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Hawaii's Mauna Kea to be site of world's largest telescope

In the end, it came down to two potential sites – Mauna Kea in Hawaii and Cerro Armazones in Chile. But yesterday, the board of directors of the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory Corporation selected Mauna Kea as the site for the a new telescope, said to be the largest such device ever constructed. According to the Associated Press, the telescope’s mirror will stretch almost 100 feet in diameter – large enough to gather light that’s spent the last 13 billion years traveling to Earth. The telescope, which will not be completed until 2018, is the product of a wide-ranging partnership among several international bodies, including the California Institute of Technology, the University of California, and ACURA, an organization of Canadian universities.  Full Story  Christian Science Monitor_ 7/23/09

Black hole spews water vapour

Astronomers have found the most distant evidence of water in the Universe, a major conference has been told. The vapour is thought to be present in a jet ejected from a supermassive black hole at the centre of a galaxy that is billions of light-years away. The discovery, by a US-European team, was announced at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science meeting. The research team was led by Dr Violette Impellizzeri, from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Germany, using the 100m German Effelsberg radio telescope from July to September 2007. The data was confirmed by observations with the Expanded Very Large Array in the US in September and October 2007.   Full Story   BBC News_ 4/22/09

Telescope embedded in glasses lens promises to make driving easier for visually impaired

Glasses embedded with a telescope promise to make it easier for people with impaired vision to drive and do other activities requiring sharper distance vision. Schepens Eye Research Institute scientists describe the advantages of these innovative glasses over earlier devices in an article published in the May/June issue of Journal of Biomedical Optics. The inventor of the glasses is Dr. Eli Peli, a senior scientist at Schepens Eye Research Institute, a professor at Harvard Medical School, a low vision expert, and the senior author of the paper. "Because they look almost like normal everyday spectacles, it is more likely that visually impaired people will use them," says Peli, who adds that the glasses are easier to use than existing telescope models because of a wider magnified view and easier access to that view. Most importantly, shifting the magnified view up leaves the unmagnified view of the road unobstructed, which is important for safety and facilitates navigation. In the newer glasses, Peli and his co-inventor Dr. Vargas-Martin from the University of Murcia, Spain, designed a wide-field telescope made of straight and curved mirrors built completely within the spectacle lens.   Full Story   Science Daily_ 8/2/08

NASA's General Dynamics-built GLAST satellite launched

The Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) observatory, designed and built by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, was successfully launched today from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. GLAST is a next-generation high-energy gamma-ray satellite designed to make observations of celestial gamma-ray sources. The mission is an astrophysics and particle physics partnership, developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy, along with important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.  Full Story   News Release/PRNewswire_ 6/11/08

Microsoft WorldWide Telescope blasts off

Microsoft launched its WorldWide Telescope late Monday, bringing the free Web-based program for zooming around the universe to a broad audience. WorldWide Telescope, developed by Microsoft's research arm, knits together images from the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and others. Computer users can browse through the galaxy on their own or take guided tours of different outer-space destinations developed by astronomers and academics. The site lets users choose from a number of different telescopes and switch between different light wavelengths.  Full Story   AP/USA Today_ 5/13/08

World's strongest telescope at full power in Arizona
The world's most powerful telescope is now operating at full power from a remote mountaintop in southern Arizona.  Scientists with the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory released striking images Thursday showing a spiral galaxy 102 million light-years away, taken recently when the telescope's second of two mirrors went online. The telescope has taken more than 20 years to develop and has weathered funding uncertainty, threats of forest fires and lawsuits from American Indian and environmental groups.  The $120 million project is overseen by an international consortium that includes scientific institutions in Germany and Italy.  The key feature of the telescope, which is perched on Mount Graham near Safford, is a pair of mirrors, each nearly 28 feet in diameter and weighing more than 35,000 pounds.  Scientist hope the new telescope will help them discover planets and stars and learn more about the solar system and distant galaxies.  FULL STORY_USA Today 3/6/08

'Hundreds of worlds' in Milky Way

Rocky planets, possibly with conditions suitable for life, may be more common than previously thought in our galaxy, a study has found. New evidence suggests more than half the Sun-like stars in the Milky Way could have similar planetary systems. There may also be hundreds of undiscovered worlds in outer parts of our Solar System, astronomers believe. New findings about planets were presented at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston. Michael Meyer, an astronomer from the University of Arizona, and his team used the US space agency's Spitzer space telescope to look at groups of stars with masses similar to the Sun.  Full Story  BBC News_ 2/17/08

Telescope Truce
The latest skirmish between telescope manufacturers has ended peacefully, with both sides declaring victory. In 2006 Star Instruments and RC Optical Systems sued Meade Instruments and some of its dealers for false advertising. Earlier this month, all parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement. At issue was Meade's claim that its RCX400 and LX200R catadioptric telescopes feature an "advanced Ritchey-Chrétien" design. RC telescopes are the instruments of choice for many of today's elite astrophotographers, because they provide a wide, coma-free field that covers large CCD chips — and before those, photographic films or plates — with round star images. The design was developed by George W. Ritchey (1864–1945) and Henri Chrétien (1879–1956) in the early 20th century, and it remains the gold standard for optical quality nearly 100 years later. Most of the giant reflectors peering skyward from high mountaintops incorporate RC optics, as does the Hubble Space Telescope.  Full Story  Sky and Telescope_ 1/25/08

Development of balloon-borne telescope to help in direct view of exoplanets

A team of researchers have suggested that a direct view of planets in other solar systems could be possible using a balloon-borne telescope afloat in the stratosphere. "It's one of those ideas that actually has a remote chance of making it off the drawing board," says team leader Wes Traub, a senior research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, US. According to a report in New Scientist, if successful, the scheme would deliver images of extra solar planets which are impossible to see from the ground. The cost of the "Planetscope" would be about $10 million, a fraction of what it would cost to do the job from space. At latest count, astronomers have identified 270 exoplanets orbiting distant stars. Virtually all of these planets were detected by indirect means and are too faint and too close to the stars they orbit to be imaged directly. Now, Traub and his collaborators say that at least some planets can be viewed just as easily, and far more cheaply, from the stratosphere.

Full Story  ANI/NewKerala.com 1/13/08

December, 2007

Cornell University's Arecibo telescope back on the job after spruce-up

While its funding fate is a matter in Congress, Cornell University's Arecibo Observatory in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, made its first observation in more than six months on Dec. 8 after its first full paint job, and it may be able to help resolve the identity of an object in the solar system that's debated by astronomers. The radio telescope in the hills of Puerto Rico run by Cornell's Astronomy Department spied a non-planetary celestial body known as 3200 Phaethon. Astronomers suspect the object may actually be a comet and possibly the body responsible for the Geminid meteor shower seen in mid-December each year, according to a description provided by Cornell's press office. Built in 1960, the Arecibo facility was targeted in November 2006 by a review panel for the National Academy of Sciences for a recommended 25 percent cut in federal funding over three years. Before being threatened with budget cuts, it employed about 140 people in Puerto Rico and about a dozen in Ithaca. Luis Fortuño, Puerto Rico's non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., introduced a bill in October that would mandate the continued operation of the facility.   Full Story  Ithaca Journal_ 12/31/07

A cold, hard look through the South Pole Telescope at one of science's hottest mysteries

Anywhere on Earth this would be a big telescope, as high as a seven-story building, with a main mirror measuring 32 1/2 feet across. But here at the South Pole, it seems especially large, looming over a barren plain of ice that gets colder than anywhere else on the planet. Scientists built the instrument at the end of the world so they can search for clues that might identify the most powerful, plentiful but elusive substance in the universe -- dark energy. First described just nine years ago, dark energy is a mysterious force so powerful that it will decide the fate of the universe. Having already overruled the laws of gravity, it is pushing galaxies away from one another, causing the universe to expand at an ever faster rate. Figuring out what dark energy is would explain the history and future of the universe and generate new understanding of physical laws that, applied to human invention, almost certainly will change the way we live -- just as breakthroughs in quantum mechanics brought us the computer chip. Swinging its massive mirror skyward, the South Pole Telescope for the last few months has begun to search the southern polar heavens for shreds of evidence of the elusive stuff. Controlled remotely from the University of Chicago, the $19.2 million telescope has quickly succeeded in its first mission: finding unknown galaxy clusters, clues to the emergence of dark energy.  Full Story  Chicago Tribune_ 12/31/07

Germany's Max-Planck Institute aids New Mexico telescope's upkeep

An endangered New Mexico radio telescope has received an infusion of money and international support but not enough to eliminate the threat that the Very Long Baseline Array will be closed because of a lack of funding. Officials with the Max-Planck Institute in Germany announced on Friday they would contribute nearly $300,000 to upgrade the telescope near Socorro. The National Science Foundation said last year it would close the telescope unless an alternative source of its $3 million operating cost was found.   Full Story   AP/Albuquerque Tribune_ 12/11/07

A hazy future for the Arecibo radio telescope, a 'jewel' of space instruments

With a quarter of its annual budget slashed, to $8 million from $10.5 million, the Arecibo  radio telescope in Puerto Rico will be listening to the universe less often in the coming years. More alarming would be the closing of Arecibo in four years, a possibility that has been raised by the National Science Foundation, which pays for the operation of the telescope. Carved in the hilly terrain, a thousand feet wide and 167 feet deep, Arecibo has been listening to radio waves arriving from the cosmos since 1963, and today it remains the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. It is also one of the most recognizable, appearing as a backdrop in the movies “Contact” and “GoldenEye." In an era of tight and tightening budgets, a review panel for the foundation’s astronomy division two years ago looked for places where money could be freed up for new facilities. It recommended a 25 percent cut in Arecibo’s foundation financing by 2011 and then another 50 percent cut, to $4 million, in 2011. The panel said Arecibo should look to other institutions and agencies to make up for the 2011 cut; if it could not find the money, the panel said, the foundation should consider closing it. Full Story  New York Times_ 11/19/07 (logon required)

World's largest telescope ready for 'first light'

The world's largest telescope is being readied for its first look into the universe this week in Spain's Canary Islands. The "first light" ceremony for the Gran Telescopio Canarias, or GTC, under construction for seven years, is scheduled on Friday. The University of Florida -- which contributed $5 million to the project -- is the only U.S. institution with a stake in the massive telescope. The roughly $175 million GTC is not yet complete. Only 12 of the 36 mirrors that will compose its 34.1-foot primary mirror have been installed, said Stan Dermott, chairman of the University of Florida astronomy department. The rest of the mirrors are to be mounted this year. The telescope's grand opening with Spain's King Juan Carlos presiding is set for next summer. Only after that will scientific-quality observations begin, Dermott said. The Spanish government is the main owner of the GTC, with UF and two institutes in Mexico as partners.  Full Story UPI/EarthTimes.org_ 7/9/07

Most massive star discovered

The star, part of a binary system, topped the scales at 114 times the mass of the sun. Though astronomers suspected that stars with masses up to 150 times the mass of the sun must exist, this discovery marks the first time a star has broken the 100-solar-mass barrier. The previous record holder was only a measly 83 solar masses. The newly weighed star, known simply as A1, is the brightest hot star at the heart of a giant, but dense, young star cluster called NGC 3603, which lies 20,000 light-years from Earth. The star's companion has a mass 84 times that of the sun. These massive stars were "weighed" by inspecting their orbits with the Very Large Telescope and combining that data with eclipses observed by the Hubble Space Telescope.  Full Story  Space.com_ 6/7/07

NASA's largest space telescope mirror will see deeper into space

When scientists are looking into space, the more they can see, the easier it is to piece together the puzzle of the cosmos. The James Webb Space Telescope's mirror blanks have now been constructed. When polished and assembled, together they will form a mirror whose area is over seven times larger than the Hubble Telescope's mirror. A telescope's sensitivity, or how much detail it can see, is directly related to the size of the mirror area that collects light from the cosmos. The challenge was to make the mirrors lightweight for launch, but nearly distortion-free for excellent image quality. That challenge has been met by AXSYS Technologies., Inc., Cullman, Ala.   Full Story   Science Daily_ 2/10/07

November, 2006

Giant Mexican telescope starts work

Mexican President Vicente Fox has inaugurated a giant telescope that could help scientists uncover clues about the origins of the Universe. The telescope, which resembles a gigantic satellite dish, sits high in the mountains of central Puebla state. It will pick up radio waves that have been travelling through space for some 13 billion years. The telescope's antenna has a diameter of 50m (164ft) and is the largest of its kind in the world. Scientists say it is the most important scientific and technological project in the country's history. The Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT), which cost $120 million, was partly funded by the US. As its name suggests, it will be sensitive to electromagnetic radiation at millimetric wavelengths - about 0.85mm to 4mm.  Full Story   BBC News_ 11/23/06

Russia to build deep space telescope superior to Hubble - Astronomer

The U.S.-made Hubble Space Telescope, orbited in 1990, has been the most successful and expensive project in astrophysics, costing over $6 billion. Russia will team with Germany, the United Kingdom, China and Spain to build the Spectrum-Ultraviolet telescope, said Boris Shustov, director of the Astronomy Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Shustov said that under the government's federal space program for 2006-2012, Russia is to implement two other large projects - the launch of telescopes operating in other spectrums, the Spectrum-Radioastron and the Spectrum-X-Ray-Gamma. The Spectrum-X-Ray-Gamma telescope will study galactic clusters, and consequently, the structure of the universe. The Spectrum-Radioastron aims to study the structure of galactic and extra-galactic radio wave sources, their internal processes and other processes occurring near them. It will comprise a space telescope and a ground tracking station. "The Spectrum-Radioastron project will make it possible to read a newspaper on the Moon," Shustov said.  Full Story RIA Novosti_ 11/21/06

Europe's lunar satellite, the Smart 1 probe, ends its mission by crashing onto the Moon's surface in a controlled collision

It was a spectacular end for the robotic probe, which has spent the last 16 months testing innovative and miniaturised space technologies. Smart 1 has also produced detailed maps of the Moon's chemical make-up, to help refine theories about its birth. The hope now is that the impact will have kicked up a big enough plume of fresh lunar "soil" for scientists to study its composition using ground telescopes.  Full Story BBC News_  9/3/06

Waiting for LIGO. In the high desert near Hanford, Washington an observatory tries to catch a gravitational wave

Forget telescopes. The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in southeastern Washington was built to feel rather than see possible clues to the universe's dark side. Like the first bathysphere diving into deep-sea trenches, the $300-million LIGO project, conceived more than 25 years ago, is expected to uncover exotic creatures, such as dancing neutron stars and binary black holes, circling each other like heavyweight fighters. Physicists also may uncover the mysterious "dark matter" that is believed to be all around us but has never been measured. Some think they might find gateways into extra dimensions. What makes LIGO different from other observatories is that it doesn't "see" the cosmos by detecting electromagnetic energy in the form of light, radio waves or X-rays. It feels it, measuring waves of gravity that wrinkle space-time like ripples on a lake. The idea has been gestating 90 years, since Einstein theorized that large bodies moving through space would give off waves of gravity, traveling at light speed, that would shrink and expand space-time itself. Now excitement has gripped the scientific community as it awaits word.  Full Story   Los Angeles Times_ 6/10/06 (logon required)

April, 2006

Swift telescope captures mighty water mass from Comet Tempel 1

The Nasa projectile that slammed into Comet Tempel 1 last year kicked out at least 250,000 tonnes of water. Swift's X-ray data, part of the study of NASA's Deep Impact event, shows more water was released and over a longer time scale than had previously been thought. On 4 July last year, it was among a fleet of space and ground-based telescopes asked to watch what happened when Nasa's Deep Impact probe released a 370kg projectile into the path of the 14km-wide Comet Tempel 1. But whilst the other observatories made relatively quick studies and then turned away, Swift continued to look at the impacted "ice mountain" on and off for more than 60 days. Its patience paid off. Swift's X-ray Telescope (XRT) saw the comet continue to release water for some 13 days after the initial event, with a peak five days on from the collision. X-rays provide a direct measurement of the colossal amount of water thrown out as a result of the impact - the Earth-equivalent volume of about 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/4/06

U.S. and Mexico near completion of world's largest radio telescope

In the biggest joint Mexico-U.S. scientific venture ever, builders are finishing a monster telescope on top of a volcano that will let astronomers look back 13 billion years and uncover secrets about the creation of the universe. President Vicente Fox and Mexico's scientific community have championed the radio telescope, the largest of its kind in the world, saying it shows how a developing country can play a major role in cutting-edge technology. Yet the fact most of the U.S. funding comes from the Defense Department has worried some Mexicans who are leery of any military connections with the United States. With a 165-foot antenna and a total cost of nearly $120 million, the project dwarfs any scientific endeavor that Mexico has been involved in before.   Full Story   AP/Buffalo News_ 2/18/06

September, 2005

Swift space telescope observes most distant cosmis explosion on record

The gamma-ray burst came from the edge of the visible Universe. Gamma-ray bursts can release as much energy in a few minutes as our Sun will emit in its expected 10-billion-year lifetime. The record gamma-ray burst was detected on 4 September, 2005, and probably marked the death of a massive star as it collapsed into a black hole. The burst comes from an era soon after stars and galaxies first formed, about one billion years after the Big Bang. Dr Nial Tanvir, of the University of Hertfordshire, UK, who is an investigator on the Swift mission, said the telescope could yet spot more distant bursts hailing from even earlier stages in the Universe's evolution.  Full Story BBC News_ 9/12/05

April, 2005

Ground telescopes to 'super-size'
A new generation of ground-based telescopes could be up to 10 times the size of existing instruments and have vision 40 times as sharp as the Hubble space telescope. Astronomers have been hailing the plans, as a European project to build an Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) enters a design testing phase. An ELT is vital if the pace of astronomical breakthroughs is to continue, say experts. The plans were outlined at the UK National Astronomy Meeting in Birmingham.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/10/05

January, 2005
Swift space telescope's first image catches Cassiopeia A supernova remnant

The telescope detected its first gamma-ray burst - the massive cosmic explosions it was built to study - on 17 December, only a few days after its instruments were switched on. On 19 December, the US space agency satellite caught three more. GRBs are the most powerful explosions in the Universe, releasing more than one hundred billion times the energy our Sun emits in a year. When the satellite is fully operational, it will be able to turn to view the source within about a minute of detecting a cosmic blast. In one scenario, bursts occur when a star collapses in on itself, giving birth to a black hole. Another possibility could be that bursts come from the collision between two neutron stars.  Full Story  BBC News_ 1/7/05

December, 2004

UK's Wide Field Camera scoops amazing Orion snaps
The Wide Field Camera (WFCAM), built at the UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, is the world's most powerful infrared survey camera. WFCAM, on the United Kingdom Infared Telescope in Hawaii, was trained on a region of star formation in the Orion constellation about 1,500 light-years away. The stunning images cover an area of sky that was unobtainable before.  Full Story  BBC News_ 12/23/04

November, 2004

NASA space telescopes start hunt for celestial bursts

The three telescopes on the NASA satellite, called Swift, will be on the lookout for the colossal sparks of radiation. Scientists think each of these sudden gamma ray emissions, which never appear in the same place again, may signal the collision of extremely dense celestial bodies, the collapse and death of gigantic stars, or the birth of black holes. The $250 million project is a NASA, Britain and Italy collaboration.  Full Story New York Times_ 11/21/04 (logon required)

Scientists close in on source of cosmic rays

An international team of astronomers believe they have solved the mystery that has been perplexing scientists for 100 years. Using an array of four telescopes in Africa, the scientists produced the first image showing that the source of cosmic rays, energic particles that bombard the Earth, could be the remnant of a supernova, a powerful explosion of a star at the end of its life.  Full Story  Reuters_ 11/3/04

China plans world's largest and most advanced space solar telescope launch for 2008

The telescope, which will orbit the earth for three years, will be used to study the solar magnetic field and the surface of the sun, Xinhua news agency reported. It will have twice the optical resolution strength of the Solar-B, a telescope being built by Japan and the United States and originally planned for launch in 2005 but which has now been delayed, the report said. Full Story  AFP/The Australian_ 10/25/04

Mexico's Large Millimeter Telescope to shed light on cosmic dark ages

With a base like a launching pad and an antenna the size of a big Ferris wheel, the LMT will be able to pick up electromagnetic radiation known as millimeter waves emitted 13 billion years ago, when the first stars burst into existence, astrophysicists say. The $100 million telescope is being put together by Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Astrofisica, Optica y Electronica (INAOE) and the University of Massachusetts.   Full Story  Reuters_ 10/12/04

Astronomers spot monster collision of galaxies

The cosmic smash-up in the constellation Hydra poses no danger to Earth -- it is located about 800 million light-years away and the galaxies involved tend to speed by each other without crashing -- but our own Milky Way could be on a similar collision course in a few billion years. The scientists captured information on the violent merger with the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton observatory.  Full Story  Reuters_ 9/23/04

Chile telescope snaps first direct image of planet circling another star

The star, called 2M1207, is 230 light-years away and is very much smaller and fainter than our own Sun. The pictured companion is 100 times fainter still and tested the technical limits of the Yepun telescope. The observations were made with the 8.2m Yepun unit, part of the Very Large Telescope (VLT) facility operated by the European Southern Observatory (Eso) on Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert.  Full Story   BBC News_ 9/10/04

August, 2004
US astronomers find two more Neptune-sized planets orbiting stars beyond our Solar System, a breakthrough in the search for other Earths and for life in space
One of the new planets is in the first four-planet system ever discovered. Using telescopes in Hawaii, California and Texas astronomers have found the first Neptune-size planets outside our solar system. One of them could be only 14 times the mass of the Earth, which may be small enough to have a solid surface and possibly temperatures conducive to life.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/31/04

Tiny telescope spots giant planet TrES-1 circling a faraway star: Technique could open a new phase of planetary discovery
A telescope with a 4-inch (10.16 cm) diameter -- about the size that some backyard astronomers might use -- tracked the periodic dimming of light from a bright star 500 light-years away in the constellation Lyra ("the lyre"). The small telescope is part of a network of modest instruments called the Transatlantic Exoplanet Survey, known as TrES, which is designed to look specifically for planets orbiting bright stars, scientists said in e-mailed statements.  Full Story  Reuters_ 8/24/04

Stars reveal Milky Way is 13,600 million years old, give or take 800 milliion years
Astronomers working with the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile use measurements from two distant stars to come up with an age for our galaxy, the Milky Way. This was determined by measuring the amount of the element beryllium in two stars in a so-called globular cluster. The beryllium content of stars rises with time, so it can be used as a "cosmic clock" to calculate their ages.  Full Story  BBC News_ 8/17/04

University of Hawai'i to build $5 million prototype of world's most powerful telescope to seek out asteroids on collision course with Earth
The full Air Force-financed Pan-STARRS array is a four-telescope system that officials hope will be fully operational by the end of 2007. For now, Pan-STARRS Telescope No. 1 will be built on Maui as a prototype to "shake out the bugs" for a couple of years. By taking a picture of the universe over and over, researchers will spot potentially dangerous asteroids. In concept, the information will come in time to do something to change the orbit of any asteroid before it hits Earth.  Full Story  Honolulu Advertiser_ 6/20/04

'Humble' Canadian telescope watches stars spin
Scientists have used Canada's first microsatellite and space telescope to see how stars shake and spin in unprecedented detail. The findings may help scientists to understand what the sun was like in its youth. The Canadian Space Agency's $10 million MOST (Microvariability and Oscillation of STars) telescope is the size of a suitcase. It's been called the "Humble" telescope – a play on the name of the much larger Hubble space telescope.  Full Story  CBC_ 6/15/04

May, 2004

Chile's new Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope stands on a VertexRSI pedestal

The project, which began construction six years ago, is designed to produce the best quality images of any observatory in its class in the world. It relies on precision pedestals, positioners and control components from VertexRSI.  Full Story Press Release_ 5/27/04

Possible baby planet less than 1 million years old spotted by Spitzer Space Telescope
The youngest planet ever detected was spotted circling a star known as CoKu Tau 4, some 420 light-years away in the constellation Taurus, according to astronomer Dan Watson of the University of Rochester, New York.  Full Story  Reuters_ 5/27/04

England's Merlin telescope array gets upgrade for better look at space
Work has started to use optical fibres to link the giant radio telescope at Jodrell Bank with five others scattered across England. The telescopes, called the Merlin array, combine to perform as a larger telescope. They are currently linked by microwaves but replacing them with optical fibres will be a revolution.  Full Story  BBC News_ 5/26/04

Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak, Arizona trace eye of a cosmic hurricane

Astronomers from University College London and the University of Wisconsin-Madison traced the origin of the galaxy's 'superwind' into the starburst heart of M82. The work shows that the wind is not a single entity, but is made up of multiple gas streams that expand at different rates to form a 'cosmic shower' of hot gas expelled from the starburst. The galaxy's mighty winds, the astronomers say, were sparked by a near-miss collision with the neighboring giant spiral galaxy M81.  Full Story  Press Release University of Wisconsin, Madison/Starflight Now_ 5/23/04

Chandra X-ray telescope shows universe given mid-life booster about 6 billion years ago
Its images of clusters of galaxies provide astronomers with a new way to probe the history of the cosmos. Chandra's observations agree with supernova results, including those from the Hubble Space Telescope, which first demonstrated the cosmic acceleration. Importantly, Chandra's results are completely independent of the supernova technique.  Full Story BBC News_ 5/19/04

Chandra unlocking mystery of 'dark energy'
The Chandra Space Telescope has gathered further evidence the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, scientists at NASA and Britain's Institute of Astronomy announced Tuesday. The finding sheds new light on a force known as "dark energy," which scientists say fills the space between galaxies and drives them apart. Full Story  CNN_ 5/18/04

The Allen Telescope Array: Its real claim to fame is speed
For surveying the radio sky (a task necessary for SETI discoveries), the ATA will be almost 1,000 times faster than the Arecibo telescope, between 20 and 2000 times faster than the Very Large Array (depending on the scientific program) and 50 times faster than the Green Bank Telescope (GBT).   Full Story  SETI Institute/Space.com 5/13/04

Spitzer shares the wealth
Like a philanthropist donating a prized collection to a museum, NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has opened a virtual vault rich with scientific data. The Spitzer Science Archive now provides astronomers access to the infrared telescope's data well before the mission's one-year anniversary in space.  Full Story  JPL Press Release_ 5/11/04

Cassini-Huygens probe sights Saturn's largest moon, Titan
The first images of the object, which is believed to support oily lakes and seas, pick out broad features previously seen by Earth telescopes. Over the next two months, the cameras on Cassini will take progressively more detailed pictures of a surface that is shrouded by a very thick atmosphere. In January, the Huygens probe will be released and plunge down on to Titan - perhaps to splash down in a sea.  Full Story  BBC News_ 5/8/04

April, 2004

U.S.-Brazilian telescope in Chile opens new window to the cosmos
The $30 million Southern Astrophysical Research, or SOAR, telescope sits at 8,800 feet above sea level. It was financed by the U.S. government's Optical Astronomy Observatory, the government of Brazil, and University of North Carolina and Michigan State University.   Full Story  Reuters/CNN_ 4/20/04

Observers using Texas telescope watch comet vaporize in stellar crash
Astronomers using the giant Hobby-Eberly Telescope in Texas saw the comet plunge onto the firey surface of the young star Lk H-alpha 234, which is 3,200 light-years away.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/19/04

Astronomers' computer models support existence of elusive medium-sized black holes
The simulations fit observations made by Nasa's Chandra X-ray space telescope of the galaxy M82, the journal Nature reports.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/15/04

Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope sees display of hot stars behind a dust cloud that hid one of the most violent regions of star birth in our galaxy
The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in August 2003 and is the last of Nasa's great space observatories which include the Hubble Space Telescope, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory and the Chandra X-ray Observatory.  Full Story  BBC News 4/14/04

University of North Carolina astronomers cap 18 years of work as new telescope in Chile powers up to scan the cosmos
The telescope, powerful enough to explore the universe, took $32 million, one-third more than original predictions.  Full Story  AP/CNN_ 4/12/04

Telescopes take close-up of Titan, Saturn's major moon
Astronomers at the Paranal Observatory in Chile and the Chandra X-ray telescope in orbit studied Titan's atmosphere as the moon passed in front of the glowing wreckage of an exploded star.  Full Story  BBC News  4/6/04

Scientists are divided about the use of the Moon as a base for advanced telescopes
Daniel Lester of the McDonald Observatory, University of Texas believes space telescopes are better. Surface dust kicked up by both meteorites and activity near the telescope (whether blast waves from rockets or footsteps of astronauts) will degrade optical surfaces and reduce performance of loaded mechanical bearings on which such lunar telescopes would critically depend for precision motions.  Full Story  BBC News_ 4/5/04

Telescopes begin search for Earth-like planet
Astronomers will next month begin using a network of telescopes scattered across the globe to search for planets like our Earth circling other stars.  Full Story  BBC News 4/1/04

March, 2004

Radio search for ET draws a blank
The Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, supported by Jodrell Bank, searched over a period of 10 years and looked at 800 nearby stars with no evidence of a signal of intelligent life from space. They plan another search next year.  Full story  BBC News 3/25/04

Most distant object in solar system discovered by NASA researchers
The object, called "Sedna" for the Inuit goddess of the ocean, is 13 billion kilometers (8 billion miles) away, in the farthest reaches of the solar system. This is likely the first detection of the long-hypothesized "Oort cloud," a faraway repository of small icy bodies that supplies the comets that streak by Earth. Other notable features of Sedna include its size and reddish color. After Mars, it is the second reddest object in the solar system. It is estimated Sedna is approximately three-fourths the size of Pluto. Sedna is likely the largest object found in the solar system since Pluto was discovered in 1930.  Full story  California Institute of Technology/SpaceRef 3/15/04

Astronomers discover 'new planet'
Astronomers have detected what could be the Solar System's 10th planet. Found further away than other planets by the recently launched Spitzer Space Telescope, it has been called Sedna after the Inuit goddess of the ocean.  Full story  BBC News 3/14/04

South Africa looks to the stars with super scope
Huge white domes make a jarring sight amid the landscape of South Africa's arid Karoo region. Perched on a wind-swept hilltop, they house telescopes of different shapes and sizes that search the star-filled skies in this remote corner of the Earth for the secrets of the universe. Those skies will soon be scanned by a super scope that will probe far deeper into space than any of its neighbors -- the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), which will be 12 yards in diameter.  Full story  Reuters 3/10/04



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