Does Jupiter’s Moon Europa Have a Subsurface Ocean? Here’s What We Know

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News by

Liquid water is the only substance that explains observations so far.

LISTEN LIVE TODAY: NASA to Reveal Europa Discovery

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News by

NASA will hold a live teleconference on Monday, Sept. 26, to unveil what agency officials call “surprising activity” on Jupiter’s moon Europa.

The Universe Is Directionless, Study Finds

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News by

The universe, it turns out, appears the same in every direction. A new study looking at the large-scale structure of the cosmos upheld a long-standing assumption and found no sign of directionality.

NASA: Odds Favor Successful SpaceX Mars Mission

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News by

Elon Musk’s space company aiming for first flight to the Red Planet in 2018 and the US space agency says the time is right.

Cassini begins epic final year at Saturn

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News, Space, Videos by Deborah Byrd


The spacecraft will plunge repeatedly between Saturn and its rings, and finally execute a headlong plummet into the body of Saturn itself.

Moon and star Regulus before dawn

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News, Tonight by Bruce McClure


Everyone around the world can see the moon and Regulus these next 2 mornings. From the Northern Hemisphere, you might also see Mercury.


Saturn from Above

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News by APOD


This image of Saturn could not have been taken from Earth.


Gaia: Here Comes the Sun

September 26, 2016 in Astronomy News by APOD


What would it look like to return home from outside our galaxy?

Bright Binocular Nova Discovered in Lupus

September 25, 2016 in AAVSO, ASASSN-16kt, Astronomy News, Breaking News, Featured, Lupus, Nova, Observing, Skywatching, Stars, Stellar Evolution, white dwarf by Bob King


Bright Binocular Nova Discovered in Lupus

On September 20, a particular spot in the constellation Lupus the Wolf was blank of any stars brighter than 17.5 magnitude. Four nights later, as if by some magic trick, a star bright enough to be seen in binoculars popped into view. While we await official confirmation, the star’s spectrum, its tattle-tale rainbow of light, indicates it’s a nova, a sun in the throes of a thermonuclear explosion.

The nova, dubbed ASASSN-16kt for now, was discovered during the ongoing All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN or “Assassin”), using data from the quadruple 14-cm “Cassius” telescope in CTIO, Chile. Krzysztof  Stanek and team reported the new star in Astronomical Telegram #9538. By the evening of September 23 local time, the object had risen to magnitude +9.1, and it’s currently +6.8. So let’s see — that’s about an 11-magnitude jump or a 24,000-fold increase in brightness! And it’s still on the rise.

The star is located at R.A. 15h 29?, –44° 49.7? in the southern constellation Lupus the Wolf. Even at this low declination, the star would clear the southern horizon from places like Chicago and further south, but in late September Lupus is low in the southwestern sky. To see the nova you’ll need a clear horizon in that direction and observe from the far southern U.S. and points south. If you’ve planned a trip to the Caribbean or Hawaii in the coming weeks, your timing couldn’t have been better!

I’ve drawn the map for Key West, one of southernmost locations on the U.S. mainland, where the nova stands about 7-8° high in late twilight, but you might also see it from southern Texas and the bottom of Arizona. Other locales include northern Africa, Finding a good horizon is key. Observers across Central and South America, Africa, India, s. Asia and Australia, where the star is higher up in the western sky at nightfall, are favored.

Nova means “new”, but a nova isn’t a brand new star coming to life but rather an explosion that occurs on the surface of an otherwise faint star no one’s taken notice of – until the blast causes it to brighten 50,000 to 100,000 times.

A nova occurs in a close binary star system, where a small but extremely dense and massive (for its size) white dwarf siphons hydrogen gas from its closely-orbiting companion. After whirling around in a flattened accretion disk around the dwarf, the material gets funneled down to the star’s 150,000 F° surface where gravity compacts and heats the gas until it detonates in a titanic thermonuclear explosion. Suddenly, a faint star that wasn’t on anyone’s radar vaults a dozen magnitudes to become a standout “new star”.

Novae are relatively rare and almost always found in the plane of the Milky Way, where the stars are most concentrated. The more stars, the greater the chances of finding one in a nova outburst. Roughly a handful a year are discovered, many of those in Scorpius and Sagittarius, in the direction of the galactic bulge.

We’ll keep tabs on this new object and report back with more information and photos as they become available. You can follow the new celebrity as well as print out finder charts on the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO) website by typing ASASSN-16kt in the info boxes.

I sure wish I wasn’t stuck in Minnesota right now or I’d be staring down the wolf’s new star!

The post Bright Binocular Nova Discovered in Lupus appeared first on Universe Today.

Rocker Grace Potter Honors Women of NASA in Music Video

September 25, 2016 in Astronomy News by


Singer-songwriter Grace Potter debuted an inspiring new space-themed music video highlighting the accomplishments of past, present and future women of NASA.

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