What’s New – October, 2015

Blue Skies and Water Ice on Pluto

The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.

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Pluto’s Blue Sky. Credits: NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI

Read the full story from: New Horizons

Liquid Water Still Flows on Mars

New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

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Dark narrow streaks, hypothesized to be formed by flow of briny liquid water, emanate from the walls of Garni Crater on Mars, in this view constructed from observations by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Read the full story from: NASA

Curiosity Rover Team Finds Ancient Lake Bed on Mars

Using data from the Curiosity rover, the team has determined that, long ago, water helped deposit sediment into Gale Crater, where the rover landed more than three years ago. The sediment deposited as layers that formed the foundation for Mount Sharp, the mountain found in the middle of the crater today.

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A view from the “Kimberley” formation on Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover. The strata in the foreground dip towards the base of Mount Sharp, indicating flow of water toward a basin that existed before the larger bulk of the mountain formed. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Read the full story from: NASA

New Measurements of Pulsating Aurorae

Thanks to a lucky conjunction of two satellites, a ground-based array of all-sky cameras, and some spectacular aurora borealis, researchers have uncovered evidence for an unexpected role that electrons have in creating the dancing auroras.

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Aurora from the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly

Read the full story from: NASA

Strange Ripples Found in Planet Forming Disk

Astronomers are surprised to uncover fast-moving, wave-like features embedded in a planetary disk that are unlike anything ever observed, or even predicted.

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This set of images of a 40-billion-mile-diameter edge-on disk encircling the young star AU Microscopii reveals a string of mysterious wave-like features. Credit for Top Panel: NASA, ESA, G. Schneider (Steward Observatory), and the HST GO 12228 team Credit for Bottom Panels: NASA, ESA, ESO, and A. Boccaletti (Paris Observatory)

Read the full story from: HubbleSite

Website update

Good afternoon, folks!

We’re currently in the process of pushing through some updates to the Winnipeg RASC website this weekend. After some research and feedback, we’ve opted to make a few design and feature changes, especially now that we’re more aware of what you all want in our online presence.

When the site was initially revamped about a year ago, we created accounts for everyone in the club at that point using our member roster with the National RASC. Due to a variety of reasons (Email set up with national not the same as the one you actually use, not remembering the username or password that was created for you, etc.), this led to a lot of confusion. What we have opted to do is to start from a clean slate and blow out all of the existing accounts in the database, and have you create your accounts on your own terms. After you do so and you’re a registered member, just head to the Contact Form to have your RASC membership privileges granted.

The discussion forum has been removed due to lack of use, but we are hoping there will be more participation in the form of the photo gallery which is in the final stages of being prepped for launch.  The gallery will permit members to upload and share astronomical images with the club and the public without cluttering the inboxes of the people on the mailing list.  We’ve settled on the free WordPress Photo Album Plus plugin for now, but we are still entertaining upgraded and/or paid options with additional features.  We’re going to be relying on your feedback to plan on how we will be moving forward on that front.

Our news section is also live, and will be updated regularly by astronomers in our club regarding events in the sky, as well as going ons down here on the ground below.  We hope to have a constant stream of information to keep you all coming here for the latest news in the club and astronomy in Manitoba.

Finally, you may have noticed the new stunning background by none other than our own president Jay Anderson.  We are hoping to have a trend of updating our look once a month or so with submissions from you, our members.  If you’ve got an image you think would work great as eye-candy for the site, feel free to submit it using our Contact Form!

As always, we very much value your feedback.  If you have any questions, comments of concerns, just get in touch with the Contact Form.