Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some Astronomy News Nuggets

Here's a short listing of some astronomy in the news. Many other bloggers have covered these, and I don't have a lot to add. So, for more information, look through some of the other blogs in my blogroll on the right of the page.
  • Vote on Hubble's Next Target! Normally, astronomers get to choose where to point the Hubble Space Telescope. It's a long, difficult, frustrating process, but it does insure that the best science gets done. Alas, that best science doesn't always result in the prettiest pictures. For that reason, for the last decade the Hubble Heritage project has used Hubble to take pretty pictures of some of the most photogenic planets, stars, nebulae, and galaxies in the sky. And these pictures are not just pretty, but they've been used for some groundbreaking science, too! Now, NASA is asking for your opinion on which object Hubble should target next. Go here to learn more and register your vote! You might even win a prize.
  • Global warming that puts our puny human efforts to shame. Astronomers looking at a known planet around another star were able to see the planet warm up from 1000 degrees Fahrenheit to 2200 degrees Fahrenheit in just 6 hours. The planet, about 4.5 times the mass of Jupiter, has a very elliptical orbit around its parent star, going from a distance of about 85 million miles to just a couple million miles above its parent star and back again every 111 days. The press release has a link to a movie of a computer simulation of the planet heating up.
  • Mars Spirit Rover is acting weird. NASA's Spirit Rover, which has been exploring Mars's Gusev Crater for just over five years, has been acting funny for the last couple of days. Diagnostics are ongoing, and this probably doesn't mean the end of the line for Spirit. If you watch documentaries on the Mars rovers, Spirit has always been the problem child, but she has always come through. Some day, alas, we will lose both rovers.

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