Club News

SoLAGS was pleased to welcome back Paul Money (FRAS, FBIS), for his Images of the Universe �Vol 2.

Paul is Honorary Joint Vice President of the society, and has rapidly gained a reputation for his knowledge of Astrospace. His newest 44 page Night Scenes 2009 was hot off the press, and his experience was evidenced by his cruise as sole British scientist on a Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker 50 Years of Victory which visited the North Pole to view the August 1st Solar Eclipse.

After a brief reprise of Images of the Universe Vol 1, Paul gave a show which was both educational and entertaining, as he presented his second collection of ten Astro photos that have made a lifelong impression on him. These ranged from spectacular pictures of the Horsehead Nebula in Orion, to an amazing picture of Mars rover Opportunity taken from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The pictures were beautifully accompanied by photos and explanation of how and why these had come about. SoLAGS is lucky to have been Paul's friend for nearly 25 years.

This was the first monthly meeting for 2008/9, and was an excellent start to the new year. Unfortunately somebody forgot to bring the biscuits, but tea and coffee was provided. There was a raffle, and after Paul's show, Jeff Powell gave a short explanation of some new initiatives to increase the awareness of SoLAGS in Boston and South Holland. This was echoed by Paul who presents his own Starnights in conjunction with Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, but admitted that South Lincolnshire was not well represented.



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Companion of a Young, Sun-like Star
Credit: Gemini Observatory, D. Lafreniere, R. Jayawardhana, M. van Kerkwijk (Univ. Toronto)
Located just 500 light-years away toward the constellation Scorpius, this star is only slightly less massive and a little cooler than the Sun. But it is much younger, a few million years old compared to the middle-aged Sun's 5 billion years. This sharp infrared image shows the young star has a likely companion positioned above and left - a hot planet with about 8 times the mass of Jupiter, orbiting a whopping 330 times the Earth-Sun distance from its parent star. The young planetary companion is still hot and relatively bright in infrared light due to the heat generated during its formation by gravitational contraction. In fact, such newborn planets are easier to detect before they age and cool, becoming much fainter. Though over 300 extrasolar planets have been found using other techniques, this picture likely represents the first direct image of a planet belonging to a star similar to the Sun.