"Sic Itur Ad Astra"

ASTRO SPACE NEWS

Weird, Wild & Breaking News Stories in Space and Astronomy From Around The World 24/7 Weekly With Updates. It's a FREE Service To The Public and ALL Media, It's Safe and Reliable. (Est. 2002)

This news service is emailed out each week to all requesting radio stations across Australia.  David Reneke ('Astro Dave') is one of Australia's most well known and respected astronomers and lecturers with links to some of the world's leading astronomical institutions. David is radio savvy, well experienced talking to the media and presents information in an easy to understand, up to date and informative manner. Enquiries for interviews or info Ph: (02) 6585 2260 Mobile: 0400 636 363 Email: davereneke@gmail.com


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We constantly get asked for Kids Educational Material. I've put together a very affordable hands on 'Space Package' for the young budding astronomer. They are our creation, not available anywhere else.... and we reckon they're terrific!! This is our young astro-package designed for practical use and as an educational aid as you develop your child's astronomy knowledge. (TIP: Photocopy each sheet and re-use?)

EACH PACK CONTAINS Dozens of fun, educational Space Astro activity pages. Mazes, Colouring, Dot to Dot, Word Search and more. We've included our popular astronomy & space 'fact sheets,' a set of colourful peel-off Space Stickers, a quick telescope buyers guide PLUS Our "Welcome To Astronomy" booklet.   NOTE: Every sale this month will receive a FREE pair of Safe Solar Viewing Glasses! $5 Value! (Limited Stock) * DETAILS HERE

Meteorite crash-lands in woman's bed in Canada

The meteorite that crashed into Ruth Hamilton’s bedroom in Golden, British Columbia.Credit...Ruth Hamilton
The meteorite that crashed into Ruth Hamilton’s bedroom in Golden, British Columbia.Credit...Ruth Hamilton

A woman in Canada narrowly missed being struck by a meteorite that crashed through her roof and landed on her pillow.  Ruth Hamilton, a resident of Golden, British Columbia, was asleep in her bed on the night of Oct. 3 when she was jolted awake by an explosive bang, as something plummeted through the roof and showered her with debris.

She jumped out of bed and turned on the light, discovering a rock lying nestled between her pillows, right next to the spot where her head had been moments earlier. The object was about the size of a fist and weighed about 2.8 pounds (1.3 kilograms),  Hamilton promptly called 911; a police officer arrived on the scene and investigated the debris, then checked with a local construction company to see if they had set off any explosions at a highway site in the nearby Kicking Horse Canyon, Victoria News reported.

A construction company representative said that no blasting had occurred that night, but they mentioned seeing "a bright light in the sky that had exploded and caused some booms," Hamilton told Victoria News. Hamilton then realized that the object on her pillow - a greyish, melon-size boulder - was likely a rock from space, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC).

Each year, thousands of fast-moving space rocks survive their fiery passage through Earth's atmosphere to strike the planet's surface as meteorites, though most of these cosmic projectiles go unnoticed and undiscovered, according to Live Science's sister site Space.com. And very few people in recorded history are as close to a meteorite at the moment of impact as Hamilton was.

One famous example is Ann Hodges of Sylacauga, Alabama, who was struck by a falling meteorite on Nov. 30, 1954. Like Hamilton, Hodges was also asleep in her home when the meteorite came calling. But whereas Hamilton escaped her event unscathed, Hodges wasn't so lucky. Hodges' meteorite was about the size of a softball and weighed about 8.5 pounds (3.8 kg), and it struck her after rebounding off a radio console, causing a sizable bruise on her side, Space.com reported in 2019.

Though Hamilton was uninjured by her close call, the experience still left her shaken, she told the CBC. "You're sound asleep, safe, you think, in your bed, and you can get taken out by a meteorite, apparently," Hamilton said. She plans to send the meteorite to scientists in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western University in London, Ontario, for analysis, but she would like to keep the rock once the researchers' investigation is done, the CBC reported.

Jupiter hit by another space rock in rare vdeo captured by Japanese skywatchers

It's tough to be the biggest planet in the solar system, and this fall Jupiter is taking a beating. On Friday (Oct. 15), skywatchers in Japan observed a flash in the atmosphere of the planet's northern hemisphere likely caused by an asteroid slamming into Jupiter, just over a month after a skywatcher in Brazil made a similar observation.

"The flash felt like it was shining for a very long time to me," Twitter user @yotsuyubi21, who photographed the flash with a Celestron C6 telescope, said. They confirmed the observation with a team led by Ko Arimatsu, an astronomer at Japan's Kyoto University.

Jupiter regularly experiences such impacts because of the powerful gravitational tug associated with its mass: Smaller objects, like the asteroids that litter the solar system, can easily end up pulled into the planet's thick, turbulent atmosphere. Some research suggests that objects at least 150 feet (45 meters) across hit Jupiter every few months on average.

Some research suggests that objects at least 150 feet (45 meters) across hit Jupiter every few months on average, although observational constraints mean that even the most thorough monitoring program might be able to catch just one impact or so per year.

The Webb Telescope's Latest Stumbling Block: Its Name

The Webb Telescope’s Latest Stumbling Block: Its Name
The Webb Telescope’s Latest Stumbling Block: Its Name

Many astronomers were disappointed when NASA's up-and-coming space telescope, the successor to the vaunted Hubble Space Telescope, was named for James Webb, a former NASA administrator who led the agency through the glory years of the Apollo missions. Why not name it for an astronomer, the way other space missions - Hubble, Kepler - have been, instead of a bean counter? But they held their tongues.

After all, the new telescope, which is now scheduled to be launched from a spaceport in French Guiana on Dec. 18, was designed to be bigger and more powerful than the Hubble. Orbiting the sun a million miles from Earth, it will be capable of bringing into focus the earliest stars and galaxies in the universe and closely inspecting the atmospheres of nearby exoplanets for signs of life or habitability.

Now a new objection to the Webb name has arisen, inflaming the astronomical community. In 2015, Dan Savage, a columnist for The Stranger, a Seattle newspaper, called attention to the fact that James Webb, before running NASA, had been the under secretary of state in the Truman administration during the Lavender Scare, a period when thousands of gay men and lesbians lost their government jobs as potential security risks. Was this the kind of person to name a groundbreaking telescope after?

The historical record is sketchy as to how much Webb was involved in the Lavender Scare purge, which seems to have been mostly instigated by Congress. But the evidence does seem to show that he at least knew what was going on, even meeting with President Harry S. Truman to discuss it, according to the book "The Lavender Scare," by David Johnson. Mr. Johnson found no evidence, however, that Mr. Webb was an instigator of the purge. "I don't see him as having any sort of leadership role in the Lavender Scare," he told the journal Nature.

That question gained prominence this spring when four astronomers opposed the naming. "The name of such an important mission, which promises to live in the popular and scientific psyche for decades, should be a reflection of our highest values," they said. "A better name for the telescope, they suggested, might be the Harriet Tubman Space Telescope; according to legend, Tubman helped slaves escape by following the North Star."

Sean O'Keefe, the NASA administrator who named the telescope in 2002, said in an email that Webb was "a champion of education, technology, science, aeronautics and human exploration. He introduced complex systems management - a discipline to harness the exceptional technical capability of NASA at that time." Mr. O'Keefe added that he was unaware of any evidence that Webb was responsible for the Lavender Scare.

In May, NASA promised a full investigation by its acting chief historian, Brian Odom. On Sept. 27, the agency issued a statement from the current NASA administrator, Bill Nelson, saying, "We have found no evidence at this time that warrants changing the name of the James Webb Space Telescope." Since then, no extensive report has been forthcoming.

This has infuriated many astronomers, and some 1,200 have signed a petition calling for the telescope to be renamed. "Under Webb's leadership, queer people were persecuted," the petition reads, in part. "Those who would excuse Webb's failure of leadership cannot simultaneously award him credit for his management of Apollo."

"Our telescopes, if they are going to be named after people, should be named after people who inspire us to be our better selves," Dr. Prescod-Weinstein, an opposing official  added. "Harriet Tubman is one such person, who for generations has been closely associated with connecting the stars to one our most treasured values: freedom."

How it feels to go into space: 'More beautiful and dazzling and frightening than I ever imagined' 

The three to four minutes spent without the pull of gravity were "so natural",.
The three to four minutes spent without the pull of gravity were "so natural",.
It only takes four to seven minutes to get to space, It's very, very quick.
It only takes four to seven minutes to get to space, It's very, very quick.

Chris Boshuizen was one of four astronauts – including William Shatner – who flew into space with Blue Origin. Here he describes the wonder of the journey. It was a balmy morning in the west Texas desert when Chris Boshuizen stepped into Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin rocket capsule for a journey most of us will never experience. He waved a quick goodbye to the Amazon billionaire and took his seat next to William Shatner as the capsule door bolted shut. Also onboard were Audrey Powers, a Blue Origin executive, and Glen de Vries, chief executive of the clinical research firm Medidata Solutions.

Boshuizen was awake before the sun rose on 13 October - launch day. He admits "feeling a little nervous" but any anxiety was dulled by the excitement shared between the four passengers. At T-25 min Boshuizen was the final passenger to board as last-minute safety checks prepared the team for liftoff. With just 15 minutes to launch, Bezos pulled the hatch closed as "sit back and relax" sounded from mission control.  "It's like a submarine door and you hear this steel bang and they lock it down and you think 'I'm stuck here, I'm not getting out'," Boshuizen recalled.

Finally, a 10-second countdown boomed and the rocket propelled from the ground. "It felt no worse than a steep airplane take off," Boshuizen says, dispelling the idea that the sheer force of the propulsion would rattle and shake the capsule "like the movies". As the rocket approached the Kármán Line, the internationally recognised boundary of space at 100km above mean sea level, the capsule separated from the booster and officially sailed into space. "It only takes four to seven minutes to get to space," Boshuizen says, adding: "It's very, very quick."

Boshuizen took with him a 1.5kg cargo bag. Packed inside was a Lego figurine of an astronaut. At 100km above mean sea level, the minifigure - a childhood toy and throwback to his lifelong fascination with space - jiggled loose and started to somersault through the cabin. Boshuizen unbuckled his seat as he, too, somersaulted in the air. The three to four minutes spent without the pull of gravity were "so natural", he says. "There's nothing strange about it at all."

The crew floated together to take a selfie, noses soon pressed against the windows to view the curve of earth. "It really got me deep in the chest," Boshuizen says. The experience was so moving the crew were sobbing. "Seeing the edge of the atmosphere - a thin, brilliant sapphire shield around the planet - was an uncanny experience," he adds. "Closing my eyes now, I still feel that irresistible tug ... pulling my heart from my chest and out over the edge of the world."

"I've watched every movie, I've seen every astronaut talk about space and photos of the curvature of the Earth in light of the atmosphere, the blackness of space, and I realise when I got up there those words are just completely inadequate in describing what I saw. "It was more beautiful and more dazzling and more frightening than I ever imagined."

The descent back to Earth was as quick as the ascent. As the capsule hit the atmosphere, Boshuizen says, he felt like a stone being thrown into a river, splashing at the surface and then floating gently to the bottom. Just over 10 minutes after launching, the crew touched back to Earth in a cloud of dust, at 9.59am CDT.

Researchers call for armchair astronomers to help find unknown hidden worlds

If the orbit of an exoplanet is seen at just the right angle from Earth, we may observe the planet passing directly in front of its host star, known as a transit.
If the orbit of an exoplanet is seen at just the right angle from Earth, we may observe the planet passing directly in front of its host star, known as a transit.

Astronomers at the University of Warwick have joined partners around the world in launching a new online initiative, calling for volunteers to come forward and help to search for extrasolar planets. The online citizen project, Planet Hunters Next-Generation Transit Search (NGTS), is enlisting the help of the public to examine five years' worth of digital footage showing some of the brightest stars in the sky.

The footage was captured by twelve NGTS robotic telescopes based at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Paranal Observatory in Chile-they make high precision measurements, sensitive enough to detect the signatures of exoplanets.

Professor Peter Wheatley from the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at University of Warwick leads NGTS. He said: "It is exciting to be able to involve the public in our search for planets around other stars. We control the NGTS telescopes from the University of Warwick, and we process all the data here, but we are pretty sure our computer programs are missing some planets. These will be the most unusual signals and so probably some of the most interesting planets. Humans are still smarter than machines, and I can't wait to see what our volunteers unearth."

Dr. Meg Schwamb an astronomer in the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen's University Belfast, is leading the project. She explains: "If the orbit of an exoplanet is seen at just the right angle from Earth, we may observe the planet passing directly in front of its host star, known as a transit. This causes the planet to periodically block a portion of the starlight we observe, and the star appears to dim ever so slightly for a few hours.

Every 10 seconds, the NGTS telescopes capture the light from 1,000s of stars in the sky looking for the tell-tale signatures of an exoplanet transit. Computers are searching through the NGTS observations looking for the telltale repeated dips in starlight due to planet transits. The automated algorithms produce lots and lots of possible candidate transit events that need to be reviewed by the NGTS team to confirm whether they are real or not.

Most of things spotted by the computers are not due to exoplanets, but a small handful of these candidates are new bona fide planet discoveries. While the NGTS team reviews the most interesting objects identified by computers, humans are still better at picking out the signals of transiting planets-and the team thinks there may still be planets lurking in the data that the computers missed.

There is no application process to join the Planet Hunters NGTS project. Anyone with a web browser can dive right into the data and start searching for these possible hidden worlds and helping to check the best candidate planets identified on the website.

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'Stargazing' - Astronomy Nights At Your Place

Ask Yourself Have You Ever...looked through a large telescope? Touched a real space rock? Seen the rings of Saturn, Jupiter's Moon? Viewed star clusters thousands of light years away OR seen huge craters and 'seas' on the Moon up close? 

Our special program is unique... a never to be forgotten journey of the night sky. There is nothing quite like seeing the distant stars and planets with your own eyes through our magnificent telescopes - and it's all done from your backyard with your friends around!  *See more on this STARGAZING program: : Click


'Astro Dave' Is Radio-Active

                                          Just a few of the 66 Stations I'm heard on weekly

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