June 1 2011 Astronomy Newsletter
Here's the latest article from the Astronomy site at BellaOnline.com.
Hubble 3D - Film Review
For over two decades a special telescope has given us breath-taking views of the cosmos. The Hubble Space Telescope has lasted this long through servicing by space shuttle astronauts, but the final mission is over. This IMAX film is a tribute to the iconic instrument - is there a theater near you?
The first lunar eclipse of 2011 will occur two weeks from today. Here is the relevant page from NASA's eclipse site: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/LEplot/LEplot2001/LE2011Jun15T.pdf If you look at the map, I'm afraid you'll see that you're out of luck if you live in North America. Almost every part of the world – except North America – will (conditions permitting) be able to see all or part of the eclipse.
For more information about lunar eclipses and their cause, see http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art28454.asp.
*Chilean skies move*
Here is a time-lapse video taken at the not-very-imaginatively-named VLT (Very Large Telescope) in Chile. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=wFpeM3fxJoQ The telescope is run by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the photography is by Stephane Guisard and José Francisco Salgado. I've included links to some of Guisard's fantastic pictures in past newsletters.
You may notice something strange in some of the frames, which is a laser shooting out from one of the telescope units. You can see it here: http://www.eso.org/public/archives/images/large/potw1036a.jpg
The laser produces an artificial star which the telescope uses to follow the distortions caused by the atmosphere. It can then compensate for them to produce a sharp image. This technique is called adaptive optics and is a common feature of modern telescopes.
The space shuttle Endeavour carried out its first mission from May 7 – May 16, 1992. Its final lift-off was on May 16, 2011 and it returned home for the last time today (June 1) Way back in 1993 it was the crew of Endeavour that carried out the very first repairs on the Hubble Space Telescope in order to correct its faulty optics.
The shuttle was named for HMS Endeavour – hence the British spelling – Captain Cook's ship on his first voyage to the southern seas. He was sent by the Royal Society to observe a transit of Venus, but the British government also wanted him to do some exploration, which he did.
That's all for now. Wishing you clear skies.
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Mona Evans, Astronomy Editor
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