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September 30, 2010

A Habitable Planet?

Researchers from the University of California Santa Cruz and the Carnegie Institution of Washington have discovered a planet within the habitable range of the red dwarf star Gliese 581 (NASA 2010). This star has been studied a lot recently, and there are now six planets identified to be orbiting it, "the most yet discovered in a planetary system outside of our own" (NASA 2010). Additionally, "like our solar system, the planets around Gliese 581 have nearly-circular orbits" (NASA 2010).

Its location also has conditions that would allow for the existence of liquid water (NASA 2010), which was very important in the development of life on Earth (Bennett and Shostak, 2007). The large size of the planet also helps, as it is large enough to hold onto an atmosphere (NASA 2010).

Bennett, Jeffrey, and Seth Shostak. Life in the Universe. 2nd ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley, 2007. 2-15.

"NASA and NSF-Funded Research Finds First Potentially Habitable Exoplanet." NASA. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, 29 Sept. 2010. Web. 29 Sept. 2010. .

Posted by lebeisma at 12:51 PM | Comments (9)

September 28, 2010

Dark Energy and Dark Matter

This piece, taken from the NASA website, goes into a further discussion about dark energy and briefly touches on dark matter. Professor Miller sparked interest in the topic on 9-27-10 and I wished to read further. The article is very detailed and provides very good visual representations.

Posted by tferreri at 10:21 AM | Comments (4)

September 22, 2010

Harvest Moon

This is a nice explanation of what is meant by a Harvest Moon (which occurred last night). The summary is that the sun sets as the full moon rises, which causes a brighter than usual twilight. As you all know how complicated the motions of the sun, moon, and Earth are, this event is actually quite rare.

Posted by christoq at 11:12 PM | Comments (2)

September 13, 2010

Getting closer.....

On September 8, 2010, two asteroids came between us and the moon. Both asteroids were around 15m in diameter and got as close as 0.2 moon distances. The NASA news article here, states that these came from an as yet undiscovered population of 50 million asteroids of a similar size. How much damage would a 10 meter asteroid do if it hit the earth? Why don't astronomers know more about where these asteroids are and when they might get near the earth?

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Posted by christoq at 03:27 PM | Comments (4)

September 03, 2010

Solar Eclipse

Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Williams College Eclipse Expedition

This is a view of a recent solar eclipse from somewhere in Chile. Interestingly, Chile is where most of the world's greatest telescopes reside. U-M is part of the Magellan Consortium, and many in the Astronomy Department spend their time peering through large telescopes high up in the Andes.

This image wasn't taken from the Andes. Is this even a single photograph? What is lighting up the surface of the moon? Are we seeing the dark side of the moon? Why is some of it colored red? What are all those small white dots in the red areas? What is the white haze behind the moon. How did NASA create this image?

Posted by christoq at 02:05 PM | Comments (5)

Welcome to Astronomy 101 Web log

Welcome to the Astronomy 101 Web log. Active students in Astronomy 101 will be able to post and comment on recent astronomical science and discovery. Students are encouraged to post and discuss topics often and thoughtfully. If you hear about an astronomical discovery, blog about it here. Or keep an eye on APOD, NASA or the NOAO.

There are no rules other than professionalism, courtesy, and copyright respect. Please make sure your pictures are in the public domain (NASA and NOAO images are always in the public domain) and that proper citations are given.

The text of the posts and discussions (i.e. comments) should be your own. Cite properly and often. Plagiarism is grounds for immediate removal from the site.

Please note that this blog is visible to the public and that anyone with a U-M unique-name can comment.

Posted by christoq at 01:39 PM | Comments (4)