THE COSMIC DIARY NETWORK

1,500th telescope on our Kickstarter. Thank you!
Published 11/21/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
We have just passed the pledge of our 1,500th telescope on our Kickstarter campaign. With such an amazing number of eVscopes soon to be in operation around the planet, our Campaign Mode and Citizen Science applications will be extraordinary exciting and revolutionary! Your support has brought us to this truly amazing moment, and all we can say is thank you. After so many questions about planets and requests for additional photos, we felt the need to conduct new observations—and despite bad weather in parts of the Northern Hemisphere, we managed to do it! As you check out these pictures, please keep in mind that what you see through the eVscope’s eyepiece is far more beautiful and mind blowing. The image quality and observing experience there are definitely superior to what you see in these photos. The eVscope provides truly amazing astronomical views when pointed at nebulae and galaxies. As you can imagine,... read more ❯

Is it windblown or not (#2)?
Published 11/20/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: This 0.93x1.25 km (0.57x0.78 mi) scene shows what I'm starting to think are windblown features. I posted something similar to this once before, from a location not that far from here. In this one region of Mars there are parallel lines cut into the tops of hills. A geologist would first presume they were exposed, tilted layers. But the regularity of their spacing (especially when you zoom in) is a bit unusual, and suggests some sort of self-organization (like windblown ripples). And then the questions begin: why just in this spot on Mars? what's unusual about the rocks (or the wind) here? I still have no good answers. (HiRISE ESP_052386_1565 NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Overhang
Published 11/15/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: There's a fabric of erosion in this 1x1 km (0.62x0.62 mi) scene, with the main wind blowing from lower right to upper left (and if you look carefully you'll see there's a second, subtler fabric a bit clockwise from that one). The result is a landscape strewn with streamlined rock called yardangs. The darkest areas are shadows from rock faces scoured by the wind so deeply that they've been undermined until there's overhang. Normally this would lead to collapse features, like rock piles, but you don't see those here. That's an indication that the rock here is easily eroded and fine-grained, so that as it's eroded, it's simply carried off by the wind. (HiRISE ESP_052384_1800, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Unistellar Signs Up More Than 1,200 Early-adopters for its Revolutionary eVscope Confirming the Public Interest for Citizen Science Astronomy
Published 11/9/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Unistellar Signs Up More Than 1,200 Early-adopters for its Revolutionary eVscope Confirming the Public Interest for Citizen Science Astronomy San Francisco & Marseille, November 9, 2017. Unistellar, a startup that’s committed to restore the joy of night-sky viewing to people all over the globe, is off to a strong start thanks to the massive success of its recent Kickstarter campaign. The campaign gave supporters the opportunity to order an eVscope, a revolutionary, electronics-based telescope that offers unprecedented views of distant objects in the night sky. The device also allows users to make significant contributions to science by joining observing efforts led by prominent astronomers. “After three years of prototype development, building, and testing, we were proud to bring our compact, intelligent, and powerful telescope to market,” said Arnaud Malvache, President and CTO of Unistellar, located in Marseille. “Our team also demonstrated the prototype at several star parties in Europe and the USA, and... read more ❯

Island in the stream
Published 11/8/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: In the floor of what might have been an old fluvial channel there are a bunch of really neat dunes (or maybe ripples, they're TARs and we don't know yet what they are). One spire pokes up here, ~200 m (656 ft) across and ~90 m (295 ft) tall. The TARs reveal the wind direction here, as wind flowed from top to bottom around the spire, converging on the lee side. (HiRISE ESP_026557_1525, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

A few more pictures of astronomical targets seen with the eVscope
Published 11/8/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
We got a lot of requests for additional pictures of astronomical targets taken with the eVscope. Here some of them taken recently. One nebula, one galaxy, one planet in our solar system and our moon.... Enjoy!                 read more ❯

Black and tan
Published 11/6/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: Dunes in the top row in this 0.73x0.47 km (0.46x0.29 mi) scene are dark but those in the lower row are brighter. Why? They're all probably made out of the same kind of sand, which is dark. And they all probably got covered by fine-grained airfall dust, which is bright. At some point after that, a wind blew, probably from top to bottom of the view, and moved enough sand to kick off the fine bright dust. But the relief from those top dunes took energy from the wind, so that by the time it reached the lower row, it wasn't strong enough to move sand anymore. So until the next windstorm, we see two different colors of dunes. (HiRISE ESP_052399_1885, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Seeing the long-period Comet C/2017 O1 with the new eVscope
Published 11/3/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
You’ve probably heard of C/2017 O1, a long-period comet that’s now paying what may well be its first-ever visit to the inner solar system. Earlier this month we decided to check it out using our eVscope prototype. The All Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) system discovered Comet O1 ASAS-SN (now officially named C/2017 O1) on July 19, 2017, when it was in the constellation Cetus and had only a faint 15.3 magnitude. Even at that dim magnitude, however, an eVscope pointed at this area of the sky could have detected it. A few days later, however, as it came closer to the sun and its activity increased, the comet shot up one hundred fold in brightness to magnitude 10. Our prototype eVscope spotted the object from Aubagne, France on October 16 as the comet was moving from the Perseus... read more ❯

Mars' corduory
Published 10/30/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: The wind on Mars likes to make textiles (unfortunately the term geotextiles is already taken for other purposes). This 1x0.6 km (0.62x0.37 mi) scene shows two different sets of ripples. The larger set has straight to wavy crests, and they're ~18 m (~59 ft) apart, which is pretty big for ripples (really they're TARs). Inbetween those (click on the picture so you can see them) are small ~2 m (~6.5 ft) ripples that make Mars look like it's made of kahki corduroy (which is a thing but it's not on trend, so Mars could stand to catch up a little). What does this all add up to? There are at least two different sets of wind directions, and each probably formed on its own timescale. If we learn how to decipher these, then we could better understand weather patterns on Mars, because ripples like these are... read more ❯

It’s Official! The eVscope from Unistellar Gets Kickstarted
Published 10/28/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Marseille, France & San Francisco, CA – October 25, 2017 – Imagine being able to see galaxies, nebulae, and asteroids and discovering the sky from your own backyard while participating in scientific investigations. Unistellar has launched a Kickstarter campaign for its eVscope, a powerful telescope that will give the sky back to all of us. The Unistellar eVscope was first presented at the CES in 2017 and recently won the Innovation Award in the Tech For a Better World product category for the CES 2018. During the summer 2017, the Unistellar team has shown the telescope capabilities to thousands of people in Europe and in the United States.  It has since received astonishing reviews and comments. The Unistellar team has worked for 2 years to perfect their idea, building and testing several prototypes to finally create a compact, intelligent and powerful telescope that can be carried everywhere and which is easy to use. Using its... read more ❯

Just do it
Published 10/23/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: It's all about wind scour here in this 0.75x0.75 km (0.47x0.47 mi) view. The big "swoop" is an erosional channel dug into the surface by winds (blowing from the lower left) trying to erode the hills in the center. But notice that the hills are all aligned to the upper left/lower right, like a school of fish swimming the same way). That alignment tells us there's a second wind that came along later, blowing (I think) from the lower right. That wind also left behind some ripples (TARs, really) that swirled around the older big "swoop" channel. (HiRISE ESP_016372_1975, NASA/JPL, Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Sidewalk Astronomy at Pier 17 in San Francisco on October 24 2017
Published 10/20/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
See the universe from Pier 17 in San Francisco with Unistellar eVscope! SETI Institute astronomer Franck Marchis will be there to demo the prototype. Join us on Tuesday, October 24, 2017, starting at 7:30 pm at Pier 17 (the building adjacent to Pier 15 the Exploratorium). We will share views through our evScope and other telescopes of nebulae, galaxies, star clusters, double stars, and other objects visible in the night sky (weather permitted of course). Check our Facebook  and Twitter social media pages for regular updates during the evening. When: Tuesday, October 24 at 7:30 PM - 9:30 PM Where: 17 Pier 17, San Francisco, CA 94111-1419, United States Free and open to the public! All ages welcome. read more ❯

Wavy dunes and straight dunes
Published 10/9/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: The dunes here are ~40 m (131 ft) apart and ~200 m (219 yd) long. (They're not really dunes, but rather a windblown thing nearly unique to Mars that we call TARs.) Look carefully and you'll see that some have very straight crests, like a sword - this is typical for TARs. But others have wavy crestlines, like huge serrated knives. Why are some wavy while others are straight? My guess is that the straight-crested TARs formed first. TARs are known for being immobile. The wind forms them, and then they just stop moving, unlike dunes and ripples, which can migrate long distances. At some point after they formed, the wind direction shifted, maybe as the climate in this region changed. The TARs had become somewhat resistant to erosion by that point. They weren't as hard as rocks, but they'd probably developed a crust that made... read more ❯

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! I conducted my observations at two different times: on Tuesday, September 19, a semi-clear night, and on Friday, September 22, an exceptionally rare warm night in San Francisco. As I mentioned in my previous post, I used... read more ❯

The crazy laciness of martian TARs
Published 9/25/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: Take a look at the windblown stuff in this 0.55x0.625 km (0.34x0.39 mi) scene. Those are intricate patterns of a sort of dune-ripple thing that forms all over on Mars, but not so much on Earth. We call them TARs (transverse aeolian ridges, here are some other examples) because we're still not sure what they are: dunes or ripples or something else? They're beautiful, they reflect wind patterns in ways we don't yet understand, and they might make up a large part of the martian sedimentary rock record. Be glad it's not your job to try to tease all that out, these things are complex. (HiRISE ESP_051129_1705, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona) read more ❯

Das Start-up Unistellar greift nach den Sternen
Published 9/21/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Unistellar hat das Design seines neuen Enhanced Vision Telescope (eVscope™) auf der IFA Next in Berlin mit großem Erfolg vorgestellt – Start der Crowdfunding-Kampagne im Oktober Das Teleskop ermöglicht Amateur-Astronomen dank seiner Technologie zur Lichtverstärkung einen einzigartigen Blick auf die Himmelsobjekte. Durch ein Crowdsourcing-Projekt sind nun „citizen scientists“ aufgerufen, die wissenschaftliche Forschung zu unterstützen. Bildunterschrift: Laurent Marfisi, CEO von Unistellar präsentiert auf der IFA 2017 sein Teleskop - Video (Bildquelle: Business France) Kurz vor IFA-Start hat Unistellar die wissenschaftliche Zusammenarbeit mit dem SETI Institute bekanntgegeben, das im Silicon Valley ansässig ist. Im Rahmen dieser Partnerschaft werden für das neue Teleskop viele neue Funktionen entwickelt. Über die Sommermonate hinweg fanden bereits verschiedene Demonstrationen der Unistellar-Technologie statt. Unter den Teilnehmern war zum Beispiel auch Leo Tramiel, Hobby-Astronom und Miterfinder des Commodore PET: „Als ich das erste Mal durch den Prototyp guckte, wusste ich nicht, was mich erwartet. Da stand ein kompaktes 4,5 Zoll Newton-Teleskop, das auf den Ringnebel gerichtet war,... read more ❯

Dust trapped on the lee side
Published 9/17/2017 in Lori Fenton's Blog Author lfenton
A Piece of Mars: This 0.95x1 km (.59x.62 mi) scene shows the center of a small dune field. The dunes are shaped by three winds blowing from three different directions: from the west-southwest, east, and south. The north-facing slopes are slip faces made by the south wind, and most of them have bright patches on them that are probably accumulations of airfall dust. Whatever winds brought the dust, none have yet been able to remove it. I'd bet that one of the most recent winds to pick up sand on these dunes blew from the south, because those bright dust patches are still visible on those north-facing slopes, where they'd be protected from southerly winds. (HiRISE ESP_049481_1310, NASA/JPL/Univ. of Arizona). 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 of use, those telescopes go up for sale on eBay or into the basement. Unistellar is determined to change this. Our new eVscope’s Autonomous Field Detection (AFD) feature will allow novice astronomers to find noteworthy celestial objects without performing complicated alignment procedures. Thanks to AFD’s intelligent pointing and tracking, astronomers can... read more ❯

Starfest in Central Park: Urban Astronomy for All
Published 9/15/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
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. Observations of M11 (the Wild Duck Cluster), M13 (the Hercules Globular Cluster) and M57 (the... read more ❯

Unistellar’s eVscope Successfully Finds, Images Asteroid Florence
Published 9/5/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Last week, 5-km asteroid Florence paid Earth a visit—and, using the advanced features of Unistellar’s eVscope, we were able to observe it from a location just outside of San Francisco. This, our first attempt to image an asteroid using the eVscope’s Autonomous Field Detection (ADF) feature, was a huge success, as you can see in the image, which captures what we saw in the telescope’s eyepiece after just three minutes of observing. Asteroid Florence is one of the largest near-earth asteroids (NEAs) yet identified. Shortly after its discovery in 1981 by my colleague Bobby Bus, astronomers realized that this was a very interesting object, roughly 4.4-km across, and with a highly reflective rocky surface. This large asteroid passed by the Earth-Moon system on September 1. At its closest approach it was 4.4... read more ❯