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Alien Probe or Galactic Driftwood? SETI Tunes In to 'Oumuamua
Ever since its discovery in mid-October as it passed by Earth already outbound from our solar system, the mysterious object dubbed ‘Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “first messenger”) has left scientists utterly perplexed. Zooming down almost perpendicularly inside Mercury’s orbit at tens of thousands of kilometers per hour—too fast for our star’s gravity to catch—‘Oumuamua appeared to have been dropped in on our solar system from some great interstellar height, picking up even more speed on a slingshot-like loop around the sun before soaring away for parts unknown. It is now already halfway to Jupiter, too far for a rendezvous mission and rapidly fading from the view of Earth’s most powerful telescopes.

Astronomers scrambling to glimpse the fading object have revealed additional oddities. ‘Oumuamua was never seen to sprout a comet-like tail after getting close to the sun, hinting it is not a relatively fresh bit of icy flotsam from the outskirts of a nearby star system. This plus its deep red coloration—which mirrors that of some cosmic-ray-bombarded objects in our solar system—suggested that ‘Oumuamua could be an asteroid from another star. Yet those same observations also indicate ‘Oumuamua might be shaped rather like a needle, up to 800 meters long and only 80 wide, spinning every seven hours and 20 minutes. That would mean it is like no asteroid ever seen before, instead resembling the collision-minimizing form favored in many designs for notional interstellar probes. What’s more, it is twirling at a rate that could tear a loosely-bound rubble pile apart. Whatever ‘Oumuamua is, it appears to be quite solid—likely composed of rock, or even metal—seemingly tailor-made to weather long journeys between stars. So far there are few if any wholly satisfactory explanations as to how such an extremely elongated solid object could naturally form, let alone endure the forces of a natural high-speed ejection from a star system—a process thought to involve a wrenching encounter with a giant planet.
astronomy  nearearthobjects 
3 days ago by campylobacter
Two Stars Collided And Solved Half of Astronomy's Problems. Now What? - Slashdot
"It's hard to overstate the enormous leap forward that astronomy took on August 17, 2017," reports an article shared by schwit1:
On that day, astronomers bore witness to the titanic collision of two neutron stars, the densest things in the universe besides black holes. In the collision's wake, astronomers answered multiple major questions that have dominated their field for a generation. They solved the origin of gamma-ray bursts, mysterious jets of hardcore radiation that could potentially roast Earth. They glimpsed the forging of heavy metals, like gold and platinum. They measured the rate at which the expansion of the universe is accelerating. They caught light at the same time as gravitational waves, confirmation that waves move at the speed of light. And there was more, and there is much more yet to come from this discovery... "Now it's a question of, do we have the right instrumentation for doing all the follow-up work?" said Edo Berger, an astronomer at Harvard who studies explosive cosmic events. "Do we have the right telescopes? What's going to happen when we have not just one event, but one a month, or one a week -- how do we deal with that flood...?"
slashdot  stars  Astronomy  science  Gravity 
3 days ago by gardencat
The Best Telescopes for Beginners: Wirecutter Reviews | A New York Times Company
The Best Telescopes for Beginners - Added July 09, 2017 at 05:27PM
astronomy  gear  nerd 
4 days ago by xenocid
grelf.net - Telescope documentation
Random tips for a telescope I don't have, but is not dissimilar from mine
telescope  astronomy 
4 days ago by jbm
APOD: 2017 December 7 - All the Eclipses of 2017
Explanation: As seen from planet Earth, all the lunar and solar eclipses of 2017 are represented at the same scale in these four panels. The year's celestial shadow play was followed through four different countries by one adventurous eclipse chaser. To kick off the eclipse season, at top left February's Full Moon was captured from the Czech Republic. Its subtle shading, a penumbral lunar eclipse, is due to Earth's lighter outer shadow. Later that month the New Moon at top right was surrounded by a ring of fire, recorded on film from Argentina near the midpoint of striking annular solar eclipse. The August eclipse pairing below finds the Earth's dark umbral shadow in a partial eclipse from Germany at left, and the vibrant solar corona surrounding a totally eclipsed Sun from the western USA. If you're keeping score, the Saros numbers (eclipse cycles) for all the 2017 eclipses are at bottom left in each panel.
astronomy  photography  eclipse  APOD 
5 days ago by rgl7194
Solar System Live
"Welcome to Solar System Live, the interactive Orrery of the Web. You can view the entire Solar System, or just the inner planets (through the orbit of Mars)."
astronomy  simulation  orrery  tools 
5 days ago by pierredv
How far is each planet from Earth? (Intermediate) - Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer
"If you'd like to see which planets are closer to Earth right now, you can look at the Solar System Simulator or Solar System Live websites, where you can choose a time and then look down on the Solar System from above to see where the planets are.

If you're technically inclined and want exact numbers, you can use the JPL Horizons system to select a planet, select a time range, and select "Observer range and range-rate" as an output quantity. You will get a list of times along with the Earth-object distance in AU."
astronomy 
5 days ago by pierredv
Short Circuits and Infinite Loops: Astrophotography with the Raspberry Pi Camera - A Cheapskate's Guide to Solar System Photography
I recently bought a Celestron 127SLT telescope with the goal of doing some solar system observation and photography. I had a Raspberry Pi camera and a B+ board kicking around from a previous robotics project, and decided to give it a try.
Archive  astronomy  astrophtography  photography  raspberry  pi 
6 days ago by chrisweiss
Seeking rogue comets
The discovery of ‘Oumuamua this year was a first, but not an unexpected one. Alan Stern's 1997 article in Astronomy predicted this type of object ... 20 years before we'd see it.
Astronomy  Magazine  (AM)  Online  Article  Asteroid  1L/2017  U1  Pan-STARRS  Oumuamua 
6 days ago by Dave5

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