An ELT made of cardboard in your garden?

I am calling myself a Planetary Astronomer, essentially because I use ground-based telescopes to study our solar system bodies. Even if I often write posts on this blog  about the wonderful results brought to us by space missions, space stations and other space-releated projects, my heart and my work are mostly dedicated to pushing the limit of ground-based telescopes and their instruments. Extremely Large Telescopes (or ELTs), ground-based telescopes with an aperture larger than 30m are without any doubt the next giant leap in the development of astronomy. I always wondered what it would be to be close to one of these giants, now I know…

UARS reentry visible from the Bay Area and elsewhere…?

If you have been following the news about space over the past 5 days, you may have heard about this gigantic 6.5-ton satellite dedicated to the study of our Earth atmosphere (UARS for  Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite) that is supposed deorbit tonight on September 24 2011 UT. The question we all have in mind is where and when this spectacular event will happen.

[See updates at the end of this post]

An artist's concept of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS) satellite in space.
An artistic image of UARS in orbit around Earth.

Kepler-16: Exoplanets around binary star systems DO exist

Kepler-16 is another great discovery coming from the Kepler telescope, the 10th NASA Discovery mission which is devoted to finding Earth-size exoplanets by monitoring variations of brightness due to transit. Today the Kepler team found a circumbinary exoplanet, an exoplanet orbiting a binary star system. Did they find Tatooine?

Artistic view of the Kepler-16(AB)b exoplanet (a Saturn-like exoplanet) in orbit around its 2 stars shown in the background.
Artistic view of the Kepler-16(AB)b exoplanet (a Saturn-like exoplanet) in orbit around its 2 stars shown in the background.