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The Cosmic Mirror
By Daniel Fischer, Germany
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The Sky in August 2009
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Lunar mission updates

LRO/LCROSS Impact details page (evolving), Blog of Aug. 19 and Aug. 14, NASA Releases of Aug. 21 and Aug. 4 and coverage of Aug. 20: MV. Aug. 19: UT. Aug. 18: W. Aug. 17: LNW (other topic). Aug. 14: NW. Aug. 13: BAB. Aug. 12: LNW. Aug. 5: LNW. Aug. 4: UT, BAB. Chandrayaan JPL Release of Aug. 3 and coverage of Aug. 6: Hin. Aug. 3: PSB, LNW. Chandrayaan 2 planning: ExB., Nov. Chang'e coverage of Aug. 5. German visions 2.0: LCI, KSJ, SpP, NW, BNO, TS, SZ, WAZ, RZ, DLF (früher), NZZ, AWF, KL, DLR Tw., SB. Beagle instrument to the Moon? SN. More Lunar Orbiter reconstructions: Aug. 10 LOIRP Release. Moon crater asymmetry: aXb, SB. Updates on the Jupiter impact in C4U of Aug. 19 and Aug. 6 and in a long Aug. 13 summary article - or just listen to the song! More total solar eclipse round-ups in C4U of Aug. 19 (in graf 5) and Aug. 6 (last 2 grafs).
Update # 330 of Friday, August 21, 2009
Kepler's first lightcurve (Grown since Aug. 2)

First super-low-noise light curve from Kepler published: it works!

Known exoplanet HAT-P-7 studied: secondary eclipse and reflected starlight readily detected / Already something learned about planet's atmosphere / Exo-Earths clearly within reach, but wait til 2012, please!

At a news conference on August 6 NASA finally revealed the first lightcurve of a star measured by the Kepler satellite launched in March (see Update #325): Its noise level is about a factor 100 lower than a typical groundbased lightcurve. (A comparision with a typical result from the CoRoT spacecraft would have been nice but it was not mentioned once.) In a nutshell this means that Kepler is working as advertised and will be able to detect Earth-size planets of other stars if they exist, though the actual measurements and groundbased follow-up observations won't be done until the year 2012.

The lightcurve shown is of the star HAT-P-7 which was known to have a transiting planet: the secondary eclipse (planet goes behind star) is also evident in the Kepler lightcurve as is a general brightening of the combined light of star and planet before and after transit: Here the starlight reflected by the planet's atmosphere is contributing to the signal. From this effect alone something can already be learned about HAT-P-7b's atmosphere, namely that there must be a layer with absorbing particles. A few more hard figures but little else can be found in a 1-page paper in Science of Aug. 7.

NASA Release [alt.] and MIT Releases and visuals on the HAT-P-7 observations; S@N. Coverage by S&T, PS, AN, NwS, AD, CSM, SFG, T, SC, Rtr, PrA, AT, SpW (sequel), CD, NaB, BAB, KSJ, ST, Sp., SB (comparision with CoRoT!), LE (w/video of full press conference). Spin tilt, possible 2nd planet in the HAT-P-7 system: independent papers by Winn & al. and Narita & al., coverage by Oklo, NwS, NaB. Adopt-a-star for Kepler: NwS.

Traces of big collision in young planetary system

Spitzer has detected the signatures of vaporized and melted rock, in addition to rubble, all flung out from a giant impact a few thousand years ago around the young star HD 172555: NASA Release, KSJ, SC, ST. Exoplanet WASP-17b in retrograde orbit: paper by Anderson & al., STFC Release, BBC, NwS, SC, ExP (more), NaB, TS, BdW, SB. HD 8799 architecture: FSU Jena PM. Sun's role for life on Earth: IAU PR.

Mars Update

Mars Express Update on the VMC. MER JPL Releases of Aug. 21, Aug. 13 and Aug. 10, NASA Release of Aug. 10, pic 121... 65 and 61 and coverage of Aug. 19: SFG. Aug. 18: CL, Dsc. Aug. 17: SWB. Aug. 15: SFG. Aug. 14: PSB. Aug. 12: LE. Aug. 11: UT. Aug. 6: BrO. Aug. 5: Barsoom Tales! Aug. 4: NwS, NaB. Aug. 3: NwS, SC. MRO JPL Releases of Aug. 12, Aug. 10 and Aug. 7, pictures 121... 68 and 67 and coverage of Aug. 12: PSB. Fobos-Grunt coverage of Aug. 6: CRI, BBC, AFP. ExoMars coverage of Aug. 3: NwS. Beagle 2 mystery continues: NwS. Methane paper: ESA Release (earlier), NwS, BBC.

Saturn Update

CICLOPS Release of Aug. 12. Gemini Release of Aug. 12, IfA Release of Aug. 12, Caltech Release of Aug. 12, Lowell Release of Aug. 12, JPL Releases of Aug. 18 and Aug. 7 (another one), IAU PR of Aug. 6, paper by Lunine & al., raw images 198186 and 197983, pictures 116... 66, 65, 63, 62, 115... 54, 53, 49 and coverage of Aug. 21: NwS. Aug. 20: PSB. Aug. 17: NaB. Aug. 15: LAT. Aug. 14: BBC, PSB, KL. Aug. 13: HonAdv, KSJ, ST, BdW. Aug. 12: S&T, SC, MBP, PSB, UT. Aug. 11: CR, aXb, PSB. Aug. 10: AN, BAB. Aug. 9: BAB. Aug. 7: PSB. Aug. 6: aXb, KSJ. Aug. 5: ScN. Aug. 2: KL.

ISS etc. Update

Next STS launch set for Aug. 25. Pictures of the Discovery roll-out (with bad weather - and a meteor!), NASA Releases of Aug. 19 and Aug. 4, S@N of Aug. 14 and Aug. 7 and coverage of Aug. 22: Ori. Aug. 21: NW, Sp. Aug. 20: NwS, Ori. Aug. 18: SN (other story), CS, SR, NW, TwP.. Aug. 17: SN. Aug. 14: SN, WP, OSB, Rtr, ScAm, UT, ST, TwP. Aug. 13: NwS, NW. Aug. 12: SN, SC, KyS, NW, Tw. Aug. 7: SN. Aug. 6: Ast., KSJ, ST. Aug. 5: SpP, NYT, SN, OSB, TS, UT, NaB, ST. Aug. 4: KL. Aug. 3: SpP.

Warm Spitzer mission under way

since July 27: JPL Release, S&T, SC. WISE spacecraft in Vandenberg: JPL Release, CD (earlier).

Planck has begun observing the CMBR in a test phase: Blog of Aug. 15, UK Blog of Aug. 14, JPL Release of Aug. 13.

Hubble progress after the SM: status of Aug. 18, Aug. 7 and Aug. 5 and coverage of Aug. 3: S&T.

German X-ray telescope to fly on Russian satellite in 2012 - contract for eROSITA on SRG signed: DLR release, MPG PM. Meanwhile Chandra is 10.

Real science with SETI's ATA

The Allen Telescope Array does astrophysics: aXb, NwS.

The Moon as a particle detector ever more popular - but no success yet: NwS.

South Korean rocket launch aborted

after many delays already - now another one. Coverage of Aug. 19: BBC, ST. Earlier: KT, JD, My, LNW, ST.

First discovery using revolutionary long wavelength demonstrator array

Scientists have generated the first scientific results from the Long Wavelength Demonstrator Array (LWDA): NRL Release.

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