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Topic: NASA’s twin STEREO probes

NASA takes a look at the passing of Comet ISON

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers have long known that some comets like it hot. Several of the greatest comets in history have flown close to the sun, puffing themselves up with solar heat, before they became naked-eye wonders in the night sky.

Some comets like it hot, but Comet ISON was not one of them.

The much-anticipated flyby of the sun by Comet ISON on Thanksgiving Day 2013 is over, and instead of becoming a Great Comet….

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NASA takes a close look at the passing Comet ISON

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – After several days of continued observations, scientists continue to work to determine and to understand the fate of Comet ISON: There’s no doubt that the comet shrank in size considerably as it rounded the sun and there’s no doubt that something made it out on the other side to shoot back into space.

The question remains as to whether the bright spot seen moving away from the sun was simply debris, or whether a small nucleus of the original ball of ice was still there. Regardless, it is likely that it is now only dust.

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NASA’s STEREO probes discovers Rock Comet’s Tail

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Astronomers have long been puzzled by a certain meteor shower.

Every year in mid-December the sky fills with flashes of light shooting out of the constellation Gemini. The Geminids are fast, bright, and reliable. They never fail to show up and many observers count them as the finest meteors of the year.

But where do they come from? That is the puzzle.

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NASA details Comet ISON’s encounter with a Solar Storm

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2007, astronomers were amazed when a solar storm hit Comet Encke. NASA STEREO spacecraft watched as a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck the comet head on and ripped off its tail.

The same thing could be in store for Comet ISON–only worse.

On November 28th, Comet ISON will pass through the sun’s atmosphere, flying little more than a million kilometers above the sun’s surface. It will be ~30 times closer to the sun than Encke was in 2007 and more likely to encounter a ferocious solar storm.

A CME strikes Comet Encke in April 2007

A CME strikes Comet Encke in April 2007 (Click to view movie)

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NASA reports Comet Encke and Comet ISON to Fly the planet Mercury

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – What are the odds? On November 18th and 19th not one but two comets will fly by the planet Mercury.

“This is a unique coincidence,” says Ron Vervack an astronomer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and a member of the science team for NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft, “and a golden opportunity to study two comets passing close to the sun.”

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NASA reports Mini Halloween Storms of 2013

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Ten years ago, in late October 2003, space weather forecasters experienced a frission of dread when two gigantic sunspots appeared. Both had complex magnetic fields that harbored energy for strong explosions. If the spots turned toward Earth and erupted….

That’s exactly what happened. From October 19th through November 7th 2003, there were 17 major eruptions on the sun, including a record-setting X28 flare.

An X2-class solar flare recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Sept. 29, 2013.

An X2-class solar flare recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Sept. 29, 2013.

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NASA reports Amateur Astronomers now able to Observe Comet ISON

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Anticipation is building as Comet ISON approaches the sun for a close encounter on Thanksgiving Day (November 28th). No one knows if the blast of solar heating ISON receives will turn it into one of the finest comets in years–or destroy the icy visitor from the outer solar system.

Astronomer Carey Lisse, the head of NASA’s Comet ISON Observing Campaign, hopes that “every telescope on Earth will be trained on the comet in October and November.”  He may get his wish. As September comes to an end, amateur astronomers around the world are already monitoring the comet.

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NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft observes Comet Pan-STARRS survive it’s trip by the Sun

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – For a comet, visiting the sun is risky business. Fierce solar heat vaporizes gases long frozen in the fragile nucleus, breaking up some comets and completely destroying others.

That’s why astronomers weren’t sure what would happen in early March when Comet Pan-STARRS, a first-time visitor to the inner solar system, dipped inside the orbit of Mercury.

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NASA reports Geminid Meteor Shower to peak on December 13th and 14th

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Every year in mid-December, astronomers look up in the sky and witness a mystery. It announces itself with a flurry of shooting stars. For several nights in a row, dozens to hundreds of meteors per hour cut across the glistening constellations of winter, each one a little puzzle waiting to be solved.

“It’s the Geminid meteor shower–set to peak on December 13th and 14th,” says Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. “Although the Geminids come every year, we still don’t fully understand them.”

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NASA states there will be a Total Eclipse of the Sun November 14th

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – People from around the world are converging on the coast of northeast Australia.  The attraction isn’t the Great Barrier Reef, just offshore, or the surrounding rain forests full of wildlife and exotic plants. They’re going to see a total eclipse of the sun.

On the morning of November 14th (Australia time), about an hour after sunrise, the Moon will pass directly in front of the sun. Residents and visitors of the city of Cairns, also known as the Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef, will enjoy an early morning eclipse lasting 2 minutes with the sun only 14 degrees above the eastern horizon.

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