Recap of This Month Riverside Astronomical Society Meeting.

Whew! I am glad this one is over.  Everything seemed to be going well when, you know, Murphy’s Law struck…big time.

The kind people at La Sierra University let us use the facilities at Cossentine Hall to hold our meeting (Thank you very much).  They also let us use their AV equipment so we don’t have to bring our own.  We even rent one of their buildings for our holiday party.

 

But this weekend, nothing worked.  It was a AV geeks worst nightmare.  We had the poor security guard open almost every room in the place to find a working projector.  It seems that the IT staff have been doing last minute upgrades before the semester started.  Unfortunately, we did have all the right cables to make anything work.

While I was delaying the inevitable, and our guest speaker started looking very apprehensive, a miracle occurred!  We pushed the right button and everything was fine.

Then it was time for the main events.

Diane Childs gave a great “What’s Up,” presentation on the Hercules Cluster.

Anahita Alavi

Our guest speaker, Anahita Alavi, Department of Physics and Astronomy, U. C. Riverside, then gave her presentation on “Using the Hubble Space Telescope and Mother Nature’s Telescope (Gravitational Lenses) to Find the Faintest Galaxies in the Universe.”

It seems that there are a lot of dwarf galaxies roaming about the Universe.  The Milky Way as about 20 (that we can see) orbiting the galaxy.  There may be more, but these objects are soooooo faint that scientists are using gravitational lensing to look even deeper into space than the Hubble can.

Although the data is not refined as they would like it to be, it does set up the James Webb telescope on where to look when it is fully operational (hopefully in 2018).

In the end it was another great meeting.  Please remember that if you are in the area, or just passing through, and need your monthly astronomy fix, everyone is welcome to come and enjoy free of charge.  Heck we even provide snacks!

You can find out about the next general meeting, star parties, and outreach locations on our website.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I’m Back, Part Deux – I See You Over There.

No, really I’m back.  Moving after a decade at the same law firm was FAR more time consuming that I thought it would be.  And I am still not completely finished.  But on to more fun and interesting astronomical things.

If I had a child, they would be about the same age as the Hubble.  That in and of itself should send me off to a mid-life crisis, but I digress.  Isn’t it amazing that this one space telescope that has completely changed our fundamental understanding of the Universe is still operational?

I hope the James Webb space telescope manages to get into orbit before Hubble finally fails.

Gravitational lensing by a giant elliptical galaxy in the cluster IRC 0218: the galaxy (red object in the enlarged view at left) is so massive that its gravity bends, magnifies, and distorts light from objects behind it, a phenomenon called gravitational lensing; the object behind the cosmic lens (seen in the enlarged view at right) is a small spiral galaxy undergoing a rapid burst of star formation; its light has taken 10.7 billion years to arrive here. Image credit: NASA / ESA / Kim-Vy Tran, Texas A&M University / Kenneth Wong, Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy & Astrophysics.

But while it is still operational, the science just keeps pouring in.  The latest achievement of this venerable craft is the most distant gravitational lens ever found.  Of course the lens is no longer there because it occurred about 9.6 Billion years ago, but we have a lovely image of what happened back then shown above.

Gravitational lensing is the phenomena where a strong gravity field bends light around the source and causes object behind the gravity source to distort and magnify the object behind.  Additionally, the lensing (depending on the location of the objects) can split the light from the object behind the gravity source into different bands.

A neat trick from an old dog that has taught us a whole bunch of new tricks.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

And the Award Goes To…

Last night was the biggest night for movies and actors.  So today I am giving the award for best planet hunter to…..Kepler!

kepler

Kepler is like the gift that keeps on giving.  The Kepler team analyzing the data captured by the now disabled spacecraft have found another 715 exo-planets.

715!

That is almost as many planets  that have been identified in the past decade!  Kepler had previously identified 246 planets.  Over the past 20 years, Kepler is responsible for more than 1/2 of all exo-planets found.

Kepler_mission

I know that Kepler cannot be fixed, but for the $600M price-tag, and the continued discoveries, I think we should consider putting another Kepler up.  This time point it at a different part of the sky, with a wider field and a better camera.

File:James Webb Telescope Design.jpg

Considering the $8Billion dollar price tag of the James Webb space telescope, Kepler was a bargain.  Don’t get me wrong, I do want to see the results from the Webb telescope, but that is years away (if ever).

File:Mtv moon man.jpg

Although last night was the Academy Awards, I think the trophy for the MTV music awards is more appropriate for Kepler’s big win.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Herschel is dead, long live Webb.

Shortly, the Herschel Space Observatory run by the European Space Agency will run out of fuel to continue its mission.

Herschel has been the largest infrared space observatory launched to date. The spacecraft has a 3.5 meter (138 inch)(11.5 ft) diameter reflecting telescope and other instruments.

To view the infrared wavelengths the mirror and instruments are cooled to close to absolute zero using liquid helium.

Unfortunately, the liquid helium stores are running out and Herschel will essentially go blind. The helium evaporates over time, gradually emptying the cryostat tank.  When Herschel was  launched, the tank carried  over 2300 liters (608 gallons) of liquid helium, weighing 335 kg (740lbs.).  Enough cooling for 3.5 years of operations in space.

According to the ESA: “When observing comes to an end, we expect to have performed over 22 000 hours of science observations, 10% more than we had originally planned, so the mission has already exceeded expectations.

Like many other missions before it Herschel will leave a mountain of data with its passage.  Scientists will spend years reviewing and analyzing the data which may lead to other missions of science and exploration.

File:James Webb Telescope Design.jpg

The James Webb Space Telescope is the next mission that will also look at the infrared universe along with a variety of other wavelengths.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +.  If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman