Dutch astronomer boycotts USA because of Trump


Astronomer Ilse van Bemmel inspires young wannabe astronomer Merel in 2014

According to Dutch daily De Volkskrant today, Dutch astronomer Ilse van Bemmel has decided that for the time being she will not go to congresses in the USA.

Because of solidarity with everyone who is no longer welcome there. Whether they are refugees or scientists.

Asteroid namer after Dutch little boy with cancer


This 22 December 2016 music video is by Dutch singer Miss Montreal (pseudonym of Roos-Anne Hans).

She wrote this song ‘Tijn, deze is voor jou’ for and about a six-year-old boy called Tijn.

Tijn has terminal cancer and will probably die soon.

His last wish is to raise money for the Red Cross to help children suffering from pneumonia.

Doctors can’t cure Tijn’s cancer, but they can save pneumonia children’s lives for only four euros a child.

Tijn with red fingernails, ANP photo

This photo shows Tijn with red fingernails. He asked participants in the fundraising to also apply nail varnish to their fingers as a symbol.

Tijn expected to raise maybe 100 euros, saving 25 children.

However, today the amount has surpassed a million euros.

So, Tijn by now has saved 250,000 children’s lives.

Tijn’s parents are grateful to Miss Montreal for the song, which will remind them of their son after he will die.

From an astronomical newsletter, abound a recently named asteroid:

(6327) Tijn = 1991 GP1 Discovered 1991 Apr. 9 by E. F. Helin at Palomar. Named for Tijn Kolsteren from the Netherlands, who, at age 6 and diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor, raised over 2 million euros for the International Red Cross, as part of the Dutch charity radio program Serious Request 2016.

Lunar eclipse in North America tonight


This video says about itself:

23 January 2017

A penumbral lunar eclipse will take place on February 10-11, 2017, the first of two lunar eclipses in 2017.

A penumbral eclipse is a tease, with none of the Moon entering Earth’s dark umbra as happens. But the one that occurs on February 10-11 will be about the best penumbral eclipse possible, as the Moon’s northern limb will miss the umbra by only about 100 miles (160 km). So the penumbral shading will be obvious.

This is a very deep penumbral eclipse. It has a penumbral eclipse magnitude of 0.9884 and a penumbral eclipse duration of 259.2 minutes.

During this type of eclipse the Moon will darken slightly but not completely.

The ideal spot to watch this penumbral eclipse is from Europe, Africa, Greenland and Iceland where the whole eclipse takes place at late night in a dark sky. For the most of of North America, the moon will be in eclipse at moonrise (sunset) on February 10 and will be obscured by evening twilight. In Asia, the eclipse will be obscured by morning twilight on February 11 and will be in eclipse at moonset (sunrise) February 11.

The penumbral lunar eclipse will be visible from Europe, most of Asia, Africa and most of North America.

Regions seeing, at least, some parts of the eclipse: Europe, much of Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Pacific, Atlantic, Indian Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica.

Clips, images credit: ESO, ESA/HUBBLE & NASA/JPL

From eNature Blog in the USA:

Watch The Moon Disappear Before Your Eyes—Don’t Miss This Friday’s Lunar Eclipse!

Posted on Tuesday, February 07, 2017 by eNature

There’s a penumbral lunar eclipse happening across all of North America the evening of Friday, February 10th.

The full moon will get noticeably less bright as it moves out of the sun’s direct light and into the Earth’s shadow shortly afternoon sundown on the East Coast.

What Exactly Is A Penumbral Eclipse?

The shadow of the Earth can be divided into two distinctive parts: the umbra and penumbra.

Within the umbra, there is no direct light from the sun. However, as a result of the Sun’s large size compared to the Earth, some solar illumination “bends” around the earth and is only partially blocked in the outer portion of the Earth’s shadow. That outer portion is called the penumbra.

Think of the shadow the Earth makes from the sun’s light as looking a bit like a dart board— with the dark umbra as the bulls eye and the less dark penumbra as the first circle surrounding the bulls eye.

A penumbral eclipse occurs when the moon passes through the Earth’s penumbra. The penumbra causes a subtle but clearly visible darkening of the moon’s surface.

A special type of penumbral eclipse is a total penumbral eclipse, during which the Moon lies exclusively within the Earth’s penumbra. Total penumbral eclipses are rare, and when these occur, that portion of the moon which is closest to the umbra can appear somewhat darker than the rest of the moon.

During Friday’s eclipse most, but not quite all, of the moon will enter the penumbra and observers should see a distinct darkening of the moon as the Earth’s shadow reduces the amount of sunlight hitting the moon.

It’s Safe And Easy To Observe

Unlike a solar eclipse, which can be viewed only from a certain relatively small area of the world, a lunar eclipse may be viewed from anywhere on the night side of the Earth. A lunar eclipse lasts for a few hours, whereas a total solar eclipse lasts for only a few minutes at any given place, due to the smaller size of the Moon’s shadow.

Also unlike solar eclipses, lunar eclipses are safe to view without any eye protection or special precautions, as they are dimmer than the full moon.

It Starts Around Dinner Time

The eclipse will start to be noticeable a bit after 6:00 PM on the East coast (it actually begins at 5:32 PM) when the Moon’s leading edge enters Earth’s penumbra. You can do the math and see the timing is a little less friendly for readers on the West coast— but things should be be quite visible if the sky is clear.

The eclipse will last more than four hours and will be visible early Saturday in Europe, Africa and western Asia as well as North America.

Initially, the effect is not especially noticeable. You won’t start to see a dusky fringe along the Moon’s leading edge (known to astronomers as its “celestial east”) until the the moon intrudes about halfway across the penumbra. But keep an eye on the moon and your patience will be rewarded.

Watch Online If Your Local Weather Doesn’t Cooperate

If the weather isn’t so nice, or you just prefer to watch from the comfort of home, SLOOH will broadcast a live webcast. The webcast will start at 5:30 PM. EDT and you can watch it by clicking here.

There’s A Comet Out There Too!

Comet 45P will zip by Earth early Saturday morning. It will be an extremely close encounter as these things go, passing within 7.7 million miles (12.4 million kilometers) of Earth moving at 14.2 miles per second, or an eye-popping 51,120 mph.

The comet, glowing green, will be visible in the constellation Hercules. Binoculars and telescopes will help in the search as it will be quite difficult to see unassisted.

Astronomers have been tracking Comet 45P for the past couple of months. The icy ball — an estimated mile across — comes around every five years. It’s officially known as Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, named after the Japanese, Czech and Slovak astronomers who discovered it in 1948. The letter P stands for periodic, meaning it’s a recurring visitor to the inner solar system.

Regardless of the hour, you’ll not regret making time to catch one of nature’s best shows!

What are your plans for watching the eclipse? Or catching the comet? We’re planning to keep the kids up here…

Use Time and Date’s Eclipse Calculator to see when it’s visible in your town.

Supernovas and other astronomical news


This video says about itself:

Stephen Hawking – Supernovas

10 October 2011

Professor Stephen Hawking explains how these exploding stars produce all of the chemical elements which make up our bodies, and the world.

Supernova story continues, just like science journalism. By Elizabeth Quill, 12:45pm, February 8, 2017: here.

Observers caught these stars going supernova. Massive stellar explosions created these luminous, expanding shells of gas and dust. By Christopher Crockett, 11:47am, February 8, 2017: here.

30 years later, supernova 1987A is still sharing secrets. When the nearby star exploded, ‘the whole world got excited’. By Christopher Crockett, 8:00am, February 8, 2017: here.

When a nearby star goes supernova, scientists will be ready. Earth’s observatories hope to detect neutrinos and gravitational waves. By Emily Conover, 8:00am, February 8, 2017: here.

Middling black hole may be hiding in star cluster. Pulsar motion hints at extra source of strong gravity in 47 Tucanae. By Ashley Yeager, 1:00pm, February 8, 2017: here.

Hubble Finds Extrasolar Kuiper Belt Object Ripped Apart by White Dwarf: here.

Remembering Vera Rubin, a trailblazer at the telescope and beyond: here.

Big storm on planet Jupiter


This video says about itself:

14 December 2016

This image, taken by the JunoCam imager on NASA‘s Juno spacecraft, highlights the seventh of eight features forming a ‘string of pearls’ on Jupiter — massive counterclockwise rotating storms that appear as white ovals in the gas giant‘s southern hemisphere. Space News.

From Sci-News.com:

Juno Sees Massive Storm on Jupiter

Jan 28, 2017 by Enrico de Lazaro

NASA’s Juno spacecraft has spotted a huge anticyclonic storm in Jupiter’s high north temperate latitudes.

As well as the famous Great Red Spot, a giant storm system three times wider than our planet, Jupiter sometimes presents one or more Little Red Spots.

Little Red Spots are often seen in the North North Temperate Zone.

They attract attention due to their color and sometimes other exceptional features.

The new image from NASA’s Juno orbiter shows NN-LRS-1, the longest-lived Little Red Spot (lower left).

Juno snapped this shot of Jupiter’s northern latitudes on Dec. 11, 2016, as the orbiter performed a close flyby of the gas giant. The spacecraft was at an altitude of 10,300 miles (16,600 km) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. The image was processed by citizen astronomers Gerald Eichstaedt and John Rogers. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstaedt / John Rogers

NN-LRS-1 is the third largest anticyclonic storm on the gas giant, which astronomers have tracked for the last 24 years.

An anticyclone is a weather phenomenon with large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure.

They rotate clockwise in the northern hemisphere, and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.

NN-LRS-1 has been observed by several spacecraft, including NASA’s Galileo and Cassini orbiters, during its long life.

Its color has varied several times from red to dull white.

Now it shows very little color, just a pale brown smudge in the center.

The color is very similar to the surroundings, making it difficult to see as it blends in with the clouds nearby.

‘Asteroids not cause of Ordovician biodiversification’


This video says about itself:

30 May 2013

Few people have heard of the Ordovician Period, but it was one of the most important periods in Earth’s history. Many familiar sea creatures evolved, and life took first steps onto land.

From Science News:

Asteroid barrage, ancient marine life boom not linked

New dating debunks idea that bombardment created eco-niches needed to diversify

By Thomas Sumner

11:00am, January 24, 2017

An asteroid bombardment that some say triggered an explosion of marine animal diversity around 471 million years ago actually had nothing to do with it.

Precisely dating meteorites from the salvo, researchers found that the space rock barrage began at least 2 million years after the start of the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event. So the two phenomena are unrelated, the researchers conclude January 24 in Nature Communications.

Some scientists had previously proposed a causal link between the two events: Raining debris from an asteroid breakup (SN: 7/23/16, p. 4) drove evolution by upsetting ecosystems and opening new ecological niches. The relative timing of the impacts and biodiversification was uncertain, though.

Geologist Anders Lindskog of Lund University in Sweden and colleagues examined 17 crystals buried alongside meteorite fragments. Gradual radioactive decay of uranium atoms inside the crystals allowed the researchers to accurately date the sediment layer to around 467.5 million years ago. Based in part on this age, the researchers estimate that the asteroid breakup took place around 468 million years ago. That’s well after fossil evidence suggests that the diversification event kicked off.

Other forces such as climate change and shifting continents instead promoted biodiversity, the researchers propose.

Planet Venus new research


This video says about itself:

17 January 2017

A Japanese spacecraft has spotted a massive gravity wave in Venus’ atmosphere.

Venus is covered in a thick atmosphere, with clouds of sulphuric acid moving westwards faster than the planet itself rotates.

But among this fast-moving atmosphere scientists have discovered a mysterious ‘sideways smile’ on its surface stretching 6,200 miles (10,000 km) across.

The stationary patch could be a giant wave caused by the gravity from mountains below, the first of its kind to be observed on the planet, according to a new study published on January 16th.

Researchers from the Rikkyo University in Tokyo studied the bow-shaped patch, after it was spotted in December 2015.

‘The most surprising feature of the bow is that it stayed at almost same geographical position despite the background atmospheric super-rotation, the uniform westward wind of which the maximum speed is 100 metres/second at the cloud-top altitudes,’ researchers say.

But exactly why the bow stayed still when the rest of Venus’ atmosphere moves so quickly continues to puzzle scientists.

From Science News:

Weird wave found in Venus’ wind-whipped atmosphere

10,000-kilometer-long stationary feature may have been the biggest of its kind in solar system

By Ashley Yeager

6:11pm, January 17, 2017

With scorching temperatures and a mind-numbingly slow rotation (one Venus day lasts 243 Earth days), Venus was already a contender for weirdest planet in the solar system. Now add a giant arc-shaped structure to its list of oddities. The mysterious 10,000-kilometer-long structure was so big that it appeared to stretch between the planet’s poles. And it didn’t budge, even as winds in the planet’s upper atmosphere whipped along at a brisk 100 meters per second.

The C-shaped structure, which lasted at least four Earth days, could be a gravity wave, a large disturbance in the flow of a fluid or air, scientists say. It may have formed on Venus when winds in the planet’s lower atmosphere slammed into a mountain range and were pushed into the upper atmosphere, where it got stuck, a team of Japanese researchers report January 16 in Nature Geoscience.

Captured in images taken by JAXA’s Akatsuki spacecraft in December 2015, the structure could be the largest stationary gravity wave ever observed in the solar system. If it did shift from the lower to upper atmosphere, there may be more going on near the surface of the planet than scientists previously thought.