Login
New User

Welcome to AOAS.ORG
Thursday, July 24 2014 @ 05:58 PM CDT

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

What a Sunset THIS will be!

SolarOn May 20, 2012, the day will begin as almost any other. But as the Sun prepares to set on this particular evening, folks in the border region of AR/OK will be treated to a slightly unusual partial Solar Eclipse. At about 7:32 pm, the moon will take its "first bite" out of the edge of the Sun, but YOU MUST TAKE PRECAUTIONS TO SEE THIS EVENT TO AVOID POSSIBLY PERMANENT DAMAGE TO YOUR EYES!
ONLY WITH PROPER EYE PROTECTION by 8:00pm, then THIS is how we will see the moon move into alignment with the Sun on Sunday evening, May 20, 2012 setting up for a sensational partially eclipsed Sun as the Sun drops below the western horizon at 8:15pm. This image is from the FREE software Stellarium using "ocean" as the horizon to provide a smooth, flat bottom edge.


Sometimes as sunset occurs during the late days of May in this part of mid-America, there will be a haze forming in the far western horizon which make the Sun appear really red. Even if its only red-orange, the amount of sunlight seeping through horizonal haze will let us look directly at the Sun, but ONLY if conditions conspire all together at the right time! It is IMPERATIVE that you DO NOT LOOK at the Sun as this eclipse occurs before the Sun is nearly touching the far western horizon. If there is anything obstructing the view to the west of wherever observers happen to be on May 20 at about 8:10pm, you will not see this eclipse unless you have proper SOLAR ECLIPSE GLASSES! .

By 8:15, the Sun will be on the western horizon, and if either the conditions are just right and you can comfortably look directly at the Sun, OR, if the Sun is still too bright and you HAVE your eclipse glasses, then this view BELOW is what will greet us all this May 20.
What a sunset THIS is gonna be!


Click also for a few of my eclipse day images from Cedarville's Sunset Observatory. Rainbow Symphony Eclipse Shades can be found at:
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Changes Ahead For AOAS In 2012

By Dave Grosvold

  
Jupiter rising over Lake Tamika at Camp Cahinnio
Click image for larger view
  
Star Party during Astronomy Day at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center
Click image for larger view
As you may know if you attended the AOAS Holiday Dinner Meeting on December 3rd 2011, AOAS has made several changes that everyone needs to know about:

First, new club officers have been elected and will be taking office in January, 2012. Leonard Lynch has been elected AOAS President, with Charlie McLane being voted in for AOAS Treasurer, and Barb Warner for AOAS Secretary. Dave Grosvold now moves into the AOAS Vice President position.

Second, we have changed our meeting times and locations for next year. In 2012, we will be meeting on the second Friday of each month (to repeat- that’s the SECOND Friday.) Instead of UAFS, our meetings will be held in the Multi-Purpose Room at the Janet Huckabee River Valley Nature Center beginning at 7:00 PM. This affords us an opportunity to bring our scopes to the regular AOAS meetings and do some observing afterwards.

On meeting nights, we will be setting up our scopes in the regular location we have been using for the Nature Center Star Parties in the past, it’s just that they won’t be announced publicly, so we don’t have the pressure of catering to the public while observing.

However, we will still have four publicly-announced Star Parties at the Nature Center – three on nights normally reserved for regular meetings (March 9th, June 8th, and September 14th,) and also Astronomy Day on October 20th. On the three public nights, we will not have a meeting, per se, but may have a brief discussion if club business requires it either before or after the regular Star Party.

AOAS will also be holding two or three additional public Star Parties in remote locations – Lake Fort Smith State Park on June 23rd, Cossatot River State Park Natural Area on August 17th (this one is quite a ways away – 114 miles south of Fort Smith,) and it’s probable that we’ll be asked to do another star party for the Girl Scouts at Camp Cahinnio in the fall. Be sure to check the Calendar for dates, times, and possible changes to these as well as the rest of the activity schedule throughout the coming year.

We are looking forward to having another great year for AOAS!
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Re-thinking an Alien World: The Strange Case of 55 Cancri e

NASA Space Place
  
  
Artist’s rendering compares the size Earth with the rocky “super-Earth” 55 Cancri e. Its year is only about 18 hours long!
Click image for larger view
Forty light years from Earth, a rocky world named “55 Cancri e” circles perilously close to a stellar inferno. Completing one orbit in only 18 hours, the alien planet is 26 times closer to its parent star than Mercury is to the Sun. If Earth were in the same position, the soil beneath our feet would heat up to about 3200 F. Researchers have long thought that 55 Cancri e must be a wasteland of parched rock.

Now they’re thinking again. New observations by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope suggest that 55 Cancri e may be wetter and weirder than anyone imagined.

Spitzer recently measured the extraordinarily small amount of light 55 Cancri e blocks when it crosses in front of its star. These transits occur every 18 hours, giving researchers repeated opportunities to gather the data they need to estimate the width, volume and density of the planet.

According to the new observations, 55 Cancri e has a mass 7.8 times and a radius just over twice that of Earth. Those properties place 55 Cancri e in the “super-Earth” class of exoplanets, a few dozen of which have been found. Only a handful of known super-Earths, however, cross the face of their stars as viewed from our vantage point in the cosmos, so 55 Cancri e is better understood than most.

When 55 Cancri e was discovered in 2004, initial estimates of its size and mass were consistent with a dense planet of solid rock. Spitzer data suggest otherwise: About a fifth of the planet’s mass must be made of light elements and compounds — including water. Given the intense heat and high pressure these materials likely experience, researchers think the compounds likely exist in a “supercritical” fluid state.

A supercritical fluid is a high-pressure, high-temperature state of matter best described as a liquid-like gas, and a marvelous solvent. Water becomes supercritical in some steam turbines — and it tends to dissolve the tips of the turbine blades. Supercritical carbon dioxide is used to remove caffeine from coffee beans, and sometimes to dry-clean clothes. Liquid-fueled rocket propellant is also supercritical when it emerges from the tail of a spaceship.

On 55 Cancri e, this stuff may be literally oozing — or is it steaming? — out of the rocks.

With supercritical solvents rising from the planet’s surface, a star of terrifying proportions filling much of the daytime sky, and whole years rushing past in a matter of hours, 55 Cancri e teaches a valuable lesson: Just because a planet is similar in size to Earth does not mean the planet is like Earth.

It’s something to re-think about.

Get a kid thinking about extrasolar planets by pointing him or her to “Lucy’s Planet Hunt,” a story in rhyme about a girl who wanted nothing more than to look for Earth-like planets when she grew up. Go to http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/story-lucy.

The original research reported in this story has been accepted for publication in Astronomy and Astrophysics. The lead author is Brice-Olivier Demory, a post-doctoral associate in Professor Sara Seager’s group at MIT.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Meteor Shower!

NASA Space Place

Have you ever wondered how astronomers can predict when there’s going to be an abundance of shooting stars in the night sky? Showers of meteors, the scientific name for “shooting stars,” occur predictably several times a year, usually peaking within the same two- or three-day period. So what causes them? Why do they seem to come from the same part of the sky? What’s the best way to see them? Visit http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/meteor-shower and get ready to enjoy the next show.

 

Distributed by Laura K. Lincoln, on behalf of the Space Place Team.

 

Check out our great sites for kids:

http://climate.nasa.gov/kids

http://scijinks.gov

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

December 2011 Guest Speaker Announced

The Arkansas Oklahoma Astronomical Society is proud to announce our program for the AOAS Annual Holiday Dinner Meeting for 2011!



  
Robert Beauford
  
Craters of the Ozark Plateaus
by Robert Beauford

  
On Earth, where only 178 confirmed examples are known, meteorite impact craters are rarities. For nearly every other rocky body in the solar system, however, they are the predominant surfacing mechanism, defining both general morphology and surface rock lithology. No other features on the Earth’s surface can provide us with the insights into our solar system that these few locations offer.

Most of what we know about space science comes from some form of remote sensing or remote analysis. Alongside meteorites, terrestrial hypervelocity impact craters are part of an extremely short list of exceptions to this rule. They are places where we can see and touch, right here on earth, examples of the same processes we are viewing ‘out there.’

Twelve meteorite impact craters are located in the southern and south-central United States. Three of these, Decaturville, Crooked Creek, and Weaubleau are located within a 125 mile stretch of terrain in the center of the Ozarks in Missouri. The Decaturville Crater played a significant role in the historical process of recognizing the presence of meteorite impact craters on earth and in distinguishing these craters from similar structures of volcanic origin. NASA studied the location in the late 60s in order to better understand craters on the Moon. The Crooked Creek crater is one of North America’s longest recognized but least studied impacts, and the Weaubleau structure is one of the most recently discovered, and is still undergoing the confirmation process. All three offer researchers a remarkable opportunity to visit extraordinarily well preserved terrestrial analogs for our future studies of off-planet impact sites.

Robert Beauford, is a graduate student in the PhD program of the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, and the Co-Editor of Meteorite Magazine, the International Quarterly Magazine for Meteorites and Meteorite Research. Robert's extensive background in meteorite impact research and passion for mineralogy, lapidary, archaeology, and paleontology makes him an interesting individual and a welcome guest. His presentation should be both interesting and very well received.



Remember, this meeting is also the one where we hold our annual Officer Elections, choosing those who will lead us and serve the AOAS membership for the coming year. Positions open for nominations this year are: President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer. And, once again, this meeting is preceded by a potluck dinner with a holiday theme. The club is providing the main meat course, so please bring a side dish and/or a dessert, and your favorite non-alcoholic beverages. Dinner starts at 6:30 PM and the main meeting starts at 7:30 PM, December 2 at the Fort Smith Riverpark Event Center - West. Click the link for directions.

Come and enjoy some warm holiday fellowship, fare, and fun with us!
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Space Place Wallpaper Available

NASA Space Place

If you have admired the artwork behind the new Space Place website design, now you can have your own unobstructed view of them right on your computer desktop.  Pick from the home page graphic, or any of the theme backgrounds for space, Sun, Earth, solar system, people and technology, or parents and educators. There’s also the “clubhouse” theme for those more “generic” moods. Go to http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/wallpaper and download any or all in pixel sizes of 1920x1080 or 1920x1200.

 

Distributed by Laura K. Lincoln, on behalf of the Space Place Team.

 

Check out our great sites for kids:

http://climate.nasa.gov/kids

http://scijinks.gov

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov

 

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

The Gray Cubicle You Want to Work In

NASA Space PlaceBy Dr. Tony Phillips

  
  
Some of the employees of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate may work in gray cubicles, but their jobs are anything but dull. They get to study Earth, the Sun, the Solar System, and the Universe!
It's another day at the office.

You're sitting in a gray cubicle, tap-tap-taping away on your keyboard, when suddenly your neighbor lets out a whoop of delight.

Over the top of the carpeted divider you see a star exploding on the computer screen. An unauthorized video game? No, this explosion is real. A massive star just went supernova in the Whirlpool Galaxy, and the first images from Hubble are popping up on your office-mate’s screen.

It's another day at the office … at NASA.

Just down the hall, another office-mate is analyzing global temperature trends. On the floor below, a team of engineers gathers to decode signals from a spaceship that entered “safe mode” when it was hit by a solar flare. And three floors above, a financial analyst snaps her pencil-tip as she tries to figure out how to afford just one more sensor for a new robotic spacecraft.

These are just a few of the things going on every day at NASA headquarters in Washington DC and more than a dozen other NASA centers scattered around the country. The variety of NASA research and, moreover, the variety of NASA people required to carry it out often comes as a surprise. Consider the following:

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) supports research in four main areas: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Astrophysics, and Planetary Science. Read that list one more time. It includes everything in the cosmos from the ground beneath our feet to the Sun in the sky to the most distant galaxies at the edge of the Universe. Walking among the cubicles in NASA’s science offices, you are likely to meet people working on climate change, extraterrestrial life, Earth-threatening asteroids, black holes or a hundred other things guaranteed to give a curious-minded person goose bumps. Truly, no other government agency has a bigger job description.

And it’s not just scientists doing the work. NASA needs engineers to design its observatories and build its spacecraft, mathematicians to analyze orbits and decipher signals, and financial wizards to manage the accounts and figure out how to pay for everything NASA dreamers want to do. Even writers and artists have a place in the NASA scheme of things. Someone has to explain it all to the general public.

Clearly, some cubicles are more interesting than others. For more information about the Science Mission Directorate, visit science.nasa.gov. And for another way to reach the Space Place, go to http://science.nasa.gov/kids.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Unmanned spacecraft? Says who?

NASA Space Place

What’s it like to work right in the middle of an exciting NASA science mission? The Space Place decided to find out by asking NASA scientists and engineers to describe some of their most exciting moments on the job. The result is Mission Chronicles, a blog for parents and teachers—although kids are welcome to read it too. The latest post comes from a mission ACE, more formally called a mission controller. He or she is the one who maintains the human link between spacecraft and Earth as the robotic explorer carries out its mission of discovery in deep space. Check out the ACE’s story at http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/mission-chronicles.

 

Distributed by Laura K. Lincoln, on behalf of the Space Place Team.

 

Check out our great sites for kids:

http://climate.nasa.gov/kids

http://scijinks.gov

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Dark Clues to the Universe

NASA Space PlaceBy Dr. Marc Rayman

  
This Hubble Space Telescope image of Galaxy NGC 4414 was used to help calculate the expansion rate of the universe. The galaxy is about 60 million light-years away. Credit: NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Click image for larger view
Urban astronomers are always wishing for darker skies. But that complaint is due to light from Earth. What about the light coming from the night sky itself? When you think about it, why is the sky dark at all?

Of course, space appears dark at night because that is when our side of Earth faces away from the Sun. But what about all those other suns? Our own Milky Way galaxy contains over 200 billion stars, and the entire universe probably contains over 100 billion galaxies. You might suppose that that many stars would light up the night like daytime!

Until the 20th century, astronomers didn't think it was even possible to count all the stars in the universe. They thought the universe was infinite and unchanging.

Besides being very hard to imagine, the trouble with an infinite universe is that no matter where you look in the night sky, you should see a star. Stars should overlap each other in the sky like tree trunks in the middle of a very thick forest. But, if this were the case, the sky would be blazing with light. This problem greatly troubled astronomers and became known as “Olbers’ Paradox” after the 19th century astronomer Heinrich Olbers who wrote about it, although he was not the first to raise this astronomical mystery.

To try to explain the paradox, some 19th century scientists thought that dust clouds between the stars must be absorbing a lot of the starlight so it wouldn’t shine through to us. But later scientists realized that the dust itself would absorb so much energy from the starlight that eventually it would glow as hot and bright as the stars themselves.

Astronomers now realize that the universe is not infinite. A finite universe — that is, a universe of limited size — even one with trillions of stars, just wouldn't have enough stars to light up all of space.

Although the idea of a finite universe explains why Earth's sky is dark at night, other factors work to make it even darker.

The universe is expanding. As a result, the light that leaves a distant galaxy today will have much farther to travel to our eyes than the light that left it a million years ago or even one year ago. That means the amount of light energy reaching us from distant stars dwindles all the time. And the farther away the star, the less bright it will look to us.

Also, because space is expanding, the wavelengths of the light passing through it are expanding. Thus, the farther the light has traveled, the more red-shifted (and lower in energy) it becomes, perhaps red-shifting right out of the visible range. So, even darker skies prevail.

The universe, both finite in size and finite in age, is full of wonderful sights. See some bright, beautiful images of faraway galaxies against the blackness of space at the Space Place image galleries. Visit http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/search/?q=gallery.

This article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Play Satellite Insight . . . on your iPhone!

NASA Space Place

“Satellite Insight” for iPhone and other iOS devices is now available on iTunes. It’s free! It’s challenging! It’s fun! Colored blocks represent different types of data gathered by GOES-R’s amazing science instruments. The data blocks fall into columns on a grid. Your job is to bundle like data types together and store them safely before the data grid overflows.  It is the very first iPhone app from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (in partnership with NASA). Check it out at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/satellite-insight/id463588902?mt=8.

 

"It is engaging and supports a good cause so I suggest you download it." - AppAdvice.com

 

Distributed by Laura K. Lincoln, on behalf of the Space Place Team.

 

Check out our great sites for kids:

http://climate.nasa.gov/kids

http://scijinks.gov

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov

What's New

STORIES

No new stories

COMMENTS last 2 days

No new comments

LINKS last 2 weeks

No recent new links

Who's Online

Guest Users: 5

User Functions






Lost your password?

Want It ALL?

Become a card-carrying member of AOAS. Paying dues gives you several advantages over other registered users, including a subscription to the club newsletter, an AOAS.ORG e-mail address, use of club materials, including books and telescopes, and access to the Coleman Observatory facilities. On top of all that, you also qualify for a 20% discount on all books at any Books-A-Million location.

To get your membership application, click here.