Video: Amazing timelapse video of the ISS Orbit

A time-lapse taken from the front of the International Space Station as it orbits our planet at night. This movie begins over the Pacific Ocean and continues over North and South America before entering daylight near Antarctica. Visible cities, countries and landmarks include (in order) Vancouver Island, Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Fransisco, Los Angeles. Phoenix. Multiple cities in Texas, New Mexico and Mexico. Mexico City, the Gulf of Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula, Lightning in the Pacific Ocean, Guatemala, Panama, Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and the Amazon. Also visible is the earths ionosphere (thin yellow line) and the stars of our galaxy.

Video: Amazing Time Lapse Video of the Milky Way Taken in Spain

This video has left me speechless.

From the description:

This was filmed between 4th and 11th April 2011. I had the pleasure of visiting El Teide.
Spain´s highest mountain @(3715m) is one of the best places in the world to photograph the stars and is also the location of Teide Observatories, considered to be one of the world´s best observatories.

The goal was to capture the beautiful Milky Way galaxy along with one of the most amazing mountains I know El Teide. I have to say this was one of the most exhausting trips I have done. There was a lot of hiking at high altitudes and probably less than 10 hours of sleep in total for the whole week. Having been here 10-11 times before I had a long list of must-see locations I wanted to capture for this movie, but I am still not 100% used to carrying around so much gear required for time-lapse movies.

The Mountain from Terje Sorgjerd on Vimeo.

NASA Orbits Mercury for the first Time – Video Inside

NASA’s Messenger spacecraft’s first photos of Mercury have revealed a pock-marked planet full of craters from pieces of asteroids.

Crazy Awesome Video of a Massive Solar Flare

From NASA:

When a rather large-sized (M 3.6 class) flare occurred near the edge of the Sun, it blew out a gorgeous, waving mass of erupting plasma that swirled and twisted over a 90-minute period (Feb. 24, 2011). This event was captured in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft . Some of the material blew out into space and other portions fell back to the surface. Because SDO images are super-HD, we can zoom in on the action and still see exquisite details. And using a cadence of a frame taken every 24 seconds, the sense of motion is, by all appearances, seamless. Sit back and enjoy the jaw-dropping solar show.

How Many Planets in our Galaxy? How Does 50 Billion Sound

The Discovery Channel did the math and extrapolated how many possible planets there could be in our galaxy based on the data already received from the Kepler probe, which has already discovered over 1200 planets.

The answer?

50 BILLION.

And they estimate 500 MILLION of those could be habitable.

That really puts the vastness of our galaxy into perspective.

Take the numbers further and imagine how many planets there could be in other galaxies in the universe and the numbers easily go beyond the Trillions.

Source.

We really need to get out there and start exploring!

NASA Images Most Distant – and Youngest – Galaxy in the Universe

most distant galaxy

The Hubble Space Telescope has snapped an image of the most distant galaxy in the universe.

From NASA:

Astronomers have pushed NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope to its limits by finding what is likely to be the most distant object ever seen in the universe. The object’s light traveled 13.2 billion years to reach Hubble, roughly 150 million years longer than the previous record holder. The age of the universe is approximately 13.7 billion years.

The tiny, dim object is a compact galaxy of blue stars that existed 480 million years after the big bang. More than 100 such mini-galaxies would be needed to make up our Milky Way. The new research offers surprising evidence that the rate of star birth in the early universe grew dramatically, increasing by about a factor of 10 from 480 million years to 650 million years after the big bang.

Source.

Holy Crap This is Amazing: All 1200 Kepler Planets Visualized

The title says it all.

This is a visualization of the 1236 exoplanet candidates observed by Kepler.

As you can see, the vast majority of these planets orbit their stars at a distance less than Earth. This is likely due to the relatively short observation period – it is highly probable that many more planets will be found as the duration of study increases.

Two candidates are highlighed: KOI 326.01 and KOI 314.02. Out of all the candidates, those two may have the best chances of satisfying some of the “habitability” criteria astronomers tend to use.

Kepler Exoplanet Candidates from blprnt on Vimeo.

Exoplanets: Planetary System Discovered – Keplar Telescope discovers a boatload of Planets

Big news in the search for planets outside our solar system last week. I’ll try to summarize all the news that came out in one post.

Nasa scientists discover planetary system

Astronomers have discovered a planetary system made up of six planets orbiting a Sun-like star that is more than 2,000 light years from Earth. It is the largest number of planets found so far around a single star.

Jack Lissauer, a scientist at Nasa’s Ames research centre in California and a lead author on a paper published tomorrow in the journal Nature, said that the Kepler-11 finding was “the biggest thing in exoplanets since the discovery of 51 Pegasi B, the first exoplanet, back in 1995″.

The five inner planets of the Kepler-11 system are between 2.3 and 13.5 times the mass of the Earth, and make their orbits in less than 50 days. All of them are so close to their star that their orbits would fit within that of Mercury in our solar system. The sixth planet has an orbital period of 118 days and sits at a distance from its star that is half the Sun-Earth distance. Lissauer said it was unexpected to find a system where planets could be so close to one another and there could be so many of them on such a flat plane. “The Kepler-11 system is flatter than a CD,” he said. “If placed within our solar system, Kepler-11′s six planets would lie between those of the sun’s innermost planets, Mercury and Venus.”

Read more here.

Exoplanet hunt turns up 54 potentially habitable worlds

Astronomers have identified some 54 new planets where conditions may be suitable for life.

Five of the candidates are Earth-sized.

The data release also confirmed a unique sextet of planets around a single star and 170 further solar systems that include more than one planet circling far-flung stars.

Read more here.

Kepler Telescope discovers 1200 new worlds

In fifteen years, astronomers have detected just over 500 planets orbiting other stars. Now, after less than two years in orbit, the Kepler telescope has more than tripled that figure, discovering more than 1,200 possible new worlds. Even better, at least 54 of them are in their star’s habitable zone, and five of these are Earth-sized planets. But here’s the best part – Kepler only looked at one tiny corner of our galaxy. We really might be surrounded by millions of Earth-like planets after all.

Turns out yesterday’s story about a tightly packed solar system was just a tease for the really big news. After just 23 months in orbit, NASA’s Kepler telescope has discover 1,235 potential planets orbiting around the 156,000 stars it’s been charged with observing. It should be stressed that these are still just possible planets, but in all likelihood the vast majority of these observations will stand up, so we’re still probably looking at at least a thousand new exoplanets.

So what sorts of planets has Kepler found? There appear to be 68 Earth-sized planets, 288 rocky planets that are considerably bigger and known as Super-Earths, 662 relatively small gas giants around the size of Neptune, 165 Jupiter-sized planets, and 19 that are even bigger than Jupiter. The discovery of nearly 70 Earth-like planets is particularly exciting, considering we had only detected a handful of them before this.

Read more here.

Definitely exciting times in Astronomy and I wholeheartedly believe this is just the beginning. There’s got to be hundred of thousands of planets our there – if not billions in the entire universe.

Listverse: 15 Common Astronomy Myths

The excellent list based website Listverse has an excellent post up about the Top 15 Common Astronomy Myths.

Here’s the first five:

1. Contrary to popular believe, Venusian is not the term to describe Venus and Venus related things. The correct term is Cytherean, which comes from Cytheria – the small island where Aphrodite emerged from a shell. Furthermore, Venusian is also not correct in that it doesn’t follow the pattern used for other planets – if you aren’t referring to Venus as the Cytherian planet you should call it the Venerean planet.

2. A very popular myth (which has even been repeated as fact by members of the Green party in the New Zealand parliament) states that crimes and accidents increase in number during a full moon. While it is almost impossible to debunk such a myth, there are no statistics relating to the incidence of crimes which supports this wacky theory.

3. Copernicus was not the first person to state that the Earth revolves around the sun. That theory was first taught by unknown ancient thinkers. While we don’t know their names, we do know for certain that, from as early as the seventh century BC, it was suggested in Sanskrit documents.

4. NASA did not spend millions of dollars trying to develop a pen to write in space when they could just have used pencils. First off, they did use pencils (like the cosmonauts) rather than trying to develop a pen, but when a smart man developed (at his own expense) a pressurized pen that not only would work in space but under the ocean as well, NASA purchased 400 of the pens at the cost of $6 per pen (they are now about $50 per pen and you can buy them online here). The Soviets also bought his pens. To this day, both nations still use the Fisher Space Pen (named after its inventor Paul Fisher).

5. I am a little loath to add this one as it has been mentioned on Listverse before, but for the sake of completion here it is: The Great wall of China is not visible from space with the naked eye even in a low Earth orbit. However, many other manmade objects are (such as bridges and dams).

Read the rest of this great list here.

Mars: Sands Dunes Shift with Time

NASA probes surveying Mars have noticed something very interesting – the sand dunes they’ve photographed have been changing the longer they’ve been monitoring.

Here’s a picture of what’s happening:

mars sand dunes]

From the BBC:

Vast sand dunes near the northern pole of Mars are not frozen relics of a distant past, but shift and change every Martian year, data have shown.

A hi-tech camera aboard Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted UK-sized dune fields that are among the most dynamic on the Red Planet.

Causes, says a report in Science, include carbon dioxide gas that freezes solid onto the dunes each winter.

As it thaws in spring, the gas released destabilises, causing sand avalanches.

Source.

Very cool!