A partnership with the UK’s Faulkes Telescope Project promises to boost the Agency’s space hazards research while helping students to discover potentially dangerous space rocks.
(The 2-meter Faulkes North Telescope at Haleakalā, Hawaii, USA. Credit: Faulkes Telescope Project)
“ESA’s Space Situational Awareness (SSA) programme is keeping watch over space hazards, including disruptive space weather, debris objects in Earth orbit and asteroids that pass close enough to cause concern. The asteroids – known as ‘near-Earth objects’, or NEOs, since they cross Earth’s orbit – are a particular problem. Any attempt to survey and catalogue hazardous asteroids faces a number of difficulties. They’re often jet black or at least very dark, they can approach rather too close before anyone sees them, and they’re often spotted only once and then disappear before the discovery can be confirmed.”
“The project has a strong record in public education and science outreach, and is a partner of the US-based Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network, which owns and operates two telescopes. Faulkes supports hundreds of schools across Europe.”
This weekend offers a prime chance to see the ringed planet in the southern night sky.
(While cruising around Saturn in early October 2004, Cassini captured a series of images that have been composed into this large global natural color view of Saturn and its rings. Credit: NASA)
“When amateur astronomers reflect on the most memorable sights of their lifetimes, their first view of Saturn through a telescope usually ranks high.”
“On April 15, Saturn reaches opposition — the point when it is directly opposite the sun in the sky. When it reaches opposition, Saturn will appear in the midnight sky to observers on Earth. Thesky maps and illustration of Saturnaccompanying this guide shows where to see the planet in the southern sky on April 15 and how it may appear seen through a good telescope. The most important thing about this for skywatchers is thatSaturnmoves from being a “morning object” to being visible all night. For all of April, Saturn rises at sunset, and sets at sunrise.”
You may have noticed it: Venus, a brilliant white beacon in the west, below and a little to the right of another, slightly dimmer white light. (The second one is Jupiter.) Venus rises especially high and bright in the evening sky every 8 years, and this year — the year of its last pass in front of the Sun until the 22nd century — is our lucky break.
For every 8 orbits Earth completes around the Sun, Venus completes 13.004. Late in March, Venus reaches its greatest elongation, the farthest distance it will be from the Sun in the sky as seen from Earth. This year the angular distance will be 46°, or about four-and-a-half fist widths.
Next week Venus and Jupiter will be even more stunning, as the crescent Moon nears for conjunction with Venus on February 25th and with Jupiter on the 26th. In the coming weeks, the gap between Jupiter and Venus will narrow, until Jupiter passes Venus in mid-March.
Astronomy news, recent research results, and pretty pictures from the media along with context, commentary, and explanations for folks who dig this sort of thing. Written by a quasi-professional astronomer affiliated with the University of Texas at Austin.