THE UNISTELLAR MESSIER MARATHON March 10-16, 2021

THE UNISTELLAR MESSIER MARATHON March 10-16, 2021

By | February 26, 2021

One week to capture 110 Messier Objects

From March 10-16, 2021, astronomers and space-lovers worldwide are invited to participate in a record-setting world’s largest*Messier marathon:A race to observe all 110 Messier objects in one evening . For space-lovers who can’t spare an over-night,Unistellar has developed numerous mini marathons which can be completed in as little as one hour of observation time.

MOUNTAIN VIEW AND MARSEILLE – February 25, 2021 – Astronomers across North America, Europe and Japan have joined forces for a friendly competition to observe iconic deep-sky objects—all in hopes of getting stargazers curious about astronomy in March.

Messier Marathon Week, hosted by Unistellar and now in its second year, challenges stargazers to observe as many Messier objects as possible in one night. Events take place March 10 – 16, 2021, the only time of year that all Messier objects are visible in one night. If enough stargazers participate, Unistellar hopes to set a world record for the largest Messier Marathon event.

Some of the world’s leading astronomy institutions have signed up for the Unistellar Marathon, giving stargazers across multiple contents and languages access to diverse perspectives on space. Organizations including the SETI Institute plan to participate, either by attempting a Messier marathon or by sharing their best Messier observations.

Unistellar Marathon Website

For more information please click link above.

Whats a Messier Object or a list, visit Seasky.org

Wikipedia- Messier Objects Wikipedia – Messier

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THE UNISTELLAR MESSIER MARATHON March 10-16, 2021

One week to capture 110 Messier Objects

From March 10-16, 2021, astronomers and space-lovers worldwide are invited to participate in a record-setting world’s largest*Messier marathon:A race to observe all 110 Messier objects in one evening . For space-lovers who can’t spare an over-night,Unistellar has developed numerous mini marathons which can be completed in as little as one hour of observation time.

MOUNTAIN VIEW AND MARSEILLE – February 25, 2021 – Astronomers across North America, Europe and Japan have joined forces for a friendly competition to observe iconic deep-sky objects—all in hopes of getting stargazers curious about astronomy in March.

Messier Marathon Week, hosted by Unistellar and now in its second year, challenges stargazers to observe as many Messier objects as possible in one night. Events take place March 10 – 16, 2021, the only time of year that all Messier objects are visible in one night. If enough stargazers participate, Unistellar hopes to set a world record for the largest Messier Marathon event.

Some of the world’s leading astronomy institutions have signed up for the Unistellar Marathon, giving stargazers across multiple contents and languages access to diverse perspectives on space. Organizations including the SETI Institute plan to participate, either by attempting a Messier marathon or by sharing their best Messier observations.

Unistellar Marathon Website

For more information please click link above.

Whats a Messier Object or a list, visit Seasky.org

Wikipedia- Messier Objects Wikipedia – Messier

 

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NASA Night Sky Notes March 2021

NASA Night Sky Notes March 2021

This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

Taking the Dog Stars for a Springtime Walk: Sirius and Procyon

David Prosper

March skies feature many dazzling stars and constellations, glimmering high in the night, but two of the brightest stars are the focus of our attention this month: Sirius and Procyon, the dog stars!

Sirius is the brightest star in the nighttime sky, in large part because it is one of the closest stars to our solar system at 8.6 light years away. Compared to our Sun, Sirius possesses twice the mass and is much younger. Sirius is estimated to be several hundred million years old, just a fraction of the Sun’s 4.6 billion years. Near Sirius – around the width of a hand with fingers splayed out, held away at arm’s length – you’ll find Procyon, the 8th brightest star in the night sky. Procyon is another one of our Sun’s closest neighbors, though a little farther away than Sirius, 11.5 light years away. While less massive than Sirius, it is much older and unusually luminous for a star of its type, leading astronomers to suspect that it may “soon” – at some point millions of years from now – swell into a giant star as it nears the end of its stellar life.

Sirius and Procyon are nicknamed the “Dog Stars,” an apt name as they are the brightest stars in their respective constellations – Canis Major and Canis Minor – whose names translate to “Big Dog” and ”Little Dog.”  Not everyone sees them as canine companions. As two of the brightest stars in the sky, they feature prominently in the sky stories of cultures around the world. Sirius also captures the imaginations of people today: when rising or setting near the horizon, its brilliance mixes with our atmosphere’s turbulence, causing the star’s light to shimmer with wildly flickering color. This vivid, eerie sight was an indication to ancient peoples of changes in the seasons, and even triggers UFO reports in the modern era!

Both of these bright stars have unseen companions: tiny, dense white dwarf stars, the remnants of supermassive companion stars. Interestingly, both of these dim companions were inferred from careful studies of their parent stars’ movements in the 1800s, before they were ever directly observed! They are a challenging observation, even with a large telescope, since their parent stars are so very bright that their light overwhelms the much dimmer light of their tiny companions. The white dwarf stars, just like their parent stars, have differences: Sirius B is younger, brighter, and more energetic than Procyon B. Careful observations of these nearby systems over hundreds of years have helped advance the fields of: astrometry, the precise measurement of stars; stellar evolution; and astroseismology, the study of the internal structure of stars via their oscillations. Discover more about our stellar neighborhood at nasa.gov!

Sirius and Procyon, the loyal hunting dogs of nearby Orion the Hunter! What other stories can you imagine for these stars?  Learn about “Legends in the Sky” and create your own with this activity: https://bit.ly/legendsinthesky     Image created with assistance from Stellarium.

Sirius A and B imaged by two different space telescopes, revealing dramatically different views! Hubble’s image (left) shows Sirius A shining brightly in visible light, with diminutive Sirius B a tiny dot. However, in Chandra’s image (right) tiny Sirius B is dramatically brighter in X-rays! The “Universe in a Different Light” activity highlights more surprising views of some familiar objects: http://bit.ly/different-light-nsn NASA, ESA, H. Bond (STScI), and M. Barstow (University of Leicester) (left); NASA/SAO/CXC (right)

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What’s In the Sky This Month? February 2021

Information from High Point Scientific, their monthly newsletter that can be viewed or downloaded from their website ;

High Point Scientific Monthly Newsletter

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NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover Makes Landing on Feb. 18, 2021

“NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover mission is just 22 days from landing on the surface of Mars. The spacecraft has about 25.6 million miles (41.2 million kilometers) remaining in its 292.5-million-mile (470.8-million-kilometer) journey and is currently closing that distance at 1.6 miles per second (2.5 kilometers per second). Once at the top of the Red Planet’s atmosphere, an action-packed seven minutes of descent awaits – complete with temperatures equivalent to the surface of the Sun, a supersonic parachute inflation, and the first ever autonomous guided landing on Mars.” Quote from NASA Mars Rover Information website.

NASA Mars Rover Information

 

Mars Perseverance

 

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NASA Night Sky Notes February 2021

Night Sky Network

NASA Night Sky Notes February 2021

This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network

The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

Landing On Mars: A Tricky Feat!

David Prosper

The Perseverance rover and Ingenuity helicopter will land in Mars’s Jezero crater on February 18, 2021, NASA’s latest mission to explore the red planet. Landing on Mars is an incredibly difficult feat that has challenged engineers for decades: while missions like Curiosity have succeeded, its surface is littered with the wreckage of many failures as well. Why is landing on Mars so difficult?

Mars presents a unique problem to potential landers as it possesses a relatively large mass and a thin, but not insubstantial, atmosphere. The atmosphere is thick enough that spacecraft are stuffed inside a streamlined aeroshell sporting a protective heat shield to prevent burning up upon entry – but that same atmosphere is not thick enough to rely on parachutes alone for a safe landing, since they can’t catch sufficient air to slow down quickly enough. This is even worse for larger explorers like Perseverance, weighing in at 2,260 lbs (1,025 kg). Fortunately, engineers have crafted some ingenious landing methods over the decades to allow their spacecraft to survive what is called Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL).

The Viking landers touched down on Mars in 1976 using heat shields, parachutes, and retrorockets. Despite using large parachutes, the large Viking landers fired retrorockets at the end to land at a safe speed. This complex combination has been followed by almost every mission since, but subsequent missions have innovated in the landing segment. The 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission added airbags in conjunction with parachutes and retrorockets to safely bounce its way to a landing on the Martian surface. Then three sturdy “petals” ensured the lander was pushed into an upright position after landing on an ancient floodplain. The Opportunity and Spirit missions used a very similar method to place their rovers on the Martian surface in 2004. Phoenix (2008) and Insight (2018) actually utilized Viking-style landings. The large and heavy Curiosity rover required extra power at the end to safely land the car-sized rover, and so the daring “Sky Crane” deployment system was successfully used in 2012. After an initial descent using a massive heat shield and parachute, powerful retrorockets finished slowing down the spacecraft to about 2 miles per hour. The Sky Crane then safely lowered the rover down to the Martian surface using a strong cable. Its job done, the Sky Crane then flew off and crash-landed a safe distance away. Having proved the efficacy of the Sky Crane system, NASA will use this same method to attempt a safe landing for Perseverance this month!

You can watch coverage of the Mars Perseverance landing starting at 11:00 AM PST (2:00 PM EST) on February 18 at nasa.gov/nasalive. Touchdown is expected around 12:55 PM PST (3:55 PM EST). NASA has great resources about the Perseverance Rover and accompanying Ingenuity helicopter on mars.nasa.gov/mars2020 . And of course, find out how we plan to land on many different worlds at nasa.gov.

Illustrations of the Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) sequences for Viking in 1976, and Perseverance in 2021. Despite the wide gap between these missions in terms of technology, they both performed their landing maneuvers automatically, since our planets are too far apart to allow Earth-based engineers to control them in real time! (NASA/JPL/Caltech)

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NASA Night Sky Notes January 2021

  

NASA Night Sky Notes January 2021

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This This article is distributed by NASA Night Sky Network

               The Night Sky Network program supports astronomy clubs across the USA dedicated to astronomy outreach. Visit nightsky.jpl.nasa.gov to find local clubs, events, and more!

 

 

Check Your Sky’s Quality with Orion!

David Prosper

Have you ever wondered how many stars you can see at night? From a perfect dark sky location, free from any light pollution, a person with excellent vision may observe a few thousand stars in the sky at one time! Sadly, most people don’t enjoy pristine dark skies – and knowing your sky’s brightness will help you navigate the night sky.

The brightness of planets and stars is measured in terms of apparent magnitude, or how bright they appear from Earth. Most visible stars range in brightness from 1st to 6th magnitude, with the lower number being brighter. A star at magnitude 1 appears 100 times brighter than a star at magnitude 6. A few stars and planets shine even brighter than first magnitude, like brilliant Sirius at -1.46 magnitude, or Venus, which can shine brighter than -4 magnitude! Very bright planets and stars can still be seen from bright cities with lots of light pollution. Given perfect skies, an observer may be able to see stars as dim as 6.5 magnitude, but such fantastic conditions are very rare; in much of the world, human-made light pollution drastically limits what people can see at night.

Your sky’s limiting magnitude is, simply enough, the measure of the dimmest stars you can see when looking straight up. So, if the dimmest star you can see from your backyard is magnitude 5, then your limiting magnitude is 5. Easy, right? But why would you want to know your limiting magnitude? It can help you plan your observing! For example, if you have a bright sky and your limiting magnitude is at 3, watching a meteor shower or looking for dimmer stars and objects may be a wasted effort. But if your sky is dark and the limit is 5, you should be able to see meteors and the Milky Way. Knowing this figure can help you measure light pollution in your area and determine if it’s getting better or worse over time. And regardless of location, be it backyard, balcony, or dark sky park, light pollution is a concern to all stargazers!

How do you figure out the limiting magnitude in your area? While you can use smartphone apps or dedicated devices like a Sky Quality Meter, you can also use your own eyes and charts of bright constellations! The Night Sky Network offers a free printable Dark Sky Wheel, featuring the stars of Orion on one side and Scorpius on the other, here: bit.ly/darkskywheel. Each wheel contains six “wedges” showing the stars of the constellation, limited from 1-6 magnitude. Find the wedge containing the faintest stars you can see from your area; you now know your limiting magnitude! For maximum accuracy, use the wheel when the constellation is high in the sky well after sunset. Compare the difference when the Moon is at full phase, versus new. Before you start, let your eyes adjust for twenty minutes to ensure your night vision is at its best. A red light can help preserve your night vision while comparing stars in the printout. 

Did you have fun? Contribute to science with monthly observing programs from Globe at Night’s website (globeatnight.org), and check out the latest NASA’s science on the stars you can – and can’t – see, at nasa.gov.

The Dark Sky Wheel, showing the constellation Orion at six different limiting magnitudes (right), and a photo of Orion (left). What is the limiting magnitude of the photo? For most observing locations, the Orion side works best on evenings from January-March, and the Scorpius side from June-August.

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