Photo of the Week

Hubble Spotlight on Irregular Galaxy IC 3583

This delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). It may seem to have no discernable structure, but IC 3583 has been found to have a bar of stars running through its centre. These structures are common throughout the Universe, and are found within the majority of spiral, many irregular, and some lenticular galaxies. Two of our closest cosmic neighbours, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, are barred, indicating that they may have once been barred spiral galaxies that were disrupted or torn apart by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way. Something similar might be happening with IC 3583. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90. Together, the duo form a pairing known as Arp 76. It’s still unclear whether these flirtations are the cause of IC 3583’s irregular appearance — but whatever the cause, the galaxy makes for a strikingly delicate sight in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, glimmering in the blackness of space.
 

Explanation: This delicate blue group of stars — actually an irregular galaxy named IC 3583 — sits some 30 million light-years away in the constellation of Virgo (The Virgin). It may seem to have no discernable structure, but IC 3583 has been found to have a bar of stars running through its centre. These structures are common throughout the Universe, and are found within the majority of spiral, many irregular, and some lenticular galaxies. Two of our closest cosmic neighbours, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, are barred, indicating that they may have once been barred spiral galaxies that were disrupted or torn apart by the gravitational pull of the Milky Way. Something similar might be happening with IC 3583. This small galaxy is thought to be gravitationally interacting with one of its neighbours, the spiral Messier 90. Together, the duo form a pairing known as Arp 76. It’s still unclear whether these flirtations are the cause of IC 3583’s irregular appearance — but whatever the cause, the galaxy makes for a strikingly delicate sight in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, glimmering in the blackness of space.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Text Credit: European Space Agency

Photo of the Week

Super Moon vs. Micro Moon

moon

Image Credit & Copyright: Catalin Paduraru

Explanation: What is so super about tomorrow’s supermoon? Tomorrow, a full moon will occur that appears slightly larger and brighter than usual. The reason is that the Moon’s fully illuminated phase occurs within a short time from perigee – when the Moon is its closest to the Earth in its elliptical orbit. Although the precise conditions that define a supermoon vary, tomorrow’s supermoon will undoubtedly qualify because it will be the closest, largest, and brightest full moon in over 65 years. One reason supermoons are popular is because they are so easy to see — just go outside and sunset and watch an impressive full moon rise! Since perigee actually occurs tomorrow morning, tonight’s full moon, visible starting at sunset, should also be impressive. Pictured here, a supermoon from 2012 is compared to a micromoon — when a full Moon occurs near the furthest part of the Moon’s orbit — so that it appears smaller and dimmer than usual. Given many definitions, at least one supermoon occurs each year, with another one coming next month (moon-th). However, a full moon will not come this close to Earth again until 2034.

Open Letters to the Yukon Political Parties

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Yukon’s general election will be held on November 7th, 2016 to choose 19 MLAs and a new government. The RASC: Yukon Centre (Yukon Astronomical Society) is new to the Yukon, but we have ideas, concerns, and three questions. Below are two letters that we felt addressed issues that are important to Yukoners, and to the Territory in general.

On October 27th 2016, the RASC: Yukon Centre (Yukon Astronomical Society) submitted two open letters, that we felt are, and continue to be, important to Yukoners and the Territory.

All political parties in the 2016 election, except the Yukon First Nation Party (we are waiting for a response), have responded. We are posting their responses, attached in four (4) separate Pdf letters below in alphabetical order:




Photo of the Week

Rosetta’s Farewell

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Image Credit & Copyright: ESA, Rosetta, MPS, OSIRIS; UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA

Explanation: After closely following comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko for 786 days as it rounded the Sun, the Rosetta spacecraft’s controlled impact with the comet’s surface was confirmed by the loss of signal from the spacecraft on September 30, 2016. One the images taken during its final descent, this high resolution view looks across the comet’s stark landscape. The scene spans just over 600 meters (2,000 feet), captured when Rosetta was about 16 kilometers from the comet’s surface. Rosetta’s descent to the comet brought to an end the operational phase of an inspirational mission of space exploration. Rosetta deployed a lander to the surface of one of the Solar System’s most primordial worlds and witnessed first hand how a comet changes when subject to the increasing intensity of the Sun’s radiation. The decision to end the mission on the surface is a result of the comet’s orbit now taking it to the dim reaches beyond Jupiter where there would be a lack of power to operate the spacecraft. Mission operators also faced an approaching period where the Sun would be close to line-of-sight between Earth and Rosetta, making radio communications increasingly difficult.

Photo of the Week

Lunar Orbiter Earthset

Lunar Orbiter Earthset

Image Credit: NASA / Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project

Explanation: August 10th was the 50th anniversary of the launch of Lunar Orbiter 1. It was the first of five Lunar Orbiters intended to photograph the Moon’s surface to aid in the selection of future landing sites. That spacecraft’s camera captured the data used in this restored, high-resolution version of its historic first image of Earth from the Moon on August 23, 1966 while on its 16th lunar orbit. Hanging almost stationary in the sky when viewed from the lunar surface, Earth appears to be setting beyond the rugged lunar horizon from the perspective of the orbiting spacecraft. Two years later, the Apollo 8 crew would record a more famous scene in color: Earthrise from lunar orbit.

Photo of the Week

Blue Danube Analemma

Blue Danube Analemma

Explanation: The Sun’s annual waltz through planet Earth’s sky forms a graceful curve known as an analemma. The analemma’s figure 8 shape is tipped vertically at far right in this well-composed fisheye view from Budapest, Hungary. Captured at a chosen spot on the western bank of the Danube river, the Sun’s position was recorded at 11:44 Central European Time on individual exposures over days spanning 2015 July 23 to 2016 July 4. Of course, on the northern summer solstice the Sun is at the top of the curve, but at the midpoints for the autumn and spring equinoxes. With snow on the ground, the photographer’s shadow and equipment bag also appear in the base picture used for the composite panorama, taken on 2016 January 7. On that date, just after the winter solstice, the Sun was leaving the bottom of the beautiful curve over the blue Danube.

Image Credit & Copyright: György Soponyai

Photo of the Week

Perseid Meteors Over China

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Explanation: Comet dust rained down on planet Earth in August 2013, streaking through dark skies in the annual Perseid meteor shower. While enjoying the anticipated space weather above Zhangbei Prairie, Hebei Province, China, astronomer Xiang Zhan recorded a series of 10 second long exposures spanning four hours on the night of August 12/13 using a wide angle lens. Combining frames which captured 68 meteor flashes, he produced the above composite view of the Perseids of summer. Although the sand-sized comet particles are traveling parallel to each other, the resulting shower meteors clearly seem to radiate from a single point on the sky in the eponymous constellation Perseus. The radiant effect is due to perspective, as the parallel tracks appear to converge at a distance.

The Perseid meteor shower will burst into light this August (2016), as Earth passes through the long trail left by Comet Swift-Tuttle — and this month, it’s slated to put on a spectacular show.

Image Credit & Copyright: Xiang Zhan (Beijing Planetarium)

Photo of the Week

M2-9: Wings of a Butterfly Nebula

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Explanation: Are stars better appreciated for their art after they die? Actually, stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die. In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured above, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes. The expended gas frequently forms an impressive display called a planetary nebula that fades gradually over thousands of years. M2-9, a butterfly planetary nebula 2100 light-years away shown in representative colors, has wings that tell a strange but incomplete tale. In the center, two stars orbit inside a gaseous disk 10 times the orbit of Pluto. The expelled envelope of the dying star breaks out from the disk creating the bipolar appearance. Much remains unknown about the physical processes that cause planetary nebulae.

Image Credit: Hubble Legacy Archive, NASA, ESA Processing: Judy Schmidt

 

Photo of the Week

Color the Universe

BeyondEarth_Unknown_3000

Explanation: Wouldn’t it be fun to color in the universe? If you think so, please accept this famous astronomical illustration as a preliminary substitute. You, your friends, your parents or children, can print it out or even color it digitally. While coloring, you might be interested to know that even though this illustration has appeared in numerous places over the past 100 years, the actual artist remains unknown. Furthermore, the work has no accepted name — can you think of a good one? The illustration, first appearing in a book by Camille Flammarion in 1888, is used frequently to show that humanity’s present concepts are susceptible to being supplanted by greater truths.

Image Credit: Unknown

Photo of the Week

Juno Approaching Jupiter

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Explanation: Approaching over the north pole after nearly a five-year journey, Juno enjoys a perspective on Jupiter not often seen, even by spacecraft from Earth that usually swing by closer to Jupiter’s equator. Looking down toward the ruling gas giant from a distance of 10.9 million kilometers, the spacecraft’s JunoCam captured this image with Jupiter’s night side and orbiting entourage of four large Galilean moons on June 21. JunoCam is intended to provide close-up views of the gas giant’s cloudy zoned and belted atmosphere and on July 4 (July 5 UT) Juno is set to burn its main engine to slow down and be captured into its own orbit. If all goes well, it will be the first spacecraft to orbit the poles of Jupiter, skimming to within 5,000 kilometers of the Jovian cloud tops during the 20 month mission.

Image Credit: NASA, JPL, Juno Mission