It feels like a lifetime since we had the Carnival of Space here at Urban Astronomer, but finally it’s my turn again to play ringmaster! The Carnival of Space is a travelling internet phenomenon, floating from space blog to astronomy website, showing off the best astronomy and space science writing from around the world. It’s been going for over seven years, and it just keeps getting better. This week’s carnival is a little lighter than usual, but it’s all going to be good. Dynamite comes in small packages, after all!
Next Big Future, the home base of the carnival, with a new spacecraft propulsion idea: James Benford looks more closely at particle beam driven magsails. He has found a problem for interstellar missions but promise for interplanetary missions and an interplanetary infrastructure. He provides systems scaled for fast interplanetary travel.
Also from Next Big Future, an update on the Google Lunar Xprize. Astrobotic and Moon Express are the leading teams. There will be milestone prizes late in 2014 and there should be moon missions in 2015.
Then, we switch over to Universe Today, where Shannon Hall writes about an intrigung mission for modern astronomers: Understanding where all the Universe’s light comes from. Most scientists can see, hear, smell, touch or even taste their research. But astronomers can only study light — photons traveling billions of light-years across the cosmos before getting scooped up by an array of radio dishes or a single parabolic mirror orbiting the Earth.
Still with Universe Today, Dave Dickinson shares some handy viewing tips to see the Solar System’s seventh planet. Never seen Neptune? Now is a good time to try, as the outermost ice giant world reaches opposition this weekend at 14:00 Universal Time (UT) or 10:00 AM EDT on Friday, August 29th.
And rounding things off, a blog post from our favourite space telescopes: The Chandra X-ray Telescope. Megan Watzke writes about one of the southern sky’s many gems, magnificent Eta Carinae. Eta Carinae is an intriguing double star system that contains one of the biggest and brightest stars in the Milky Way. It’s also on my own personal astrophotography Hit-list!