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ANTARES

Neutrino Astronomy in the Northern Hemisphere

In an excellent review paper, Dr. Antoine Kouchnera reviews the state of the Northern Hemisphere neutrino detectors and all that has been discovered by them to date. The reasons for the interest in neutrino astronomy and the detection techniques utilized are presented briefly but thoroughly in the paper available online now here. The author notes that “the Antares collaboration has completed the construction of a 12 line array comprising ~ 900 photomultipliers” while astronomers await the latest neutrino detector work in the Mediterranean.

Lunar Occultation of Antares – June 6/7

Watch the Moon closely tonight, and you may see it occult the red supergiant star, Antares.  Actual occultation times and lengths are dependent upon your observing location, with the event lasting approximately and hour, and the path of visibility occurring in a swath that stretches westward from NW Africa, across the northern region of South America, to the southwestern United States.

Antares is positioned near the ecliptic (that apparent path of the Sun, Moon, and planets,) so lunar occultations of this star are common.  They are, nonetheless, enjoyable to watch.  While such events give the impression that the Moon is much larger than Antares, this is only visual perception based upon Luna‘s very close proximity compared to Antares’ great distance.  Located some 600 light-years away, Antares is 700 times the size of our Sun, while the Moon is only about 1/4 the size of our planet.

Occultation events are best observed with binoculars and telescopes.  Of course, being just hours from full illumination, the Moon will be especially bright, which will make observations a bit difficult.  Be creative in blocking the Moon’s light, while keeping the lunar limb visible.  You can use your hand, a building, even a utility pole or tree.  Be ready ahead of time so that you don’t miss those very moments when Antares disappears behind the lunar limb and then reappears an hour or so later.

More on Neutrino Astronomy from the South Pole

Today, two more papers, originally presented at international conferences in Europe, were released regarding neutrino astronomy. One is an excellent overview of neutrino astronomy and neutrino telescopes. This can be found online at http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0901/0901.2661v1.pdf The other paper is a review of the effort taking place specifically in the South Pole, the neutrino telescope called IceCube. This paper can be found at http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0901/0901.2664v1.pdf Both should provide the reader with basic information and status of this fascinating science.

August 2014
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