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The Day I Found The End Of The Rainbow
I found the end of a rainbow ... but there is not a pot of gold in sight. This amazing image taken elsewhere clearly shows where the band of colours hits the ground, almost exactly like what I saw when I stood beside a paddock in 1973. It is often claimed that nobody can find the end of a rainbow because the colours would not be visible close up. Wrong!!
A rainbow is an optical and meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection of light in water droplets in the Earth's atmosphere, resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. The most commonly cited and remembered sequence of colours is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. Rainbows can be caused by many forms of airborne water. These include not only rain, but also mist, spray, and airborne dew.
MY STORY: It was a wintery day sometime in 1976 in the western suburbs of Sydney. I was driving along past a large property with a companion when I noticed this beautiful rainbow in the sky. It seemed close, too close, we both got out and were stopped in our tracks at the sight we were seeing. I almost could not breathe it was so absolutely stunning. There we were standing right in from of the "end of a rainbow" in all its majestic splendor.so I slowed down and stopped
The sight was beyond anything I have ever seen in Nature. To this day I have not witnessed any rainbow of any type that was that beautifully profound and rare. I could almost touch it...in fact I think I passed my hand through it!!! I would have to intently search my memory to recall ever seeing this kind of natural beauty. It was Mother Nature in her true essence. In that moment I realized what is meant by, "the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow." What I saw was priceless. Account: Dave Reneke
James Webb Space Telescope glimpses Earendel, the most distant star known in the universe
The James Webb Space Telescope has caught a glimpse of the most distant star known in the universe, which had been announced by scientists using Webb's predecessor the Hubble Space Telescope only a few months ago. The star, named Earendel, after a character in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" prequel "The Silmarillion," was discovered thanks to gravitational lensing in a Hubble Space Telescope deep field image.
The star, whose light took 12.9 billion years to reach Earth, is so faint that it might be rather challenging to find it in the new James Webb Space Telescope image, which was released on Tuesday (Aug. 2) by a group of astronomers. The original Hubble image provides some guidance as to where to look through the zoomed-in cut-out. Essentially, Earendel, is the tiny whitish dot below a cluster of distant galaxies. By comparing the Hubble image with that captured by Webb, you can find the elusive Earendel.
"We're excited to share the first JWST image of Earendel, the most distant star known in our universe, lensed and magnified by a massive galaxy cluster," the Cosmic Spring astronomers wrote in the tweet, noting that the observations occurred on Saturday (July 30).
The tweet refers to gravitational lensing, which is nature's help for astronomers. The effect takes advantage of the fact that extremely massive bodies, such as galaxy clusters or supermassive black holes, bend light from objects behind them. When light passes by such a body, it behaves as if it were passing through the lens of a telescope, becoming magnified, albeit also distorted. Using gravitational lensing therefore extends the reach of telescopes, such as Hubble and Webb, enabling them to see farther and in greater detail.
Webb was designed to see the first galaxies that sprung up in the young universe in the first hundreds of millions of years following the dark ages after the Big Bang. Astronomers, however, thought that it would not be possible to see individual stars of this first generation of suns that formed at that time. But gravitational lensing might actually enable them to see inside those early stellar groupings in detail.
"JWST was designed to study the first stars. Until recently, we assumed that meant populations of stars within the first galaxies," astronomers from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Maryland, which operates Webb and Hubble, wrote in a recent paper (opens in new tab) discussing the technique. "But in the past three years, three individual strongly lensed stars have been discovered. This offers a new hope of directly observing individual stars at cosmological distances with JWST."
Earendel, also known under its proper name WHL0137-LS, is located in the constellation of Cetus, but don't expect to see it if you look up at the night sky - even gravitational lensing isn't that powerful.
Catch superb Saturn at its best in 2022 before the rings start to close up!
The Solar System's most picturesque planet comes to opposition at 17h UT on 14 August (14/15, night of Sunday into Monday morning), when it lies at the vast distance of 1,324 million kilometres). It can be observed among the stars of the southern constellation of Capricornus for most of the night; when you watch its steady glow, consider that its reflected light from the Sun, travelling at an unimaginably fast 299,792 kilometres per second, has taken around 67 minutes to wing its way across interplanetary space to hit your eyeballs!
Saturn's opposition is eagerly awaited as it's one of the observing highlights of the year. In fact, Saturn is well placed throughout the remainder of August and into September and October, so if you're clouded out on Sunday night don't worry as there's ample other observing nights to come. Saturn is the planet that every casual stargazer or budding amateur astronomer wants to see through a telescope. Even a seasoned, seen-it-all sage never tires of grabbing a look at the most beautiful planet in the Solar System.
It only takes one look at Saturn's majestic system of rings through a telescope and you're hooked. Nobody ever forgets the first time they see Saturn sail serenely into the field of view. Saturn comes to opposition on 14 August, when it can be found among the stars of Capricornus. A small telescope in the 80-90mm (~three-inch) class operating at 50x is all you'll need to see Saturn's two main rings, Rings A and B, as separate structures, to show the flatness (oblateness) of Saturn's globe (it's the most oblate or squat planet in the Solar System, more so than Jupiter) and to follow Titan, Saturn's giant moon, orbiting its parent.
Observing any astronomical body at an altitude of less than about 30 degrees increases the chance of enduring destructive seeing conditions. The closer to the horizon your chosen object lies, the more atmosphere or air you are looking through and the more your view deteriorates and the brightness of the object decreases. To give yourself the best chance of securing some decent views, an atmospheric dispersion filter is a very handy accessory to employ, as it will correct for atmospheric chromatic dispersion, which causes distracting red and blue fringing at Saturn's limbs, as Earth's atmosphere acts like a weak prism.
Saturn's classified as a gas giant planet with a diameter of 116,500 kilometres, 10 times that of Earth. Despite its huge volume and mass, it's a much smaller planet than mighty Jupiter and lies twice as far away. Saturn's globe appears 40 per cent as large as Jupiter's, spanning at best 18.8 arcseconds (increasing to about 42 arcseconds along the ring's major axis). Saturn is a much less active planet than Jupiter (though on occasion the odd white spot appears and storms can break out) and visually it doesn't offer anywhere near such obvious banding. Modern imagers however are able to coax out a surprising number of well-defined bands and its North Polar Hood.
Saturn's rings offer a changing aspect year-on-year. Since they were fully open (tilted by around 26 to 27 degrees towards us) in 2017 they have been closing up, with the planet's north pole now tilted towards us by almost 14 degrees. They will lie edge-on to our line of sight in 2025.
Woman hit by space junk, lives to tell the tale
And you thought lightning strikes were rare. Many people wonder what's it like to get hit with a piece of space junk? Lottie Williams -- perhaps the only person in history to ever get hit by falling space junk -- knows the answer. Back in January of 1997, she and two friends were walking through a park in Tulsa, Oklahoma around 3:30 a.m. when they saw a huge fireball streaking from the skies.
"We were stunned, in awe," Williams said. She thought she'd just witnessed a shooting star. "It was beautiful." Less than thirty minutes later, that awe turned to fear. "We were still walking through the park when I felt a tapping on my shoulder," Williams explained. With no one near her at the time, she started to run, thinking a stranger had appeared out of the shadows. Then she heard something hit the ground behind her.
"The weight was comparable to an empty soda can," Williams told FoxNews.com. "It looked like a piece of fabric except when you tap it, it sounded metallic." Williams was sure she'd found a piece of a shooting star. Excited by her discovery, she took the fallen piece of sky to her local library where she was referred to the astronomy club (given her space-rock theory), as well as the National Weather Service -- who told her about a Delta II rocket that had re-entered the atmosphere the night before.
Beginning to realize what had happened, Williams took the piece to the University of Tulsa where Dr. Winton Cornell, an applied associate professor in the Department of Geosciences, studied it with an electron microscope and blasted it with X-rays. "It had been partly melted and resembled fiberglass. It appeared to be the kind of material NASA used to insulate fuel tanks," Cornell said.
Williams then sent it CORD (the Center for Orbital and Reentry Debris Studies), where they did further analysis confirming the piece of blackened, woven material to be part of the fuel tank of a Delta II rocket that had launched a U.S. Air Force satellite in 1996. he is now featured on the site as the only individual to be struck by space debris.
Williams also claims to have talked to NASA and even received a letter from the deputy secretary of defense -- though today she can't find it -- apologizing for what happened while not actually admitting where the piece of material actually came from. "A lot of people thought it was a hoax," Williams said. "I just want people to know this actually happened."
Why space debris keeps falling out of the sky-and will continue to do so
Things have been falling out of the sky of late. Fortunately, no one has been hurt, but two recent space debris events offer a good reminder that what goes up often does come down.
A few weeks back a huge Chinese rocket broke apart in the atmosphere above Southeast Asia, with large chunks of the 24-metric-ton booster landing in Indonesia and Malaysia. Some of this debris fell within about 100 meters of a nearby village, but there have been no reported injuries. China has offered only limited comments on the return of the Long March 5B rocket. However, after the booster's splashdown, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson released a statement critical of China for not sharing tracking information about the rocket's return.
As the Chinese rocket plummeted back to Earth, reports also emerged this weekend of debris found in New South Wales, in the southeastern part of Australia. Three pieces of debris were eventually recovered and linked to the "trunk" of the Crew-1 spacecraft launched by SpaceX in November 2020. One of the pieces was about three meters long, and the debris was said to fall to the ground in the remote area on July 9.
There is no shortage of debris in space-the US Department of Defense is tracking more than 27,000 pieces of space junk with its Space Surveillance Network sensors. The act of getting things into space is messy and challenging, and historically, there has been some acceptance of debris created along the way.
But that is now changing as space becomes more congested. The threat to other objects is growing, especially with the proliferation of new satellites in low Earth orbit. And while no humans have ever been killed by space debris falling back through Earth's atmosphere, the chance is non-zero. (A recent paper estimated about a 10 percent chance of one or more fatalities in the next decade). Regulatory agencies are starting to take notice and consider reforms.
Fortunately, the space industry is changing its ways, too. Many Western rocket firms are now much more careful about ensuring the safe disposal of their upper stages, typically by reserving enough fuel to deorbit the stage into the Pacific Ocean. Moreover, for its next-generation transport system, SpaceX is looking to make its Starship vehicle fully reusable, including both the booster and the upper stage. Other companies, such as Relativity Space and Blue Origin, are also looking to make fully reusable launch systems.
Where the industry could do better is through more transparency, particularly about the debris created and its expected return to Earth. SpaceX still has not publicly commented on the Crew-1 trunk returning to Earth. And in addition to its silence on this week's debris, China plans to continue launching Long March 5B rockets despite their uncontrolled, dangerous return. Another low Earth orbit launch is planned for October of this year, with the Long March 5B boosting the Mengtian laboratory module.
Aussie Kids Get Starry Eyed For Science Week
Next to Dinosaurs kids lover space the best. Just ask any teacher. There are very few children I've ever met that don't love to talk about stars, planets, moons, comets, and asteroids. And the questions they ask put adults to shame. Hey, Science Week is this week 13-21 August and what better way to launch it than to have a star party. Yep, get the kids out under the stars and show them our Aussie night skies. Explain to them that the light from most of the stars they see left there thousands, even millions of years ago, and it's just arriving now!
Kids have amazing memories and are fantastic at learning patterns and associating the names with them. Perfect for constellations. When teaching children about stars astronomy book courses aren't enough. Make your lessons as interactive as possible because everything in their world now is in animated form. Teaching children astronomy has received a boost with the internet and Smartphone technology. It wasn't like that when most of us were kids. Here are some apps I use that will help.
Designed for kids aged 4-8, 'Star Walk Kids' introduces youngest audiences to the wonders of our Universe. Selected objects are explained in short animated films voiced by professional actors. Now Google 'Nasa Kids Club' then try www.kidsastronomy.com. Afterwards, check out an amazing website I've spent many hours on in the past, www.enchantedlearning.com. Teachers just love this one, and you will too.
For a broader choice of online and printable astronomical resources see the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. Be sure to click on the 'education' section OK. You can also be very clever about your first night sky adventure by choosing to go out when there are likely to be meteor showers. Consult an online web site to find out when and from which area of the sky the next meteor shower will come, and get your kids out to see it. This is exciting and you can compete to see who can count the most.
Spotting planets is another fine game, and the kids will soon be good at pointing out Venus or Jupiter at dusk, given a clear sky. Another sneaky one is wait until the space station is passing over. Go to www.spotthestation.nasa.gov/sightings for times. It's a guaranteed jaw dropper! So there it is. Ways to teach about the night sky are limited only by your imagination, and when your kids have grasped the basics, you can then think about a telescope, and mastering that. At that point, the universe will really open up for parent and child. So, what are you waiting for?
Planet 9 is Running out of Places to Hide
We have a pretty good idea of what lurks within our solar system. We know there isn't a Mars-sized planet orbiting between Jupiter and Saturn, nor a brown dwarf nemesis heading our way. Anything large and fairly close to the Sun would be easily spotted. But we can't rule out a smaller, more distant world, such as the hypothetical Planet 9 (or Planet 10 if you want to throw down over Pluto). The odds against such a planet existing are fairly high, and a recent study finds it even less likely.
Many astronomers have wondered about the existence of planets that might hide at the edge of our solar system, particularly when the power of our telescopes were fairly limited. But as large sky surveys started to scan the heavens they found nothing beyond asteroid-sized worlds. But the orbits of the worlds we did find seemed to be clustered in a statistically odd way, as if they were being gravitationally perturbed by a larger object. If that were the case, this "Planet 9" would have a mass of about five Earths, and an orbital distance of a few hundred to a thousand astronomical units. In other words, just small enough and distant enough that it wouldn't be easily seen in sky surveys.
Naturally, this motivated folks to search for the world, but it isn't easy. Planet 9 would be too distant to be seen by reflected light, so you'd have to look for it by its faint infrared glow. And with a mass of only five Earths, it wouldn't give off much heat. Adding to this is the fact that such a distant planet would orbit very slowly, such that within a single set of observations you wouldn't notice it move at all. This is where this new study comes in.
To look for distant planets, the team used two infrared sky surveys, one from the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (IRAS) and one from the AKARI Space Telescope. The two surveys were taken more than twenty years apart, giving any hypothetical planet plenty of time to move to a slightly different part of the sky. They assumed any distant planets would be fairly close to the equatorial plane, then combed through the data taking note of potential planets.
Surprisingly, they found more than 500 candidates. Based on the energy distribution of their spectra, most of these candidates had orbital distances less than 1,000 AU, and masses less than Neptune, which is exactly the range expected for Planet 9. But you shouldn't get too excited. When the team looked at the infrared signatures by hand, they found none of them were that compelling. Most of them tended to be either within or near a faint integrated flux nebula, also known as galactic cirrus. They are diffuse clouds of interstellar gas that aren't easily seen at visible wavelengths, but rather emit infrared light.
So it turns out these candidates aren't planets, but rather the echoes of a faint nebula. Which pretty much rules out Planet 9. Hopes of another planet lost in the clouds.
Earth Spinning Faster Than It Has In Five Decades!
Scientists of the National Physical Laboratory of England recorded the shortest day June 29 and another shortened day on July 26. On both of these days, the Earth completed its normal 24-hour rotation in less than 24 hours
They believe each day is a smidge shorter than 24 hours because the planet is rotating faster than it has in 50 year. We know, based on the fossil record, that days were just 18 hours long 1.4 billion years ago, and half an hour shorter than they are today 70 million years ago. Evidence suggests that we're gaining 1.8 milliseconds a century. In 2020, scientists discovered that instead of slowing down, our planet is actually starting to spin faster.
Since last year, a full day has been taking less than the normal 24 hours. July 19, 2020, was the shortest day since scientists began keeping records in the 1960s - 1.4602 milliseconds shorter than the full 24 hours.
A 2015 study published in Science Advances suggests global warming may be the reason behind the Earth's speedier rotation. BUT there could be several reasons:
- As glaciers melt, mass redistribution is causing the planet to shift and spin faster on its axis. According to scientists, the days are on average about 0.5 seconds shorter than 24 hours.
- Earthquakes and other seismic activity that move mass toward the center of the Earth like a spinning man stretching his arms
- Movement in Earth's molten core that changes the planet's mass,
The Moon is moving away from the Earth at 3cm yearly
World timekeepers are debating whether to delete a second from time - called a "negative leap second" - to account for the change and bring time passage back into line with the rotation of the Earth.
James Webb Space Telescope's 1st stunning photo is now a dress
The clearest and most detailed image of the distant universe ever taken, captured by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), was released on July 11, 2022. This image, dubbed Webb's First Deep Field, captures a scene brimming with the oldest galaxies scientists have ever seen. Now, this groundbreaking image is being celebrated through fashion.
Since the grand reveal of JWST's first science-quality photos, astrophysicists have gained valuable insight into what some of the universe's earliest stars and galaxies looked like. Instantly becoming a new favorite image for many around the world, the full-color, infrared First Deep Field photo freezes a moment in the early universe - specifically, the SMACS 0723 galaxy cluster. Its irregular, glinting galaxies form captivating artwork, which one company has transformed into a delightful, galactic dress.
In a project combining its two passions - science and clothing - fashion brand Svaha has launched a new JWST-themed collection, including a dress, top and cardigan. The cotton material of each of these items is fully covered with NASA's image, representing just a small speck of outer space in mesmerizing detail. The JWST dress was highly sought after by Svaha customers, according to the brand. "As soon as NASA released the photo, our social media was flooded with requests from our customers to capture the image on a dress," Svaha founder and CEO Jaya Iyer said in a statement (opens in new tab).
"The image is just so beautiful; we just had to do it! So, we created these beautiful designs so that people can wear them and own a piece of history!" Iyer added. Before the JWST, its preceding pioneer the Hubble Space Telescope had a more limited spectrum of infrared wavelengths that it could observe in the universe, according to NASA's Webb vs Hubble comparison page (opens in new tab). On board the JWST, which launched in December 2021, is an instrument called the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam).
The infrared sensors on NIRCam allow the telescope to peer further into space than ever before. To create the pattern displayed on the dress, the light that reached the telescope took so long to enter the solar system that the resulting shapes represent the universe when it was less than a billion years old. So as to exactly replicate these sharp details and true proportions, the popular JWST image was digitally printed onto the dress' fabric (95% cotton and 5% lycra). Its style includes short sleeves and a knee-length, flared skirt with pockets sewn into the waist for practicality
The NASA design covers the entirety of the dress, as the photo is duplicated on both the top and skirt section, mirrored near the waistline. This aspect shows off the impressive image to both the observer and wearer, providing an upright image on the skirt when looked down upon by the latter. Iyer originally launched the Svaha brand to merge fashion and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math), with one of the goals being to eradicate the idea that people have to choose between feminine clothing and science themes.
Each of the items in the Webb's First Deep Field clothing collection have been produced in sizes from XS to 5XL. Available for pre-order on the Svaha USA website (opens in new tab), the dress is priced at 79.99 USD, with the cheaper top and cardigan being sold for 44.99 USD each. For those who pre-order these dresses, they are due to be shipped to customers before the end of September 2022.
Astronomy Questions That Puzzle Most People
Astronomy is all about asking questions, and sometimes getting answers. How many questions have you asked the sky? Here are some of the questions people I've been asked the most...
"How big is the Universe?" The answer is of course limitless because we can't actually see the edge of it. We don't even know if it has an edge so we say it's infinite. We can only see out to a distance of about 14 billion light years from Earth.
This means that the size of the Universe that we can see is about 28 billion light years across. No light has reached us from beyond this distance. These portions of the universe lie outside the observable universe. Just imagine, everything we can see in the night sky isn't really there. Feel small? I do too, but it really rams home how vast this Universe is.
OK, then, "Where is the centre of the Universe? Now this is going to sound silly but the centre of the Universe is, in fact, where you're standing right now! Walk out into any backyard tonight and look up. Everything is moving away from you in all directions. Move across the galaxy and take the same measurement, you'll get the same result. The Big Bang happened everywhere at once, therefore there is no measurable centre. So, it's true when they say you are the centre of your Universe!
Another question I get is," Are there aliens?" Well, apart from being suspicious about a few of my neighbours, I believe we are definitely not alone. The numbers are just too great. There are 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone and the majority have planets around them. Surely with those numbers a few would be earth like and contain life.
What is a Blue Moon? Because the time between two full Moons doesn't quite equal a whole month, approximately every three years there are two full Moons in one calendar month. Over the past few decades, the second full Moon has been come to be known as a "Blue Moon."
Why is there a ring around the moon? Simply put, a ring or a foggy halo around the moon indicates the presence of tiny ice crystals in the atmosphere. Folklore has it that a ring around the moon signifies rain is coming, and in many cases this may be true. It's also believed that the number of stars within a moon halo indicate the number days before bad weather will arrive. Give it a try the next time you observe a moon halo.
Why do we always see the same side of the Moon from Earth? The Moon always shows us the same face because Earth's gravity has slowed down the Moon's rotational speed. The Moon takes as much time to rotate once on its axis as it takes to complete one orbit of Earth. Simple, isn't it?
Can You See the Great Wall of China From Space? This is a popular question. The reality is that you in fact can see the wall from the space station, but not from the Moon. The Apollo moonwalkers confirmed that you can't see it. The best you can see is the white and blue marble colours of our home planet.
The last big question asked is, "What would happen if I fell into a black hole?" Who knows, I sure don't, but it's cool to speculate isn't it. The only thing we know for sure is black holes swallow stars and planets and nothing, not even light, can escape its clutches. There may be a tunnel at the end that leads to another time, or another part of the Universe - a wormhole if you like. See you on the other side!
INTRODUCING OUR NEW PARTNER & ASTRO SUPPLIER
Many thanks to Peter and the crew at ASTRO ANARCHY Queensland. A New business with the amateur astronomer firmly in mind. Astro Anarchy has the experience, the stock and the knowledge to set up the first timer, to assist in the development of our hobby for the experienced observer OR cater to any other size need or desire in the field of amateur astronomy.
ATRO ANARCHY AS OUR SPONSOR: My business partner Peter Davies and I have set up a new Astro Tourism business focusing on the recently 'Dark Sky Town' accredited to Norfolk Island. We call it 'Norfolk Island STARGAZING'. When approached, Pete from Astro Anarchy had no hesitation in organizing and supplying all our Telescopes, Binoculars and associated gear to get started. Nothing was any trouble allowing us more than enough time to set up and become fully operational. He and he and his business come highly recommended for anyone wanting any astronomical gear in Australia.
'Stargazing' - Astronomy Nights At Your Place
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