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February 2013: Bubbles

February 2013

In the show this time, we talk to Dr Ettore Carretti about magnetised outflows from the Milky Way, Stuart rounds up the latest news and we hear what we can see in the February night sky from Ian Morison and John Field.

The News

This month in the news: bubble trouble for the Milky Way, solar snapshots and synchronised dancing dwarves.

Interview with Dr Ettore Carretti

In this episode, we caught up with Dr. Ettore Carretti, from CSIRO in Australia. Dr. Carretti and his team recently published a paper in Nature announcing the discovery of large, magnetized gas outflows from the centre of the Milky Way. They found these structures using polarization measurements taken using the Parkes radio telescope. Here, he sheds some light for us on the significance of the discovery - explaining why we'd never seen such large structures in the middle of our galaxy before, and what future observations could tell us about these outflows.

The Night Sky

Northern Hemisphere

Ian Morison tells us what we can see in the northern hemisphere night sky during February 2013.

Orion, Taurus and Gemini light up the southern evening sky. The three stars of Orion's Belt act as pointers. To their lower left is the bright star Sirius, and binoculars reveal the open cluster M41 a few degrees below it. Taurus is above Orion, hosting the planet Jupiter. Higher up still, along the plane of the Milky Way, is Auriga, containing the bright star Capella and the open clusters M36, M37 and M38. Gemini lies eastward of it, made up of the twins Castor and Pollux. Another open cluster, M35, lies near to Castor's legs. The bright star Procyon, in Canis Minor, is visible below Gemini. Further east still is Cancer, containing the broad cluster Praesepe, M44. Below it is M67. Leo rises later on, with Ursa Major above it. The middle of the three stars in the handle of the Plough, which is part of Ursa Major, is a sextuple star system, of which two stars can be made out with the naked eye and a third using binoculars.

The Planets

Highlights

Southern Hemisphere

John Field from the Carter Observatory in New Zealand speaks about the southern hemisphere night sky during February 2013.

The planet Jupiter dominates the evening sky, along with the constellations of Orion, Canis Major and Taurus in the north. Jupiter continues to pass in front of the stars of Taurus the Bull - one of the constellations of the zodiac through which the Sun and planets move. The Bulls's head appears as a V of stars, with two horn tips stretching towards the northern horizon, and contains the Hyades Cluster and the red stars Alderbaran. The Pleiades Cluster, marking the Bull's back, lie to the west of his head. A compact cluster with at least six stars visible to the naked eye, the Pleiades make a fine sight in binoculars. Jupiter and the Moon will be close together in the evening sky on the 18th, with the Moon occulting (covering) the Jovian system as seen from southern Australia and making a stunning sight for binoculars or a telescope. Gemini and Cancer are two of the other zodiacal constellations in the summer sky. The bright stars Castor and Pollux mark the heads of the Gemini twins, and are found in the north after sunset. Gemini is on the eastern edge of the Milky Way, and there are five faint galaxies to be found within 1° of Castor using a large telescope. The open cluster M35 is near to the star Eta Geminorum, and can be seen with the naked eye under a dark sky, while binoculars or a wide-field telescope will provide a better view. Cancer consists of five stars with the beautiful Beehive Cluster, or Praesepe, visible at the centre. Orion, standing tall in the summer sky, hangs upside-down and contains a number of bright stars and other objects. The Orion Nebula appears as a fuzzy star in the middle of Orion's Sword, but binoculars or a small telescope reveal a bat-shaped cloud, and a larger telescope show a tight group of four stars called the Trapezium. To the east are Orion's hunting dogs, Canis Major and Canis Minor. Canis Major, also upside-down, hosts Sirius, the brightest night-time star, while Canis Minor contains the bright star Procyon. Just over a third of the way between these two stars is the cluster M50, visible in binoculars. Halfway from Procyon to Betelgeuse, the red star in Orion, is a rectangular cluster of stars embedded in the Rosette Nebula. Canopus, the second-brightest star in the night sky, is almost overhead in the early evening. The planet Saturn rises in the east from around midnight, and will become an evening object as it moves through the constellation of Libra during the southern hemisphere winter of 2013. At the same time, Saturn's rings will continue to tilt towards us, giving a better view of them.

Highlights

Odds and Ends

AuroraLive is a website that monitors the aurora borealis and tells you when and where the Aurora Borealis is meant to happen. It gives you the most up-to-date times and latitude where you can see it, along with some background information. Also there are links to telescopes monitoring the Sun, so you can see the solar activity.

Deep Space Industries have released a very optimistic plan to mine asteroids by 2023! The plan could entail refining the astroid in-situe instead of retrieving the asteroids and bringing them back to earth. The business aims include retrieving rare metals from space, as well as reducing the cost of other space exploration.

NASA have been officially announced as joining ESA's Euclid mission. AN ESA led mission, Euclid, is a future space telescope set for launch in 2020. Euclid hopes to detect the shape, brightness of distribution over two billion galaxies throughout out the Universe. The aim of these observations is to constrain the roles of dark energy and dark matter in the evolution of Universe. NASA will be providing 20 detectors to Eculid and adding 40 US scientist to the already 1000 strong European Euclid Consortium.

We were also sent a link to some free outreach and teaching materials, "A Kid's Guide to Astronomy".

Show Credits

News:Stuart Harper
Interview:Dr Ettore Carretti and Indy Leclercq
Night sky:Ian Morison and John Field
Presenters:Adam Avison, Liz Guzman and Chris Wallis
Editors:Adam Avison, Claire Bretherton, Sally Cooper, Mark Purver and Christina Smith.
Segment Voice:Cormac Purcell
Website:Christina Smith and Stuart Lowe
Producer:Christina Smith
Cover art:Milky Way Panorama CREDIT: ESO/S Brunier

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