Observations

New ET Detection Method Calls for World's Largest Telescope
Published 5/29/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
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... read more ❯

An update on the Siding Spring Observatory
Published 1/13/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
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. The NSW rural fire service posted several pictures of the observatory taken on the morning.  It could have been worst, since it is visible from the pictures that the fire approached dangerously the telescope domes. Hopefully, after the reconstruction of the staff... read more ❯

Another fireball on Jupiter?
Published 9/10/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
An amateur astronomer reported the visual detection of a fireball on Jupiter at 11:35 UT (September 10 2012) last night. It was confirmed on a video recorded from Texas. This is the 6th impact of Jupiter detected so far. Astronomer Dan Petersen saw today September 10 2012 at  11:35 UT a bright flash on Jupiter which lasted 1 or 2 seconds. It estimated its... read more ❯

Venus Transit: From San Francisco in 2012 to Mars in 2030
Published 6/11/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
If you read this blog, I am certain that you are aware of the Venus Transit which occurred  from  22:09 UTC on 5 June 2012 to 04:49 UTC on 6 June (3:09pm to 8:49pm PDT). Because this astronomical event was visible from North America, Europe, and part of Africa & Asia, and it was streamed around the world from several observatories, it has been most likely one of the most observed and advertised astronomical phenomena, so I had to write a short personal post about it. A planetary transit occurred when a planetary target (here Venus) is passing in front of another one (here the Sun). An observer located on... read more ❯

An ELT made of cardboard in your garden?
Published 9/29/2011 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
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... read more ❯

An Occultation by the double asteroid (90) Antiope seen in California
Published 7/21/2011 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Last Tuesday July 19 at 3:25am PDT, several SETI REU students and colleagues from SETI institute and Observatoire de Paris were on the road. They were looking at the sky with  tiny telescopes and surrounding by complex instruments somewhere in the middle the Californian countryside to witness and record a rare event: the occultation of a bright 7-mag star by the double asteroid (90) Antiope. (90) Antiope is clearly a remarkable and unique binary asteroid. It is made of 2 large (~86 km) ellipsoidal components orbiting around their center of mass in 16.5 hours, describing a circular orbit with a... read more ❯

FIRST@LICK: First fringes! Finally...
Published 8/11/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Already three nights on the telescope and we still have no fringes... It looks worrisome but in fact we anticipated difficulties in installing FIRST prototype which is essentially a lab testbench on the Shane telescope. The good news is that every night we have made significant progresses and we identified several sources of problems. So we remained positive and continued  improving the instrument and understanding how to use it on sky. On Tuesday July 27, I had... read more ❯

FIRST@LICK: Two nights hunting for the fringes
Published 8/10/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
As I mentioned before, the Grail of our experiment called FIRST, is to record patterns of interference fringes. Using these "images" we should be able to reconstruct an image with a high dynamic at proximity of the star, allowing us to explore the close vicinity of a nearby star. This is an interesting area, unknown to astronomers and where exoplanets form. To validate this technique we mounted FIRST on the Shane-3m telescope. As predicted this hunt for fringes was a long and tedious task. [caption id="attachment_857" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A mysterious hand tightening up  an optics  is seen through the periscope mirror... read more ❯

FIRST@LICK: first photons from a star
Published 8/9/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
After two long days of work we decided to point the telescope on the bright star called Eta Pegasi (Matar). I remind you that it was already 4am PDT so we were all quite exhausted and we had only a short amount of time before the sunrise. To keep this post short I am showing this picture that I took at 5:11am on July 25. The blurry and tiny dot that Elsa is pointing on the screen and which makes us all happy (despite the fact that we are all exhausted),... read more ❯

FIRST@LICK: Getting ready for the first night
Published 8/9/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
After a complicated mounting of the instrument on the telescope, we spent the entire first 2 days and a large part of the beginning of the night, reinstalling and realigning the FIRST instrument. JUly 23 and July 24 were  busy days with zillion of problems to solve. I am going to share you the "joy" of instrumentation in this post. This picture above summarizes in a few words our... read more ❯