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July 2016
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Happy 47th birthday, Apollo 11! – 20 July 2016

The 20 July 2016 Full Moon, celebrating the 47 years since the Apollo 11 landing

The 20 July 2016 Full Moon, celebrating the 47 years since the Apollo 11 landing

On July 20, 1969, 20:18:04 UTC, the Apollo 11 lunar lander touched the Moon: for the first time, man was walking on another world. This event marked the human history.

Now, 47 years are gone from that epic effort, so at Virtual Telescope we wanted to celebrate this. On 20 July 2016, the Moon was full. We managed to capture it remotely, covering the full disc with a two-panes mosaic, with the PlaneWave 17″ robotic unit. We used a OIII filter to reduce the amazing brightness of the subject. The resulting image is well worth a look.

We marked the position where astronauts landed, so you can easily find the right place.

Happy Birthday, Apollo 11.

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A record Venus-Jupiter conjunction: 27 Aug. 2016

2016 Venus-Jupiter Conjunction. Simulation for Rome, 27 Aug. 2016, 20:15 local time

2016 Venus-Jupiter Conjunction. Simulation for Rome, 27 Aug. 2016, 20:15 local time

The sky, once again, is ready to impress us with something unique. Next 27 August, planets Venus and Jupiter will have an extremely close conjunction: they will show very close each other, so be ready.

This conjunction is a true record: the minimum angular distance between the two involved planets will be less than 4′ arcminutes, that is only 1/8th of the angular size of the lunar disc. A quick check suggests this is the closest conjunction we will see at least for the next 40 years.

2016 Venus-Jupiter conjunction: a close up. 27 Aug. 2016, 22:30 UT

2016 Venus-Jupiter conjunction: a close up. 27 Aug. 2016, 22:30 UT

Planets, from the Ancient Greek ἀστήρ πλανήτης astēr planētēs, or πλάνης ἀστήρ plánēs astēr, which means “wandering star“, are continuously moving across the zodiacal stars, each with a different motion. The faster Venus, now back in the evening sky, will reach Jupiter, slowly sinking in the solar glare, at  the end of its visibility season. At some point, the two planets will be extremely “close” each other. Of course, this is only an apparent, prospective meeting: Jupiter is much farther than Venus: 953 millions of km vs. 232 millions of km from us, respectively.

Unfortunately, this rare Venus-Jupiter conjunction is happening with both the planets quite low in a bright sky, soon after sunset. The solar elongation of the planets is 22 degrees. A binocular will be very useful to spot this unique encounter; furthermore, it is mandatory to have a clear horizon on the west, so the best observing site would be at the sea.

Please note: the Sun can very seriously damage your eyes, even with a casual sight, so please wait for the Sun to set before you start exploring that patch of the sky looking for the planets.

Venus and Jupiter, partly covered by a tiny cloud, are enriching the sight of the skyline in Rome: 29 June 2015

Venus and Jupiter, partly covered by a tiny cloud, are enriching the sight of the skyline in Rome: 29 June 2015

The close conjunction will be at its best on 27 Aug. 2016, around 22:30 Universal Time. This will make people in most of Southern America quite happy. Of course, everyone will have the best moment to spot this wonderful cosmic happening. As we said, the observing conditions for this Venus-Jupiter conjunction, especially for those living north of the equator, are quite critical, so it is important to carefully plan the observations.

Considering this extreme proximity, Venus and Jupiter can be imaged/seen together with powerful enough telescopes. This will makes possible to capture both a gibbous Venus  and Jupiter’s satellites, hardly with some details on the latter. But please don’t be obsessed to capture images: give you a chance to SEE this wonderful, cosmic gift.

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The Five Planets are back: see all of them at a glance, next August 2016

The sky at sunset, as visible from Rome (lat.: +42deg) on 12 Aug. 2016 at 08:50 PM (local time), It works well for similar latitudes

The sky at sunset, as visible from Rome (lat.: +42deg) on 12 Aug. 2016 at 08:50 PM (local time), It works well for similar latitudes

This 2016 has been, so far,  particularly generous with us, considering the visibility of the planets. Last Feb., we had all the five,classic planets visible at a glance, providing a stunning planetary parade. It really was a spectacular show! Eh? Did you miss it? Ok, you are not lost, there is a new opportunity coming shortly, so please be ready: this upcoming August is your month!

Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, with the Moon from Monte Mario look-out. - 2 Feb. 2016.

Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars and Jupiter, with the Moon from Monte Mario look-out. – 2 Feb. 2016.

For a few days, around Aug. 15, Venus, Mercury, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn will show up there shortly after the sunset. Mercury will be particularly critical to see, if you live north of the equator: the planet will be just an handful of degrees above the bright, western horizon. You will need a very clear horizon, spanning from South to West.

First of all, you will want to see the five planets with your very eyes. A pair of binocular will help a lot, providing a far better view to spot Mercury. Once located each planet this way, you can try to spot all of them with your plain eyes. Trust us: you will be happy with this quick, personal grand-tour of the Solar System.

This planetary parade, while harder to see (southern hemisphere people will be much better placed), will have a good bonus for you: the five planets will be within only 90 degrees! This will help you to capture a nice group image with relatively normal lenses. Last Feb., the five planets covered more than 115 degrees and you needed an unusual lens, as a fish-eye.

If you want to grab a picture, consider a nice spot of your landscape, it will add its beauty to the final capture. These celestial events are perfect to discover interesting connections between the Heaven & Earth. Furthermore, they do not need an expensive setup, just try with what you have handy.

Now it is up to you: you can choose to go out there and look up, getting what the sky has to offer, or miss it and wait for the next five planets parade.

But that is NOT all. Next 27/28 Aug., an epic, very close conjunction between Jupiter and Venus will put a memorable show out there, with the planets coming as close as 4 arcminutes (almost 1/8 of the angular diameter of the Moon…). So,  after looking at the five planets, keep your binocular handy.

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If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

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Supernova ASASSN-16fq (2016cok) in Messier 66: an image (03 July 2016)

Supernova ASASSN-16fq (2016cok) in Messier 66: 03 July 2016

Supernova ASASSN-16fq (2016cok) in Messier 66: 03 July 2016

One month after our last observations, we wanted to image this important supernova again.

The image above comes from the average of five, 60-seconds exposures, unfiltered, remotely collected with the PlaneWave 17″+Paramount ME+SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope Project. The supernova was estimated at mag. 16.0 (R mags for the reference stars from UCAC-4), so it was significantly brighter than in our previous visit. The target was at less than 30 deg. above the western horizon, while the twilight was still strong.

Unfortunately, the target is leaving the sky, conclusing its obserbing season. It will not be easy to grab it again.

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The Barnard’s Star, two years later (03 July 2016)

Barnard's Star: 2014 (star on the left) vs 2016

Barnard’s Star: 2014 (star on the right) vs 2016

Do you remember the famous Barnard’s Star? Probably yes. It is the star showing the highest annual proper motion (10.3″/year). In 2014 we did a few images of it, using some old plates from the Palomar Observatory to show its motion. Last night, we covered this target again, so we were ready to check again for its motion.

The animation above is showing a comparison between 2014 (star on the right) and 2016 images (star on the left). It is impressive to see all this motion for a star, isn’t it? Because of its large proper motion, the Barnard’s Star is a perfect target for smal telescopes to see a star in action!

The images were remotely taken with the PlaneWave 17″ + Paramount ME + SBIG STL-6303E robotic unit part of the Virtual Telescope.

We are happy with this, so we will be back on this target next year!

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Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Asteroid Day 2016: a great event at Virtual Telescope (30 June 2016)

Asteroid Day 2016: observed near-Earth Asteroids

Asteroid Day 2016: observed near-Earth Asteroids

With just a few words, we want to thank all of you for making Asteroid Day 2016 memorable at the Virtual Telescope Project. We hosted two live feeds, one in Italian, one in English, so reaching thousands of people out there.

“Asteroid Day 2016”: an official live event – poster

“Asteroid Day 2016”: an official live event – poster

To say the least, it was a epic event. We hosted some extremely unique guests, such a bright constellation of first-rate scientists like Thomas Jones, Nasa astronaut and planetary scientist, Eric Christensen, director of the Catalina Sky Survey, Michael Schwartz, CEO at Tenagra Observatories, Debbie Lewis, Asteroid Day Expert Panel and Disaster Management expert, Jay Tate, The Spaceguard Center, Gregory Leonard, astronomer at Catalina Sky Survey and of course Grigorij Richters, filmmaker and co-founder of Asteroid Day. Both the streams were presented by Gianluca Masi, astrophysicist and creator of the Virtual Telescope Project. We had more than five hours of live streaming, so it was almost a marathon!

Asteroid Day 2016 @ Virtual Telescope: the protagonists

Asteroid Day 2016 @ Virtual Telescope: the protagonists

Discussing with these eminent personalities was a unique opportunity for us to learn and discover asteroids and the goals of such an important movement as Asteroid Day.

For this edition, the Virtual Telescope also officially promoted Asteroid Day in Italy, which resulted in number of great,events  connected as Asteroid Day Italia. The impact on media and press in Italy was amazing, including the very most important newspapers, radio stations and TVs. We wish to thank all the ones who took part, bacause they helped to make all this so big!

Asteroid Day Italia 2016

Asteroid Day Italia 2016

We made available the podcast for both the Italian and English streams below. If you missed the original streaming, here you can find all the contents and the special guests. For sure these videos will be a very enjoyable view for years to come.


English

Italiano

We are already missing Asteroid Day, but will start working on the 2017 edition soon.

Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

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Scientists Rock – an Asteroid Day series | Episode 2

Scientists Rock - an Asteroid Day series

Scientists Rock – an Asteroid Day series

Here it is the second episode of the special series “Scientists Rock”, made for Asteroid Day 2016. At Virtual Telescope we provided the subtitles in Italian.

Ecco il secondo episodio della serie speciale “Scientists Rock”, appositamente realizzata per Asteroid Day 2016. Il Virtual Telescope ha curato la realizzazione dei sottotitoli in Italiano.

Back to “Asteroid Day 2016”

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If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

Scientists Rock – an Asteroid Day series | Episode 1

Scientists Rock - an Asteroid Day series | Episode 1

Scientists Rock – an Asteroid Day series | Episode 1

Here it is the first episode of the special series “Scientists Rock”, made for Asteroid Day 2016. At Virtual Telescope we provided the subtitles in Italian.

Ecco il primo episodio della serie speciale “Scientists Rock”, appositamente realizzata per Asteroid Day 2016. Il Virtual Telescope ha curato la realizzazione dei sottotitoli in Italiano.

Back to “Asteroid Day 2016”

 

Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

2016 Summer Solstice Full Moon: 20 June 2016

Summer Solstice Full Moon: 20 June 2016

Summer Solstice Full Moon: 20 June 2016

As we reported earlier today, This summer solstice is introduced by a Full Moon.  Last time it happened was in 1967. The image below shows the Moon while rising, as seen from Rome, Italy.

It is a single shot, taken with a Canon 7D mark II DSLR, equipped with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L IS II USM, used at 200mm. Some trees are marginally visible.

The image below was exposed on the Moon directly, to show its features at its best; the same setup as above was used.

Summer Solstice Full Moon: lunar craters and seas

Summer Solstice Full Moon: lunar craters and seas

This photo © by Gianluca Masi. Cannot be used without permission

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Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

“Occhi su Saturno”: evento online (25 giugno 2016)

Occhi su Saturno 2016: Locandina

Occhi su Saturno 2016: Locandina

Segui la diretta qui!

Torna “Occhi su Saturno“, ormai giunto alla 5a edizione. Anche quest’anno il Virtual Telescope trasmetterà in diretta le immagini del meraviglioso Signore degli Anelli del Sistema Solare.

L’appuntamento è per il 25 giugno 2016, a partire dalle ore 23:00, sul canale live del Virtual Telescope, disponibile qui.

Eyes on Saturn” (“Occhi su Saturno”) is back, now at its 5th edition. Even this year, the Virtual Telescope will share live images of the elegant Lord of the Rings of our Solar System, so you are invited to join us.

The event is scheduled for 25 June 2016, starting at 21:00 UT, on the Virtual Telescope’s live channel here!

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Support The Virtual Telescope Project!

If everyone reading this right now would donate something, our fundraiser would be done in a few days. Please, donate and receive an exclusive, LIMITED EDITION image of potentially hazardous asteroids taken by the Virtual Telescope! specifically made for supporters like you!

donate now (you can adjust the amount later)

 

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