Intriguing pair of satellites caught with the eVscope

Intriguing pair of satellites caught with the eVscope
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If you often look at the evening dark sky in a clear area far away from the city, you have probably seen a speck of light which moves with respect to the star, that’s probably a distant satellite that shines because it reflects the light of the sun at high altitude. According to NASA’s Orbital Debris Program office, there are an  about 21,000 large debris (>10 cm) and satellites orbiting around Earth right now, so much more than you can see with your naked eye.

The eVscope is designed to pinpoint and image Deep Sky Objects (nebulae, galaxies), but we have already shown its potential to observe dwarf planet like Pluto, as well as asteroid like Florence. Because the telescope can image targets as faint as those astronomical bodies, we thought that it will also be able to image small satellites and debris as well passing serendipitously in the field of view. This is what happened a few days ago.

Animation made of 8 frames recorded with the eVscope showing the detection of two satellites
Animation made of 8 frames recorded with the eVscope showing the detection of two satellites

Saying Hello to Pluto from San Francisco with the eVscope

Saying Hello to Pluto from San Francisco with the eVscope
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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 of a cosmic ray that hit the detector during the recording of one frame.
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 of a cosmic ray that hit the detector during the recording of one frame.

Starfest in Central Park: Urban Astronomy for All

Starfest in Central Park: Urban Astronomy for All
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Last week I traveled from San Francisco to New York City to attend Autumn Starfest, which is sponsored by the Amateur Astronomers Association (AAA) of New York. This star party’s most amazing feature is its location—right in the middle of Manhattan, in the magnificent Central Park! And after flying 2,600 miles (4,100 km), I was eager to show attendees that the Unistellar eVscope will let them see faint targets in the night sky—even the sky of this immense city, with all of its light and other forms of pollution.

And the great news is that the event, and our telescope, were a huge success.

Setup_starfest2017
The setup of Starfest in Central Park. It was obviously not a perfect dark sky for astronomy, but a beautiful summer evening for the public (credits: Ed Rojas, AAA.org)

L’institut SETI et Unistellar s’associent pour révolutionner l’Astronomie et la Science Citoyenne

L’institut SETI et Unistellar s’associent pour révolutionner l’Astronomie et la Science Citoyenne
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19 juillet 2017 Mountain View, Californie, Etats Unis et Meyreuil, France — L’Institut SETI et la start-up française Unistellar annoncent aujourd’hui un partenariat, dans le but de commercialiser un nouveau télescope offrant aux astronomes amateurs une qualité d’observation du ciel sans précédent, ainsi que l’opportunité de contribuer de façon déterminante aux dernières découvertes des astronomes professionnels.

Unistellar's Enhanced Vision Telescope
Unistellar’s telescope will be available in Fall 2017 for its presales crowdfunding campaign.

L’eVscopeTM (Enhanced Vision Telescope) d’Unistellar atteint cet objectif grâce à trois fonctions qui n’ont jamais encore été rassemblées au sein d’un appareil compact et destiné au grand public:

La Vision Amplifiée, qui fournit des images exceptionnelles, fines et détaillées des objets astronomiques les plus lointains en accumulant la lumière et en la projetant directement dans l’oculaire du télescope. La technologie de la Vision Amplifiée remplace la capacité qu’ont les grands télescopes à accumuler la lumière, et fournit ainsi à l’oculaire de l’eVscope des images du ciel jusqu’à présent inaccessibles aux astronomes amateurs.

Surprising discovery: a ring around an asteroid

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.

eso1410a

The Next Step in Exoplanetary Science: Imaging New Worlds

In 2003, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of astronomers that met at the University of California at Berkeley to brainstorm on an innovative idea: the design of an instrument to image and characterize planets around other stars, called exoplanets, using a telescope in the 8 – 10 meter class. A decade later, such an instrument became reality with the arrival of the Gemini Planet Imager (called also GPI, or “Gee-pie”) instrument at the Gemini South telescope in Chile.

Five known planetary systems imaged with current adaptive optics systems. Fomalhaut shown on the top-right is the only system detected with the Hubble Space Telescope. HR8799 discovery was announced in a Science article in 2008 by a team led by C. Marois including members of the GPI team (credit: C. Marois).
Five known planetary systems imaged with current adaptive optics systems. Fomalhaut shown on the top-right is the only system detected with the Hubble Space Telescope. HR8799 discovery was announced in a Science article in 2008 by a team led by C. Marois including members of the GPI team (credit: C. Marois).

Asteroid Minerva finds its magical weapons in the sky

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.

Artist-Impr-Minerva-lowres-rgb72dpi
Artistic view of the Triple Asteroid System (93) Minerva. The 150km primary at the center is surrounded by its two moons S/(93) 1 Aegis and S/(93) 2 Gorgoneion.

The French Pyrénées becomes the second-largest international dark sky reserve in the world

Pic du Midi RICE Logo
Pic du Midi RICE Logo

Adapted from  IDA press release http://www.darksky.org TUCSON, AZ, AND TOULOUSE, FRANCE, 19 December 2013 –

The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced today the designation of the first International Dark Sky Place in France. In naming the Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), IDA is pleased to recognize the immense local efforts to preserve and protect the exceptionally dark night skies over the Pyrénées Mountains

“In creating the Reserve, the Pic du Midi team has not only protected a vanishing resource, they have made it better than it was,” said IDA Executive Director Bob Parks. “We commend and celebrate their exceptional efforts.” 

ciel étoilé mesuré au dessus d'Aulon
Photographing the Milky Way near the village of Aulon, France (Credit: Nicolas Bourgeois / Pic du Midi)

New ET Detection Method Calls for World’s Largest Telescope

THE FOLLOWING ITEM WAS ISSUED BY ASTRONOMY MAGAZINE IN WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN, AND IS POSTED ON MY BLOG FOR YOUR INFORMATION.

29 May 2013

 This release is based on a story in the June 2013 issue of Astronomy magazine: http://www.astronomy.com/~/media/Files/PDF/Magazine%20articles/ET-with-infrared-light.pdf

Until recently, one of the ultimate mysteries of the universe — how many civilizations may exist on planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way Galaxy — relied on the possibility of detecting intelligent beings by radio signals. Now a team of astronomers, engineers, and physicists from the University of Hawaii, the University of Freiburg, and elsewhere has proposed a new and powerful technique to search for intelligent life.

Artistic rendering of the Colossus telescope, a 77m wide telescope capable of detecting the near-infrared light resulting from a technologically advanced civilization living on an exoplanet located at 60 light-years. (c) http://www.innovativeoptics.ca/
Artistic rendering of the Colossus telescope, a 77m wide telescope capable of detecting the near-infrared light resulting from a technologically advanced civilization living on an exoplanet located at 60 light-years. (c) http://www.innovativeoptics.ca/

An update on the Siding Spring Observatory

A short followup of my post sent last night with a good news through an official announcement by the Australian National University  posted today.

In a nutshell, no telescopes have suffered major damages from the bush fire, but the astronomer’s lodge, the visitor’s center and several staff houses have been destroyed or seriously damage.

Siding Spring Observatory. Photo by NSW RFS