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FEBRUARY 2013 ISSUE

One year on and still bringing you out of this world news!


EDITORIAL

This month we celebrate the Glam UNI-verse’s first ever Birthday. Happy Birthday Glam UNI-verse! Editor: Chloe Partridge Copy Editor: Martin Griffiths Contributors: Emily Baldwin, Louisa Connolly Columnists: Phill Wallace, Martin Griffiths

One year on and the students of the BSC Observational Astronomy degree are still bringing you fascinating science articles . I would like to give a huge thank you to Martin Griffiths and Phil Wallace for there efforts over the past year—they have not wavered in the slightest, having contributed in every edition since the magazine began—for which I greatly appreciate. On to bigger an better things in 2013! As most of you know myself and Phil will be leaving at the end of this year so we have been searching far and wide across all planes of our galaxy to find worthy and noble follower. So without further ado I would like to introduce to you the new editorial team for Glam UNI-verse: Jon Pratt , Amy Marklew, Jason Wotherspoon and Dean Tookey. I have no doubt they will make an excellent team over the next 3 years, and I am very excited to join them in the next phase of the magazine’s life before I leave university.

If you would like to contribute in any way, either by sending us your Faulkes images, or perhaps even writing an article ,

To the new team—Good Luck!

then get in touch, we would love to hear from you. Editorial Contacts : 10017607@glam.ac.uk mgriffi8@glam.ac.uk

IMAGE REFERENCES: PG 1. Wikimedia Commons PG 4-5. Wikimedia Commons PG 6-7. All images Martin Griffiths, Sky Map — Heavensabove.com PG 8-9. Wikimedia Commons PG 10-11. ESA / AOES Media lab PG 12. Wikimedia Commons

Phil and Chloe


GLMAORGAN ASTRONOMY

FEBRAURY

2013 ISSUE

CO SMO LO G ICAL NEW S

4-5. WARSHIPS IN SCIENCE WA RSHIPS HOLD A SPECIA L PLA CE IN OUR MINDS. BUT W HA T F O R M W IL L THE Y TA K E IN THE FA R F U TUR E ?

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6-7

6-7. THE NIGHT SKY IN FEBRUARY JUP ITER S TILL DOM INA TES THE W IN TER S KY, SA TURN RISES A FTER M IDN IGH T A ND ORION IS VIS IBLE IN THE SOUTH A F TER DA RK. DRESS WA RM LY A ND GO OUT A N D ENJOY THE S IGH TS OF THE W IN TER M ILKY WAY.

8-9. SPACE WEATHER WARNINGS!

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A GLIMP SE IN TO THE CA USES A ND EFFEC TS OF SPA CE W EA THER. BE WA RNED!

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10-13.AN EXITING YEAR AHEAD FOR EUROPE IN SPACE D R E M IL Y BA L DW IN TA L K S US THR O UG H S O M E EXCITIN G HIG HLIG H TS W HICH W E CA N EXP EC T FROM ESA IN 2013. .


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Warships in Science

Huge, powerful and very very angry… We humans are a strange bunch. We can all It is no surprise that this curious effect is there is no horizon to hide under and the agree that war is bad and something to be mostly cantered on planes and warships. After environment is even more hostile to humans avoided; only the insane actually want the all, a tank can be admired for its impressive than the deep blue sea is. However, many of violence and the bloodshed. This is something power but it can hold no beauty. A plane or a these problems can be waved away with a few that we have all come to accept as self-evident ship however can be works of art as well as assumptions, and these assumptions form the over the last few decades. And yet, we are strangely drawn to the implements of war. The tanks and the planes and the guns hold a strange dark glamour to them that few can explain and few can resist. We flock to air shows where undeniably elegant killing

deadly weapons. Sadly though, the current core of distinguishing SF warships. generation of warships are somewhat lacking in aesthetics: the need for flight decks, huge radars and missile magazines means that the new destroyers will never share the elegance of the old cruisers and dreadnoughts.

The main distinction is what kind of advanced technology are we allowed to use? Are we permitted energy weapons? Force-fields for defence? Sub-lightspeed engines worthy of the name? Artificial gravity? For the most part SF

machines send rumbles of guilty pleasure So with no contemporary art of this dark kind to can be divided into “hard” universes, where the through us while flying by. We talk of a warship satisfy us, we turn to our imaginations through answer to all those questions is no, and “soft” or a jet fighter in terms of sleek lines and the wonderful world of science fiction. Naturally universes where the answer to all or some is beauty. We send divers to admire the wreck of because we are human and true peace still yes. In essence, a “soft” SF world is one where ships like Bismarck in the name of admiring its eludes us, warships feature prominently in SF the laws of physics are subordinate to the needs engineering. We strive to preserve the old oaken but in so many varieties. Writing SF allows so of the story, whilst in “hard” worlds the physical hull of HMS Victory and visitors flock to marvel many new options for warships that are laws are absolute. Now, let us examine the at this wooden hulled behemoth.

impossible or unfeasible for us at present. dominant types of vessel. These are broad Fighting in space presents many new problems. categories of course, individual universes may Manoeuvring is harder, the ranges are greater, vary.


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The Standard Space Navy: Some universes hold that “space is an ocean” and the conventions of modern militaries will still hold true. Carriers will be the largest and greatest warships with cruisers, destroyers and frigate serving as escorts and patrol vessels. Fighters and bombers and missiles in vast numbers will be the main weapons in use. This is quite an easy form of combat to show on screen since the actual warships never sight each other, allowing lots of focus and drama as the fighter pilots close for the attack.

The Star Destroyers: Right at the other end of the scale are universes which argue, quite She’s very fast and very deadly. Approach with caution enough firepower to threaten a huge, heavily- substantial fighter complement. The name artificial gravity, these ships are skeletal armoured (or shielded) battleship. These comes for the eponymous ships of the monsters armed almost solely with missiles or reasonably, that no small fighter can carry

universes feature fleets of space-borne big-gun Battlestar Galactica universe (both the original lasers. They will, like the carriers of the dreadnoughts, armed with energy weapons, and the remake). The key distinction is that Standard Space Navy, engage the enemy far enormous cannons or railguns, closing on each whilst fighters and missiles are carried by the beyond visual range with massive salvoes of other and slugging it out in the style of Battlestars they are fully capable of engaging missiles designed to overwhelm enemy pointTrafalgar and Jutland. Fighters may be used and the enemy directly. Battlestars also tend to be defences and countermeasures through even carried aboard the big ships, but it is clear incredibly robust despite (often but not always) numbers. For their own protection speed is to all that it is the big guns that decide the not having any form of shielding, shrugging off paramount; since missiles are small they cannot missile hits and even nuclear warheads (or have the same endurance as a warship. Whilst battle.

The Battlestars: Halfway between the two

their SF equivalents).

these warships turn up mostly in “hard”

universes there are notable exceptions such as above categories, Battlestars are big, powerful, The Missile-Bus Battlecruiser: As a category Gene Rodenberry’s Andromeda. heavily armed ships that also carry a these turn up in the “hard” SF worlds described earlier. With no shields, advanced engines or Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list. There are many other possibilities but these represent the most common types of warships you will see in SF. Unless of course you watch Star Trek where they like to pretend they aren’t warships at all. BY PHIL WALLACE

You can’t run from the Big Guns…


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COSMOLOGICAL NEWS

The Night Sky in February February is a great time to catch the last of the constellations of Winter, with Orion, Gemini, Taurus, Perseus and Auriga still visible after evening twilight. In 2013 the winter sky is still dominated by Jupiter, but by the time it sets in the west, Saturn is making its appearance in the east.

Moon In February

On the Morning of the 3rd Feb a last quarter Moon will accompany Saturn in the east before dawn. On the 18th the gibbous moon will be just under a degree away from Jupiter in the evening sky.

First quarter: 17th February Full: 25th February Last Quarter: 3rd February New: 10th February

Planets in February

The sky in February

Mercury: Visible in the west in the middle of the month with a magnitude of -0.9

The sky as it would appear at 7:00pm on the 12th

Venus: Is coming into conjunction with the Sun and not well placed for observation this month Mars: Visible in the evening in the west as a dull red star shining at magnitude 1.2 and setting rapidly after the Sun. It is just 0.3 degrees south of Mercury on the 8th February. Jupiter: Still visible as a bright starry object high in the southwest after dark. The planet will be shining at magnitude -2.2 and the two equatorial belts are striking as are the dance of the Galilean moons. Saturn: Rising in the east just after midnight by the middle of the month and located in the constellation of Libra. It shines at magnitude 1 and its rings continue to open throughout 2013. Its large satellite Titan is close to the planet, easily visible through a telescope. Look for the Cassini division in the rings. Uranus: Sets jus after 9:00pm in February but is not especially well placed for observation and shines at magnitude 5.9 Neptune: The planet is in conjunction with the Sun on the 21st of this month. Not visible

Constellation of the month: Monoceros Monoceros, "The Unicorn" is an ambiguous constellation that is very difficult to discern as it has few bright stars. It is not a constellation of antiquity, but was added in the seventeenth century by Hevelius to fill in a blank space between Orion to the west and Cancer to the east. Thankfully, although stars are few, deep sky objects are not, as Monoceros lies in a particularly fruitful part of the Milky Way. This richness is derived from a huge molecular cloud of gas and dust that permeates this region of space and has outcroppings in the form of bright gaseous nebulae that make Monoceros a treasure house for the well-equipped observer. If you own binoculars or a small telescope, then do not despair, as there are plenty of objects to tantalize and astonish.


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One of the best star clusters of the Winter sky is to be found in the southern part of this constellation. M 50 is a bright nebulous patch of light in the field of a pair of binoculars, but under the scrutiny of a small telescope, it becomes a treasure trove of over 200 stars in a small compressed area of space. Not all these stars will be visible, but the primary stars will of course be relatively easy objects to see. One of the stars is a delightful deep red in colour and is immediately recognizable even in a small scope. The distance to this lovely cluster is 3000 light years, thus making the stars that create its 6th magnitude glow very luminous indeed. Its position in a lavish part of the Milky Way assures M 50 of a unique place in the memory of those that observe it.

conditions through binoculars, although once again, a telescope gives a finer view. This group lies at a similar distance to the Rosette nebulae adding further proof that this region is alive with stellar nurseries. NGC 2264 is also surrounded by faint nebulae, but this nebula is reserved for those owners of large telescopes, as its surface brightness is very low. A little to the south of this cluster lies the enigmatic object known as R Monocerotis. This is a variable star of very unusual type, as it appears that it is struggling to throw off its swaddling bands of gas and dust and emerge as a young main sequence object. However, it seems to be experiencing difficulty in this quest, as occasionally, R Monocerotis disappears from view behind a rather interesting faint nebula first discovered by the eminent astronomer Edwin The Rosette nebulae in Monoceros Hubble. This object is easily visible in a small telescope to the southwest of the Christmas tree In such a crowded celestial landscape, finding a cluster as a small smudge of white light amongst faint star bearing a planetary system may be a a rich field of stars. little tricky, but is nevertheless a good practical exercise. The star HD46375 at RA 06h 33m 12s The only fairly bright star of the constellation, Dec +05 27m 46s is an orange K1V star 100LY Beta Monocerotis is also a fine triple star, one of away shining at 8th magnitude. In orbit around the most splendid stars in the Winter sky. The this star is a planet with a mass of 20% that of components are widely separated and of almost Jupiter and an orbit of just 3 days. The star equal magnitude range all around mag. 5.5 and of should be visible as a yellow-orange spot in similar colours. binoculars so look out for any star in the field bearing this colour.

A most beautiful cluster plus an attendant nebula is the next stopping point in our tour of Monoceros. In a tight group around the star 15 Monocerotis, is a wonderful pack of glittering points of light, all caught in a misty web of faint light. This is the cluster NGC 2244 and nebulae NGC 2237, otherwise known as the "Rosette Nebulae". This is a fantastic sight in giant binoculars on a clear night, but is a disappointment to those with small telescopes. The cluster of 40 or so stars is readily apparent, but in the confined field of an eyepiece, the nebula lacks structure and disappears altogether. The Rosette nebulae is easily captured on photographic film, and is a beautiful orange red in Being a part of the Milky Way, Monoceros abounds colour, which contrasts wonderfully against the in star clusters, many of which are easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope. The only electric blue starlight of the cluster. problem the observer has is trying to find them among the plethora of faint stars in this The Rosette nebulae lies at an approximate extremely rich region! One of the nicest of these distance of 2600 light years, giving the cloud of clusters is NGC 2301 at RA 06h 51m 48s Dec 00° gas a dimension of 55 light years in extent. The 28m, a fantastic arrangement of over 60 stars in nebulae has been said to contain enough matter a compressed group. Most are relatively bright at to form 11,000 Suns, and indeed such stellar mag 8, so the cluster should be visible as a misty births are still occurring in this magical region of patch in a good pair of binoculars. A slightly our galaxy. Large telescopes show several knotty fainter but nevertheless rich object is NGC 2324, condensations of dark matter contrasting with which contains 50 stars of around 10th the ruddy hue of the gas. This is where the next magnitude in a Nebula small, condensed group that is a M57 The Ring generation of stars is currently being formed, pleasant sight. One of the best-known star and the area is under intense scrutiny by clusters in Monoceros is NGC 2506, at coordinates RA 08h 00m 12s Dec -10°47m; a astronomers. beautiful gathering of 75 stars in a large group. Further to the north of this object is a lovely The stars look like tiny needle points of light, cluster around the star "S" Monocerotis. This shining at around mag 11, but the overall cluster, NGC 2264 is commonly known as the magnitude of the cluster is around mag 9, so it "Christmas Tree" cluster, for reasons that become obvious the moment one views it. About should not be too difficult to spot. 25 bright stars make up the illuminated Tree, most of which can be seen under good seeing

Scanning the Monoceros Milky Way with binoculars is well worth the effort. Mounted on a tripod, these instruments make effective wide field telescopes that can be comfortable to use. The background stars will show up to greater advantage in a pair of binoculars than in the narrow field of a small telescope, and they are of inestimable value in just watching and gazing at the infinite on a Winters evening. The constellation of Monoceros is filled with the interplay of light and darkness, which binoculars reveal, as dust clouds and star clouds compete for the observer’s attention. BY MARTIN GRIFFITHS


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Space weather warnings!

Artist's depiction of solar wind colliding with Earth's magnetosphere. Size and distance are not to scale.

The past couple of months have seen the UK hit with severe weather warnings. Ice, snow, freezing temperatures; all conditions that disrupt our daily commute to work, freeze our central heating and generally get in the way of everyday life. However, on the grand scheme of things, these disruptions can only be described as mild annoyances, setbacks which for those who have lived in this country have grown immune and expectant to. Consider a storm that has the potential to cause devastation on a global scale. A storm that could significantly damage national grids, prevent us from receiving medical aid, and take away the right to access our well-deserved money sitting in the bank. This kind of storm would take months, possibly years to rectify. Not to mention the financial cost.

The storm I am talking about astonishingly does be entering a delayed solar maximum in May. not originate here on Earth, but from the Sun. The root of such solar events lies in magnetism. This phenomenon is known as space weather. The Sun has a large magnetic field with field The Sun is the most important thing in our solar lines stretching from the North to the South system. It keeps the Earth and the other planets poles. As the Sun rotates, these magnetic field in place. We may be roughly 150 million lines become twisted and can break through the kilometres away, but the gravitational hold it surface in the form of tight loops. This inhibits has on us prevents us from flying out into heat flow and causes (relatively) low space. We are not too far, nor too close. We temperature regions called sunspots. receive just the right amount of warmth, light and energy that allows life to flourish. Yet as The Sun also emits a low density wind or ionised beautiful as the Sun can look as it sets on a plasma that fills the solar system which is more calm summers eve’, its surface can prove to be commonly known as the solar wind. The Earth’s quite violent. magnetosphere usually shields us from this. However occasionally - and more commonly The intensity of space weather phenomena is during solar maximum when the magnetic fields governed by the 11-year solar cycle. Every 11 become unstable - a high-speed burst of dense years there is an increase in solar activity such solar material called a coronal mass ejection’s as sunspots, solar flares and coronal mass (CMEs) will enhance the solar wind. ejections – more on that later. This period of time is called solar maximum, in fact we should


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CMEs have strong south-pointing magnetic fields which are opposite to the Earth’s resulting in them breaking the shield of the Earth’s magnetosphere. The interaction with the magnetosphere intensifies electric currents that flow within it ensuing a magnetic storm. In 1989 during a period of solar maximum, a geomagnetic storm caused havoc in Quebec, Canada as the result of a coronal mass ejection. It caused the collapse of Hydro-Québec's electricity transmission system resulting in a 9 hour power cut. As if that wasn’t bad enough, weather and communication satellites in orbit lost control for several hours. Interestingly, the Space Shuttle Discovery also seemed to show

problems: a sensor on one of the tanks supplying hydrogen to a fuel cell was showing unusually high pressure readings. These problems subsided after the solar storm.

systems would also fail due to lack of electricity reducing sanitisation – especially in more populated regions. Electronic trades in the financial sector would be broken as they are heavily dependent on electronic IT hardware. That would mean reverting back to using cash This was a relatively moderate geomagnetic instead of card - something the generation of storm: a severe storm could cause a cascading today would potentially find hard to grasp. effect on technologies, technologies that we heavily rely on. The most significant being Other areas affected also include; the food damage to national grids. Without electricity services with perishable food being destroyed there would be no lighting, heating or cooking or with no refrigeration, medical health as certain even access to fuel as even pumping stations medicines need to be refrigerated, rely on electricity to pump the petrol from communications and transport including the use underground tanks. This would heavily impact on of aeroplanes. Let’s hope you are not stranded public and emergency services. Sewage abroad if there were to be a storm! If such a storm were to occur society would be thrown back into 19th century practices. But don’t worry just yet, these events are extremely rare. There are also measures being carried out to significantly reduce the risk of these effects. These include the decreased usage of satellite navigation as the sole source of position data to aid with transportation. So don’t worry…just yet.

BY LOUISA CONNOLLY


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An exiting year ahead for Europe in space There’s a lot to look forward to this year in space, from launching new missions to data being returned from those spacecraft already in space. Here are just a few highlights that we can expect from the European Space Agency in 2013:

Planck: looking back to the dawn of time Launched in 2009, Planck is ESA’s time-machine, studying the Cosmic Microwave Background – the relic radiation from the Big Bang – to allow cosmologists to zero-in on theories that describe the Universe’s birth and evolution. The first all-sky images of the Cosmic Microwave Background are expected in mid-March.

Mars Express 10th Anniversary In June, Mars Express celebrates ten years in orbit. Throughout its career it has found plentiful evidence for water having existed on Mars earlier in its history, returning stunning images of river-cut valleys and detecting minerals that form only in the presence water. The mission has also detected huge underground water-ice deposits, and evidence to suggest that volcanism may have persisted until recent times. Mars Express has also studied the Red Planet’s atmosphere, and the innermost moon Phobos.

Launch of Gaia, ESA’s billion-star surveyor At the end of 2013 Gaia launches into space. Charged with charting our home Galaxy, the Milky Way, Gaia will measure the precise position, distance and properties of approximately one billion stars. The results will reveal where the stars are today, as well as where they have been in the past, revealing information about the formation and evolution of our home Galaxy.

ESA: Gaia mapping the stars of the Milky Way


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Rosetta: chasing a comet Scientists will also be gearing up for the Rosetta mission, which will wake up from hibernation in early 2014 ahead of its rendezvous and landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko later in the year. The mission will be the first to study a comet as it approaches and moves around the Sun, and the first to land on a comet. The mission is destined to help scientists find the missing links in our understanding of the evolution of our Solar System.

ESA: Rosetta’s Philae lander on comet nucleus

Observing Earth Two new missions will also launch this spring to study aspects of Earth’s environment. The multi-satellite Swarm mission will make the best survey yet of Earth’s magnetic field and its evolution, and improve our knowledge of Earth’s interior and climate. Meanwhile Proba-V will be launched on the new Vega vehicle and will concentrate on tracking global vegetation.

Humans in space In May Luca Parmitano will fly to the International Space Station for a six month mission, serving as a flight engineer for Expeditions 36 and 37. He will be the first astronaut out of the new generation selected in 2009. Meanwhile the fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV), named Albert Einstein, will deliver new supplies to the space station, including food, drinking water, gases, research and maintenance equipment and around 3 tonnes of propellants.

To keep up to date with ESA’s activities bookmark www.esa.int, or follow @esa on twitter.

BY DR EMILY BALDWIN

Emily Baldwin is Space Science Editor for EJR-Quartz at the European Space Agency and is based at ESTEC, the European Space Research and Technology Centre, in the Netherlands. ESTEC is ESA’s technical heart where most ESA projects are born and where they are guided through the various phases of development.


Success is a science; if you have the conditions, you get the result. - Oscar Wilde

BSc (Hons) Observational Astronomy

February 2013  

February 2013 issue