Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Young kids or adult kids - Redshift is our astronomy app of the month - get orbiting planets now!

Redshift's app takes your outdoor viewing with your family to the next level - To be able to walk inside or have your iPad with you on the viewing session (screen light turned down low of course!) and actually have a 3-D tour of what you've just viewed and then finish with a full orbit of a planet just like an astronaut would, at this standard is fantastic and it only makes you want to view more...

It's available for your iPad and iPhone so it could also make long car journeys a lot more interesting - probably not for Mrs M because she'll have to be the one driving so I'll have to buy her a big bar of chocolate to make up for it - which makes it possible...

Friday, 18 February 2011

Act NOW and be part of history on the Mars mission.

Me and Mrs M are off to Mars - well our names are and we'd like to have all of our Starlearner students with us!
It's free and so simple to do and a once in a lifetime opportunity, find five minutes this weekend and print your certificate out!
Have a great weekend Starlearner's!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Talk to NASA today at 4pm!

On February 14th NASA was given its proposed budget for future spending for existing and new programs and projects. Today NASA's Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati and Chief Technologist Bobby Braun will answer people's questions about NASA’s direction over the next few years - this could be anything you want from exploration technology to planetary probes...
All you have to do to be a part of the conversation is to join the link below and log in to be ready to ask questions at 11am EST that's 4pm to all UK residents...

Monday, 14 February 2011

No hearts but astronomy love all the same - failing a new telescope we want these...

Valentine's Day inspired goodies for the astronomy lover in your life...

These can all be found on Cafe Press.

Mars 500 Mission goes for it's first walk on the surface of 'Mars' today in Moscow...

Sky News has just broken the story of the six man cosmonauts simulated trip to Mars mission 'Mars 500' which began in June last year, and today three of the cosmonauts left their capsule for the first time in eight months for their initial practice 'walk on Mars.' This is all taking place in Moscow where they are undergoing experiments to see the effects of long term space travel. This is crucial to any mission to Mars and we look forward to hearing more from their findings... for now you can view the news clip here and see the full story.

The six volunteers at the start of their mission...

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Still time to be Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011...

Get viewing and get snapping - the annual competition launched in January and people all over the world are already submitting entries but everyone's still in with a chance until the closing date for entries by midday on the 13th July.
Competition judge and Sky at Night Magazine Editor, Graham Southorn said “I’m looking forward to joining the panel of judges again this summer. Last year’s winning photos were incredible - this time around I’m hoping to see some great shots of Mars and Jupiter, both of which were prominent in 2010.”

Look at last year's winning images for inspiration:

Last year’s overall winner was American astrophotographer, Tom Lowe, for his picture Blazing Bristlecone, depicting the star-studded Milky Way arching over an ancient bristlecone pine tree, thought to be one of the oldest living trees in the world, having clocked up over 4,000 years, standing sentry over the Sierra Nevada. Dr Marek Kukula said “This beautiful picture perfectly combines the awe-inspiring vista of the night sky with life here on Earth. The bristlecone pines maybe old but they are babies compared to the starlight shining behind them, some of which began its journey towards us almost 30,000 years ago.”

The winner of the deep space category was Rogelio Bernal Andreo (USA), with a highly detailed panorama of a section of the constellation of Orion, including the three famous stars of the belt, the Horsehead Nebula and the Orion Nebula. Andreo said “Since winning the prize I believe more people are aware of my work. I hope my images increase people’s wonder and interest in astronomy.”

A cliff top view of the evening sun as it sets behind a rock formation in Big Sur California submitted by Steve Christenson (USA)...

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 has four main categories:
Earth and Space – Photographs that include landscape, people and other earth-related
things. Alongside an astronomical subject ranging from the stars, the Moon or near-Earth phenomena such as the aurora.
Our Solar System – Imagery which captures the Sun and its family of planets, moons,
asteroids and comets.
Deep Space – pictures that capture anything beyond the Solar System, including stars,
nebulae and galaxies.
Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year – pictures taken by budding astronomers under the age of 16 years old.
There are also three special prizes: People and Space recognises the best photo featuring people in the shot and Best Newcomer is awarded to the best photo by an amateur astrophotographer who has taken up the hobby in the last year and who has not entered an image into the competition before. The Robotic Scope Image of the Year is a new special prize introduced for 2011, which will be awarded for the best photo taken using one of the increasing number of computer-controlled telescopes at prime observing sites around the world which can be accessed over the internet by members of the public.
The winners of Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 will be announced at an award ceremony at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich on the 8th September 2011.
Photographers can enter online by visiting www.nmm.ac.uk/astrophoto and entrants may submit up to five images to the competition. The winning entries will be showcased in the annual exhibition at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich from 9 September 2011 to February 2012. Entry to the exhibition is free and we'll cover the winners stories on here as it happens...
Find out updates by checking out the Royal Observatory Greenwich site. It would be amazing to have a Starleaner.com student win, get in touch if you want some photographer pointers...Good luck!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

54 more planetary candidates - thank you Kepler

The Kepler Mission was brought about with the aim of finding more planets in our universe around the same size as Earth where water could exist in a liquid form on their surface.
Last week NASA revealed that they'd managed to find 54 candidates in the hospitable zone...54!

"Some candidates could even have moons with liquid water," said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, and the Kepler Mission’s science principal investigator. "Five of the planetary candidates are both near Earth-size and orbit in the habitable zone of their parent stars."  

Stunning impression by: NASA/Tim Pyle

"We have found over twelve hundred candidate planets - that’s more than all the people have found so far in history," said Borucki. "Now, these are candidates, but most of them, I’m convinced, will be confirmed as planets in the coming months and years." 
The findings increase the number of planet candidates identified by Kepler to-date to 1,235. Of these, 68 are approximately Earth-size; 288 are super-Earth-size; 662 are Neptune-size; 165 are the size of Jupiter and 19 are larger than Jupiter. 
This is exciting discoveries all around - if you're interested in this follow the Kepler Mission - it's pegged to keep researching and searching until November 2012...

Source for more extensive pictures, videos and information: NASA Kepler

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Get clued up on where and when to look for solar eclipses in 2011...

If you missed the partial eclipse on 4th January this year, here's some pictures to whet your appetite for the next three partial eclipses this year....
1st June in East Asia, North America and Iceland
1st July in the South Indian Ocean
25th November in South Africa, Antartica, Tasmania and New Zealand
Passports at the ready folks...

Stunning imagery captured by the Japanese-American Hinode satellite

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Exciting times with Sky At Night Magazine...

Well after starlearner.com being featured in last issue's article on how hobbyists can learn more about astronomy we're making plans to get involved with their April edition (out March) which is going to have an extra treat for hobbyists to get them through the summer months...watch this space for more news.

We love receiving our monthly magazine insight into the skies and in case you didn't know they've got a selection of free images to download as desktop backgrounds so enjoy your lunch hour choosing one of them...'Orion Rising' by Pete Lawrence shall be this February's I think...

Book your holidays now to Sark the Dark Island!

Well I know where I want to go for my next holiday - just got to convince Mrs M...
Sark, one of the Channel Islands between England and France, has been designated as the world's first 'dark sky island' on Jan. 25 by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).
This means that due to a planned conservation law imposed on the island there is very little light pollution leading to AMAZING viewing...

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Enjoy reading the full article here...

Starlearner's fav pics from NASA in Jan 2011

When you have astronauts in space clicking away with their cameras and satellites feeding multiple images back to Earth the results are incredible. Here at Starlearner we LOVE looking at NASA's 'Image A Day' - here are our favourites from January...

Auroral Rocket in Norway

Lining Up the Sun, Moon, and ISS

Tidal Flats and Channels, Long Island, Bahamas

Onekotan Island, Kuril Islands, Russian Federation

If you were in Brasil for New Year's eve you could be in this shot!

Norwegian image was taken by Kolbjørn Blix Dahle of Andøya Rocket Range.
Sun image was shot by Thierry Legault. Caption by Michael Carlowicz.
All other images were taken by the Expedition 26 Crew and provided by the ISS Crew Earth Observations experiment and Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, Johnson Space Center.