[FPSPACE] KPNO Deep Impact live
DSFPortree at aol.com
DSFPortree at aol.com
Thu Jun 30 14:45:21 EDT 2005
Still can't get used to not being able to forward to FPSPACE... Sorry!
THE FOLLOWING RELEASE WAS RECEIVED FROM THE NATIONAL OPTICAL ASTRONOMY
OBSERVATORY IN TUCSON, ARIZONA, AND IS FORWARDED FOR YOUR
INFORMATION. (FORWARDING DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT BY THE AMERICAN
ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY.) Lynn Cominsky, American Astronomical Society
National Optical Astronomy Observatory
Phone: (520) 318-8214/-8230
E-mail: disbell at noao.edu
June 30, 2005
KITT PEAK VISITOR CENTER TO PROVIDE LIVE IMAGES OF COMET IMPACT
How can you watch the planned first-of-its-kind collision between a comet
and a spacecraft from Earth this weekend, even if your night skies
do not allow a direct view?
The Visitor Center at Kitt Peak National Observatory plans to offer a live
feed of the encounter between NASA's Deep Impact mission and Comet
Tempel 1 starting this Sunday night (local time), running about an hour
before the planned 10:52 p.m. PDT impact though about 45 minutes afterward.
The feed will consist of still images of the distant comet, and a
frequently updated movie assembled from the individual frames. Each frame
will consist of a 30-second exposure taken with an electronic CCD imager
attached to the 20-inch Ritchey-Chretien telescope in the Kitt Peak Visitor
The comet feed from Kitt Peak will be available on the Internet at:
"Weather and technical gremlins permitting, we intend to post an image
about every 45 seconds, and to update the digital movie every few minutes,"
said Douglas Isbell, assistant director for public affairs and educational
outreach for the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, AZ,
the parent organization of Kitt Peak National Observatory. "This rate of
imagery should match up well with the predicted gradual change in the
brightness of the comet's surrounding cloud of dust and gas."
The live feed will be generated by synchronized computer teamwork between
Kitt Peak Public Outreach Lead Observer Adam Block and NOAO Web Designer
The main Deep Impact spacecraft will witness the effects of the collision
between the comet and a copper-laden impactor probe released earlier from
the spacecraft from as close as 310 miles, but ground-based telescopes are
considerably farther away. "Unfortunately, with the comet being 83 million
miles from Earth, its nucleus is essentially a bright single point in the
image, so we won't have the ability to see the fresh crater that Deep Impact
expected to gouge out of the comet."
As with most major ground-based astronomical observatories, including
NOAO's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, all of the major
National Science Foundation research telescopes on Kitt Peak are observing
comet Tempel 1 for several nights before and after the planned Deep Impact
event. By the night of July 8, Kitt Peak National Observatory telescopes
will have been used for 43 nights in 2005 in support of scientific analysis
of the planned comet impact.
This work is described in a previous NOAO press release at
These research observations will be augmented by a special public program
on Kitt Peak for 50 people during the night of the event, which is sold out.
Located 55 miles southwest of Tucson, AZ, Kitt Peak National Observatory is
part of NOAO, which is operated by the Association of Universities for
Research in Astronomy (AURA) Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the
National Science Foundation.
For more information about Deep Impact, visit the mission's Web sites at:
deepimpact.umd.edu/ and www.nasa.gov/deepimpact
David S. F. Portree
Science writer & historian
dsfportree at aol.com
Flagstaff Arizona USA
Romance to Reality: moon & Mars plans
More information about the FPSPACE