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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2E – Voyager I’s Baby Step
Looking into the sky on a clear-dark night, have you wondered what it would be like to travel in deep space?
In 2013, Voyager I became the most distant, human made, traveler in the night.
Currently, Voyager I is traveling at a speed of 38,000 miles/hour.
Consider this, Voyager I has traveled at a speed that would take around the world 36 times a day, for 36 years. At this speed, it would take 70,000 more years, for Voyager I to travel the distance to the nearest star.
Find the brightest star in the sky. You will be able to see the bright star Sirius even under city lights. It will have taken 8.6 years for light to travel the distance from Sirius to your eye. Voyager I will travel the distance to Sirius in 150 thousand years.
In a dark location, find the great galaxy in Andromeda. You may need a pair of field glasses to see this one. If you are in a really dark spot, you will be able to see it with your naked eye. This spiral galaxy is the most distant object you can see without a telescope. It is similar to our own Milky Way galaxy in size an shape.
At its current speed, Voyage I would take 10 times the age of the Earth, to travel the distance to the great galaxy in Andromeda.
The great galaxy in Andromeda is a member of our local group of galaxies. The edge of the observable Universe is far beyond it.
8E- 2013 US10 From Asteroid to Comet to Deep Space
R. A. Kowalski discovered a curious object in the night sky on October 31, 2013. The data were obtained with the NASA funded Catalina Sky Survey Schmidt telescope on Mt. Bigelow which is near Tucson, AZ. After being posted on Minor Planet Center’s Near Earth Object Conformation Page, it was observed by telescopes in California, Australia, the Czech Republic, Italy, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Japan. These observations were mistakenly linked to an object observed several months earlier and used to give it the Asteroid name of 2013 US10. It appeared to be very large and to orbit the Sun in 6 years or so.
Further observations showed this object is surrounded by a faint gas cloud. It was then given the comet name C/2013 US10 (Catalina). Additional observations made by the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope show a some gas flows which are consistent with cometary activity.
We do not know if this comet started in the Oort cloud at the far reaches of our solar system or if it traveled from the vicinity of a nearby star. We do know that when Kowalski found it, its path was taking it into our neighborhood. It will move almost as close to the Sun as the planet Venus in November of 2015. At that time, the Earth will be on the other side of the Sun from it. From there Comet C/2013 US10 (Catalina) is on a path to take it into truly deep space. Perhaps eons from now it will be a comet in another solar system.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
End of podcast:
365 Days of Astronomy
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