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Revision: Oversky for April 2003

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  • Erich Landstrom
    Please note the date and time for the launch of SIRFT has been changed to Friday, April 18 at 4:32 Am. If the article has not already been put to press, I
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 20, 2003
      Please note the date and time for the launch of SIRFT
      has been changed to Friday, April 18 at 4:32 Am. If
      the article has not already been put to press, I would
      appreciate the following revision. Thank you.

      "Our view of Milky Way Galaxy is blocked, though, by
      clouds of different type: intergalactic dust clouds.
      The light and more importantly the heat from distant
      suns are absorbed. Sensing that heat would allow
      astronomers to detect discs around other stars where
      planets may be forming, and provide valuable
      information about the early life of the universe.
      Nicknamed �the Old, the Cold, and the Dirty,�
      (referring to the oldest, coldest and most
      dust-obscured objects and processes in outer space)
      these are the targets of the Space Infrared Telescope
      Facility (SIRFT). Launch of SIRTF is scheduled for
      Friday, April 18, 2003, at 4:32:49 AM EDT from Cape
      Canaveral. SIRTF compliments the Hubble Space
      Telescope. Both belong to NASA's Great Observatories
      Program, each of which studies a different part of the
      spectrum; Hubble shoots pictures in visible light,
      Chandra takes X-ray images. Infrared light, invisible
      to the human eye, is typically absorbed by Earth's
      atmosphere and therefore ideal for an Earth-trailing
      space telescope. More information about the mission is
      available http://sirtf.caltech.edu/

      Old, cold and dirty also describes comets. Comets are
      interplanetary icebergs, and as a comet nears the Sun,
      dust mixed in with the ice is released. A meteor
      shower occurs as Earth transits through the tail of
      dusty debris dispersed by a comet. Before dawn on
      April 22nd the Lyrid meteor shower reaches its peak.
      The meteor shower is associated with the orbit of
      Comet Thatcher, which was first recorded in 687 B.C.
      In April 1803, 700 meteors per hour were seen.
      However, April 2003 is expect to be more modest, with
      a maximum of 15 meteors per hour. Interested observers
      should look northeast after midnight. The Lyrid
      meteors are so named because they appear to emanate
      from the constellation of Lyra the Harp, home to the
      3rd brightest star of the sky. Unfortunately the last
      quarter Moon rises at almost the same time as Lyra and
      its light will interfere with this year's display."

      Erich Landstrom, NASA JPL Solar System Educator
      Solar System Educators Program http://www.ssep.org
      [Hands-on teacher training workshops sharing NASA's
      missions of research, discovery and exploration!]

      Science fiction & science fact stranger than fiction.
      Listen Monday mornings on http://www.SCIFIOVERDRIVE.com

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