Archive | March 2014

Astronomy Picture of the Day

2012 VP113: A New Furthest Known Object in Solar System
Image Credit: S. S. Sheppard (CIS) & C. Trujillo (Gemini Obs.), NOAO

Explanation: What is the furthest known object in our Solar System? The new answer is 2012 VP113, an object currently over twice the distance of Pluto from the Sun. Pictured above is a series of discovery images taken with the Dark Energy Camera attached to the NOAO‘s Blanco 4-meter Telescope in Chile in 2012 and released last week. The distant object, seen moving on the lower right, is thought to be a dwarf planet like Pluto. Previously, the furthest known dwarf planet was Sedna, discovered in 2003. Given how little of the sky was searched, it is likely that as many as 1,000 more objects like 2012 VP113 exist in the outer Solar System. 2012 VP113 is currently near its closest approach to the Sun, in about 2,000 years it will be over five times further. Some scientists hypothesize that the reason why objects like Sedna and 2012 VP113 have their present orbits is because they were gravitationally scattered there by a much larger object — possibly a very distant undiscovered planet.

 Tomorrow’s picture: more march smarties?

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Io in True Color
Image Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA

Explanation: The strangest moon in the Solar System is bright yellow. This picture, an attempt to show how Io would appear in the “true colors” perceptible to the average human eye, was taken in 1999 July by the Galileo spacecraft that orbited Jupiter from 1995 to 2003. Io’s colors derive from sulfur and molten silicate rock. The unusual surface of Io is kept very young by its system of active volcanoes. The intense tidal gravity of Jupiter stretches Io and damps wobbles caused by Jupiter’s other Galilean moons. The resulting friction greatly heats Io‘s interior, causing molten rock to explode through the surface. Io’s volcanoes are so active that they are effectively turning the whole moon inside out. Some of Io‘s volcanic lava is so hot it glows in the dark.

 Tomorrow’s picture: outer body

Astronomy Picture of the Day

A Milky Way Dawn
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN), ESO Ultra HD Expedition

Explanation: As dawn broke on March 27, the center of the Milky Way Galaxy stood almost directly above the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal Observatory. In the dry, clear sky of Chile’s Atacama desert, our galaxy’s dusty central bulge is flanked by Paranal’s four 8 meter Very Large Telescope units in this astronomical fisheye view. Along the top, Venus is close to the eastern horizon. The brilliant morning star shines very near a waning crescent Moon just at the edge of one of the telescope structures. Despite the bright pairing in the east, the Milky Way dominates the scene though. Cut by dust lanes and charged with clouds of stars and glowing nebulae, the center of our galaxy sprawls across the darker zenith even as the deep blue sky grows brighter and buildings still glint in moonlight.

Tomorrow’s picture: yellow moon


Sphinx Main
The Editor:   Why the happy article, Lois ?

Seagram’s Cat:  I’m tired of the sleazy political stuff.    Be happy, like the Islamic people in Iran.  GET AS DRUNK AS A SECRET SERVICE AGENT,  PASS OUT IN THE HOTEL HALLWAY.

Bacardi Cat:   Have a few, and look at how some of our loyal readers live.

Tequila Cat:  You won’t have to worry about the city, traffic, muggings, killings, or even obnoxious neighbors.