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    #51
    Anyone for an astronomy thread?

    Rogin the Armchair Fan wrote: This probably sounds just as dumb as my question above, but one of the things that's surprised me most is how bright the surface appears. I'd thought, that far from the sun, Pluto would be illuminated as if by moonlight on Earth, but the sunlight there seems still very bright indeed.
    It's this bright on the surface!

    http://www.space.com/29600-pluto-time-nasa-new-horizons.html

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      #52
      Anyone for an astronomy thread?

      Pluto also has a pretty high albedo. Certainly relative to Earth, though not Enceladus or something like that.

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        #53
        Anyone for an astronomy thread?

        I used to have a very high albedo. It's declined as I've got older though.

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          #54
          Anyone for an astronomy thread?

          Latest:

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-33524589

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            #55
            Anyone for an astronomy thread?

            That 'Pluto Time' site is fascinating it calculates that here in South Wales, for instance, the daylight at around 9:30pm tonight (i.e. only about ten minutes after sunset) will be the equivalent level to that of noon on Pluto. That is indeed surprisingly bright for somewhere four or five billion miles out from the sun.

            Crossing fingers that the nearest approach by New Horizons, a few hours ago as of now, was successful and that the probe has survived its pass through the Plutonian system unscathed by any debris. We should know about 1 in the morning UK time when its first signal after switching its attention back to Earth reaches this planet.

            Edit: I say "9:30pm", but it's highly likely to be cloudy as fuck here at that point tonight. Will be a good deal brighter than that on Pluto then, one imagines.

            It's still weird seeing the first photos a little like welcoming a new member to the family, having had only the blurriest antenatal scans to go on previously... but for decades. Now we finally get to see the baby of the bunch for the first time in the flesh, 85 years after we first knew we were 'expecting' it, if you like. I'm finding it oddly moving.

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              #56
              Anyone for an astronomy thread?

              ^ On that note, there's a live computer-generated image of the probe's route on the mission's official website, and the tiny nest of concentric ellipses of Pluto's orbiting moons, delimiting the extent of that system, looks painfully tiny amid the blackness around it indicating even only that small section of the journey. The fact that the green, travelled part of the path now extends through this miniscule bullseye and after ten years' flying to reach those few minutes of rendezvous is starting its sweep on out onto the red, endless further part of the trajectory into eternity is pretty poignant too.
              The speed it's disappearing at, indeed, is astonishing: at [strike]220,000[/strike] 240,000-odd kilometres past Pluto already, and travelling onwards at 800km a minute, in only three hours from now New Horizons will be beyond that brief intersection by the distance from here to the Moon; after that, I imagine it's nothing but open space for a few tens of thousands of years until you reach the stars.

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                #57
                Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                The plan is for New Horizons to have one more encounter with a Kuiper Belt Object. The most likely is one called 2014 MU69 with a diameter around 25 miles, which would be reached about January 2019. The alternative is the slightly larger 2014 PN70. Beyond that it's years of exploring the edge of the heliosphere before heading out in the dark.

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                  #58
                  Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                  Wonderful, the stuff of boyhood dreams.

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                    #59
                    Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                    Well, it made it past Pluto and got in touch in the early hours.
                    Now to wait for the data. Should only take 16 months to transmit all of it back...

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                      #60
                      Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                      Ireland to launch its first satellite.

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                        #61
                        Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                        Maynooth is a european centre for space research. It's also the headquarters of the catholic church in ireland. These two things are not related.

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                          #62
                          Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                          Awesome new Horizons images

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                            #63
                            Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                            Wow. Just... wow.

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                              #64
                              Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                              Quite.

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                                #65
                                Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                How cold do you have to get to have frozen nitrogen?

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                                  #66
                                  Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                  Not that cold, as frozen gases go. 63K.

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                                    #67
                                    Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                    Even a Geordie might put a coat on to pop out for a fag in that weather.

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                                      #68
                                      Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                      The best bit being:

                                      And this is just the beginning. There are hundreds more of these on New Horizons, waiting patiently for their turn to be beamed back to Earth. There will be more released over the coming months. Stay tuned for more outer solar system awesomeness.
                                      It's going to take about a year to get all the data:

                                      Seven weeks after New Horizons sped past the Pluto system to study Pluto and its moons previously unexplored worlds the mission team will begin intensive downlinking of the tens of gigabits of data the spacecraft collected and stored on its digital recorders. The process moves into high gear on Saturday, Sept. 5, with the entire downlink taking about one year to complete.

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                                        #69
                                        Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                        Marvellous. Thanks a lot for flagging these up GY.

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                                          #70
                                          Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                          Fascinating.

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                                            #71
                                            Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                            Yes, but less for the alien megastructures nonsense than the fact that we (apparently) don't have any other data like it from Kepler. I'd be very, very surprised if it was anything but an unusual proto-planetary/accretion disk

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                                              #72
                                              Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                              I dunno. Remember pulsars, even the boffins thought they could be alien broadcasts at first.

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                                                #73
                                                Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                                Yeah, it's fascinating. But the internet babble about it being an massive alien culture is taking an astonishing leap. If I were making odds on it being a huge alien megastructure, I'd say shorter than the Second Coming happening in the next decade, but longer than the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting in the next decade.

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                                                  #74
                                                  Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                                  Let the records show that I don't actually believe it to be evidence of a technologically advanced alien civilisation. I'm just interested as to what it could be even if the explanations are likely to be more prosaic.

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                                                    #75
                                                    Anyone for an astronomy thread?

                                                    If I were making odds on it being a huge alien megastructure, I'd say shorter than the Second Coming happening in the next decade, but longer than the Yellowstone supervolcano erupting in the next decade.
                                                    Now that's a movie I'd watch.

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