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The Cosmic Mirror
By Daniel Fischer, Germany
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The Sky in October 2008
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"Collision" of Jupiter's Red Spots leaves all three alive and well

Quickly HST images up to July 8 [JPL] have been published (CL [making reference to this CM], SC, PSB, BAB, UT, AI), but they show only the early fate of the new, small red spot after it was squeezed by the other two - amateur images (later, still later and of July 15, 17 and 18), in contrast, document how the little one - known technically as STr-LRS - has made it through after all and is drifting away from the GRS.
Update # 319 of Sunday, October 5, 2008
2003 EL61 is now "Haumea" - with Hi'iaka and Namaka / Fabulous total solar eclipse seen from Asia, ships and planes / Chondrites matched to young asteroids

Now all five dwarf planets have official status and real names

On July 19 and September 17 the last two main candidates for "dwarf planet" status have been accepted by the IAU into this class of bodies intermediate between real planets and minor planets: First 2005 FY9 became Makemake, and finally 2003 EL61 turned into Haumea, with its two satellites called Hi'iaka and Namaka. By accepting the name proposal by Mike Brown, the IAU accpeted his priority of the discovery of 2003 EL61 - kind of, as it is not acknowledged in the respective press release. And the USGS in its official list of dwarf planets isn't providing a discoverer either but gives "Sierra Nevada Observatory, Spain" as the location of the discovery - where those astronomers worked whom Brown blames of stealing his discovery (by being able to find out the true nature of their own 2003 detection with the help of his telescope pointing files).

No further bodies of sizes similar to the 5 dwarf planets are known right now anywhere in the solar system, so the list is likely to be complete for a while. As could be expected, the naming of two dwarf planets caused an uproar among those still fighting for all dwarf planets being declared real planets - little did they (nor those favoring the post-2006 solar system order) know that the IAU - or rather its Division III - is quietly working to improve the wording of the controversial Prague resolutions! Both the requirements for hydrostatic equlibrium (which makes both dwarf and real planets) and orbital neighborhood cleaning (which only a real planet can provide) will be phrased more strictly - and the word "dwarf planet" that's in everyday use now but loved by few, might be replaced as well. All this in time for the next IAU General Assembly, coming up next August in Rio. Whether exoplanets will be dealt with as well is not clear.

Haumea: IAU Press Release, Mike Brown statement and an another one (his opponent doesn't address the issue [here's his original claim - and the early days of a conspiracy theory ...]; the original discovery announcement and IAUC on all 3 future dwarf planets made public in July 2005 - and the abstract that may have triggered the whole affair and rants by Brown's foes on MPML [earlier, still earlier, even earlier] and counterclaims plus leaked e-mails [already deleted] from the naming process). Coverage by S&T, NwS, SC, NaB, CL, PSB and Manterre; commentary on Slashdot.
Makemake: IAU PR, Mike Brown Blog (follow-up), NwS, S&T, AFP, PSB, UT, ST, AC, AS.
The words and the Division: IAU Information Bulletin #102 (bottom of page 60 = PDF page 68) Is Ceres a former plutoid? ScN.

Fabulous total solar eclipse seen from Asia, ships and planes

The total solar eclipse of 1 August, thought to be "remote" by most standards, has actually been observed very well from a multitude of locations - with most on solid ground in Russia, Mongolia and China as well as one in the Arctic Sea experiencing clear skies, somethings beating the statistical odds. In addition several airplanes were up over Canada, the Artic, Norway and Russia, also intercepting the shadow. A typical minimum corona was seen (predicted in many details by new MHD models), and esp. close to 3rd contact a substantial prominence raised its head as well. Less than 12 months from now another eclipse, 3 times longer, will hit some of the same regions again. But first came a (deep) partial lunar eclipse, observed widely.
TSE: numerous reports, pictures and videos are linked in C4U of Aug. 4, Aug. 11 and Sep. 5, but the very best picture is here. A report by yours truly starts here and a list of planned and/or executed sciencific expeditions is here.
PLE: a gallery and a report by yours truly.

Source of the most common meteorites found?

When observing with the GEMINI telescopes, two astronomers from Brazil and the U.S. discovered for the first time asteroids that are similar to ordinary chondrites, the most common meteorites found on Earth. Until now, astronomers had failed to identify their asteroidal sources because of the various geologic processes that occur after the meteorites are ejected from their asteroidal parent body. Most of the meteorites that we collect on Earth come from the main belt of asteroids located between Mars and Jupiter and were ejected from their parent body after a collision. In 2006 four new, extremely young asteroid families were identified, with an age ranging from 50,000 to 600,000 years: These fragments should be less affected than older families by space weathering after the initial breakup.

The astronomers observed these asteroids, using the GEMINI telescopes in Hawaii and Chile and obtained visible spectra. They compared the asteroids spectra to the one of an ordinary chondrite, the Fayetteville meteorite, and found good agreement. This discovery is the first observational match between the most common meteorites and asteroids in the main belt. It also confirms the role of space weathering in altering asteroid surfaces. Identifying the asteroidal parent body of a meteorite is a unique tool when studying the history of our solar system because one can infer both the time of geological events (from the meteorite that can be analyzed through datation techniques) and their location in the solar system (from the location of the parent asteroid).

A&A Press Release.

How asteroids can get deformed

When solar energy "spins up" a "rubble pile" asteroid to a sufficiently fast rate, material is slung off from around the asteroid's equator: UMD Release, NwS, SC, BdW. Asteroids w/tails: ScN.
Main-belt asteroid 216 Kleopatra has two companions - it will be possible to estimate the mutual orbits of the satellites and then infer the bulk density of this interesting M-type asteroid: SC. Binary came close to us: C4U, PSB, TS.
Clovis impact speculations - new round: UC Release, KSJ, BdW. Yet another NEO story: NG.

Mars Update

Phoenix NASA/UA Releases of Sep. 29 and Sep. 16 and July 31, MRO image of heat shield in free-fall and of the parachute et al. on the ground, the midnight Sun, JPL Releases of July 18, July 17, July 16, July 15, July 14, July 10, July 8 and July 7, UA Releases of July 18, July 16, July 14, July 10, July 9 and July 7, (selected) pictures #112... 25, 24, 23 and 22, 111... 72, 56, 55, 54, 53, 52, 51 and 50, 109... 64, 63, 52, 51, 50, 41, 40, 31 and 30 and coverage of Oct. 3: AI. Oct. 2: NaB. Sep. 30: KSJ, ST. Sep. 29: WP, SC, PSB, NaB. Sep. 19: ST. Sep. 18: PS (B), SCB. Sep. 16: NW. Sep. 15: KSJ. Sep. 13: LAT. Sep. 12: PSB. Sep. 9: KSJ. Sep. 8: CNNB. Sep. 3: PSB, NaB. Aug. 29: PSB. Aug. 15: PSB (earlier). Aug. 13: PSB. Aug. 12: APOD. Aug. 6: PS (B), WP, NwS, KSJ, ST. Aug. 5: AT, SFG, NYT, SC. Aug. 4: PSB, NW. Aug. 2: NW, ST. Aug. 1: NaB, KSJ, ST. July 31: SC, PSB. July 28: KSJ. July 26: PSB. July 25: PSB. July 24: PSB (more), SpW. July 23: PSB. July 19: PSB. July 18: UT. July 17: PSB. July 16: NwS, WildCat, SC (earlier). July 15: WP, SC, NxG. July 11: NG, SC, PSB, CL. July 10: SC, PSB. July 9: SC, PSB, UT. July 8: SC. MRO JHU APL Release of July 16, NASA Release of July 16, Brown Release of July 16 and coverage of July 17: KSJ, SFG, ST. July 16: ScN, NG, NwS, SC, UT. MER Sep. 22 and Aug. 26 NASA Releases and coverage of Oct. 2: PSB. Sep. 23: NaB. Sep. 22: BBC. Sep. 19: PSB. Aug. 28: CNNB, ST. Aug. 27: NwS. Aug. 26: SC. Aug. 21: PSB. Aug. 1: PSB. July 17: PSB. July 9: PSB. Mars Express Releases of July 16 and July 14, VMC stories of Sep. 6 and Aug. 24 and other coverage of July 22. MSL landing site selection, launch date - and fate in the balance: AD, NW, PSB (earlier, still earlier, even earlier), SCB. ExoMars coverage: AW&ST, BBC, KSJ. MAVEN selected as the next Scout mission to Mars by NASA in 2013: NASA and CU Boulder Releases, AP, RMN, DP, BBC, NaB, PSB, SC (B), ST. MSRM visions: launch in 2018? BBC, SC, AFP. Earlier: NwS, DLF. Phobos-Grunt still planned for Oct. 2009 launch: Nov.

Saturn Update

Paper on Enceladus "biomarker in the plume" by McKay & al., NASA Release of July 30, JPL Release of Aug. 11, pictures # 104... 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21, 20 and 19 (only exceptional Cassini pictures will be linked from now on!) and coverage of Sep. 23: BAB. Sep. 13: Mike Brown. Aug. 19: PSB. Aug. 14: ST. Aug. 13: BBC, NwS. Aug. 7: NASA Wiki. July 31: NaB, ST. July 30: ScN, SC. July 16: CD. July 15: KSJ. July 14: ScN. July 8: NwS. July 7: SC, DLF. July 6: PSB.

ISS etc. Update

With the HST SM on hold after major onboard problems, the next mission will be ISS-bound in November - while the ATV has performed a well-observed fiery finale on Sep. 29. A video and stills of the ATV reentry, Clay and Ames Releases on the ATV observations, a leaked Aug. 18 Griffin e-mail, a July 31 Orion crash, a Heads of Agency International Space Station Joint Statement, the Exp. 17 Status, NASA Releases of Sep. 10, Sep. 7, Sep. 5, Aug. 15, Aug. 11 and July 7, ESA Releases of Sep. 29 [alt.], Sep. 2, July 18, July 9 and July 7, House Release of Sep. 24, Hale's Blog of July 14, S@N of July 9 and coverage of Oct. 5: G, NV. Oct. 4: DsB. Oct. 2: SC, SpP. Oct. 1: ST. Sep. 30: SC, ST. Sep. 29: SN, BBC, CL, SC, SatTrackCam. Sep. 27: ST. Sep. 26: SpP, WP, ScAm, SC, NYT. Sep. 25: ST (other story). Sep. 24: SN (other story), SpP, SC, NW. Sep. 23: NW. Sep. 22: NaB. Sep. 19: SC, ST. Sep. 18: ST. Sep. 17: SC. Sep. 15: Mainichi, NW. Sep. 14: ST. Sep. 13: SN. Sep. 12: ST. Sep. 11: NaB, ST (other story). Sep. 10: SN. Sep. 9: Nov., KSJ. Sep. 8: SC, NW, NaB, NwSB, PrA. Sep. 7: OS, SpP, SC, UPI, NW (earlier). Sep. 6: StS. Sep. 5: ST. Sep. 4: SN, SpP, SC, ST (earlier). Sep. 3: SCB. Sep. 2: SC, ST. Sep. 1: SN, IvS. Aug. 29: OS, ST. Aug. 28: ST. Aug. 27: ST. Aug. 26: NaB. Aug. 25: NW. Aug. 21: ST. Aug. 20: NW, NaB. Aug. 19: SN, NwS, SC, ST. Aug. 16: ST. Aug. 15: ST. Aug. 14: SN. Aug. 12: AFP, ST. Aug. 11: SN. Aug. 5: ST (other story). July 28: FYI. July 17: SR. July 16: Dsc., SC (B), WP, ST, NW. July 15: SC, BBC, BAB. July 14: AD, SpN. July 11: BBC, ST. July 10: SN (earlier, still earlier, even earlier), SC (earlier), ABCB. July 9: SN, SpP, SCB. July 8: WP, AD, BBC, CL, ST. July 7: SN, SpR (for fun, or ...?), HNN.
HST Servicing mission delay while critical onboard system loses back-up. NASA Release of Sep. 29 and coverage of Sep. 30: ST. Sep. 29: SN, SC, KSJ, BAB. Earlier: HST 100,000th orbit; SM planning potentially affected by contamination, hurricanes; NICMOS problems; both shuttles are now on the pad. NICMOS News, NASA Release (earlier, still earlier), SN, NYT, WP, SC (earlier), SB, UT (earlier), NaB, KSJ, TAB, ST (earlier), KL.
China's third manned mission launched on time on Sep. 25, followed by an EVA on Sep. 27 and a quick return. Coverage of Oct. 2: NaB. Sep. 29: NaB. Sep. 28: SN, BBC, SC, ST. Sep. 27: Xinhua, SC, BBC (videos), UT, ST, AI. Sep. 26: NaB, ST. Sep. 25: APr, KSJ, NW. Sep. 23: X. Sep. 18: SCB. Sep. 16: BBC, SD. Sep. 8: SD, NaB, ST. July 18: SCB.

Least luminous galaxy: Segue 1

Segue 1 is the least luminous of the ultra-faint galaxies recently discovered around the Milky Way, and is thus the least luminous known galaxy: paper by Geha & al., Yale PR, SC, PrA, CD, BdW.

Pinning down the Milky Way's spin - Pulsating stars enable a new precise determination of the rotation of our Galaxy: ESO and MPIfR Releases, BdW. Sun not where it formed in Galaxy? SC. Galaxy flow hints at huge masses over cosmic horizon: UC Davis and NASA Releases, NaB, KSJ, Dsc., NwS.

Do cosmic rays get bogged down in the cosmos? The fall-off may simply be due to there being fewer such cosmic rays created in the first place: AT, PW. DAMA controversies: PW. CMB anomaly? CV. Constants constant: SC, BdW. DE mystery: WP. BaBar breakthrough: PW.

Flares from a transient Galactic soft gamma-ray repeater

A puzzling SGR for which more than 40 flaring episodes were detected in the optical band over a time span of 3 days, plus a faint infrared flare 11 days later, after which it returned to quiescence: paper by Castro-Tirado & al., ESO and MPG Releases, AT.

New type of star explosion in 1800s Eta Car eruption? Berkeley Release, S&T. "Wild cousin" of SN 1987A: ESO, Chandra and U Chicago Releases. Underluminous Ia SN 2007ax: S&T. HST mystery object: S&T.

GRB distance record, z = 6.7: C4U, BBC, SC. Brightest (as seen from Earth) GRB ever modelled - a jet with two components fits best, with a narrow fast one beamed directly at us: ESO, NASA and Berkeley Releases, ScN, S@N, ScAm, NwS, SC, ST, BdW. Short GRBs have too bright afterglows: ScAm.

Open clusters like Orion have low fertility rate

Fewer than 10 percent have enough surrounding dust to make Jupiter-sized planets: Berkeley PR. Extreme starburst galaxy: JPL and Spitzer Releases, KSJ, Dsc., SC, NaB, BAB, BdW.

A possible image of a young, hot planet of a sunlike star has been taken - but it's not at all proven yet that the thing orbits the star: paper by Lafrenière et al., Gemini PR, ScN, PW, S&T, BBC, NwS, SC, BAB, ABCB, KSJ (later), ST, BdW, SB (follow-up und früher). Visiting a planet hunter: CSM, KSJ. What makes Earth special: SC (earlier). The weather on HD 189733b: arXiv Blog. Dusty remains of two terrestrial planets: UCLA PR, SC, SB.

New candidate for brightest star in the Galaxy

The "Peony nebula star" blazes with the light of an estimated 3.2 million suns - the reigning "brightest star" champion is Eta Carina, with a whopping solar wattage of 4.7 million suns, but the error bars are large: paper by Barniske & al., Spitzer and JPL Releases, KSJ, Dsc., ScN, NwS, ABCB, CL, UL, AI, BdW. Most massive star? Montreal PR, SC. Young star jets: JPL Feature.

Star cluster with "three different birthdays" - in NGC 6791 many white dwarfs are too young: HST Release, PrA, CL. Sgr A* - sharpest image, higher mass: papers by Doeleman & al. and Ghez & al., CfA Release, AT. Dusty silhouette of galaxy: HST Release, CV. DM disk in Milky Way: BdW. Weighing AGNs: Chandra and UCI Releases. QPOs from AGN core: ESA [alt.] and Durham Releases, BBC. Upper mass limit? Yale PR. Fast B-field build-up in galaxies: ScAm, SC. Clumpy galaxy formation: SC.

Water in the Moon's interior

Evidence of water that came from deep within the Moon suggests that it has been a part of the Moon since its early existence: Brown and Carnegie Releases, KSJ, NPR, Dsc., BBC, ScN, NwS, LAT, S&T, NG, ST, NaB, PSB, NxG, BdW, SB.

Outer Solar System not as crowded as astronomers thought - the Taiwanese-American Occultation Survey (TAOS) spent two years periodically photographing portions of the sky to look for small chunks of rock and ice orbiting beyond Neptune and found not once case: paper by Zhang & al., CfA Release, ST.

Rosetta flies by asteroid Steins

The Rosetta spacecraft flew past an asteroid on Sep. 5, returning some images although also suffering a problem with one camera. ESA Release of Sep. 6 (earlier), Sep. 5 and Sep. 2 and coverage of Sep. 25: PSB. Sep. 9: PS (B), EN. Sep. 6: BBC, PSB, KSJ, ST. Sep. 5: AFP, PSB, KSJ. Sep. 4: PSB. Sep. 2: PSB.

Venus Express to fly closer to Venus, with the goal of reducing the pericentre altitude to 185 km: ESA Release. VMC results: PSB. Coordinated Venus atmosphere studies: paper by Rengel et al. Microsat to go to Venus: AT. Stardust coming to museum - and more science: NASA and Wisc. Releases, Dsc. Dawn Journal of Sep. 27, Aug. 28 and Aug. 5.

MESSENGER's 2nd Mercury fly-by

will come on Oct. 6; OpNav images already show the planet growing: S@N, PSB (earlier, still earlier), SC, ST. Earlier: solar sailing; science. Sep. 5 Status, pictures 109... 59 and 42, KSJ, APOD, NYT, BAB, AT, SB.

Chang'e almost done mapping the Moon: Xinhua. Chandrayaan update: PSB. Earlier: IANS. LRO delay to Feb. or March 2009: AW&ST, PSB, SCB, ST. Another Euro-Moon vision: DLF. No German lunar orbiter: Sp.

Ulysses reports surprise weakening of the solar wind

It's now significantly weaker than during the last solar minimum: paper abstract, C4U, ESA and NASA Releases, S@N, S&T, VoA, Dsc., BBC, SC, ScN, KSJ. Ulysses hanging on - even a major anomaly doesn't kill s/c: mission continuation updates and coverage of Sep. 24: PSB. Sep. 22: PSB. July 11: PSB.

Hinode views of the solar corona: S@N. THEMIS success - auroral mechanism identified: NASA Release, S@N, ScN, NYT, SC, ST. GOCE postponed: ESA Release, ST.

EPOXI Earth-Moon video: NASA Feature and JPL Release, video, NwS, PSB, NaB. EPOCh results on some exoplanets: papers by Ballard & al. and Christiansen & al.

NASA renames GLAST, releases first images

The spacecraft will now be known as the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope after famed physicist Enrico Fermi: NASA Release of Aug. 26, Stanford PR of July 9, S@N, Update of July 15 and coverage of Sep. 19: AW&ST. Aug. 28: APOD. Aug. 27: WP, PW, CD, SSt, KSJ, ST. Aug. 26: ScN, AD, SC. July 14: TwP.

XMM discovery of Nova Pup 2007 - a bright nova missed completely by visual observers: ESA Release (more), Sim, AsB.

Dnepr launches RapidEye satellites

A Dnepr rocket successfully launched five remote sensing satellites for a German company; each weigh about 150 kilograms and carry camera designed to provide medium-resolution imagery of the Earth: MDA and SSTL Releases, ST. Delta 2 launches GeoEye satellite: PR, ST (earlier). Final SAR-Lupe launched: OHB Release, ST.

Iranian satellite launch attempt a failure, according to information provided by US intelligence sources: JSR, MSNBC, AQ&ST, UT, ST (earlier). Earlier: Nov. (more fantasies).

Falcon 1 reaches orbit - in 4th attempt

But will the business come? launch video set to music, SN, NaB, SC, NW (w/video), BBC, ST. The third failure: SN (earlier), ABCB, PrA, KSJ, ST (earlier, still (earlier, even earlier). With that launch another solar sail experiment was lost!

Suborbital rocket explodes after liftoff - the ATK Launch Vehicle (ALV) X-1 exploded after 27 seconds, ruining HyBolt: NASA Release, video, ST.

Firms chosen for Galileo run-off

Eleven industrial groups will compete for the contracts to build Europe's much-delayed satellite-navigation system, Galileo: BBC, ST.
  • First Light for the PRIMA instrument of the VLTI: ESO Release, CD, KL.
  • ANTARES neutrino telescope completed in late May: Homepage, NwS.
  • BOSS, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, part of SDSS III: LBL PR.
  • Laser comb for super-hi precision spectroscopy in cosmology & for exoplanets: Dsc.
  • AI in astronomy coping with data deluge: S&T.


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