Pictures from the Lunar Eclipse expedition in Peru

Here are two shots summarising the Lunar Eclipse of April 15th, 2014. On the left, a frame from a video shot from the top of the Teide vulcano (see this YouTube video) with its shade pointing exactly to the partially eclipsed Moon (the small white spot at the head of the triangular dark zone). On the right the spectacular composition of the entire eclipse observed by a magic site, suspended between past and present: the access gate of the Inca fortress of Sacsayhuaman, place located North of Cusco, during the GLORIA project expedition to Peru.

Photo credits: Juan Carlos Casado e José Luis Quiñones

See the GLORIA Flickr album (more photos to be added soon).

Lunar eclipse from the land of the Inca

On April 15th, 2014 the moon will be eclipsed by the shadow of the earth. This marks the first of four eclipses occurring about 6 months part, called an eclipse tetrad. The last tetrad was a decade ago, and the next is not due until 2032.
The best eclipse visibility will be from North America and parts of South America. A team of GLORIA astronomers will celebrate this astronomical spectacle with a live broadcast from the city of Cusco, Peru, in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Throughout Europe, totality will not be visible. However the Teide volcano, at 3718m altitude on the island of Tenerife, offers an intriguing observational prospect. When a total lunar eclipse occurs close to sunrise or sunset at Teide, the shadow of the volcano aligns perfectly with the eclipsed moon. This unique phenomenon will be observable during the eclipse of April 15th and will be broadcast live.

For more information click here.
Press-release available here.
The event YouTube video.

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SN2014J – supernova in M82

M82 and SN2014J with D50 telescope.

Image of M82 and SN 2014J obtained with the D50 telescope on January 25th, 2014.

The nearest type Ia supernova in 400 years has been found in the Messier 82 (M82) galaxy. First spotted on 21 January 2014, it is relatively close to Earth, about 11.4 million light years away!
This supernova is called SN2014J (the 10th supernova discovered so far during 2014), and is a rare kind. “Type Ia” supernovae (SNe) are believed to be caused by exploding white dwarf stars. These SNe explode with very predictable brightnesses, making them ideal ‘standard candles’ to measure distances to galaxies accurately.

Now that it has reached maximum brightness, around Jan 31 (with a magnitude in the R band of about 10), GLORIA will keep monitoring the SN2014J light-curve (along with other supernovae) for the next few months as part of the regular program conducted by some of the GLORIA partners. Indeed, many astronomical observatories worldwide (including space-borne facilities) will point to this unique target regularly over the coming weeks.

M82 and SN2014J with D50 telescope.

Image of M82 and SN 2014J (M81 galaxy on the right) obtained with the BART telescope wide field camera on January 25th, 2014.

Personal Space, the sky «I like»

The birthday for someone, the graduation day for someone else. The day of your first kiss, or your first day of employment, or maybe the day of your last cigarette. Our lives are punctuated by memorable moments. But how was the sky directly above your head at those significant personal moments?

Personal Space” is there to answer the question.
A free web-based application developed within the GLORIA project by Irish artist Emer O Boyle and astronomers Lorraine Hanlon, Martin Topinka (University College Dublin), and Robert Simpson (University of Oxford). Personal Space is an art science collaboration, one of a growing number of projects that re-connects the expertise of artists and scientists.

It turns the celestial sphere into a huge, boundless social network. Establishing direct and personal connections to the universe by linking significant events in your own life with what was above you in the sky at that moment. And with people all around the world who shared that portion of the sky with you.

“I am an astronomer, I have lots of reasons for looking at different bits of the sky. But what is the bit of the sky that is most obvious for people to look at? I am told by non-astronomer friends that you want to look directly up», said Robert Simpson. «So what is directly above my head right now? That is the idea behind Personal Space».

See video on YouTube
See reference document here
Read the press-release
Go to the web site

Gaia on its way to L2

ESA’s Gaia mission will create the most accurate map yet of the Milky Way. By making accurate measurements of the positions and motions of 1% of the total population of roughly 100 billion stars, it will answer questions about the origin and evolution of our home Galaxy. The Soyuz launcher, operated by Arianespace lifted off at 09:12 GMT on Dec 19 with Gaia on board. A few hours after, one of the GLORIA telescopes, the Pi-of-the-Sky-North experiment at the BOOTES-1 astronomical station at ESAt/INTA-CEDEA in Huelva (Spain), recorded the spacecraft on its route towards an orbit around a gravitationally-stable virtual point in space called L2, some 1.5 million kilometres from Earth in the direction opposite to the Sun.

For a full report on the launch from Michael Perryman go here.