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ServiAstro

ServiAstro is the website for public outreach on astronomy of the Astronomy and Meteorology Department (DAM) of the University of Barcelona.

It offers information about the past and future astronomical events visible from Catalonia. Also about the most important ones, no matter the geographical visibility. In some especially outstanding cases, such as planetary transits or Solar and Lunar eclipses, ServiAstro offers live webcasts which can be enjoyed anytime, thanks to our permanent galleries.

Furthermore, ServiAstro publish the public outreach activities carried out by the (DAM). Visitors will find a compilation of astronomical ephemerides, tools for astronomical calculations, news, answers to frequently asked questions and links to lots of other websites about astronomy, organized in sections.

International Conference outreach Activities

mxim

Gaia Team from UB have organized outreach activities to secundary school students, and general public.

  • Guided visit to the exhibition" Mil milions d'ulls per a mil milions d'estrelles".On the ground floor of the Sciences courtyard of the Historical Building
  • Talk: "Gaia i l'odissea galctica". Paranimf of the Historical Building.
  • Date:2 December 2014
  • Hour: 18:00-19:30
The activities are part of the International Conference "The Milky Way unravelled by Gaia" that is going to be held in the UB Historic Building.
More deails: here
Reserves:divulgacio@am.ub.es

Physics Photo Contest International Year of light

mxim
mxim
On 20 December 2013 the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 2015 the International Year of Light and light-based technologies.

The "Catalan Society of Physics", a subsidiary of the "Institute of Catalan Studies", wants to join in the celebration with this call, with the aim of encouraging interest in optics and physics in our society, and to support the emergence of careers in these fields.
Contest rules

NameExoWorlds: An IAU World wide Contest to name Exoplanets and their Host Stars

mxim For the first time, in response to the public’s increased interest in being part of discoveries in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars. The proposed names will be submitted by astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations interested in astronomy, and votes will be cast by the public from across the world through the web platform NameExoWorlds.
Spanish Blog

Picture of the day

News

2014

November

mxim Spooky Alignment of Quasars Across Billions of Light-years, 19 November,
New observations with ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed alignments over the largest structures ever discovered in the Universe. A European research team has found that the rotation axes of the central supermassive black holes in a sample of quasars are parallel to each other over distances of billions of light-years. The team has also found that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic web in which they reside.

mxim
Rosetta continues into its full science phase , 21 November,
With the Philae lander’s mission complete, Rosetta will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer to our Sun.

Rosetta's web on Serviastro

mxim Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere, 7 November,
Two NASA and one European spacecraft that obtained the first up-close observations of a comet flyby of Mars on Oct. 19, have gathered new information about the basic properties of the comet’s nucleus and directly detected the effects on the Martian atmosphere.

mxim Black hole gamma-ray lightning, 6 November,
The MAGIC telescopes at La Palma have recorded the fastest gamma-ray flares seen to date, produced in the vicinity of a super-massive black hole. The scientists explain this phenomenon by a mechanism similar to that producing lightning in a storm. This result, with an important Spanish contribution, is published today in Science.

mxim Revolutionary ALMA Image Reveals Planetary Genesis, 6 November,
This new image from ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, reveals extraordinarily fine detail that has never been seen before in the planet-forming disc around a young star. These are the first observations that have used ALMA in its near-final configuration and the sharpest pictures ever made at submillimetre wavelengths. The new results are an enormous step forward in the observation of how protoplanetary discs develop and how planets form.

mxim NASA Rocket Experiment Finds the Universe Brighter Than We Thought, 6 November,
A NASA sounding rocket experiment has detected a surprising surplus of infrared light in the dark space between galaxies, a diffuse cosmic glow as bright as all known galaxies combined. The glow is thought to be from orphaned stars flung out of galaxies.

mxim VLTI Detects Exozodiacal Light, 3 November,
By using the full power of the Very Large Telescope Interferometer an international team of astronomers has discovered exozodiacal light close to the habitable zones around nine nearby stars. This light is starlight reflected from dust created as the result of collisions between asteroids, and the evaporation of comets. The presence of such large amounts of dust in the inner regions around some stars may pose an obstacle to the direct imaging of Earth-like planets in the future.

October

mxim Planet-forming Lifeline Discovered in a Binary Star System, 30 October,
For the first time, researchers using ALMA have detected a streamer of gas flowing from a massive outer disc toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disc of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets. The results are published in the journal Nature on 30 October 2014.

mxim Two Families of Comets Found Around Nearby Star, 23 October,
The HARPS instrument at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has been used to make the most complete census of comets around another star ever created. A French team of astronomers has studied nearly 500 individual comets orbiting the star Beta Pictoris and has discovered that they belong to two distinct families of exocomets: old exocomets that have made multiple passages near the star, and younger exocomets that probably came from the recent breakup of one or more larger objects. The new results will appear in the journal Nature on 23 October 2014.

mxim Partial eclipse, 22 October,
On Thursday, Oct. 23rd, the Moon will pass in front of the sun, off center, producing a partial solar eclipse visible from almost all of North America. Greatest eclipse occurs at 21:44:31 TU with a magnitude of 0.811. At that time, the axis of the Moon's shadow will pass about 675 km above Earth's surface. The eclipse will begin near the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Sibera,as it moves east, much of North America will be able to see a partial solar eclipse. The maximum eclipse will take place over Canada's Nunavut Territory near Prince of Wales Island.

mxim MONSTER SUNSPOT, 21 October,
The biggest sunspot of the current solar cycle is turning toward Earth. This behemoth active region is 125,000 km wide, almost as big as the planet Jupiter. A few days ago, AR2192 unleashed an X1-class solar flare. Since then the sunspot has almost doubled in size and developed an increasingly unstable 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field. It would seem to be just a matter of time before another strong explosion occurs..

mxim Mars Orbiter Image Shows Comet Nucleus is Small, 20 October,
The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captured views of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring while that visitor sped past Mars on Sunday (Oct. 19), yielding information about its nucleus.

mxim NASA’s Hubble Finds Extremely Distant Galaxy through Cosmic Magnifying Glass, 16 October,
Peering through a giant cosmic magnifying glass, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a tiny, faint galaxy -- one of the farthest galaxies ever seen. The diminutive object is estimated to be more than 13 billion light-years away.

mxim ESO ASTRONOMY CAMP 2014, The Astronomy camp 2014, that ESO organizes every year at Aosta Valley (Italy), comes back from Friday 26 December to Thursday 1 January to students aged 16-18 (class 1996, 1997 and 1998). To register, applicants shall fill a form and upload a video or text (possible with photo) on the theme Astronomy and myself. Registrations will close on October 20.
ESO and SEA offers a grant !
* PDF of the call* Web of the camp and inscription form* Web of the SEA

mxim 1st Astronomy Festival in the Montsec, The Universe Observation Center (COU) of the Astronomic Parc of the Montsec (PAM), organizes the 1st Astronomy Festival in the Montsec. In this Festival there will be a lot of activities for kids and for the general public. Science, astronomy and tourism will allow visitors to enjoy the Sky of the Montsec.

*Dates*: 10-19 October 2014
  • Place: COU (ger) and Consell Comarcal de la Noguera (Balaguer)
  • Programme, PDFReservation and Tiquets on sail
  • mxim NASA Spacecraft Provides New Information About Sun’s Atmosphere, 16 October,
    NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) has provided scientists with five new findings into how the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, is heated far hotter than its surface, what causes the sun’s constant outflow of particles called the solar wind, and what mechanisms accelerate particles that power solar flares.

    mxim NASA’s Hubble Telescope Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons Pluto Mission, 15 October,
    This is an artist’s impression of a Kuiper Belt object (KBO), located on the outer rim of our solar system at a staggering distance of 4 billion miles from the Sun. A HST survey uncovered three KBOs that are potentially reachable by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft after it passes by Pluto in mid-2015

    mxim ESA confirms the primary landing site for Rosetta, 15 October,
    ESA has given the green light for its Rosetta mission to deliver its lander, Philae, to the primary site on 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko on 12 November, in the first-ever attempt at a soft touchdown on a comet.

    mxim Construction Secrets of a Galactic Metropolis, 15 October,
    Astronomers have used the APEX telescope to probe a huge galaxy cluster that is forming in the early Universe and revealed that much of the star formation taking place is not only hidden by dust, but also occurring in unexpected places. This is the first time that a full census of the star formation in such an object has been possible.

    mxim Astronomical Hackathon: A Universe of data
    The Astronomical Hackathon is dedicated to astronomy and data. A universe of data that show us our universe as we know it, with a collection of fascinating facts. How many planets we know? How many of these could have life? What are their characteristics and where are they? What do we explain the electromagnetic data? We invite all amateur and professional astronomers to participate on Saturday 11 October at the laboratory of the exhibition Big Bang Data.With he introduction and advising of Xavi Luri (professor in the Department of Astronomy and Meteorology of the UB and ICCUB / IEEC researcher).
    Project: Astronomical Hackathon
    Organizing by: ZZZINC and Outliers
    Dates: Saturday 11th October since 11h to 20h
    _Image: xkcd, CC BY-NC_

    mxim NASA Prepares its Science Fleet for Oct. 19 Mars Comet Encounter, 9 October 2014,
    NASA’s extensive fleet of science assets, particularly those orbiting and roving Mars, have front row seats to image and study a once-in-a-lifetime comet flyby on Sunday, Oct. 19. Comet C/2013 A1, also known as comet Siding Spring, will pass within about 87,000 miles (139,500 kilometers) of the Red Planet -- less than half the distance between Earth and our moon and less than one-tenth the distance of any known comet flyby of Earth.

    mxim Lunar Eclipse, 8 October, a Total Lunar Eclipse eclipse took place on 8 October at 10:54 TU. The Eclipse wasn't visible from Catalonia, and was best seen from the Pacific Ocean and bordering regions.The eclipse occurs at the Moon's descending node in southern Pisces, two days after perigee (October 06 at 09:41 UT). This means that the Moon will appear 5.3% larger than it did during the April 15 eclipse (32.7 vs. 31.3 arc-minutes)

    Spaceweather Image Gallery

    Image by Morris Maduro, California

    mxim World Space Week at Catalonia, 4 October 2014,
    World Space Week is the celebration at the international level for the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.
    Barcelona Activities Programme
    Castelldefels Activities Programme

    mxim NASA Mission Points to Origin of “Ocean of Storms” on Earth’s Moon, 1 October 2014,
    Early theories suggested the craggy outline of a region of the moon’s surface known as Oceanus Procellarum, or the Ocean of Storms, was caused by an asteroid impact. If this theory had been correct, the basin it formed would be the largest asteroid impact basin on the moon. However, mission scientists studying GRAIL data believe they have found evidence the craggy outline of this rectangular region -- roughly 1,600 miles (2,600 kilometers) across -- is actually the result of the formation of ancient rift valleys.

    mxim Why sibling stars look alike: early, fast mixing in star-birth clouds, 1 October 2014,
    Early, fast, turbulent mixing of gas within giant molecular clouds—the birthplaces of stars— means all stars formed from a single cloud bear the same unique chemical “tag” or “DNA fingerprint,” finds computational astronomers at University of California, Santa Cruz

    mxim Wild Ducks Take Flight in Open Cluster 1 October 2014,
    The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile has taken this beautiful image, dappled with blue stars, of one of the most star-rich open clusters currently known — Messier 11, also known as NGC 6705 or the Wild Duck Cluster.

    September 2014

    mxim Violent Origins of Disc Galaxies Probed by ALMA 17 Septembre 2014,
    For decades scientists have believed that galaxy mergers usually result in the formation of elliptical galaxies. Now, for the the first time, researchers using ALMA and a host of other radio telescopes have found direct evidence that merging galaxies can instead form disc galaxies, and that this outcome is in fact quite common. This surprising result could explain why there are so many spiral galaxies like the Milky Way in the Universe.

    mxim Hubble helps find smallest known galaxy containing a supermassive black hole 17 September 2014,
    Astronomers using data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and ground observation have found an unlikely object in an improbable place -- a monster black hole lurking inside one of the tiniest galaxies ever known.

    mxim Astronomers release most detailed catalogue ever made of the visible Milky Way 17 September 2014,
    A new catalogue of the visible part of the northern part of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, includes no fewer than 219 million stars. Geert Barentsen of the University of Hertfordshire led a team who assembled the catalogue in a ten year programme using the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) on La Palma in the Canary Islands.

    mxim NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory Finds Planet That Makes Star Act Deceptively Old 16 September 2014,
    A planet may be causing the star it orbits to act much older than it actually is, according to new data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. This discovery shows how a massive planet can affect the behavior of its parent star.

    mxim Gaia discovers its first supernova, 12 September,
    While scanning the sky to measure the positions and movements of stars in our Galaxy, Gaia has discovered a supernova, called Gaia 14aaa, in a galaxy located about 500 million light years away.
    The sudden rise in the galaxy brightness detected between one observation on August 30th and another one made one month before, indicated the possibility of a supernova. This galaxy showed a a 6 factor change of its brightness.
    Position measurements were made to corroborate the hypothesis that it was a supernova and to reject the option of outbursts caused by the mass-devouring supermassive black hole at the galaxy centre. The position of the bright spot of light was slightly offset from the galaxy’s core, suggesting that it was unlikely to be related to a central black hole. The astronomers analysed the light spectrum to seek signatures of various chemical elements typical of those kind of phenomenon. Complementary observations were made with terrestrial Telescopes such as the Isaac Newton Telescope (INT) and the Liverpool Telescope, both placed at the La Palma Island. All information confirmed that the phenomenon was a supernova and also indicated its nature: a Type Ia supernova, correspondent to the explosion of a white dwarf locked in a binary system with a companion star.
    It was just the firts discovery of the many that will occur during the 5 years of the mission.

    More information about the supernova
    GaiaUB Group
    Gaia-ESA
    Follow the mision with the GaiaApp

    Gaia is an ESA mission to survey one billion stars in our Galaxy and local galactic neighbourhood in order to build the most precise 3D map of the Milky Way and answer questions about its origin and evolution. It was launched on 19 December 2013. The Gaia Group of the University of Barcelona-Institute of Cosmos Sciences- Institute of Spatial Studies of Catalonia, has a important contribution in this mission.

    mxim Esa's bug-eyed telescope to spot risky asteroids 10 September 2014,
    Spotting Earth-threatening asteroids is tough partly because the sky is so big. But insects offer an answer, since they figured out long ago how to look in many directions at once.

    mxim Hubble Finds Supernova Companion Star after Two Decades of Searching 9 September 2014,
    Using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered a companion star to a rare type of supernova. The discovery confirms a long-held theory that the supernova, dubbed SN 1993J, occurred inside what is called a binary system, where two interacting stars caused a cosmic explosion.

    mxim Rosetta comet observed with Very Large Telescope 8 September 2014,
    Since early August 2014, Rosetta has been enjoying a close-up view of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Meanwhile, astronomers on Earth have been busy following the comet with ground-based telescopes. As Rosetta is deep inside the ‘atmosphere’ coma – it was 100 km from the nucleus on 6 August, and has been getting much closer since then – the only way to view the whole comet is to ‘stand back’ and observe it from Earth.

    mxim Cosmic Forecast: Dark Clouds Will Give Way to Sunshine 3 September 2014,
    Lupus 4, a spider-shaped blob of gas and dust, blots out background stars like a dark cloud on a moonless night in this intriguing new image. Although gloomy for now, dense pockets of material within clouds such as Lupus 4 are where new stars form and where they will later burst into radiant life. The Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile captured this new picture.

    mxim Gaia in your pocket - Mapping the Galaxy with the new Gaia App 1 September 2014,
    You can follow the mission’s progress with a new app created by the University of Barcelona. Being able to track the progress of this groundbreaking mission via your iPhone, iPad or iPod means the stars have never been closer!

    mxim XI Scientific Meeting of the Spanish Society of Astronomy 1 September 2014,
    The Spanish Society of Astronomy (SEA) cellebrate its XI Scientific Meeting at Teruel from 8 to 12 September 2014.
    As on previous occasions, the main idea of this meeting is to create a science discussion forum where Spanish Astronomy and its guests can present and discuss their latests works, create new collaborations and organize themselves to face new challenges.
    This meeting is thought as a meeting point for every astronomer and as a place where the youngest members of our society can improve in their research.

    mxim Magnetar discoveed close to Supernova remnant KESTEVEN 79 1 September 2014,
    Massive stars end their life with a bang, exploding as supernovas and releasing massive amounts of energy and matter. What remains of the star is a small and extremely dense remnant: a neutron star or a black hole.
    This image depicts two very different neutron stars that were observed in the same patch of the sky with XMM-Newton. The green and pink bubble dominating the image is Kesteven 79, the remnant of a supernova explosion located about 23,000 light-years away from us.

    August 2014

    mxim How Rosetta arrives at a comet 2 August 2014,
    After travelling nearly 6.4 billion kilometres through the Solar System, ESA’s Rosetta is closing in on its target. But how does a spacecraft actually arrive at a comet?

    July 2014

    mxim Gaia: Go for science 30 July 2014,
    Following extensive in-orbit commissioning and several unexpected challenges, ESA’s billion-star surveyor, Gaia, is now ready to begin its science mission.
    The satellite was launched on 19 December 2013, and is orbiting a virtual location in space 1.5 million kilometres from Earth.

    mxim Nearby M33 galaxy blossoming with star birth 28 July 2014,
    The spiral galaxy M33, also known as the Triangulum Galaxy, is one of our closest cosmic neighbours, just three million light-years away. Home to some forty billion stars, it is the third largest in the Local Group of galaxies after the Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and our own Milky Way.
    This image, from ESA's Herschel space observatory, shows M33 in far-infrared light, revealing the glow of cosmic dust in the interstellar medium that permeates the galaxy. The patchy, disorganised structure of M33's spiral arms resembles a tuft of wool, leading astronomers to classify it as a flocculent spiral galaxy.

    mxim Hubble Finds Three Surprisingly Dry Exoplanets 24 July 2014,
    Astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have gone looking for water vapor in the atmospheres of three planets orbiting stars similar to the sun -- and have come up nearly dry.
    The three planets, known as HD 189733b, HD 209458b, and WASP-12b, are between 60 and 900 light-years away from Earth and were thought to be ideal candidates for detecting water vapor in their atmospheres because of their high temperatures where water turns into a measurable vapor.

    mxim Lives and Deaths of Sibling Stars 23 July 2014,
    In this striking new image from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile young stars huddle together against a backdrop of clouds of glowing gas and lanes of dust. The star cluster, known as NGC 3293, would have been just a cloud of gas and dust itself about ten million years ago, but as stars began to form it became the bright group of stars we see here. Clusters like this are celestial laboratories that allow astronomers to learn more about how stars evolve.

    mxim Bizarre nearby blast mimics Universe'smost ancient stars 11 July 2014,
    ESA’s XMM-Newton observatory has helped to uncover how the Universe’s first stars ended their lives in giant explosions.
    Astronomers studied the gamma-ray burst GRB130925A – a flash of very energetic radiation streaming from a star in a distant galaxy 5.6 billion light years from Earth – using space- and ground-based observatories.

    mxim NASA Spacecraft Observes Further Evidence of Dry Ice Gullies on Mars 10 July 2014,
    Repeated high-resolution observations made by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) indicate the gullies on Mars’ surface are primarily formed by the seasonal freezing of carbon dioxide, not liquid water.

    mxim VLT Clears Up Dusty Mystery 9 July 2014,
    A group of astronomers has been able to follow stardust being made in real time — during the aftermath of a supernova explosion. For the first time they show that these cosmic dust factories make their grains in a two-stage process, starting soon after the explosion, but continuing for years afterwards.

    mxim Farewell Lutetia! 7 July 2014,
    This ethereal image shows a stunning sliver of large main-belt asteroid Lutetia from the viewpoint of ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, taken as Rosetta passed by on its 10-year voyage towards comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko.

    mxim Ocean on Saturn Moon Could be as Salty as the Dead Sea 2 July 2014,
    scientists analyzing data from NASA’s Cassini mission have firm evidence the ocean inside Saturn's largest moon, Titan, might be as salty as the Earth's Dead Sea.

    mxim Young sun'sviolent history solves meteorite mystery 1 July 2014
    , Astronomers using ESA’s Herschel space observatory to probe the turbulent beginnings of a Sun-like star have found evidence of mighty stellar winds that could solve a puzzling meteorite mystery in our own back yard.

    mxim Nanda Rea receives the Zeldovich Medal 1 July 2014
    , Dr. Nanda Rea, research scientist of the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC) / Institute of Space Studies of Catalunya (IEEC), receives the Zeldovich Medal, awarded by the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    mxim Discovery of Near Earth Asteroid 2014 LU14 with the Isaac Newton Telescope 1 July 2014,
    LU14 is the first Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) discovered using the Isaac Newton Telescope and the first ever from La Palma. Having an absolute magnitude of H=18.6, the discovered NEA has an estimated size of about half a kilometer (assuming a mean albedo of 0.2), and will become better visible in July 2014 (estimated magnitude V=20).

    June 2014

    mxim Puzzling X rays point to dark matter 17 June
    Astronomers using ESA and NASA high-energy observatories have discovered a tantalising clue that hints at an elusive ingredient of our Universe: dark matter.

    mxim New moleculas around old starss 17 June
    Using ESA’s Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered that a molecule vital for creating water exists in the burning embers of dying Sun-like stars.

    mxim Gigantic Explosions Buried in Dust 14 June
    Observations from the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time directly mapped out the molecular gas and dust in the host galaxies of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) — the biggest explosions in the Universe.

    mxim Black Hole ‘Batteries’ Keep Blazars Going and Going 3 June
    Astronomers studying two classes of black-hole-powered galaxies monitored by NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have found evidence that they represent different sides of the same cosmic coin. By unraveling how these objects, called blazars, are distributed throughout the universe, the scientists suggest that apparently distinctive properties defining each class more likely reflect a change in the way the galaxies extract energy from their central black holes.

    mxim Astronomers Confounded By Massive Rocky World 2 June
    Astronomers have discovered a rocky planet that weighs 17 times as much as Earth and is more than twice as large in size. This discovery has planet formation theorists challenged to explain how such a world could have formed.