Welcome back to AstroCast.TV

If you’re a long-time reader and viewer of AstroCast.TV, you’ve noticed we’ve been on hiatus since early in the year. This break has given us a chance to redevelop the web site and refine our focus on bringing you interesting news in space and astronomy.

We’re starting up again with the blog, where we’ll share the latest news in Big Astronomy and space exploration. This fall we will bring back our popular stargazing show Our Night Sky, followed by the re-introduction of The Astronomer’s Universe (you can see back episodes here)

We look forward to exploring the universe with you and invite you to share with your friends and family the wonders of the cosmos that we’ll be exploring!


The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir usthere is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation, as if a distant memory, or falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries.

— Carl Sagan, first paragraph of Cosmos

Our Night Sky – January 2015

Our Night Sky – January 2015 from Midnight Rider Productions on Vimeo. Best seen full screen.

This month we have some great solar system objects to look for.Mercury and Venusy appear in the southwestern sky for an hour or more after sunset through much of this month, along with the red planet Mars. Jupiter rises around 8:30 or so, and is high in the sky by late evening. If you try to find it, be sure to search out its moons with your binoculars or telescope.
Saturn is an early morning object throughout January. On the 16th, just before dawn, it appears very close to the crescent Moon.


NASA’s Orion Has a Successful Test Flight Making Way For Humans Return To Spaceflight from the U.S.


A Delta IV Heavy rocket lifts off from Space Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying NASA’s Orion spacecraft on an unpiloted flight test to Earth orbit. Liftoff was at 7:05 a.m. EST. During the two-orbit, four-and-a-half hour mission, engineers will evaluate the systems critical to crew safety, the launch abort system, the heat shield and the parachute system.

Our Night Sky for December 2014

This month we’ll look at what’s up in the evening skies. That includes several planets, the Geminid meteor shower, and an exploration of a famous star-birth region among the stars.


Our Night Sky for December 2014 from Midnight Rider Productions on Vimeo.

Rosetta Arrives at Comet Preparing To Deploy Lander


 After a 10 year journey Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and the Rosetta Spacecraft dance together before Rosetta releases Philae for the first soft landing on a comet. According to ESA the Rosetta spacecraft will deploy the Philae lander on 12 November at 08:35 UTC. A confermation of landing is expected at 16:00 UTC.

Read more at: http://sci.esa.int/rosetta/



Hubble Sees ‘Ghost Light’ From Dead Galaxies

Credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Montes (IAC), and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)
Credit: Credit: NASA, ESA, M. Montes (IAC), and J. Lotz, M. Mountain, A. Koekemoer, and the HFF Team (STScI)

The massive galaxy cluster Abell 2744, nicknamed Pandora’s Cluster, takes on a ghostly look in this Hubble Space Telescope view where the total starlight from the cluster has been artificially colored blue. This plot reveals that not all the starlight is contained within the cities of stars — the galaxies — which appear as bright blue-white blobs. A fraction of the starlight is dispersed throughout the cluster, as seen in the darker blue regions. This light comes from “dead” galaxies. The galaxies were torn apart long ago by the cluster’s gravitational forces, and their stars were scattered into “intracluster” space — the space between the galaxies. These orphaned stars roam the cluster, without being gravitationally tethered to any single galaxy. Because these extremely faint stars are brightest at near-infrared wavelengths of light, this type of observation could only be accomplished with Hubble’s infrared sensitivity to extraordinarily dim light.

The galaxies that are not colored blue lay either in the foreground or background and are not part of the cluster.

The intracluster light was detected as part of the Frontier Fields program, an ambitious three-year effort, begun in 2013, that teams Hubble with NASA’s other Great Observatories — the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory — to probe the early universe by studying large galaxy clusters. Abell 2744 resides about 3.5 billion light-years away.


Spooky Shadow Play Gives Jupiter a Giant Eye

Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

Hubble treats astronomers to gorgeous close-up views of the eerie outer planets. But it’s a bit of a trick when it seems like the planet’s looking back at you! This happened on April 21, 2014, when Hubble was being used to monitor changes in Jupiter’s immense Great Red Spot (GRS) storm. During the exposures, the shadow of the Jovian moon Ganymede swept across the center of the GRS. This gave the giant planet the uncanny appearance of having a pupil in the center of a 10,000-mile-diameter “eye.” Momentarily, Jupiter took on the appearance of a Cyclops planet! The shadows from Jupiter’s four major satellites routinely cross the face of Jupiter. This natural-color picture was taken with Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3.

Acknowledgment: C. Go and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Our Night Sky for October 2014

Our Night Sky for October 2014 from Midnight Rider Productions on Vimeo.

Hi, I’m Carolyn Collins Petersen. October has many good sky-gazing objects to see – from planets to a pair of eclipses and a meteor shower to some favorite constellations and deep-sky objects. Grab your binoculars or small telescope, so click Play to get started!

A Video Webcast about Space & Astronomy