Saying Hello to Pluto from San Francisco with the eVscope
Published 9/26/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Observing Report #2 – September 25, 2017 A few days ago we announced the direct imaging of Pluto through the eyepiece of a Unistellar eVscope prototype located in Marseille, France. To make sure that this was not a fluke, I decided to try to observe Pluto from San Francisco— more precisely, from my little backyard in the middle of the city. And we succeeded! Animation showing two observations of the same area of the sky taken with Unisteller’s eVscope. The dwarf planet Pluto (cyan circles) is moving with respect to the stars. The green circle shows the location... read more ❯

Seeing Pluto With Your Own Eyes From Your Backyard With Unistellar’s eVscope
Published 9/17/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
One of the biggest challenges in popular astronomy is finding specific objects in the night sky. Most nebulae, galaxies, and asteroids are invisible to the naked eye, and locating them in the immense vastness of space has frustrated people for centuries. That’s why most amateur astronomers follow a common but frustrating path. They buy a telescope, look at the moon, a few bright stars, and five planets—and then just give up. After only a few months... read more ❯

The Triple Asteroid (87) Sylvia
Published 6/15/2016 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Another beautiful simulation of the triple asteroid system (87) Sylvia and its two moons Romulus and Remus made in collaboration with the California Academy of Sciences. (87) Sylvia was discovered in 1866 by N.R. Pogson, a British astronomer located in Madras, India. This main-belt asteroid is large with a diameter of ~150 km. That's all we knew until recently. In 2005, we discovered two moons around the asteroid that we baptized Romulus and Remus, sons of the Rhea Sylvia and founder of Rome. Both moons are very small with a diameter estimated to ~20 and ~7 km. The primary is irregular with a diameter of... read more ❯

AGU Fall Meeting 2014: Solar System Small Bodies: Relics of Formation and New Worlds to Explore
Published 12/18/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Can you believe it is December already!? As usual, it is a busy month with the AGU Fall Conference.  I co-organized a session on small solar system bodies with Padma Yanamandra-Fisher (PSI)  and Julie Castillo (JPL).  We will talk about recent discoveries in this emerging field including the discovery of rings around Chariklo, the understanding of regolith motion on asteroids, the new lander for Hayabusa 2 (MASCOT) and off course adaptive optics observations of asteroids. Below more info. See you there! Where: Thursday, December 18, 2014 01:40 PM - 03:40 PM When: Moscone West 3002 Why: The composition and physical properties of Small Solar System Bodies (SSSBs), remnants... read more ❯

Surprising discovery: a ring around an asteroid
Published 3/26/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Some may say that our universe is full of beauty, others argue that it is our solar system that surprises us the most, but ultimately I will say that it is the world of small solar system bodies which is strikingly full of diversity. Today's announcement of the discovery of rings around the Centaur Chariklo by an international team of astronomers is a vivid proof that small solar system bodies have not yet revealed all their secrets.  My recent work has made me realize that asteroids (also called small solar system bodies or minor planets) are in fact real mini-geological worlds.... read more ❯

Asteroid Minerva finds its magical weapons in the sky
Published 12/20/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
The International Astronomical Union has chosen the names Aegis and Gorgoneion for the two moons of the asteroid (93) Minerva.  My team discovered the small moons in 2009 using the W. M. Keck Telescope and its adaptive optics system. We proposed the names after receiving input from the public. Astronomer J.C. Watson discovered (93) Minerva, a large 150 km diameter asteroid located in the main belt, on Aug. 24, 1867... read more ❯

Everything you need to know about asteroids at the AGU Fall Meeting
Published 12/9/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
It is this time of the year again... I am convening and chairing a session on Asteroids entitled "Characterizing Small Solar System Bodies" tomorrow Tuesday at the December 9th at AGU Fall Meeting. It will be composed of nine talks presented in the morning and twenty posters Characterizing Small Solar System Bodies in the afternoon. This session will be an opportunity to discuss recent results in the field of asteroids and other small solar system bodies (SSSBs). The composition and physical properties of SSSBs, remnants of the formation of planets, are key to better understand our solar system. Increased knowledge of their surface... read more ❯

How we collaborate with a group of amateur space sleuths to study the triple asteroid (87) Sylvia
Published 10/13/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
I am back from the 45th annual Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Denver, Colorado, where I presented my findings on the study of the triple asteroid system (87) Sylvia through a poster and in a press conference (video here). Located in the asteroid main-belt, we know that (87) Sylvia possesses two moons since our publication in Nature Journal in 2005. Our team  has combined observations from professional-class telescopes and from small telescopes used by amateur astronomers to reveal that this 270-km diameter main-belt asteroid has a complex interior, probably linked to the way the multiple system was formed. Artistic... read more ❯

The Russian Meteor and Lessons Learned on Meteor Impacts
Published 2/15/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Almost 12h after the event, it is time to gather my notes on the Russian meteor event (#RussianMeteor) and my thoughts on this impact and those which may come soon. What do we know? (I collected these pieces of information from numerous of my colleagues. Thanks) Today February 15 2013 a meteor exploded over the region of Chelyabinsk, Russia near the Southern Ural Mountains at 9:20:26 am LT (03:20:26 UTC). The explosion  occurred at an altitude of ~15-20 km  and the bolide impact speed was estimated to ~20 km/s with a... read more ❯

China joined the interplanetary club by successfully imaging the asteroid Toutatis
Published 12/14/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
This exceptional result was brought to my attention late on Friday evening, but it clearly deserves a short post on this blog. Chang'E 2, a chinese mission dedicated to the exploration of the moon was recycled to explore the Near-Earth Asteroid (4179) Toutatis  and succeeded. Launched on  October 1, 2010 aboard a Long March 3C rocket, the probe was in lunar orbit until August 25, 2011. The spacecraft is equipped with several instruments, such as stereo camera, Laser altimeter, Gamma/X-ray Spectrometers and a Microwave Detector. To date, no... read more ❯

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