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Westport Astronomical Society
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The Best Space In Connecticut!
The Best Space In Connecticut!

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Our Astronomy brothers and sisters the Rockland Astronomy Club in Rockland County New Jersey (get on Google plus already!) have started posting videos of the talks at the Northeast Astronomy Forum (NEAF) from April 2016.

If you love astronomy, this is an annual event you need to attend!

In this talk, Alan Stern principal investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto discussing their findings. Much of it more in-depth than your standard news story. A highly recommended viewing!

Don't forget to view all the other talks from NEAF which you can find on Youtube and subscribe to their channel!

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Pluto is our 9th planet Michael Brown! (disclaimer, +David Brown  speaking here, not the Westport Astronomical Society!)
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The excitement is building!
The most exciting coming attraction of the summer: Juno arrives at Jupiter on July 4th! #JOI
Watch NASA's new video:
Jupiter: Into the Unknown (NASA Juno Mission Trailer)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2fknqVk2yk
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Tabetha Boyajian lead author of the September 2015 paper "Where's the Flux?" and had the star KIC 8462852 named after her (Tabby's Star) Has a kickstarter campaign to help get the data they need for this research.
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More wholesome goodness from Brian Koberlein!
Cassini and the Ninth World

The Cassini spacecraft currently orbiting Saturn has provided us with a wealth of discoveries. It’s mapped the surface of Titan, studied the age of Saturn’s rings, and found liquid water on Enceladus. But because it actively sends and receives radio transmissions to and from Earth, it’s position and movement can be tracked with extraordinary precision. Using the telemetry of Cassini, we’ve been able to determine the position of Saturn to within a mile. That level of precision also means the gravitational influence of other planets and moons can be measured by Cassini, and it may have felt the gravitational pull of the yet undiscovered ninth planet.

The existence of the a ninth major planet in our solar system was first proposed by looking at the orbits of the outermost known bodies in our solar system. If they were truly at the outer edge of our solar system, one would expect their orbits to be randomly distributed. But instead they are clustered in a similar region, implying the presence of a large planet orbiting the Sun at 600 – 1,200 AU. Recently a team realized that if such a planet existed, its gravitational tug could be felt by bodies closer to the Sun as well. Normally this pull would be far to small to notice, but the extreme sensitivity of Cassini might make it known. So they analyzed the orbital data of Cassini. Taking into account the 8 known planets, the moons of Saturn and about 200 of the largest asteroids, they found Cassini’s orbit didn’t quite match up. This would imply something unaccounted for is gravitationally influencing the probe. When they added a ninth planet to the mix, they found it could agree with Cassini’s motion if the planet was about 600 AU from the Sun in the direction of the constellation Cetus.

The result isn’t definitive. There are lots of things that could account for the motion of Cassini, and an undiscovered planet is just one of them. However if it is a new planet, with a distance of “only” 600 AU it should be detectable by current technology such as the dark energy sky survey or the Planck survey of the cosmic microwave background. If that’s the case, it’s only a matter of time before a new planet is discovered in our solar system.

Paper: A. Fienga, et al. Constraints on the location of a possible 9th planet derived from the Cassini data. A&A, 587 L8 (2016) arXiv:1602.06116 [astro-ph.EP]

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NEAF is this weekend.  Who's going?  We will see you there!
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Elliott Horch, Professor of Physics at SCSU gave a lecture on Kepler Discoveries at the Westport Astronomical Society on January, 19th 2016.  

Here is a video for those that missed the great lecture!  Enjoy!

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Elliott Horch, Professor of Physics at SCSU - Kepler Discoveries 1/19/16 

Elliott Horch is a Professor of Physics at Southern Connecticut State University. His research areas include stellar astrophysics, binary stars, exoplanets, and astronomical instrumentation.

Even if you are a fairly young astronomy aficionado, one of the great questions in astrophysics has been answered in your lifetime: Are there planets orbiting other stars, just as the Earth orbits the Sun? Since the 1990’s the observational data have indicated an increasingly emphatic yes. A surprising discovery is that has been made by combining Kepler data with ground-based results is that nearly half of all planets discovered by Kepler reside in binary star systems. Only a handful of these are circumbinary planets (that is, orbiting both stars in a wide orbit), and most often, the planet or planets orbit one star and the second star orbits this system in a wide orbit. This talk will focus on how that result was obtained, and what it means for our ideas of star and planet formation.
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Eric Raymer of Columbia University gave a lecture on the topic of Supergiant Fast X-Ray Transients at the Westport Astronomical Society for our monthly lecture series on 2/16/2016.   Here is a video of the lecture to share with everyone who was unable to attend.

Enjoy!

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Eric Raymer, Columbia University - Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients

Observers are watching these flares with satellites such as XMM-Newton, INTEGRAL and Chandra. In the case of Supergiant Fast X-ray Transients, the flares are much faster and much brighter than we would expect, and we don’t know why!
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Great Stephen Colbert segment with Brain Greene talking about Gravitational Waves along with an experiment displaying how LIGO works.
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