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There's no escaping the overwhelming light of the Moon.
There's no escaping the overwhelming light of the Moon, but who says we can't enjoy a bright star cluster? The M 41 awaits you! As the Moon goes full this week, we'll enjoy studying new lunar regions as well as learning a bit about Procyon, Capella and Rigel. Comet K4 LINEAR and Q2 Machholz are well positioned for viewing, but Southern Australia? You're in luck as the Moon occults Jupiter for you this coming weekend! So turn your eyes to the skies...
Because here's what's up!
Experienced observers tend to think its all so very simple. Buying a scope, setting it up, and using it for the first time lies well behind them on the learning curve. But if you really think about it learning to use an astronomical telescope is no trivial matter. So after being prompted by one UT reader, Astro.Geekjoy's Jeff Barbour decided to set down in word's how to go about making a start of our High Art and Science. Sometime's things aren't as simple as they seem...
Thanks to data gathered by Cassini and Huygens, scientists know that Titan's atmosphere contains significant amounts of ammonia - and this chemical could be responsible for the weathering on the moon's surface. Researchers from the University of Arizona believe that Cassini will eventually find that Titan has a layer of liquid ammonia-and-water underneath a solid crust of water ice. It's this liquid ammonia that could be creating the cryovolcanic flows discovered by Cassini on its first close Titan flyby in 2004.
A massive gamma ray flare flashed so brightly in December that it briefly outshone the full Moon. Even though it occurred 50,000 light-years away, the flare demonstrated the power of these events, disrupting the Earth's ionosphere. The flare occurred on the surface of a rapidly spinning, highly magnetic neutron star called a magnetar, which can release tremendous amounts of energy through a process called magnetic reconnection. We're lucky the flare occurred so far away; if it had happened within 10 light-years, it could have destroyed the Earth's ozone layer.
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