It’s almost the middle of June, which means that it’s mid-winter here at my home in the South and the much-delayed cold weather has finally arrived! It’s an excellent time of year for stargazing with long crisp evenings, week-long stretches of cloudless sky, a spectacular range of objects to point our telescopes towards, and a shaky national power utility gifting us with repeated blackouts for extra-dark skies. But what to do if you’re not blessed with such ideal observing conditions? Well that’s where the Carnival of Space comes in! Welcome, enjoy the show, try the popcorn!
It’s been a great week for the carnival, with space science and astronomy writers falling over themselves to send us their best work. First in line is Vega00 with an article about a new study suggesting that exoplanets with masses similar to Earth could orbit their stars in a circular orbit be more frequently that previously thought. The article is written in Spanish.
Next comes the official blog of the Chandra X-ray Telesope, telling us how Chandra has found evidence for serial black hole eruptions. The eruptions in question involve the black hole’s magnetic field violently discarding large swathes of infalling gas before they can be consumed by the black hole.
Then we get Carnival mainstays, Universe Today with three submissions. The first celebrates the return of ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who inadvertently broke the record for longest time spent in space by a woman after an unrelated rocket failure caused her scheduled return flight to be delayed. Second, a look at globular cluster NGC 2419. It’s long been described as a “Wayward Globular”, but is it really? And finally, a look at comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko. One would expect, as it rotates through space, that its jets would slow down or stop as they rotate out of sunlight, but observations recorded by the Rosetta spacecraft report that it’s dust jets are still firing strong and steady, showing that the comet now holds enough heat within its interior to power jets even without direct solar heating.
The next writer to share their work is Ryan Marciniak with his Solstice Blog. He’s written a fascinating piece on a topic that I’ve never seen covered before: How to navigate by using the Moon to find both a north/south line, and estimate your latitude.
The Meridiani Journal reveals a recent bit of work by geologists who’ve succesfully used orbital observations of the surface of Mars to find deposits of tiny glass beads, produced from molten rock thrown up by asteroid impacts over the millenia. These beads are interesting because their equivalents on Earth is known to preserve various biomarkers of life. If we can get our hands on Martian samples, they might be able to settle the question of whether life has ever existed on Mars, once and for all.
The Venus Transit sounds an alert for naked eye observers. Venus and Jupiter are moving rapidly towards an exremely close conjunction in the early evening skies at the end of June. The article gives detailed information on the conjunction and similar events throughout history, and offers a list of other related events in the days leading up to the 30th.
Breaking news from The Spacewriter’s Ramblings: The Philae lander, delivered to comet 67/P Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the Rosetta mission, has woken up and re-established contact with mission controllers back on Earth! Spacewriter also writes about the Venetia Burney Student Dust Counter (SDC), on board the New Horizons spacecraft which will soon be flying past Pluto. The SDC is a science instrument to measure how dusty the space around Pluto is, and was built entirely as a student project.
Last, but definitely not least, our favourite citizen science program CosmoQuest have kickstarted their logs! To get things moving, they’ve shared two items. First, from the CosmoQuest Blog, a Perfect Pairing list. For this #SummerOfScience, CosmoQuest would like to suggest these pairings of otherworldly audiobooks and science projects. Since most of the world’s population are currently enjoying their summer, it might be nice to combine your work on citizen science projects with a suitably theme podcast, or audiobook. Hence the list, suggesting ideal listening material for each project. The second item is from CosmoQuest’s director, and while it’s not strictly an astronomy or space science item, it peels back the curtain on a serious rot in the foundations of STEM academia: The Problem With “Unbelievable”. There’s a lot of “unbelievable” abuse going on in science. The #TimHunt story is just one of many. Make sure to read ALL the words before kneejerk commenting, okay?
And on that serious note, we’re done with the Carnival! If you want to know where we’re pitching the tent for next week’s carnival, be sure to watch my twitter or facebook feeds: I announce every single carnival as it’s published, so you never have to miss out!