December will close 2014 with a plethora of exciting space launches and sky watching events. Friend, Mark 'Indy" Kochte is currently working on the MESSENGER mission and stays up to date with the happenings with space exploration and night sky watching. Below he breaks down all of the amazing events happening this month.
The Stellar Eyes team has reassembled to bring you the latest, coolest and most exciting news in astronomy. Every two weeks it will be posted on stellareyes.com. We combed the internet for the most mind blowing and exciting news stories from the last two weeks so you can stay up to date in the latest happenings in space exploration.
"A still more glorious dawn awaits not sunrise, but a galaxy rise." - Carl Sagan
It seems like every where we look for life on exo-planets we still come up short. Things are just not adding up, how and why are planets so diifferent in other solar systems than our own? Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the Sun — and have come up nearly dry.
Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a supermassive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's cutting-edge tools, the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico.
Scientists from around the world are gathered this week at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., for the second Kepler Science Conference, where they will discuss the latest findings resulting from the analysis of Kepler Space Telescope data.
Included in these findings is the discovery of 833 new candidate planets, which will be announced today by the Kepler team. Ten of these candidates are less than twice the size of Earth and orbit in their sun's habitable zone, which is defined as the range of distance from a star where the surface temperature of an orbiting planet may be suitable for liquid water.
Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed a massive cloud of multimillion-degree gas in a galaxy about 60 million light years from Earth. The hot gas cloud is likely caused by a collision between a dwarf galaxy and a much larger galaxy called NGC 1232. If confirmed, this discovery would mark the first time such a collision has been detected only in X-rays, and could have implications for understanding how galaxies grow through similar collisions.
Astronomers have captured an image of a pink planet around a Sun-like star in the constellation Virgo. About four times the size of Jupiter it is the smallest exo-planet ever found around a star like our Sun. Glowing a dark magenta, the newly discovered exoplanet GJ 504b was found and imaged by Using infrared data from the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.
Get ready! Tomorrow is picture day for the entire planet. On Friday July 19, 2013, NASA's Cassini spacecraft will take a picture of Earth from about 898 million (1.44 billion kilometers) away, or nearly 10 times the distance between Earth and the sun. It will be the first time Earthlings have had advance notice that their picture will be taken from interplanetary distances.
In the summer of 1989, a robotic emissary from Earth visited the farthest major planet from the Sun, Neptune. Like any good tourist, NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft snapped a lot of pictures during the brief flyby. The prolific probe discovered several moons orbiting close to the blue-green planet. But one moon, no bigger than a metropolitan city and nearly coal-black, escaped detection because it was too faint to be seen. Until now.
It's hard to believe the captivating and gorgeous nebula in this image was created by one tiny sun-like star that exploded. Planetary nebulas are kind of like snowflakes, they are extremely intricate and beautiful and no two are exactly alike. Scattered throughout the universe these dazzling cosmic marvels give scientist a glimpse into our own star's distant future.