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Planets continues as we watch Mercury.
The dance of the planets continues as we watch Mercury, Venus and Saturn shuttle around the twilight sky. Mars and the Moon are going to join the show in the morning hours, and the time for viewing Comet 9/P Tempel 1 is now! We'll explore the "Cocoon Galaxy", Eta Carinae, and enjoy two meteor showers as well. So open your eyes to the skies, because...
Here's what's up!
Now that NASA has committed itself to returning humans to the Moon, they're looking to overcome one of the major risks to anyone staying in space for a lengthy amount of time: radiation. In deep space, and on the Moon, astronauts would be bombarded by radiation from the Sun, and cosmic rays from space. NASA is considering an electromagnetic shield of highly charged inflatable spheres. These could be erected above a potential lunar base to attract the radiation and channel it safely away.
The Hubble Space Telescope was lucky to watch a jet of dust streaming off of Comet Tempel 1; a prelude to next week's smashup between the Comet and NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft. These observations show that Hubble will be a good instrument to observe the collision, as it was able to see many details on the Comet and jet. The image was taken on June 14, and the jet extends 2,200 km (1,400 miles) long, and points towards the Sun. Astronomers aren't sure why jets like this occur.
Workers at the University of Arizona's Steward Observatory Mirror Lab have begun pre-firing one of the 8.4 metre mirror segments as part of the construction of the Giant Magellan telescope (GMT). When it's finally completed in 2016, the GMT will be the largest telescope in the world, consisting of 7 of these 8.4 metre mirrors aligned to work as a single mirror 25.6 metres across - with 10 times the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope.
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