young astronomers across space researchers, universities undergraduate and graduates to sharpen their intellectual capability in the advancement of space research, engineering and astronomy in Africa continent which involved six West African countries which were Gabon, South Africa, Nigeria, Gambia, Columbia and Ghana including other European countries.

He said investing in astronomy and space science will enable them gain a good stand globally in science, adding that governments need to fund science heavily to work and improve on astronomy and space science in the continent.

The Acting Director, National Space Research and Development Agency NASRDA-Centre for Basic Space, Nsukka (CBSS), Dr Bonaventure Okere, in his remark, said: Engaging youths in Space Technology Research with manpower will provide adequate solutions to myriad of problems facing Information Communication Technology in Africa as well as address daily environmental challenges in rural communities like a magic wand.

Dr. Okere a Nigeria renowned Astrophysicist described astronomy as a foundation for technological development. He applauded Prof Seidu Onalo Mohammed, Prof Borofice Ajayi, Professor emeritus, Pius N. Okeke and Nigerian government, for their commitment to Space development, adding that the foundation laid would continue to grow and evolve in serving the Nigeria space industry.

Other remarkable achievements, Okere highlighted were to coordinate astronomy activities in West Africa and help encourage the introduction of astronomy in the schools curricula. He said Nigeria was considered to host the West African Regional Office of Astronomy for Development WAROAD, WAROAD, because the country has become a model for Space Science and Technology development in West Africa and Africa at large, he added.

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Don urges West African countries to invest in astronomy, space science – Vanguard

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2017 August 22

Explanation: Will the sky be clear enough to see the eclipse? This question was on the minds of many people attempting to view yesterday’s solar eclipse. The path of total darkness crossed the mainland of the USA from coast to coast, from Oregon to South Carolina — but a partial eclipse occurred above all of North America. Unfortunately, many locations saw predominantly clouds. One location that did not was a bank of Green River Lake, Wyoming. There, clouds blocked the Sun intermittantly up to one minute before totality. Parting clouds then moved far enough away to allow the center image of the featured composite sequence to be taken. This image shows the corona of the Sun extending out past the central dark Moon that blocks our familiar Sun. The surrounding images show the partial phases of the solar eclipse both before and after totality.

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP) NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply. NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day

Bad Astronomy – : Bad Astronomy

Well now, this is an interesting discovery: astronomers have found what looks like a “super-Earth” a planet more massive than Earth but still smaller than a gas giant orbiting a nearby star at the right distance to have liquid water on it! Given that, it might might be Earthlike.

This is pretty cool news. Weve found planets like this before, but not very many! And it gets niftier: the planet has at least five siblings, all of which orbit its star closer than it does.

Now let me be clear: this is a planet candidate; it has not yet been confirmed. Reading the journal paper (PDF), though, the data look pretty good. It may yet turn out not to be real, but for the purpose of this blog post Ill just put this caveat here, call it a planet from here on out, and fairly warned be ye, says I.

The star is called HD 40307, and its a bit over 40 light years away (pretty close in galactic standards, but I wouldnt want to walk there). Its a K2.5 dwarf, which means its cooler, dimmer, and smaller than the Sun, but not by much. In other words, its reasonably Sun-like. By coincidence, it appears ot be about the age as the Sun, too: 4.5 billion years. It was observed using HARPS, the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher (I know, it should be HARVPS, but thats harvd to pronounce). This is an extremely sensitive instrument that looks for changes in the starlight as a planet (or planets) orbits a star. The gravity of the star causes the planet to orbit it, but the planet has gravity too. As it circles the star, the star makes a littler circle too (I like to think of it as two kids, one bigger than the other, clasping hands and swinging each other around; the lighter kid makes a big circle and the bigger kid makes a smaller circle). As the star makes its circle, half the time its approaching us and half the time its receding. This means its light is Doppler shifted, the same effect that makes a motorcycle engine drop in pitch as it passes you.

Massive planets tug on their star harder, so theyre easier to find this way. Also, a planet closer in has a shorter orbit, so you dont have to look as long to find it. But in the end, by measuring just how the star is Doppler shifted, you can get the mass and orbital period of the planet. Or planets.

In this case, HD 40307 was originally observed a little while back by HARPS, and three planets were found. But the data are public, so a team of astronomers grabbed it and used a more sensitive method to extract any planetary signatures from the data. They found the three previously-seen planets easily enough, but also found three more! One of them is from a planet that has (at least) seven times the mass of the Earth, and orbits with a 198 day period. Called HD 40307g (planets are named after their host star, with a lower case letter after starting with b), its in the “super-Earth” range: more massive than Earth, but less than, say Neptune (which is 17 times our mass).

We dont know how big the planet is, unfortunately. It might be dense and only a little bigger than Earth, or it could be big and puffy. But if its density and size are just so, it could easily have about the same surface gravity as Earth that is, if you stood on it, youd weight the same as you do now!

But the very interesting thing is that it orbits the star at a distance of about 90 million kilometers (55 million miles) closer to its star than is is to the Sun but thats good! The star is fainter and cooler than the Sun, remember. In fact, at this distance, the planet is right in the stars “habitable zone”, where the temperature is about right for liquid water to exist!

Thats exciting because of the prospect for life. Now, whenever I mention this I hear from people who get all huffy and say that we dont know you need water for life. Thats true, but look around. Water is common on Earth, and here we are. We dont know that you need water for life, but we do know that water is abundant and we need it. We dont know for sure of any other ways for life to form, so it makes sense to look where we understand things best. And that means liquid water.

Heres a diagram of the system as compared to our own:

Note the scales are a bit different, so that the habitable zones of the Sun and of HD 40307 line up better (remember, HD 40307g is actually closer to its star than Earth is to the Sun an AU is the distance of the Earth to the Sun, so HD 40307 is about 0.6 AU from its star). What makes me smile is that the new planet is actually better situated in its “Goldilocks Zone” than Earth is! Thats good news, actually: the orbit may be elliptical (the shape cant be determined from the types of observations made) but still stay entirely in the stars habitable zone.

And take a look at the system: the other planets all orbit closer to the star! We only have two inside Earths orbit in our solar system but all five of HD 40307s planets would fit comfortably inside Mercurys orbit. Amazing.

So this planet if it checks out as being real is one of only a few weve found in the right location for life as we know it. And some of those weve found already are gas giants (though they could have big moons where life could arise). So what this shows us is that the Earth isnt as out of the ordinary as we may have once thought: nature has lots of ways of putting planets the right distances from their stars for life.

Were edging closer all the time to finding that big goal: an Earth-sized, Earth-like planet orbiting a Sun-like star at the right distance for life. This planet is a actually a pretty good fit, but we just dont know enough about it (primarily its size). So Im still waiting. And given the numbers of stars weve observed, and the number of planets we found, as always I have to ask: has Earth II already been observed, and the data just waiting to be uncovered?

Image credits: ESO/M. Kornmesser; Tuomi et al.

Related Posts:

ALPHA CENTAURI HAS A PLANET! Kepler confirms first planet found in the habitable zone of a Sun-like star! A nearby star may have more planets than we do Exoplanet in a triple star system, smack dab in the habitable zone Super-Earth exoplanet likely to be a waterworld

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Bad Astronomy – : Bad Astronomy

OSU uses eclipse to promote astronomy classes – NBC4i.com

COLUMBUS (WCMH) Jim DeGrand of the Ohio State University Geography department brought his telescope to the oval Monday afternoon. He was pleasantly surprised by the turnout and the level of interest in the eclipse. Its fantastic, DeGrand said. Its great that people are engaged in a celestial event you know. How often does that happen?

With the start of classes still a day away, hundreds of students and faculty poured onto the oval to watch and to share the experience with others.

Very, very exciting, said first-year student Claire Cary from Cleveland. I dont have any other word for it. Its just thrilling to be able to experience it.

Cloud cover obscured the view from the oval throughout much of the eclipse. But watchers were in awe when the clouds gave way. They watched through eclipse glasses, cameras and pinhole box projectors.

Astronomy professor David Weinberg said the astronomy department distributed thousands of eclipse-watching glasses including 1,400 over the past two days. We have been shamelessly promoting our undergraduate astronomy courses and yesterday when we gave out a thousand glasses, we also gave out lists of all our courses.

Astronomy major Gaby Torrini said the cloud cover did not take away from how special it was. This is pretty exciting for me because its the first solar eclipse Ive been old enough to enjoy and really want to see, Torrini said.

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OSU uses eclipse to promote astronomy classes – NBC4i.com

Thousands in Maryland watch ‘SuperBowl of astronomy’ the first … – Baltimore Sun

About 3,000 people flocked to the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore Monday to see the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in nearly a century.

Lines stretched out the front door as hundreds waited for their chance to get on the rooftop to peer through telescopes made safe for viewing through special filters. Some donned special glasses. Still others used viewers made from pizza boxes, index cards and coffee cups.

“It’s the Super Bowl of astronomy, said Samantha Blau, a program manager at the Science Center, adding that the eclipse would likely be the centers busiest day of the year. During the regular season people may not be paying attention, but everyone is paying attention today.

It was an event America hasnt experienced since 1918: the passage of a total solar eclipse across the continental United States

Across Maryland, thousands of people spent their afternoons outdoors in parks and on rooftops in hopes of seeing the sun mostly blocked by the moon. Other Marylanders hit the road, many to South Carolina, into the path where the moon completely blotted out the sun.

Monica and Fred Alvarado of Annapolis traveled south to sit on the green grass of the Columbia Fireflies minor league baseball park.

Far above them the moon passed in front of the sun, casting a direct shadow on the Earth for a couple of minutes.

The sky was a 360-degree sunset. Then it was twilight in the middle of the day and Venus shone brightly.

“Wow. this is amazing,” Fred Alvarado said.

“It was the best thing I’ve ever seen,” Monica Alvarado said.

The view in Baltimore was dimmed by storm clouds, but the sun peeked out multiple times partially blocked out by the moon. The eclipse in Baltimore reached about 80 percent, while a strip of the country running largely from Oregon through Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina saw a total eclipse.

Michael E. Ruane, Sarah Kaplan and William Wan

Atop the Science Center, visitors looked upward, hoping the sun would peak out from between storm clouds. Whenever it did, cheers broke out.

Alex Madsen, 16, of Towson, came equipped with a viewer made out of a shoe box he tested in his backyard.

Its my first time ever seeing an eclipse, he said. Its incredible because the sun is something like 400 times bigger than the moon, but the moon is 400 times closer to us.

Looking through the shoe box, his mother, Lauren, exclaimed: Oh, my God. Oh, its so pretty. Thats amazing. Who knew an UGGs box could be so valuable?

Dr. Lisa Schocket, associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, cautioned those about to gaze upward about the dangers of staring directly into the sun.

Its no more dangerous than another day, she said, but most folks dont typically have reason to stare.

We see solar burns more commonly under other conditions, like psychosis or drugs, she said.

Dan Richman, a Johns Hopkins University biophysicist from Mt. Vernon, said he thinks the eclipse generated so much excitement because it reminded us of our place in the universe.

We dont usually think about the fact that we are standing on the surface of the planet and we are orbiting this huge extremely bright star, he said. We just experience the daily cycle. You just take it for granted. But this is a reminder than we are actually part of a solar system; we are out in space. … We orbit the center of the galaxy at an unbelievable speed.

The Earth moves around the sun at an estimated 66,000 miles per hour. The moon orbits the Earth at more than 2,000 miles per hour.

There are usually six or seven total solar eclipses per decade somewhere in the world. There are many more partial eclipses, when the moon does not fully cover the suns face, and annular solar eclipses, when the moon appears slightly smaller than the sun, creating an apparent ring of fire in the sky at the point of greatest eclipse.

On top of the Science Center, Baltimore Astronomical Society President Darryl Mason said it was his fifth time viewing at least a partial solar eclipse. Hes seen others in Antarctica, Argentina, Chili and Ecuador, he said.

I like to see the diamond ring effect, he said.

In Carroll County, residents greeted the eclipse Monday afternoon with exclamations of Wow! and I see it!

The eclipse began at 1:17 p.m. and reached its peak at 2:42 p.m.

It looks like a Jack-o Lantern in the sky! shouted Sebastian Isaza, 11, at the Carroll County Public Librarys Eldersburg branch.

Eldersburg library branch manager Nadine Rosendale said people started lining up for glasses at 9 a.m. Monday.

We had 500 glasses to give away. At noon, we started giving out the glasses and they were gone in 20 minutes, Rosendale said.

How Baltimore experienced theGreat American Eclipse.

How Baltimore experienced theGreat American Eclipse.

Amateur astronomer Skye Korzie, of Eldersburg, set up a Dobsonian telescope outside of the library to share his view with other observers.

Im a space nerd, Korzie said. I just wanted to see as much as I can and let other people see it too. I think its a good way to get little kids interested in science.

The wait to get into Towson Library to score a pair of the hard-to-find glasses needed to safely watch the eclipse reminded Peggy Szczerbicki of waiting in line for books in the popular Harry Potter series.

More than 150 people snaked around the librarys spiral rotunda staircase Monday in hopes of snagging a pair of the cardboard spectacles.

After arriving at the Towson branch just as employees opened the doors at 9 a.m., Szczerbicki was first in line. The fourth grade teacher said she decided to come to the library after calling around to area stores for glasses and finding them all sold out.

Its the golden ticket, Szczerbicki said.

In Harford County, Hannah Nigrin stepped up to the telescope manned by Harford County Astronomical Society president Rick Fensch, excited to see her first-ever solar eclipse.

The 18-year-old Harford Community College student later described a mix of emotions upon seeing the near-total eclipse. She was one of about 1,000 people who gathered in the parking lot of the community colleges observatory.

It’s very intimidating to look at, and it’s awesome it’s very beautiful, said Nigrin, a Bel Air resident.

More than 100 Howard Community College faculty, staff, students and their family members packed the front lawn of the schools science, engineering and technology building for a glimpse of the solar eclipse.

As Bonnie Tylers Total Eclipse of the Heart played in the background, Luda Bard, a genetics and microbiology professor at the college, and her two children, Ari, 10, and Ammi, 7, smiled when they spotted the eclipse. The family arrived earlier in the afternoon so Ari and Ammi could make their own pinhole cameras out of shoe boxes, aluminum foil and duct tape.

Its very exciting, said Bard, an Ellicott City resident. My husband is an engineer and Im a biologist, so we had a little bit of background to explain the science to the kids.

Total solar eclipses will cross the continental United States twice more in the next 30 years, on April 8, 2024, and Aug. 12, 2045.

For those who missed Mondays view, the path of totality for the 2024 eclipse will be only about 300 miles from Baltimore at its closest, visible from Texas to Maine. The 2045 eclipse will track from northern California to Florida.

Baltimore Sun Media Group reporters Scott Dance, Margarita Cambest, Chase Cook, Michael Eben, David Anderson and Andrew Michaels contributed to this article.

lbroadwater@baltsun.com

twitter.com/lukebroadwater

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Thousands in Maryland watch ‘SuperBowl of astronomy’ the first … – Baltimore Sun

A crescent sun: Solar eclipse to mark astronomy event of the decade, even in New England – The Sun Chronicle

Weve all seen a crescent moon.

But how many people can say theyve seen a crescent sun?

On Monday, area residents will be able to add themselves to that list, many for likely the first time ever, as a partial solar eclipse passes over New England for the first time in decades.

A total solar eclipse occurs when the moons path around the earth falls directly in line with the sun, blocking the natural sunlight and effectively turning day to night for a few short minutes.

The event itself isnt all that rare, Wheaton College Professor Anthony Houser said. But the moons position around the earth limits who can take part in the event when, creating the illusion that the astronomical phenomenon only comes about every once in a blue moon.

It happens about every two years, Houser, who runs the astronomy observatory at Wheaton, said. Its just rare that it happens locally. We havent had one on the contiguous United States since 1979. Whereas, I have foreign students from China, and they had two solar eclipses within two years not too long ago.

Its always happening somewhere. Were just fortunate its happening coast to coast here.

But, while the solar eclipse event is spanning across the entire United States for the first time in years, area residents wont be able to enjoy its full effect.

A total eclipse is visible when a location on earth is directly within the suns main shadow or umbra. If you happen to be within the wider shadow, called the penumbra, you see only a partial eclipse.

The path of totality this time around is limited to a stretch of the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina based on the positioning of the solar spheres in the universe Monday.

But even when the moon is directly aligned between the earth and sun, it doesnt guarantee a total eclipse says amateur astronomer Roger Menard of The Astronomy Association of Southeastern New England.

Thats because the moons orbit isnt a circle, its an oval. That orbit means the moon is closer to the earth at some times than others.

When the moon is closest to the earth, its disc totally covers the sun. When its farther away its disc appears smaller and doesnt quite obscure the entire sun. Instead, the result is an annular eclipse in which the moon is encircled by a bright rim of sun sort of like the candy shell on an M & M.

So, knowledge that Mondays solar eclipse will see the astronomical event at its prime pure totality has left thousands across the U.S. vying for a spot along the eclipses trail.

But, area residents wont be left out.

Makeshift astronomers in our area can count on a second best, Houser said. About 65 percent of the sun will be covered by the moon, leaving residents with an unusual sight. The events peak takes place about 2:46 p.m.

When you look at the sun on a normal day, it doesnt look that big, about the size of a fingernail, Houser said. But at the height of the eclipse youll see the moon take a bite out of it. Weve all seen a crescent moon, but on Monday well see a crescent sun.

Attleboro will not see night, as will areas in the path of totality, but gradually as the eclipse takes place between 1:30 and 4 p.m., the outside will seem dimmer than usual, Houser said.

But because the event will draw watchful eyes to the sky, Houser and other astronomers are urging observers to take precautions in making sure theyre viewing the eclipse safely.

Instinctively, we dont look at the sun, Houser said. Its a natural reflex to look away from the bright sun or to blink to protect our eyes.

But those instincts go to the wayside for special events, and Houser said looking at the suns ultraviolet rays for an extended period of time, waiting for the eclipse to take place, could cause serious damage to ones retina even as far as partial blindness.

Its really important to observe safely, Houser said.

Regular sunglasses dont make the cut.

Special eclipse glasses can be found online or in stores although most vendors have struggled to keep up with demand in recent weeks. After fake glasses were discovered on the online market, NASA and the American Astronomical Society have endorsed brands with sufficient protection and urge viewers to buy from those vendors directly.

If you have proper glasses, when you put them on during the day it should be very dark, Houser said. You should see nothing.

But if you cant get your hands on eclipse glasses, Houser said theres other ways to view safely. NASA has compiled a list of techniques to view the eclipse indirectly on its website, and will also be streaming the eclipse live.

And, area astronomers and recreation facilities have committed to viewing parties, where eclipse glasses will be available to share.

Wheatons observatory deck will be open, and Houser said about six telescopes with safety filters will be available for those who want an even closer look at the sun.

In Foxboro, Troop 7 Boy Scouts will join the recreation department in hosting a special viewing party at Booth Playground from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Eclipse glasses will be on sale for $5.

And Recreation Director Debbie Giardino went to extra lengths to make sure no one will be without. Her department and the Boy Scouts will have 450 pairs of glasses on hand.

I didnt want to run out of glasses and have people miss the experience or put themselves in danger, Giardino said. If theres extra, theres extra.

Giardino said the event will be a party complete with food and a live stream of the total eclipse on a TV nearby.

She heard about plans of the gathering from the Boy Scouts, who will earn a badge from the event, and joined forces to make the event an experience all of Foxboro can enjoy.

We have the mechanics: The building, the wherewithal, the staff, all of the amenities that they were looking for, she said. But this was their idea from the start.

I think its a great community event. This is what we do. I hope families will come and made a day out of it. Its the end of summer and lifes too short not to enjoy an event that last took place 38 years ago.

Link:

A crescent sun: Solar eclipse to mark astronomy event of the decade, even in New England – The Sun Chronicle

Eclipse allows everyone to be an astronomer for the day – Inside NoVA

The Aug. 21 solar eclipse brought out astronomers highly professional and decidedly amateur, and those who gathered at McLean High Schools observatory had their pick of ways to enjoy the spectacle.

The schools outdoor courtyard bustled with activity far in advance of the peak eclipse time in mid-afternoon. Astronomy teacher Dean Howarth was tickled by the high turnout.

Its great. Theres been a swarm of people here for two hours, he said. The goal is to get people this interested in science all the time.

Scores of children and adults donned special protective eyewear to look safely at the eclipse and some put one of those dark lenses over their smartphones cameras to take pictures of the phenomenon.

Gazing through the glasses was a bit eerie. It seemed as if the whole universe consisted of an orange crescent and impenetrable blackness.

The courtyards prime viewing location was its refurbished observatory. Visitors entered the lower level of the structure and watched news coverage from around the country of the eclipse on a large, flat-screen television.

The line for the observatory upstairs was long and the crowded conditions were stifling, but those who were waiting put things in perspective.

I shouldnt complain, said math teacher Emily Jaffa. Most schools dont have an observatory.

After ascending a steep staircase, visitors got to view the eclipse through a 14-inch-diameter reflector telescope that was covered with a deep crimson hydrogen-alpha filter. The view filled the field of vision and offered extraordinary detail of the sun.

Weve seen every planet in the solar system with this scope, so its pretty capable, Howarth said.

The only thing missing was a camera mount for the viewing lens. Some tried to take photos through the lens with their smartphones and digital cameras, with mixed results.

Such eclipses usually happen about twice in a given lifetime, and people often have to travel to see one, Howarth said. By good fortune, another eclipse in 2024 will cast a shadow from the countrys middle area up toward New England, he said.

Howarth may travel to be within the line of totality for that eclipse.

It was easier to sacrifice knowing there was another one coming up, he said.

Eclipses usually happen twice a year, but most often in places where there are no people, such as over the Pacific Ocean, Howarth said.

The Earth is pretty big, and the shadow the moon casts is pretty small, under 20 miles, he said. The line of totality for this eclipse ran from Salem, Ore., to Charleston, S.C.

Back outside, McLean Highs faculty had arranged multiple ways to experience the eclipse. Some visitors peered into cereal boxes that had been turned into pinhole cameras by cutting out one section for viewing and covering another hole with tinfoil that had a pinprick to let in light.

Solar projectors showed the crescent getting thinner and thinner as the big moment approached. These devices regularly had to be repositioned slightly owing to the Earths revolution.

Elsewhere, pegboard suspended above the ground projected hundreds of tiny white crescents in evenly spaced rows and columns. Pedestrians headed out to their cars afterward could see the same effect, albeit less orderly, from sunlight that had penetrated small gaps in the leaves of overhead trees.

The eclipse only was blocked a few times by clouds. The weathers timing was fortunate, as heavy rainstorms rolled through about half an hour after the eclipses peak.

Observers young and old stared up at the sky and cheered when the eclipse peaked at 2:42 p.m.

Andrew Diller, who teaches astronomy and oceanography at McLean High, said the eclipse was a rare opportunity to bring people together to witness an astronomic spectacle.

This is a cool thing that doesnt come around very often, said McLean High student Devin English.

Classmate Cate Pearce, who took astronomy during her last school year, valued the phenomenon for scientific reasons.

The last total eclipse like this in 1918 was when they proved Albert Einsteins general theory of relativity, Pearce said.

Continued here:

Eclipse allows everyone to be an astronomer for the day – Inside NoVA

Eclipse brings out astronomy buffs, curious observers – News … – GoErie.com

Monday’s solar eclipse began in Erie around 1:10 p.m. and concluded shortly before 4 p.m. The highlight or literal low light came at 2:30 p.m., when the moon covered 75.9 percent of the sun.

The blue sky turned dim.

Mother Nature flipped a switch to illuminate the ornamental lights outside Penn State Behrend’s School of Science. People young and old climbed a step ladder to gaze through a telescope. Others, donning flimsy cardboard glasses, tilted their heads upward. Even the large pores of leaves cast crescent-shaped cutouts into the shadows below.

“It’s amazing, Mother Nature, and everyone gathering together to celebrate this wonderful thing that’s happening today,” 48-year-old Anne Regener, of Erie, said. “It’s pretty special, this natural phenomenon.”

Monday’s solar eclipse began in Erie around 1:10 p.m. and concluded shortly before 4 p.m. The highlight or literal low light came at 2:30 p.m., when the moon covered 75.9 percent of the sun. In other sections of the country, from Oregon to South Carolina, onlookers witnessed the first total solar eclipse since February 1978. The last visible partial solar eclipse for the region was in 1994.

Regener was among the hundreds of people who gathered for a free public viewing event at Penn State Behrend, which set up three telescopes outside the School of Science, offered tours of the Yahn Planetarium and handed out free eclipse glasses to the first 100 people in line.

“Beautiful,” marveled Lydia Chimenti, of Erie, as she stepped back from an Orion telescope to see the early stages of the eclipse. “It took a big chunk out of (the sun). It looks like somebody took a bite out of a cookie.”

Chimenti, an astronomy enthusiast, took astronomy classes at Behrend 15 years ago and returns periodically for special events at the planetarium. She’s planning to travel to Iceland in October to view the northern lights. She took a half-day off work for the eclipse.

Johnny Carr, 13, of Franklin, drove an hour with his mom, Johnna Carr, and sister, Ava Carr, for the event.

“It kind of looked like a big piece of cheese with a cut in it,” he said after looking through a telescope. “It was pretty cool.”

Sophie Bleil, 10, a fourth-grader at Clark Elementary in Harborcreek, couldn’t see much through the telescope, but her face lit up when she tried eclipse glasses.

“You can see a crescent,” she said.

A few dozen people arrived at Behrend two hours before the event began to line up for free eclipse glasses, which most area stores were sold out of late last week.

Others arrived with their own creations. Kellan Loranger, 4, of North East, carried a makeshift eclipse viewer designed from an empty box of Shredded Wheat. Jay Amicangelo, a chemistry professor at Behrend, couldn’t get his hands on the specialty glasses, so he transformed a shoe box into a pinhole viewer.

School of Science employees helped small children and students make their own pinhole viewers out of black construction paper and tinfoil. Holes were poked using tooth picks. Freshman Brandon Banas, 18, used his to capture the sun’s crescent shape on a blank white sheet of paper he set on the sidewalk.

Priscilla Hamilton, 60, of Harborcreek, came armed with a paper towel tube that was covered by a pin-poked piece of paper at one end. But she didn’t need it.

“I didn’t think I was going to be one of the 100 people lucky enough to get my own glasses,” the retired U.S. Army dentist said.

Then there was Bill Augur, 69, also of Harborcreek. He tried a contraption in 1994 without much luck, but gave it another try Monday after going online for help. Augur arranged a pair of binoculars on a tripod, covering all but the lenses with a large cardboard box. It also projected the sun’s orange-peel shape onto a piece of paper.

Some people tried to photograph the eclipse using their glasses as filters. Behrend sophomore accounting majors Khushi Kantawala and Katerina Ellis were among them. Kantawala, 18, propped up her glasses until Ellis was able to snap the perfect shot.

“It’s actually really cool, I’ve never seen one,” Ellis said.

“My mom called and said, ‘Don’t look at the sun. Go to your classes. Don’t look up there,'” a laughing Kantawala said. “I said, ‘Mom, it’s college, you know I’m not going to (listen).'”

Darren Williams, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Behrend, used a yellow-painted Styrofoam ball about the size of basketball and a softball to demonstrate what would occur once the eclipse began. Williams said Monday’s eclipse wasn’t as dramatic as the one in 1994.

“In the ’94 (eclipse) for Erie, the moon passed directly in front of the sun, but it was too far away,” he said. “It looked too small to cover up the whole face of the sun, so you saw the edge of the sun peeking out from the moon.”

That eclipse covered about 95 percent of the sun, compared to 76 percent coverage Monday.

For the next eclipse in 2024 the sun will be 100 percent covered for the Erie area, he said.

“That’s very rare for one location on Earth to experience eclipses of this magnitude separated by only seven years,” he said. “Usually it’s 20, 30 or 40 years between major eclipses.”

Matthew Rink can be reached at 870-1884 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNrink.

Read the rest here:

Eclipse brings out astronomy buffs, curious observers – News … – GoErie.com

Why so Sirius? – SYFY WIRE (blog)

In the winter months, when Orion rises high in the sky, a brilliant star shines just to the southeast of him. Even if the three stars in Orions belt didnt coincidentally point almost right at it, youd notice it. After all, Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky.

The apparently brightest star, I should pedantically add. Some of that is due to its intrinsic luminosity (it emits about 25 times as much energy as the sun does), but even more important, its close: At a distance of 8.6 light years its the seventh closest star system to the sun.

And yes, it is a system. A binary, to be clear; a pair of stars orbiting each other. The star we see with our eyes is called Sirius A. The companion, Sirius B, is a white dwarf, the small and dense core of what used to be a normal star, but ran out of nuclear fuel and blew off its outer layers. Its very faint in visible light, roughly one ten-thousandth the brightness of A. That makes it relatively difficult to see, and it was only discovered in 1862. Its existence was suspected before that; careful measurements even back then showed Sirius appeared to wobble a teeny tiny amount in the sky. It turns out that was due to the gravity of Sirius B tugging on A as they orbit each other.

In the 150-plus years since then, weve learned a lot about the pair, but what I find interesting is that precise measurements have been maddeningly elusive. Sirius A is so much brighter than B that even measuring their separation from each other has proven difficult. Any photograph where B is exposed well overexposes A to the point of uselessness.

Difficult, but not impossible. A team of astronomers led by my old friend and colleague Howard Bond has been studying Sirius for quite some time. Theyve been observing Sirius using Hubble Space Telescope for nearly 20 years to get precise measurements of the positions of the two stars as they orbit each other. They coupled that with measurements from the U.S. Naval Observatory going back to 1956 and not only that, they actually used observations from as far back as 1862!

With all this information, they have finally been able to piece together a coherent picture of the two stars, how they orbit each other, what their physical characteristics are, and perhaps most interestingly what their history is.

Physically, they find that Sirius A has 2.06 times the mass of the sun, and the white dwarf Sirius B has a mass of 1.018 solar masses. All fine and good, but its the stars sizes that are amazing. They find Sirius A has a diameter that’s 1.7144 times the sun more massive stars are bigger, so that makes sense but Sirius B has a diameter of just 0.008098 of the suns! That makes it about 11,270 kilometers wide: Smaller than the Earth!

Thats a dense star. A cubic centimeter of it (the size of six-sided die) would have a mass of 2.7 metric tons. Imagine taking a fully loaded pickup truck and crushing it down to the size of a sugar cube and youll get the picture. Now, to be fair, weve known this for decades, but these new measurements are the most accurate ever made. Theyll help us understand the physics of stars better than we ever have.

In fact, these accurate measurements of the masses, sizes, colors, and chemical content of the stars allowed the astronomers to use physical models to calculate the ages of the stars. Sirius A comes out to be about 237 247 million years old, while Sirius B is 228 million years old. The uncertainties in both measurements are large enough (10 million years or so) that these estimates are consistent with each other, as expected. We can assume they were born together.

The orbit of the two stars is interesting, too. They revolve around each other every 50.1284 years, ranging from 1.2 billion to 4.7 billion kilometers apart on whats obviously a highly elliptical orbit. The last time they were closest together (whats called periastron) was in mid-1994. Theyre now about as far apart as they ever get.

And that part leads to something very interesting indeed! Sirius B is the burned-out core of a star that was once much like the sun, though more massive. It likely started out life as a 5.6 solar mass star, putting it in the top tiers of normal stars. Something like 130 million years ago it ran out of useable hydrogen in its core to fuse into helium. It swelled up into a red giant, blew off its outer layers, and eventually all that was left was its dense inert core the white dwarf we see today.

But that red giant stage leads us to a mystery. At that mass, Sirius B wouldve swollen up a lot. It could have been 450 – 500 million kilometers across three times wider than the Earths distance to the sun! But thats weird: Back then, the periastron distance between Sirius A and B wouldve been less than Sirius Bs radius. In other words, when Sirius B got all swollen, Sirius A wouldve been inside it!

These kinds of stars have been seen before; we call them contact binaries. Usually its two stars that share a single, peanut-shaped atmosphere, but in this case A really wouldve been inside of B*. This is technically called the common envelope phase of a close binary system. But it has ramifications. For example, if the two stars start off with an elliptical orbit, this phase will circularize it fast. Yet now, the orbit of the two stars is highly elongated. Thats odd. In fact other binary systems have been seen like this, and its not at all clear why or how the orbits remain elliptical after the common envelope phase.

I love this, to be honest. How many times have I seen Sirius, with my own eyes, through binoculars, through a telescope? Hundreds? Thousands, surely. Yet, despite being the brightest star in the night sky, despite being so close, despite tens of thousands of hours of observations of Sirius across the world and throughout history, mysteries still remain about it. About them.

Oh, science. I can never tire of you, because there is always more to know. Always.

* Come to think of it, we name the brighter star of a binary A and the dimmer one B. Back then. B wouldve been A, and A wouldve been B. But this was long before humans strode the Earth and built telescopes. Also, those stars wouldve been on the other side of the galaxy from us back then. Time changes things.

See the original post here:

Why so Sirius? – SYFY WIRE (blog)


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