Articles for "Astronomy"

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Space | 16. September 2011 | posted by Andrea Schaub

The tension builds up – SOFIA to land at Cologne-Bonn Airport on Saturday at 06:50

SOFIA (Stratosphären-Observatorium für Infrarot-Astronomie)

The airborne observatory SOFIA will arrive at Cologne-Bonn Airport on Saturday 17 September 2011 at about 06:50 CEST. The aircraft will be one of the attractions during German Aerospace Day, which takes place on the following day. The flight from the United States to Germany can be followed live online from 19:10 CEST – learn how in this blog post. read more

Space | 22. June 2011

Chasing Pluto's shadow

Pluto-Okkultation

Astronomers on board SOFIA fly over most of the water vapour in the atmosphere; it is precisely this that makes the desired infrared observations possible. But the fact that SOFIA flies has another major advantage: it is a mobile observatory. In contrast to ground-based observatories, it can be used at different locations around the globe. This can be very useful, for example, for the Pluto occultation that will take place these days. read more

Space | 06. June 2011 | posted by Dietmar Lilienthal | 4 Comments

'Live' airborne astronomy

SOFIA: Teleskop

I had already been working on the SOFIA project for some years, when back in 1998, a consortium of German research institutes (Max-Planck Institute of Radio Astronomy in Bonn, University of Cologne, Max-Planck Institute of Solar System Research and the DLR Institute of Planetary Research) decided to develop the German Receiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies (GREAT) as the Principal Investigator-class Science Instrument for the first generation at the SOFIA Observatory. At this time, the aim was for the observatory to be operational by the end of 2001. It was not only the optimists who were expecting the GREAT spectrometer to soon enter operational service. Back then, who could have thought that it would take 13 years for GREAT to fly on SOFIA for the first time? read more

Space | 28. April 2011 | posted by Rolf Hempel | 3 Comments

Is the Moon unchanging?

Mond TLP

Ever since the discovery of the telescope, man has been fascinated by the observation of the surface of the Moon. The constantly changing light coming from the Sun causes craters, mountains, valleys and plains to take on continuously varying appearances. Yet, as we look at this atmosphereless natural satellite, we get the impression that the Moon has not changed, even over the span of a human lifetime. But is this really the case? read more

Space | 25. March 2011 | posted by Rolf Hempel | 4 Comments

Biggest full Moon in over 18 years

On 19 March 2011 everything came together perfectly – in a completely clear sky there was a full Moon and, what is more, at almost the exact time, the Moon passed through the point of closest approach to Earth on its elliptical orbit. This meant we were able to admire an unusually large and bright full Moon. Not wanting to let this opportunity pass, I photographed the Moon through my telescope. read more

Space | 17. March 2011

Interview with Tom Speer on SOFIA

SOIFA

NASA's Tom Speer used to be a pilot for commercial aircraft. He now works in the SOFIA project, training new SOFIA crew members on aircraft operations. I asked Tom for an interview and he was kind enough as to answer my questions. read more

Space | 10. January 2011

NASA airborne observatory's past unearthed

Kuiper KAO Timecapsule

Fifteen years after its final flight, veterans of the Kuiper Airborne Observatory, or KAO, gathered at NASA's Ames Research Center Nov. 10, 2010 to witness the opening of a time capsule. The KAO is a highly modified Lockheed C-141A cargo transport aircraft fitted with a 36-inch telescope. The observatory was based at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, for operations that began in 1974 and ended in 1995. read more

Space | 23. December 2010 | 1 Comment

Spotted: strange object flying over SOFIA

Earlier this week I received a slightly puzzling email from my colleague Alan Brown over at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. He reported that earlier this month, on the night before SOFIA was due to start her first scientific flight, a strange cargo aircraft with a very odd propulsion system was spotted flying overhead. At that time, SOFIA's telescope system was still being tested for the flight next morning. Tom Tschida took a couple of quick shots, but when he looked back a moment later, it was gone! read more

Space | 08. December 2010 | 2 Comments

On board the third SOFIA science flight

After the first SOFIA science flight from 30 November to 1 December 2010, yesterday's third flight already had a certain feeling of routine to it. But not for me – the last time I flew with an airborne observatory (KAO, the predecessor to SOFIA) was in July 1987! On the morning of 7 December, the latest updated software packages, with the scientific objectives and the resulting flight plan, were loaded into the onboard computers and the FORCAST instrument was filled with liquid nitrogen and helium. The crew briefing at 1:45 pm briefly went over all aspects of the mission and last minute changes to the schedule, and then we embarked on the aircraft at 2:15 pm. read more