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So take out those Telescopes and binoculars.
With a full moon this week, it will be hard to find things to do under the stars - or will it? We begin the week with morning observations of Comet LINEAR and move on towards meteor showers, variable and double stars and a Jupiter/Moon conjunction with an occultation for southern Australia. We'll explore lunar features and rudimentary astrophotography as well as just have some fun. So take out those Telescopes and binoculars, because...
All Quasar's have black holes for hearts - but that doesn't mean they are unfriendly. In fact, 9 billion light year distant QSO2237+0305 may like us so much that it wants to make sure we see it even though it is actually hidden by a much nearer spiral galaxy. What can we learn from QSO2237+0305? For one, the cross that bears Einstein's name can tell us a lot about space-time curvature. For another, it can teach us invaluable lessons about how to see things otherwise hidden from view. If you have access to the scope and the skies, you too can see what the whole spectacle is all about.
As part of its new Vision for Space Exploration, NASA will first be returning to the Moon before sending human explorers to Mars. Although Mars is a much more Earth like environment, with an atmosphere, similar length of day and large amounts of water, the Moon is going to be the agency's first target. Why? Mainly, it's much closer, so astronauts can practice working in an extreme environment close to home before making the much more difficult and riskier journey to Mars.
Black holes continue to defy comprehension as some of the most extreme places in the Universe, but could they also contain its most perfect fluids. Researchers at the University of Washington have calculated that the material in a black hole should have an ultra-low viscosity - 400 times less than water. A black hole's temperature should be 2 trillion degrees Celsius; an extreme temperature where matter breaks apart completely into a soup of subatomic particles.
Officials from the European Space Agency and Indian Space Research Organisation have approved on a cooperative project to send a spacecraft to the Moon. ISRO will launch Chandrayaan-1 in 2007/2008 to analyze the Moon to help understand its origin and evolution. Europe will provide three scientific instruments identical to ones on SMART-1, which is currently orbiting the Moon.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft was recently in a lucky position in space earlier this month to watch its own private lunar eclipse, as one of Saturn's moons (Mimas) passed in front of another (Janus). Cassini's camera was rolling the whole time, and the spacecraft captured 37 images that have been stitched together into a movie of the event. Some large terrain is visible on Mimas, including its gigantic crater (the one that makes it look like the Death star from star Wars).
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