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Space Saturday XXXVI: The Rosette Nebula

February 26th, 2011 No comments

The 36th edition of Space Saturday brings us the Rosette Nebula.

The Rosette Nebula

The Rosette Nebula (Click for larger version.)

This beautiful image of the Rosette Nebula comes to us from Brian Lula (source) and is found in theconstellation Monoceros. Nebula is about 5300 light years away and contains hot, young X-ray emitting stars at its center.

Inside the nebula lies an open cluster of bright young stars designated NGC 2244. These stars formed about four million years ago from the nebular material and their stellar winds are clearing a hole in the nebula’s center, insulated by a layer of dust and hot gas. Ultraviolet light from the hot cluster stars causes the surrounding nebula to glow.

For more astronomy pictures, check out my Space Saturday Archive.

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The Powers of Ten

February 3rd, 2011 No comments

I remember seeing Powers of Ten in science class when I was a kid. I thought it was pretty awesome then and I still do now!

The film has been uploaded to Youtube for all to view now! The film was produced back in 1968 and what we know about the world of the very large and the very small has grown by leaps and bounds, but this film’s take on perspective was done so well that it still inspires a sense of wonder. The universe is a pretty huge and awesome place! Take a look:

Pretty great, eh?

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Space Saturday XXXV

January 29th, 2011 No comments

In this somewhat somber Space Saturday I commemorate the loss of Space Shuttle Challenger and the 7 crew members aboard. 25 years ago yesterday at 73 seconds into the flight, aerodynamic forces broke up the craft (not an explosion as is commonly thought) due to a failed O-ring in the right side solid rocket booster.

STS-51L - Space Shuttle Challenger at Liftoff - Click for larger version

STS-51L – Space Shuttle Challenger at Liftoff – Click for larger version

The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

The Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster

Destruction of the Challenger

Destruction of the Challenger

In January of ’86 I was six but I do remember the devastation that this catastrophic failure brought. It is sad that this disaster was preventable. It is sad that it happened again with Columbia. I think the worst part of the tragedy is that it is very likely the 7 crew members were alive for the almost 3 minutes after the shuttle broke up on the trajectory back toward impact with the ocean. I cannot imagine their terror during that time (although hopefully they were unconscious). It was a sad day indeed. Never forget the men and women who have given their lives for science.

Resources:

For other astronomy pictures, check out my Space Saturday Archive.

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My Space Shuttle Tile

January 16th, 2011 No comments

I’m a space nerd. It might have something to do with astronomy being one of my majors back at UW, it may have to do with all the Star Trek and Star Wars I have watched, or it might just be part of the inherent wonder that is space. Regardless, I am a space nerd. Anything NASA I love. I love From the Earth to the MoonWhen We Left the EarthIn the Shadow of the Moon, and any other video I can get my hands on. I can watch launch videos like this over and over. I remember when the Challenger exploded after liftoff and the Columbia breaking up as it reentered the atmosphere; devastating me. While I look forward to the future of manned spaceflight, it is somewhat sad to see the Shuttle Transportation System come to an end later this year.

As part of the decommissioning of the shuttles, NASA is allowing educators to have a piece of the program. Space Shuttle Tiles for Teachers:

NASA is now offering space shuttle tiles to educational institutions. Would you like to have a piece of history for your classroom or lecture space? Sign up now because a limited number of tiles are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

I went through the (fairly involved) procurement process and just received my very own (well I suppose technically my school’s) tile!!

Each Space Shuttle carried over 24,000 separate Thermal Protection System tiles, and each one was a different size and shape. This is an authentic tile and is presented to honor 30 years of Space Shuttle flights and the great achievements made by the men and women of NASA in science, aeronautics, and space exploration.

Here is a bunch of info about the Space Shuttle Thermal Protection System tile. My piece does say “Training Only” on it which I suppose could mean it hasn’t actually been to space, but really, I don’t care. It has been on the shuttle, is part of the incredible program and a piece of history. For more info and links, check out the Space Shuttle Tiles for Teachers website.

This may not seem like a big deal; it is a fairly tiny (around 20cm square and 1cm thick) piece of lightweight (but amazing) ceramic. But I am very proud to have just a little bit of NASA and Space Shuttle history!

Images of my tile (click for larger version) (Oh, and I should note: the tile is wrapped in plastic, that is why there is a glare):

Shuttle TileShuttle TileShuttle TileShuttle TileShuttle TileShuttle Tile

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Space Saturday XXXIV

January 8th, 2011 No comments

Welcome to the next edition of Space Saturday! This week’s edition comes from Tuesday’s partial Solar Eclipse.

Partial Solar Eclipse and ISS Transit

Partial Solar Eclipse and ISS Transit

The ISS transits the partially eclipsed Sun.

The ISS transits the partially eclipsed Sun.

A partial Solar Eclipse started in Northern Africa and traveled Northeast through Europe and back South into Russia. Astrophotographer Thierry Legault traveled to Oman to capture the event (source and credit for the photograph). He visited Oman because that choice allowed him to capture the International Space Station as it made a transit across the partially eclipsed Sun. Pretty amazing capture!

And from the Bad Astronomer:

To give you an overall idea of what you’re seeing here: the Sun is 147 million kilometers away (less than usual because this eclipse happened, coincidentally, very close to perihelion, when Earth was closest to the Sun). The Moon is 390,000 kilometers away. The Sun is about 400 times bigger than the Moon, but also about 400 times farther away, making them look about the same size in the sky. If you’re still having a hard time picturing the scale, take a look at the dark sunspot in the lower right of the big picture: it’s about twice the size of the Earth!

The space station, on the other hand, is 100 meters across (the size of a football field) and orbits about 350 km (210 miles) above the Earth’s surface. So the Moon was very roughly 1000 times farther away than the ISS when this picture was taken, and the Sun 400,000 times more distant. Yet all three lined up just right to make this extraordinary photograph possible.

Awesome!

Be sure to check out my Space Saturday Archive for more astronomy photos.

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Space Saturday XXXIII

January 1st, 2011 No comments

Well it has been over two years since I have posted a Space Saturday! That’s pretty ridiculous. Let’s get a new one up, shall we? I bring in the new year with this: The Constellation Orion!

Orion
“Orion: From Head to Toe” (Click for larger imageSource.)

Hopefully you are able to recognize the constellation Orion as it is one of the most recognizable asterisms in the Northern Hemisphere’s night sky. What you may not be familiar with is the mess of stuff visible in the image above. From the description:

Cradled in cosmic dust and glowing hydrogen, stellar nurseries in Orion the Hunter lie at the edge of a giant molecular cloud some 1,500 light-years away. Spanning nearly 25 degrees, this breath-taking vista stretches across the well-known constellation from head to toe. The Great Orion Nebula,the closest large star forming region, is right of center. To its left are the Horsehead Nebula, M78, and Orion’s belt stars. In this 3×8 mosaic of broadband telescopic images, additional image data acquired with a narrow hydrogen alpha filter was used to bring out the pervasive tendrils of energized atomic hydrogen gas and the arc of the giant Barnard’s Loop. You can also find Betelgeuse at the hunter’s shoulder (upper left), bright blue Rigel at his foot (lower right), and the glowing Lambda Orionis (Meissa) nebula at the top, near Orion’s head. Of course, the Orion Nebula and bright stars are easy to see with the unaided eye, but dust clouds and emission from the extensive interstellar gas in this nebula-rich complex, are too faint and much harder to record.

Good way to start off the year, isn’t it? It is pretty incredible to think that when we look at the bright stars of Orion there is so much more there that we cannot see with our eyes! Be sure to check out the larger image because it is gorgeous!

Be sure to stop by my Space Saturday Archive for previous editions!

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