NASA New Horizons Pluto close up image. Spectacular and in colour!

(Posted 12 December 2015) This enhanced color mosaic combines some of the sharpest views of Pluto that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft obtained during its July 14 flyby. The pictures are part of a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto, with resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel – revealing features smaller than half a city block on Pluto’s surface. Lower resolution color data (at about 2,066 feet, or 630 meters, per pixel) were added to create this new image.

Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

Image credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute

The images form a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide, trending (top to bottom) from the edge of ‘badlands” northwest of the informally named Sputnik Planum, across the al-Idrisi mountains, onto the shoreline of Pluto’s “heart” feature, and just into its icy plains. They combine pictures from the telescopic Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) taken approximately 15 minutes before New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto, with – from a range of only 10,000 miles (17,000 kilometers) – with color data (in near-infrared, red and blue) gathered by the alph/Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera (MVIC) 25 minutes before the LORRI pictures.

The wide variety of cratered, mountainous and glacial terrains seen here gives scientists and the public alike a breathtaking, super-high-resolution color window into Pluto’s geology.

Information source: http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Multimedia/Science-Photos/image.php?gallery_id=2&image_id=389

Space Station visible in Canberra dawn sky 11 – 19 December 2015

(Posted 10 December 2015) If you are an early riser (and that does mean very early!), you can see the International Space Station from across Canberra over the next nine mornings. A bonus for those getting into astronomy is that the brightness of the space station means that you don’t need any sort of optical aid to watch as it passes overhead. You just have to look for a slow moving very bright star.

The International Space Space Station passes to the North of Canberra in May 2015. Image (c) Paul Floyd 2015.

The International Space Space Station passes to the North of Canberra in May 2015. The camera shutter was let open for a few seconds to capture the station moving across the sky. Image (c) Paul Floyd 2015.

The exact times the station is visible will vary each day. The best thing is to go to the bookmarks I have created for each Canberra suburb at the highly recommended HeavensAbove.com site, select the link for ISS (short for the International Space Station) and then select the day that interests you. The site even generates a finder chart for each day with the path of the station marked on it. One final tip. The charts are designed to be used by holding them over your head and upside down. Look down at them and they will not be orientated correctly.

Whole Earth disc image captures Australia and Antarctica two days ago!

(Posted 8 December 2015) The DSCOVR satellite is now beaming back images of the Sun facing side of the Earth each day.

Image captured by DSCOVR satellite 1:39 pm AEST 6 December 2015.

Image captured by the Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera on the DSCOVR satellite at 1:39 pm AEST 6 December 2015.

Refer to the below image for an explanation of the above whole Earth disc image.

http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/

Screenshot captured from http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov/

More information about the DSCOVR satellite can be found here: http://epic.gsfc.nasa.gov