Test Animals in Space
I told students in my after-school astronomy and space science club about Laika and other space test animals.
One student asked “Did the dog make it back OK?” I shook my head and gave her a very sad look – this was not the answer she was expecting…
I also discussed the newly discovered exoplanet, Proxima d, orbiting Proxima Centauri. I said that this planet was likely tidally-locked to Proxima, and asked the students what that would mean if I was standing on the planet? A student got it in one! She said “the sun would never set.” I was so happy! For more info and images of Proxima d see the Exoplanet section.
Jupiter now appears very low in the western sky at dusk – it may be hard to spot after Feb. 20th.
Mercury, Venus and Mars continue to appear in the southeastern predawn sky all week; I showed this to students in my after-school club – I told them this was an “accident-causer” because it’s pretty stare-worthy for early morning drivers.
The nearly Full Moon appears in the eastern sky after sunset with the star Regulus on Feb. 15th.
The Full Moon appears ~4° 52′ from the star Regulus in the eastern sky after sunset on Feb. 16th.
The Moon appears in the southern sky near the star Spica in the early morning hours on Feb. 20th & 21st.
- The Moon is a Waxing Gibbous – visible to the southeast in early evening, up for most of the night.
- The Full Moon occurs on Feb. 16th – rising at sunset, visible high in the sky around midnight, and visible all night.
- After Feb. 16th, the Moon will be a Waning Gibbous – rises after sunset, visible high in the sky after midnight, and visible to the southwest after sunrise.
If you click on the Moon image above, or click this link, you will go to NASA’s Moon Phase and Libration, 2022 page – it will show you what the Moon looks like right now. If you click the image on that page, you will download a high-rez TIFF image annotated with the names of prominent features – helpful for logging your lunar observations!
The Sun has five named sunspots, with a large plage rotating out of view (right side of image).
Spaceweather.com says “Sunspot AR2941 erupted on Feb. 14th (1731 UT), producing an M1-class solar flare. A brief shortwave radio blackout followed the explosion after X-rays ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere. Ham radio operators and aviators in the Americas may have noticed unusual propagation effects at frequencies below 20 MHz. “
The Sun seen in 193 angstroms on February 14th.
The south pole coronal hole is open, with a large tendril stretching towards the center of the Sun’s face. A smaller coronal hole is rotating into view in the northern hemisphere.
There’s an interesting stripe pattern covering the Sun’s face.
The Sun seen in 304 angstroms on February 14th.
Moderate prominence activity, LOTS of active regions crackling with flares.
Videos courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.
You can view the Sun in near real-time, in multiple frequencies here: SDO-The Sun Now.
You can create your own time-lapse movies of the Sun here: AIA/HMI Browse Data.
You can browse all the SDO images of the Sun from 2010 to the present here: Browse SDO archive.
Amateur Solar Astrophotography
Toshio’s equipment and software:
By Digital Spectro_Helio_Graph II
Slit width is about 10 Microns.(home made)
Grating (Richardson Grating) 1800L/mm
Front Red Filter
Bandwidth is about 0.3A
Resolution power is 23460
Scanning time is about 10seconds.
Solar wind speed is 416.0 km/sec ▼ with a density of 5.5 protons/cm3 ▲ at 1335 UT.
Click here to see a near real-time animation of the corona and solar wind from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
- Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) discovered this month: 142, this year: 441 (+73), all time: 28,364 (+73)
- Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs): 2263 (+3 updated 2022-02-15)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (MPC): 1,166,155 (-10 updated 2022-02-15)
- Total Minor Planets discovered (NASA): 1,113,527 (updated 2021-08-17) – This value has not changed for months.
Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
|Asteroid||Date(UT)||Miss Distance||Velocity (km/s)||Diameter (m)|
|2022 CO6||2022-Feb-15||0.6 LD||9.3||26|
|2022 BF6||2022-Feb-15||9.4 LD||17.1||36|
|2022 CH7||2022-Feb-15||2.1 LD||11.6||12|
|2022 CQ4||2022-Feb-15||3.4 LD||12.7||24|
|2022 CT6||2022-Feb-15||6.6 LD||8.5||11|
|2022 CC7||2022-Feb-17||7.9 LD||13.4||15|
|2018 CW2||2022-Feb-18||2.2 LD||10.8||25|
|2020 CX1||2022-Feb-18||7.2 LD||8.2||54|
|2022 BH7||2022-Feb-18||6 LD||22.7||229|
|2022 CX4||2022-Feb-19||2.8 LD||6||9|
|2022 CG5||2022-Feb-21||19.8 LD||6.3||39|
|2022 CC2||2022-Feb-22||11.9 LD||11.6||44|
|2022 BA6||2022-Feb-22||8 LD||2.7||19|
|2022 BS6||2022-Feb-23||13.5 LD||12||44|
|2017 CX1||2022-Feb-23||15.2 LD||5||8|
|2016 QJ44||2022-Feb-24||19.6 LD||8.5||319|
|2021 QO2||2022-Feb-25||20 LD||11||65|
|2020 UO4||2022-Feb-28||18.5 LD||2.1||7|
|2021 UL7||2022-Mar-04||11.5 LD||2||25|
|2020 DC||2022-Mar-06||3.9 LD||4.9||16|
|2021 EY1||2022-Mar-10||10.1 LD||15.5||16|
|2015 DR215||2022-Mar-11||17.5 LD||8.3||290|
|2018 GY||2022-Mar-13||11.9 LD||10.7||43|
|2022 BX1||2022-Mar-13||20.1 LD||11||161|
|2016 FZ12||2022-Mar-19||2.2 LD||8.3||16|
|2020 SQ||2022-Mar-21||2.8 LD||6||12|
|2013 BO76||2022-Mar-24||13.3 LD||13.8||271|
|2011 GE3||2022-Mar-26||7.6 LD||7||22|
|2012 FX35||2022-Mar-26||13.7 LD||5.9||25|
|2010 GD35||2022-Mar-29||17.7 LD||12.5||43|
|2020 FW5||2022-Mar-30||8.9 LD||13.1||27|
|2007 FF1||2022-Apr-01||19.4 LD||12.8||155|
|2021 GN1||2022-Apr-02||14.4 LD||14.3||19|
|2016 GW221||2022-Apr-02||9.8 LD||5.9||41|
|2012 TV||2022-Apr-05||19.2 LD||18.1||32|
|2020 GH1||2022-Apr-09||16.8 LD||7.2||28|
|2017 TO2||2022-Apr-10||17.9 LD||11.6||78|
On February 14, 2022, the NASA All Sky Fireball Network reported 8 fireballs!
Slow fireball over Austin, Tx on Jan. 29th!
Position of the planets & several spacecraft in the inner solar system on February 15th.
Position of the planets in the middle solar system:
Position of the planets in the outer solar system:
Solar System News
Working out the kinks with sampling crumbly rocks.
HiRISE - Beautiful Mars
International Space Station
Lunar Gateway ESPRIT module to have a room with a view
See the ESPRIT module here
418.38 ppm #CO2
See a list of current NASA missions here: https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions?mission_status=current
ex·o·plan·et /ˈeksōˌplanət/, noun: a planet orbiting a star other than the Sun.
* Confirmed Planets Discovered by TESS refers to the number planets that have been published in the refereed astronomical literature.
* TESS Project Candidates refers to the total number of transit-like events that appear to be astrophysical in origin, including false positives as identified by the TESS Project.
* TESS Project Candidates Yet To Be Confirmed refers to the number of TESS Project Candidates that have not yet been dispositioned as a Confirmed Planet or False Positive.
Proxima d in SpaceEngine:
I added Proxima d to SpaceEngine and took some shots of the planet and system.
SpaceWeather.com Realtime Aurora Gallery: https://spaceweathergallery.com/aurora_gallery.html
Latest Aurora Oval Forecast
- Visit an International Dark Sky Park: https://www.darksky.org/our-work/conservation/idsp/parks/
- If you live in Michigan, visit the Michigan Dark Skies site: https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/darkskies/
Messier Tour: M5
The globular cluster Messier 5, shown here in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, is one of the oldest belonging to the Milky Way. The majority of its stars formed more than 12 billion years ago, but there are some unexpected newcomers on the scene, adding some vitality to this aging population. Stars in globular clusters form in the same stellar nursery and grow old together.
The most massive stars age quickly, exhausting their fuel supply in less than a million years, and end their lives in spectacular supernovae explosions. This process should have left the ancient cluster Messier 5 with only old, low-mass stars, which, as they have aged and cooled, have become red giants, while the oldest stars have evolved even further into blue horizontal branch stars. Yet astronomers have spotted many young, blue stars in this cluster, hiding amongst the much more luminous ancient stars.
Astronomers think that these laggard youngsters, called blue stragglers, were created either by stellar collisions or by the transfer of mass between binary stars. Such events are easy to imagine in densely populated globular clusters, in which up to a few million stars are tightly packed together. Messier 5 lies at a distance of about 25 000 light-years in the constellation of Serpens (The Snake). This image was taken with Wide Field Channel of Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys.
The picture was created from images taken through a blue filter (F435W, coloured blue), a red filter (F625W, coloured green) and a near-infrared filter (F814W, coloured red). The total exposure times per filter were 750 s, 400 s and 567 s, respectively. The field of view is about 2.6 arcminutes across. – NASA
Messier 5 is one of the larger globular clusters known, spanning about 165 light years in diameter. The cluster has a tidal radius of 202 light years. Member stars are gravitationally bound to it within this space and can’t be torn away from the cluster by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way.
The cluster has an ellipsoidal rather than spherical shape. It is receding from us at about 52 km/s. The compact core region is about 6 light years in diameter, corresponding to an angular size of 0.84′.
Messier 5 was discovered by the German astronomer Gottfried Kirch on May 5, 1702 while observing a comet. He believed it was a star with nebulosity.
Charles Messier found the object on May 23, 1764, and described it as a nebula without stars. He wrote, “Beautiful Nebula discovered between the Balance & the Serpent, near the star in the Serpent, of 6th magnitude, which is the 5th according to the Catalog of Flamsteed [5 Serpentis]: it doesn’t contain any star; it is round, & one sees it very well, in a fine sky, with an ordinary refractor of 1-foot [FL]. ” – messier-objects.com
Cover Image: Globular Cluster M5. Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Messier Object List: [Link]
Software Apps used for this post:
NASA Eyes on the Solar System: an immersive 3D solar system and space mission simulator – free for the PC /MAC.
Stellarium: a free web-based planetarium app. It’s a great tool for planning observing sessions.
SpaceEngine – Explore the universe in 3D and VR!
Worldwide Telescope – operated by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).