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July 31, 2018

Total lunar eclipse occurs in 2018

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Total lunar eclipse occurs in 2018 – Wikinews, the free news source

Total lunar eclipse occurs in 2018

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Observation from Chelsea, Victoria, Australia at 06:07am AEST (UTC+10).
Image: Ian Fieggen.

On July 27, 2018 total lunar eclipse occurred as the Moon was in the shadow of the Earth. As is the normal during such an eclipse, the Moon became faint and turned completely red. The eclipse reportedly took the longest at Bagram, according to a publication at the United States Air Force website.

People were able to observe the eclipse from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. The total eclipse lasted 1 hour and 43 minutes.

A volunteer named José Jiménez uploaded a photo from Alt Empordà in Girona, Catalonia, Spain on July 31, featuring the Moon, Mars and milky way on the same photo.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst took photos of the Moon from International Space Station and uploaded them to Flickr on the same day.

Mars was also visible near the Moon, reportedly “closest approach to Earth this week since 2003” according to 9News.



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Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018

Total lunar eclipse occurs in July 2018

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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Observation from Chelsea, Victoria, Australia at 06:07am AEST (UTC+10).
Image: Ian Fieggen.

On Friday–Saturday —depending on observer’s timezone— a total lunar eclipse occurred as the Moon was in the shadow of the Earth. As normal during such an eclipse, the Moon became faint and turned completely red as bluer light was scattered by the Earth’s atmosphere. Totality of 1 hour and 43 minutes was the longest in the 21st century.

People were able to observe the eclipse from Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. A volunteer named José Jiménez uploaded a photo of the incident today from Alt Empordà in Girona, Catalonia, Spain, featuring the Moon, Mars, and the milky way on the same photo.

German astronaut Alexander Gerst took photos of the Moon from the International Space Station and uploaded them to Flickr on the same day.

According to timeanddate.com, the timeline of the eclipse was as follows.

Event Time (UTC)
July 27
Start penumbral eclipse 17:14:47
Start partial eclipse 18:24:27
Start full eclipse 19:30:15
Maximum eclipse 20:21:44
End full eclipse 21:13:11
End partial eclipse 22:19:00
End penumbral eclipse 23:28:38

Mars was also visible near the Moon; coming this week, reported 9News, closer to Earth than at any time since 2003.



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July 19, 2018

US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites

US astronomers announce discovering ten tiny Jovian satellites

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

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On Tuesday, astronomers of the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, DC, United States, announced the discovery of ten small satellites orbiting Jupiter. With this discovery, Jupiter now has 79 known satellites.

The team led by Scott Sheppard had discovered twelve of the 79 Jovian satellites, including Tuesday’s ten, mostly using a Blanco 4-meter telescope of Chile’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory. The observatory is operated by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in the US. The tiny satellites, none more than five kilometres in diameter, were first observed in 2017. Orbits of these new Jovian satellites were calculated by International Astronomical Union‘s Minor Planet Center‘s Gareth Williams. Williams explained, “It takes several observations to confirm an object actually orbits around Jupiter […] So, the whole process took a year.”

The astronomers were looking for planets much farther out than Pluto. Sheppard said, “Jupiter just happened to be in the sky near the search fields where we were looking for extremely distant Solar System objects, so we were serendipitously able to look for new moons around Jupiter while at the same time looking for planets at the fringes of our Solar System”.

Of the twelve satellites discovered by the team, nine were found to be retrograde, revolving around the gas giant in the direction opposite to the planet’s spin. These nine new retrograde satellites take about two years to complete one revolution around Jupiter.

The remaining three satellites were prograde, spinning in the same direction as Jupiter’s rotation. One of the prograde satellites, newly announced on Tuesday, took about one-and-half years to complete one revolution around Jupiter, and its orbit intersected with the outer retrograde satellites. Sheppard said, “Our other discovery is a real oddball and has an orbit like no other known Jovian moon […] It’s also likely Jupiter’s smallest known moon, being less than one kilometre in diameter”. The astronomer also said, “This is an unstable situation […] Head-on collisions would quickly break apart and grind the objects down to dust.”

Sheppard said of the composition of those satellites, they “started orbiting Jupiter, instead of falling into it. So we think they are intermediate between rocky asteroids and icy comets. So they are probably half ice and half rock.”

Valetudo” is the name suggested for the “oddball” satellite. Valetudo was the Roman god Jupiter‘s great-granddaughter, regarded as the goddess of health and hygiene.

Sheppard said, “Jupiter is like a big vacuum cleaner because it is so massive”. Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System, with a diameter about 142,984 kilometres. The largest known satellite in the Solar System is Jupiter’s Ganymede, whose diameter is approximately 5268 kilometres. Saturn has the second-most known satellites: 62, while Uranus has 27.



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July 6, 2016

Final panel added to China\’s FAST radio telescope

Final panel added to China’s FAST radio telescope

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Photo of the construction of FAST, 2015
Image: Psr1909.

On Sunday, China announced the attachment of the final panel to its telescope named Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). This piece marks the end of a five-year-long US$180 million (CNY¥1.2 billion) construction project.

FAST comprises about 4,500 panels and spans a diameter of 500 meters (about 1640 feet). The telescope is part of a series of ventures into space exploration by China, including planning another robotic Moon mission and creating a Chinese space station, with its core module set to be launched into space in 2018. With the country’s founding centenary coming in 2049, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Beijing conference, “great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong”.

In order to achieve optimal electromagnetic performance for FAST with minimal signal interference, it was built in the South China Karst. This ultimately forced the relocation of about 9,100 inhabitants within a 3.1-mile (5km) radius of the telescope. The residents received about US$1,800 (CNY¥12,000) in reimbursement, with those experiencing difficulties with housing receiving about US$1,500 (CNY¥10,000) in extra compensation. The Chinese government supports the resettlement, with senior party official Li Yuecheng saying the relocation would provide a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The telescope is now the largest-diameter single-dish radio telescope. It took the spot from the 305-meter diameter Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico. Russia‘s RATAN-600 multi-element radio telescope has a diameter of 576 meters. This adds to China’s record-defying achievements; it contains the world’s largest bridge and the world’s longest wall, the Great Wall of China.

The telescope is set to be ready for use in September. Its possible uses include exploration for pulsars, a special type of neutron stars detected through their emission of radio pulses. Scientists have also described the telescope’s potential to explore alien civilization, with NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory director Peng Bo saying FAST’s “potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets”.



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Final piece added to China\’s new radio telescope

Final piece added to China’s new radio telescope

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

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Photo of the construction of FAST, 2015
Image: Psr1909.

On Sunday China announced the final panel attached to its telescope named Five hundred meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST). This piece marks the end of a five-year-long US$180 million (CNY¥1.2 billion) construction project.

FAST comprises about 4,500 panels and spans a diameter of 500 meters (about 1640 feet). The telescope is part of a series of ventures into space exploration by China, including planning another robotic Moon mission and creating a Chinese space station, with its core module set to be launched into space in 2018. With the country’s founding centenary coming in 2049, Chinese President Xi Jinping said during a Beijing conference, “great scientific and technological capacity is a must for China to be strong”.

In order to achieve optimal electromagnetic performance for FAST with minimal signal interference, it was built in the South China Karst. This ultimately forced the relocation of about 9,100 inhabitants within a 3.1-mile (5km) radius of the telescope. The residents received about US$1,800 (CNY¥12,000) in reimbursement, with those experiencing difficulties with housing receiving about US$1,500 (CNY¥10,000) in extra compensation. The Chinese government supports the resettlement, with senior party official Li Yuecheng saying the relocation would provide a “sound electromagnetic wave environment”.

The telescope is now the largest-diameter single-dish radio telescope. It took the spot from the 305-meter diameter Arecibo Observatory telescope in Puerto Rico. Russia‘s RATAN-600 multi-element radio telescope has a diameter of 576 meters. This adds to China’s record-defying achievements; it contains the world’s largest bridge and the world’s longest wall, the Great Wall of China.

The telescope is set to be ready for use in September. Its possible uses include exploration for pulsars, a special type of neutron stars detected through their emission of radio pulses. Scientists have also described the telescope’s potential to explore alien civilization, with NAO Radio Astronomy Technology Laboratory director Peng Bo saying FAST’s “potential to discover an alien civilization will be 5 to 10 times that of current equipment, as it can see farther and darker planets”.



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August 16, 2014

US researchers find a large asteroid held together by forces other than gravity

US researchers find a large asteroid held together by forces other than gravity

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

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Asteroid 1950 DA, Arecibo Observatory radar image

A team of researchers from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has confirmed that near-Earth asteroid (29075) 1950 DA is primarily held together by van der Waals forces rather than gravity. They have shown that the rotation rate of the 1.1 km asteroid is higher than could be possible if only gravity and friction were responsible for holding it together. Cohesive forces prevent large scale shedding of material and breakup of the asteroid. Their study was published Wednesday in Nature.

The researchers found that the bulk density 1.7±0.7 g/cm³ of the asteroid is approximately two times lower than the value required for self-gravity to balance out the centrifugal forces caused by rotation. As Ben Rozitis, a planetary scientist and a co-author of the study, told Space.com: “I was expecting to find a high-density metallic asteroid, as such an asteroid wouldn’t require cohesive forces to hold itself together under its fast rotation. Instead we found the opposite! […] We knew from previous work that this asteroid was rotating faster than it should be, and we wanted to know why”.

Spectral observations of 1950DA indicated that it is either an E- or M-type asteroid in the Tholen classification. However, its low optical albedo and low radar circular polarization ratio (a very smooth surface at centimetre to decimetre scales) showed that it cannot be an E-type asteroid.

Unusually for an M-type asteroid (which are mostly metallic), 1950DA has low radar albedo. It would have been puzzling, if it was not for the Rosetta observations of 21 Lutetia, which is also an M-type asteroid with very similar low radar albedo. Researchers have used for 1950DA the same meteorite analogue which was earlier found to fit best 21 Lutetia: enstatite chondrite with grain density of 3.55 g/cm³. It allowed to calculate macro-porosity of 51±19%, indicating that 1950DA is a rubble-pile asteroid.

Taking into account thermal-infrared measurements of thermal inertia, presence of a fine-grained regolith is implied, primarily around 1950DA’s equator. Negative ambient gravity near the equator of the asteroid (48±24% of its surface) requires existence of cohesive forces to prevent loss of material. This is similar to an effect noticed between the fine grains of regolith on the Moon. Lunar regolith was found to be highly cohesive because of van der Waals forces between grains by the Apollo 17 expedition in 1974.

As Ben Rozitis explained: “We found a low-density rubble pile that traditionally would be unable to hold itself together unless cohesive forces were present. It’s exciting because we’ve provided the first evidence that cohesive forces are important for small asteroids, which had only been predicted up until now.”

The balance between cohesion and negative gravity requires small grain sizes consistent with the grain size distribution on 1950DA, and similar to that of another rubble-pile asteroid, (25143) Itokawa. Unlike Itokawa, 1950DA does not have large boulders on the surface; they may have been lost as 1950DA’s rotation accelerated due to YORP effect. This effect results in a change of the rotation rate of an asteroid (either faster or slower), and is caused when the Sun heats up an object unevenly, due to asymmetric surface topography. As the heat escapes, the rotation rate is slowly changed due to an uneven rate of cooling. The researchers find that a rubble-pile asteroid may have a high rotation rate, if it is held together by cohesive forces between the grains. But as the spin rate increases due to YORP effect, the centrifugal force may cause the rubble pile to eventually separate as it happened with P/2013 R3.

The findings may have implications for asteroid impact avoidance. A very small impulse may break one potentially hazardous object into several pieces. As Ben Rozitis said: “You’d want to avoid interacting with the asteroid directly. An alternative is to use a ‘gravity tractor,’ or a heavy spacecraft placed near the asteroid, which uses the force of gravity to pull the asteroid off course”. Bong Wie, an aerospace engineer at Iowa State University in Ames, noted: “I just hope that an asteroid on a collision course with Earth will not be spinning rapidly and it will not be a rubble-pile asteroid”.

According to Daniel Scheeres, an aerospace engineer at the University of Colorado, Boulder, understanding such cohesive forces may also be important for future asteroid mining. Ben Rozitis clarified: “Mining missions intend to visit small asteroids about 10 meters (33 feet) or less in size, as it is thought that they are predominantly solid bodies. However, cohesive forces enable such small asteroids to be rubble piles instead. A small rubble-pile asteroid would be harder to interact with and collect, as it can easily deform or break up when subject to external forces.”

The study was supported by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology and the NASA.



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  • “Main belt asteroid No. 274301 named ‘Wikipedia'” — Wikinews, January 31, 2013

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January 31, 2013

Main belt asteroid No. 274301 named Wikipedia

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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The “space Wikipedia” was discovered by the team of Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory, Ukraine

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A main belt asteroid, No. 274301, has been named after Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia. The information became available on the Minor Planet Center‘s website yesterday.

The decision of the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature to assign the name “Wikipedia” to the asteroid was published in the Minor Planet Circular of January 27, published online yesterday, page 82403. Wikimedia Ukraine board member Andriy Makukha proposed the name. It was submitted to the Committee by the head of the Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory in Ukraine, Yuri Ivashchenko.

The official dedication of the name says:

Cquote1.svg Wikipedia is a free, copyleft, collaboratively edited online encyclopedia launched in 2001. In 11 years of its compilation it became one of the largest reference works and one of the most visited web-sites on the Internet. It is developed in more than 270 languages by enthusiasts from all over the world. Cquote2.svg

The asteroid 274301 Wikipedia was discovered by the team of astronomers of Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory. At first it was observed by that team on August 25, 2008 at 22:47 (UTC). It was also observed on the next night and two weeks later on September 6. It received provisional designation 2008 QH24. Accurate calculation of its orbit showed asteroid 2008 QH24 is the same as 1997 RO4 and 2007 FK34. The asteroid had been previously spotted by observatories including Caussols-ODAS in France, and Mt. Lemmon Survey and Steward Observatory in Arizona, US.

On April 18, 2011 the minor planet received the number 274301.



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Main belt asteroid No. 274301 named \’Wikipedia\’

Main belt asteroid No. 274301 named ‘Wikipedia’

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Wikimedia-logo.svg This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The “space Wikipedia” was discovered by the team of Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory, Ukraine

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A main belt asteroid, No. 274301, has been named after Wikipedia, a free encyclopedia. The information became available on the Minor Planet Center‘s website yesterday.

The decision of the Committee for Small Body Nomenclature to assign the name “Wikipedia” to the asteroid was published in the Minor Planet Circular of January 27, published online yesterday, page 82403. Wikimedia Ukraine board member Andriy Makukha proposed the name. It was submitted to the Committee by the head of the Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory in Ukraine, Yuri Ivashchenko.

The official dedication of the name says:

Cquote1.svg Wikipedia is a free, copyleft, collaboratively edited online encyclopedia launched in 2001. In 11 years of its compilation it became one of the largest reference works and one of the most visited web-sites on the Internet. It is developed in more than 270 languages by enthusiasts from all over the world. Cquote2.svg

The asteroid 274301 Wikipedia was discovered by the team of astronomers of Andrushivka Astronomical Observatory. At first it was observed by that team on August 25, 2008 at 22:47 (UTC). It was also observed on the next night and two weeks later on September 6. It received provisional designation 2008 QH24. Accurate calculation of its orbit showed asteroid 2008 QH24 is the same as 1997 RO4 and 2007 FK34. The asteroid had been previously spotted by observatories including Caussols-ODAS in France, and Mt. Lemmon Survey and Steward Observatory in Arizona, US.

On April 18, 2011 the minor planet received the number 274301.



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March 30, 2011

First images received from orbit around Mercury

First images received from orbit around Mercury

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

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NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft has sent the first images of Mercury taken from orbit back to Earth. (First image shown)
Image: NASA.

The first images of Mercury taken from orbit around the planet have been received from NASA’s MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) probe. The images come after the spacecraft entered an orbit around the closest planet to the sun on March 17.

After various system examinations, the first images from the spacecraft were sent at 0520 EDT (0920 UTC).

Before arriving in orbit around Mercury, the MESSENGER spacecraft was launched in 2004, passed by Mercury twice in 2008 and once more in 2009. MESSENGER is the first artificial satellite to be placed in orbit around Mercury. Because Mercury is the innermost planet in the Solar System, the sun’s gravitational attraction altered the spacecraft’s approach to the planet. Because of this, a series of several maneuvers over three years was required to put the probe in orbit.

Although MESSENGER is the first probe to enter orbit around Mercury, it is not the first to fly by. Mariner 10 was the first to do this when it made three passes during the 1970s.

NASA is continuing to release images taken by the spacecraft as they arrive at Earth. MESSENGER is scheduled to begin it’s primary mission on April 4, consisting of various scientific and visual observations of the planet. Some of the scientific goals the probe is to accomplish are: determination of the geologic composition of Mercury, study of the planet’s magnetic field and internal composition, and transmission of more than 75,000 images back to Earth.



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  • “NASA spacecraft to begin collecting data on Mercury” — Wikinews, January 14, 2008

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January 11, 2011

Moon water possibly originated from comets, data shows

Moon water possibly originated from comets, data shows

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

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Water on the moon may have originated from comets, a new study shows.
Image: Luc Viatour.

Data from recent detailed analyses of samples collected on NASA Apollo moon missions, released Sunday, show that Lunar water may originate from comets that collided with the moon early in its geologic history.

A team of astrophysicists led by James Greenwood of Wesleyan University in Connecticut analyzed samples collected on the Apollo 11, 12, 14, and 17 missions and found that the chemical properties of traces of lunar water in these samples differ from water typical of Earth.

“The values of deuterium/hydrogen (D/H) that we measure in apatite in the Apollo rock samples”, Greenwood told Space.com, “is clearly distinguishable from water from the Earth, mitigating against this being some sort of contamination on Earth.” Greenwood and his team of researchers studied in particular the variations of hydrogen in the mineral apatite.

The newfound data show that the chemical properties of water in the apatite samples resemble data from the comets Hale-Bopp, Halley, and Hyakutake, suggesting that the water present on the moon could have originated from these comets or others.

According to Greenwood, the results of this study could also provide evidence as to the origin of water on Earth.



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