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Marcus Tullius Cicero, Aratea (Harley MS 647, ff 2v-17v)

22 constellation figures containing extracts from Hyginus, Astronomica.

England (c. 820-11th century)

This is one of the coolest Illuminated Manuscripts I’ve come across in quite a while. The illustrations of various constellations have integrated the design of each figure into the script, along with various small portraits of famous astronomers. You can view the whole thing here.

Liftoff! US, Russia Launch Historic One-Year Space Mission

An American astronaut and Russian cosmonaut launched into space Friday to attempt something their two countries have never done together before: a one-year mission on the International Space Station that could help one day send humans to Mars.

The epic one-year space mission launched NASA’s Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko into orbit aboard a Russian Soyuz space capsule at 3:42 p.m. EDT (1942 GMT) today (March 27) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, where it was early Saturday morning local time. Also flying on the Soyuz is cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, a crewmember who will live and work aboard the orbiting outpost for about six months, the usual length of time people spend on the station.

“A year in space starts now,” NASA spokesperson Dan Huot said at launch. You can check out a video of the history-making launch as well. [The One-Year Space Mission: Full Coverage]

Continue Reading.

Type la supernovae

A new study analyzes several sites where dead stars once exploded. The explosions, called Type Ia supernovae, occurred within galaxies, six of which are shown in these images from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Type Ia supernovae, which occur when burnt-out stars called white dwarfs detonate, have been used for years to help measure the distances to galaxies and the acceleration of our universe. But the tools aren’t perfect, so researchers are analyzing the sites of the explosions to learn more about them and improve cosmic measuring tools.

Using data from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer, or GALEX, astronomers were able to show that a fraction of the Type Ia explosion sites they looked at are associated with hot young stars. This means that those areas are young in general, and that the explosions happened when relatively young white dwarf stars exploded.

Photo credit: SDSS

The Butterfly Nebula from Hubble  : The bright clusters and nebulae of planet Earths night sky are often named for flowers or insects. Though its wingspan covers over 3 light-years, NGC 6302 is no exception. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C, the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust. This sharp close-up of the dying stars nebula was recorded in 2009 by the Hubble Space Telescopes Wide Field Camera 3, and is presented here in reprocessed colors. Cutting across a bright cavity of ionized gas, the dust torus surrounding the central star is near the center of this view, almost edge-on to the line-of-sight. Molecular hydrogen has been detected in the hot stars dusty cosmic shroud. NGC 6302 lies about 4,000 light-years away in the arachnologically correct constellation of the Scorpion . via NASA

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