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Mercury and Venus both return this week.
This week we'll learn how to observe the Hubble Space telescope, locate and study the M3, and be on hand for three minor meteor showers. There will be plenty of deep sky to explore as we locate the M101, M67, and the Large Magellanic Cloud. Mercury and Venus both return this week, and Mars leads the way to Neptune. The Moon provides some excitement as it occults Antares for Europe - as well as two bright stars for other observers - and tilts its north our way for some extreme craters. Had enough yet? Good. There's history to learn and I'm not about to let you go before you've located Comet 9P/Temple 1. So grab those Telescopes and binoculars, and head out under the dark skies...
The Soyuz capsule carrying the crew of Expedition 10 and ESA Astronaut Roberto Vittori landed safely in north-central Kazakhstan early Monday, approximately 85 km (53 miles) from the town of Arkalyk. Recovery personnel reached the spacecraft within minutes of their touchdown, and the crew was airlifted out safely. Leroy Chiao and Salizhan Sharipov spent a total of 192 days in space, and completed two spacewalks.
When NASA's Hubble Space Telescope was launched in 1990, Astronomers anticipated great discoveries, ranging from finding black holes to looking back billions of years toward the beginning of time. Now, 15 years later, the versatile telescope continues to deliver exciting new science, including helping to prove the existence of dark energy, tracing enigmatic gamma-ray bursts to distant galaxies, and sampling the atmospheres of far-flung planets. To celebrate Hubble's 15th anniversary, new breathtaking images will be released of a majestic spiral Galaxy teeming with newborn stars and an eerie-looking spire of gas and dust.
Astronomers have seen high temperature "hotspots" rotating across the surface of three nearby neutron stars using the ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray telescope. Even though these neutron stars are hundreds of light-years away, Astronomers can calculate the size of the hotspots down to dozens of metres - some are the size of a football field, and others the size of a golf course. The hotspots are somehow related to the stars' powerful magnetic fields, but the exact mechanism is still a mystery.
The devastating earthquake in Sumatra late last year was so powerful that it created a warp in the Earth's gravity field that should be visible by the ESA's gravity Field and Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) due to launch next year. During the earthquake, the sea floor along the fault line raised up 6 metres (20 feet), shifting the local gravity slightly. Similar shifts in gravity happen when large areas of ice melt, or volcanoes bulge up. By measuring these shifts, GOCE will help scientists understand the forces involved in earthquakes.
This false colour composite image of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, was taken by Cassini on April 16 during its recent flyby. It was created by combining two Infrared images of Titan with a visible light image. The green represents places where Cassini could see down to the surface, red indicates areas high in Titan's atmosphere, and blue shows the moon's outer edge. The images were taken when Cassini was approximately 160,000 km (100,000 miles) away.
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