Sep 29

SUNRISE Offers New Insight on Sun’s Atmosphere | NASA

SDO,left and SUNRISE, right for the same area of the sun.
The right image shows an image captured by the Sunrise balloon-borne telescope of a region of the chromosphere in close proximity to two sunspots. It serves as a close up of the left images, which were captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The images were taken on July 16, 2013.
Image Credit:NASA/SDO/MPS

Three months after the flight of the solar observatory Sunrise – carried aloft by a NASA scientific balloon in early June 2013 — scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany have presented unique insights into a layer on the sun called the chromosphere. Sunrise provided the highest-resolution images to date in ultraviolet light of this thin corrugated layer, which lies between the sun’s visible surface and the sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona.

With its one-meter mirror, Sunrise is the largest solar telescope to fly above the atmosphere. The telescope weighed in at almost 7,000 pounds and flew some 20 miles up in the air. Sunrise was launched from Kiruna in the north of Sweden and, after five days drifting over the Atlantic, it landed on the remote Boothia Peninsula in northern Canada, gathering information about the chromosphere throughout its journey.

The temperature in the chromosphere rises from 6,000 K/10,340 F/5,272 C at the surface of the sun to about 20,000 K/ 35,540 F/19,730 C. It’s an area that’s constantly in motion, with different temperatures of hot material mixed over a range of heights, stretching from the sun’s surface to many thousands of miles up. The temperatures continue to rise further into the corona and no one knows exactly what powers any of that heating.

via SUNRISE Offers New Insight on Sun’s Atmosphere | NASA.

Sep 29

How to See Planet Uranus In the Night Sky |


Uranus in 2005

This image of Uranus was obtained in 2005 by the Hubble Space Telescope. Rings, southern collar and a bright cloud in the northern hemisphere are visible.
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Showalt

Here is a trivia question: Not including our own planet Earth, how many planets are visible without using any optical aid, be it binoculars or a telescope? Most people will usually answer five: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

But in actuality, the correct answer is six.

The sixth planet which can be spied without optical aid is the planetUranus. This week will be a fine time to try and seek it out, especially since it favorably placed for viewing in our evening sky now that the bright Moon has finally moved out of the way. In addition, on Oct. 3 Uranus will be at opposition to the sun all will be visible in the sky all night

via How to See Planet Uranus In the Night Sky |

Sep 24

Comet ISON: A Viewing Guide from Now to Perihelion:Universe Today


A composite image of Comet ISON as seen from the Hubble Space Telescope on April 30th, 2013. (Credit:

Perhaps you’ve read the news. This Fall, the big ticket show is the approach of Comet C/2012 S1 ISON. The passage of this comet into the inner solar system has been the most anticipated apparition of a comet since Hale-Bopp in 1997.

Many backyard observers will get their first good look at Comet ISON in the coming month. If you want to see this comet for yourself, here’s everything you’ll need to know!

Discovered on September 21st, 2012 by Artyom-Kislovodsk and Vitaly Nevsky using the International Scientific Optical Network’s (ISON) 0.4 metre reflector, this comet has just passed out from behind the Sun from our Earthly vantage point this summer to once again become visible in the dawn sky.
Of course, there’s much speculation as to whether this will be the “comet of the century” shining as “bright as the Full Moon” near perihelion. We caught up with veteran comet observer John Bortle earlier this year to see what skywatchers might expect from this comet in late 2013. We’ve also chronicled the online wackiness of comets past and present as ISON makes its way into the pantheon as the most recently fashionable scapegoat for “the end of the world of the week…”
But now its time to look at the astronomical prospects for observing Comet ISON, and what you can expect leading up to perihelion on November 28th.

via Comet ISON: A Viewing Guide from Now to Perihelion.