Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
Bio: Dr. Al Grauer is currently an observing member of the Catalina Sky Survey Team at the University of Arizona. This group has discovered nearly half of the Earth approaching objects known to exist. He received a PhD in Physics in 1971 and has been an observational Astronomer for 43 years. He retired as a University Professor after 39 years of interacting with students. He has conducted research projects using telescopes in Arizona, Chile, Australia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Georgia with funding from NSF and NASA.
He is noted as Co-discoverer of comet P/2010 TO20 Linear-Grauer, Discoverer of comet C/2009 U5 Grauer and has asteroid 18871 Grauer named for him.
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409 – Alien Rock?
Rocks including those asteroid hunters see flying through interplanetary space are composed of atoms which were present when our solar system formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud some 4.6 billion years ago. Astronomers have tracked scores of comets which are in the process of being ejected from our solar system by the sling shot boost in velocity they obtained from our Sun’s and sometimes Jupiter’s force of gravity. Milena from now some of these objects will visit distant solar systems of planets and asteroids. Astronomers have long anticipated and awaited the discovery of a rock or comet from another solar system.
Recently the Pan-STARRS group in Hawaii discovered a fast moving asteroid, A/2017 U1, which may our first detection of an alien space rock which escaped from another solar system. A/2017 U1 approached our solar system from near the current position of the bright star Vega. After A/2017 U1 came closer to the Sun than the planet Mercury in September of 2017 this 500 to 1,000 foot diameter space rock streaked by Earth in October before heading back into interstellar space towards the constellation of Pegasus. During the brief period that A/2017 U1 was close enough and bright enough to be studied by our telescopes astronomers did not detect a comet like gas cloud around it, confirmed that it’s path suggests an interstellar origin, and provided evidence that it is a good candidate for an alien space rock.
410 – Extraterrestrial Whales
In an area which is about 1/400th of the entire sky, the NASA Kepler spacecraft has discovered 30 Earth like planets which are likely to have liquid water on their surfaces orbiting distant stars. These planets are likely to represent a tiny sample of the habitable planets which exist in the Milky Way. In spite of our efforts to find them, the question remains where are the alien civilizations? In a recent talk given at the Division of Planetary Sciences meeting Dr. Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute suggests that perhaps the majority of the worlds with biology and intelligent civilizations exist on interior water ocean worlds where their existence is hidden by the thick layers of rock and ice which separate them from the hostile vacuum of space. We know that in our solar system alone the moon of Jupiter Europa, Saturn’s moon Enceladus, and perhaps several other small worlds are likely to have oceans of nutrient rich liquid water covered by a thick layer of rock and ice. We also know that Whales and Dolphins have larger brains than humans, communicate with each other, and exhibit other forms of intelligence. Advanced civilizations existing in ice covered seas may know little of the greater Universe, may find it difficult to consider transporting enough water to travel beyond their worlds, and may not think that it is possible to communicate with others of their kind who are similarly hidden under miles and miles of radiation absorbing ice and rock.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
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365 Days of Astronomy
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