NASA's next Mars rover, officially titled the Mars Science Laboratory but nicknamed "Curiosity", is slated to land on the Red Planet on Aug. 5, 2012 after 10:00pm PST. Here's a great video animation showing the extremely complex series of events needed to land successfully.
This is a great site to give an appreciation of the scale of the universe... both micro and macro.
Launched on Feb. 11, 2010, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the sun. During its five-year mission, it will examine the sun's atmosphere, magnetic field and also provide a better understanding of the role the sun plays in Earth's atmospheric chemistry and climate. SDO provides images with resolution 8 times better than high-definition television and returns more than a terabyte of data each day.
On June 5 2012, SDO collected images of the rarest predictable solar event--the transit of Venus across the face of the sun. This event happens in pairs eight years apart that are separated from each other by 105 or 121 years. The last transit was in 2004 and the next will not happen until 2117.
The videos and images displayed here are constructed from several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light and a portion of the visible spectrum. The red colored sun is the 304 angstrom ultraviolet, the golden colored sun is 171 angstrom, the magenta sun is 1700 angstrom, and the orange sun is filtered visible light. 304 and 171 show the atmosphere of the sun, which does not appear in the visible part of the spectrum.
In the unthinkable event that it'll be cloudy here in Kamloops on June 5, here's a list of online resources to watch the transit of Venus in real time.
From Sky & Telescope:
Cautionary note: Do not stare at the sun! Venus covers too little of the solar disk to block the blinding glare. Instead, use some type of projection technique or a solar filter. So, with that warning out of the way...
From NASA Science News:
On June 5th, 2012, Venus will pass across the face of the sun, producing a silhouette that no one alive today will likely see again. Transits of Venus are very rare, coming in pairs separated by more than a hundred years. This June's transit, the bookend of a 2004-2012 pair, won't be repeated until the year 2117. Fortunately, the event is widely visible. Observers on seven continents, even a sliver of Antarctica, will be in position to see it.
The nearly 7-hour transit begins at 3:09 pm Pacific Daylight Time (22:09 UT) on June 5th
Closer to home, here in Kamloops the Observatory at TRU will be open for public viewing of the transit. The main telescope will be fitted with a solar filter for direct observation, and the observing deck (just outside the dome) will be open for viewing. KAS members are welcome to come and set up your telescopes, power is available on the observing deck. As well, a room with a multimedia projector will be located nearby so that webcasts can be viewed.
For those of you that have not visited the TRU Observatory before, it is located on top of the International Building on the north side of campus.
The building is open all day and closes at 9:20 in the evening.
The dome will be open for viewing from 3:30 to 5:30 and then 6:30 to 8:30.
Parking is free after 5:00.
From NASA's Science News:
On June 4th, 2012, there's going to be a full Moon. According to Native American folklore it’s the Strawberry Moon, so-called because the short season for harvesting strawberries comes during the month of June. This Strawberry’s going to have a bite taken out of it.
At 3:00 am Pacific Daylight Time, not long before sunrise on Monday, June 4th, the Moon passes directly behind our planet. A broad stretch of lunar terrain around the southern crater Tycho will fall under the shadow of Earth, producing the first lunar eclipse of 2012. At maximum eclipse, around 4:04 am PDT, 37% of the Moon's surface will be in the dark.
Read the full article here.
The Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) in Penticton will be holding an Open House and observing event on Sunday May 20th to coincide with the annular (partial) eclipse of the sun.
The last tour of the DRAO facilities will be at 2:30pm, so be sure to get there earlier if you want to see the operations.
The partial solar eclipse begins at approximately 4:30, and KAS members are encouraged to attend with their telescopes (and proper solar filtering) to share views of the eclipse with the public.
By Road, from PENTICTON
There's been a lot of talk in the media about this next full moon being a 'Super Moon'.
Sounds exciting, but here's some facts from an article from Sky and Telescope:
May is the month this year when full Moon occurs closest to perigee, the point where the Moon is closest to Earth in its monthly orbit. But the Moon will be only 8% closer and larger than average. That's not enough to notice unless you're an awfully careful moonwatcher. Or use measuring tools.
And, this full Moon will shine only 0.16 magnitude brighter than average. That's only slightly more of a brightness difference than a skilled variable-star observer can just detect.
You can see the difference in a side-by-side comparison like the one above. But looking at the Moon by itself? Not likely."
So, while unfortunately this 'super moon' may not be quite as dramatic as some media or internet rumours would have you believe, it's still a wonderful sight to observe. If it's a clear night, head outside with your binoculars and enjoy the full moon... it's always super!
Saturn is at opposition on April 15th, so the views of it are the best they'll be all year.
If you've never seen Saturn through a telescope, it's something not to be missed... a real 'wow!' object in the eyepiece. Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll get a chance to view!
You can read more about it here:
A bright new supernova which should be visible in small scopes has emerged in M95.
Details can be found in the following links:
Here’s a picture from Greek amateur astronomer Anthony Ayiomamitis, using a 30.5 cm (roughly 12") telescope, with the supernova indicated between the marks.