It's not that often that I put up two blog posts in the same day, but I couldn't wait for this one. In the past I've had trouble answering the question of "what has astronomy done for me" or "how can pure research benefit the economy."
Well, today I have a clear example of how something from astronomy is helping a different field which, in turn, helps people:
In the article they describe how AO, used to stabilize astronomical images from being blurred by Earth's atmosphere, has now been used to image a living retina. This could, in turn, lead to earlier diagnosis of eye diseases earlier and save people's eyesight!Read more
Back in January 2011 Eric Jensen of Swarthmore College, home of the Sproul Observatory, provided me with three stacks of papers from the late Dr. Peter Van de Kamp. These pages contained raw and processed astrometric data on epsilon Aur which. As you might recall, my initial post on this topic explained that there is a strong disagreement between the orbits implied by the Van de Kamp orbital solution and the more recent interferometric data from CHARA.
The Southern Gems team does it again. This time they have published a Spanish translation of the southern hemisphere 10-Star Tutorial. Read more
The next few days mark the closest approach of the Sun to epsilon Aurigae, as part of the annual solar motion. This also makes observations rather difficult, given the lingering twilight and the high airmasses involved. At last report, epsilon appeared to be between 3.2 and 3.3 mag, visual. This is behind schedule, relative to predictions based on prior eclipse light curves - epsilon Aurigae was predicted to have reached full brightness, mag 3.0, by mid-May 2011. The evidence suggests that this portion of the disk may be less transparent than the corresponding ingress portion of the disk.Read more
More than one thousand professional astronomers will be meeting in Boston to compare notes on a wide variety of astronomy and astrophysics at the spring meeting of the American Astronomical Society, jointly held with AAVSO. On the varied agenda will be 4 posters and at least 2 talks about the status of epsilon Aurigae eclipse studies and Citizen Sky support of these activities. I plan to summarize what the campaign effort has meant for professionals and amateurs, as well as report on the discovery of high temperature helium absorption in infrared spectra during mid-eclipse. Naomi Pequette has applied powerful disk modelling software to epsilon Aur data and concludes that a fair amount of accretion must be occuring. Brian Kloppenborg will report on progress toward improving the orbital solution for epsilon Aurigae, by combining astrometric, spectroscopic and interferometric data. Brian will also be reporting on how Citizen Sky teamwork has fared, and ARead more
Today I had the opportunity to talk with a group of high school students in an astronomy class at University Schools, a charter school, up the road in Greely, CO. The last time I was around high school students was when I did some classroom observing as part of the education program at my undergraduate institution, Hastings College. The group came to DU's historic Chamberlin observatory as part of an outing to Denver.
This semester the Tufts University introduction to astronomy class observed epsilon Aurigae as their course lab. The class has around 250 students and they do not have access to equipment for a formal lab. So epsilon Aurigae was perfect since it is bright enough to be seen from campus with the unaided eye and happens to be emerging from the eclipse. They were tasked to observe once every two weeks and report their data to Citizen Sky.
The above light curve includes all Citizen Sky data since February 1, 2011. The blue line is the 7 day mean curve based on data only from Tufts students. The red line is the 7d mean for visual observation from non-Tufts Citizen Sky participants and the green line is for photometric observations from Citizen Sky participants.Read more
Greetings. Barely a month from solar conjunction again (early June) and epsilon Aurigae is sinking into the sunset. At the same time, the star has 'taken a breather' - after rising in brightness by 0.5 mag (up nearly 60% in energy terms), the star stalled at V~3.3 during April. A similar still-stand was seen during the 1984 eclipse egress as well, suggesting some persistent opacity around the trailing side of the disk. No clear spectroscopic signatures reported so far, but stay tuned.
Nonetheless, the egress is predicted to end during May, and as many will put the star up on the shelf for another 27 years, some of us will continue to observe and work on data reduction. We encourage everyone in Citizen Sky to continue in one or both modes for at least the balance of the year.
A variety of major telescope observations have been obtained recently as well, including the following:Read more