Review: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact on Jupiter

Collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter Observed by the NASA Infrared telescope Facility” was written by a board of National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientist as a report on their observations of the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter as observed from July 12 to August 7, 1994.

The article described how this particular telescope allows scientists to attach three different measuring and/or recording instruments to help in observations.  The scientists chose to attach a camera with a low-resolution spectrometer, an Array Camera, and a high-resolution spectrometer.  These instruments let the scientists record their findings and obtain extensive information about each impact.

The scientist took measurements of the reflection of Jupiter on its moons Io and Europa to see how much of the impacts explosions were reflected onto the moons.  According to this article little or no reflection of the impact was recorded. Continue reading

Spacecraft escaping the Solar System

I was wondering about some of the old spacecraft that has been launched over the years. Whatever happened to ol’ Sputnik, Voyager, and others? Well, I did a little research and found out…

Sputnik 1  launched by the USSR in October 1957, burned up in the atmosphere in January of 1958 when it fell from orbit after kicking off the Space Race that put the USA in second place as the king of technology and space exploration.

Voyager 1 was launched on Sept. 5, 1977  just months before I was born and hurtled on it’s way to tour  Jupiter and Saturn  in a flyby. It is “currently the farthest man-made object from earth” according to Wikipedia’s entry.

New Horizons, — on it’s way to Pluto

Voyager 1, — exploring the “boundaries of the Solar System”

Voyager 2, — slowly dying

Pioneer 10 — On it’s way out of the Solar System but not communicating

Pioneer 11 — Jupiter and Outer Solar System

You can check out the mission locations by visiting Heavens Above site which…

shows the current positions and other interesting data of the five spacecraft which are leaving the Solar System on escape trajectories – our first emissaries to the stars. The graphics and data table are generated dynamically and so always represent the latest positions. The New Horizons spacecraft on its way to Pluto has been added to the table, and now the charts too.

via Spacecraft escaping the Solar System.

Telescopes: Glimpsing Saturn

A view of Saturn

A view of Saturn

I remember the first time I looked through a telescope and really saw something fascinating.

I was in college and a local family had sorta adopted me and some friends. The mother of the family was a science teacher and she enjoyed developing projects for her students. One afternoon she told us about a skywatch student group that was getting together to look at Saturn. It sounded fun, and it’d be a chance to get off campus and not spend a lot of money. So we went.

That night we looked through the eyepiece of a cardboard tube telescope. It must have only been about 6 inches in diameter, but as it swept the dark sky, I found myself enthralled because, for the first time ever. I could see for myself: Saturn really does have rings around it. Oh, I’ve seen the cool NASA photos, but for the first time I was seeing it with my own eyes…with the help of that telescope. Sure it was small and blurry, but I could see those rings and that was all that mattered. Mars’ red tone had nothing on those fascinating rings.

Since then, I’ve had the privilege of being around a few telescopes and visiting with people who make them like Gary Singmaster
There is a lot of advanced technology out there like the ones Singmaster makes or the Meade ETX-AT my brother‘s wife bought for him for a gift complete with tracking motors and the like, but I still remember my favorite telescope is that one that showed me the rings of Saturn for the first time. Wow! Across those thousands of miles such a beautiful creation lay spinning away. Seeing that for myself brought out a childlike wonder in me.