This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor’s Helmet.
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Interacting galaxies are understood to be common - in fact, repeated galaxy encounters can ultimately result in a merger of one single galaxy.
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This recently released image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows long filaments of dust and gas appearing to circle a supermassive black hole.
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A triple star system is forming within the dusty disk some 750 light years away in the Perseus molecular cloud.
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November 2017: Picture of the Month

November 6, 2017
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thors_helmet

This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor’s Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor’s Helmet spans about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind — from the bright star near the center of the bubble’s blue-hued region — sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. This star, a Wolf-Rayet star, is a massive and extremely hot giant star thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the emission nebula is located about 12,000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major). The sharp image, made using broadband and narrowband filters, captures striking details of the nebula’s filamentary gas and dust structures. The blue color originates from strong emission from oxygen atoms in the nebula.

For more information, check out APOD!

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Star Talk: Computer Vision on Mars

November 6, 2017
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computer_vision_on_mars“Computer Vision on Mars “, with Professor Jonathan Kelly

Abstract: Modern computer vision technologies have been key to improving our understanding of the Red Planet over the past 15 years. Vision systems are deployed on-orbit (e.g., the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter), on the surface (e.g., the vision sensors on the rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity), and have also been used for safe entry, descent, and landing of recent robotic platforms reaching the surface. In this talk, I will review the design and use of several of these vision systems, including, for example, how the Curiosity rover makes use of visual navigation methods when wheel odometry is unreliable (rolling over sandy terrain).

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About the speaker: Professor Jonathan Kelly is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Director of the Space & Terrestrial Autonomous Robotic Systems (STARS) Laboratory. Before joining the University of Toronto, he was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Robust Robotics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he completed his Ph.D. in the Robotic Embedded Systems Laboratory at the University of Southern California.

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Date and Location: 7:10 PM Nov. 29th, McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP), Room 202

Telescope observing: 8:00 PM on 14th floor of McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP) (weather permitting) — you will be guided to the telescopes.

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ASX Movie Night!

October 14, 2017
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22310666_1605310192868436_9004747468290432278_n** This event is FREE and open to everyone **

Come join us 7:00-8:30PM on Wednesday, October 25th for a showing of the movie Gravity (2013) starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney! Snacks will be provided, and there will be an optional telescope observing session following the movie from 8:30-9:30 PM.

Location: 7:00PM at McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP), Room 134

(Optional) Telescope observing: 8:30 PM on 14th floor of MP (weather permitting) –you will be guided to the telescopes.

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Star Talk – The Gaia Satellite: Mapping the Milky Way in 3D

September 17, 2017
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gaia_satelliteAbstract: For hundreds of years, astronomers have been working to map the structure of the Universe and of the Milky Way, but this endeavor is hampered by the difficulty of measuring distances to celestial objects. Prof. Bovy will tell the story of how we have determined our place in the cosmos, from measuring the size of the solar system and the distance to nearby stars, to figuring out how far other galaxies are. He will then take us to the present day, giving an overview of the new Gaia satellite mission which is making us see the Milky Way with new eyes by measuring the distances to a billion stars in the Milky Way.

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About the speaker: Professor Jo Bovy is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He graduated with a PhD in physics from New York University and went on to become a Bahcall fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He currently holds the Canada Research Char in Galactic Astrophysics at UofT, and is a member of the APOGEE-2 survey, which maps the dynamical and chemical patterns of Milky Way stars using near-infrared spectroscopy.

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Date and Location: 7:00 PM Sept. 27th, Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories (LM) Room 159
Telescope observing: 8:00 PM on 14th floor of McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP) (weather permitting) — you will be guided to the telescopes.

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Searching for New Executive Team Members! [SUBMISSION PERIOD OVER]

September 10, 2017
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seethestarsHello everyone! The Astronomy and Space Exploration Society (ASX) is currently looking to fill a few vacancies in our executive team. If astronomy and space tickle your fancy and you would wish to tickle other people’s fancy in astronomy and space, we have openings in the Secretary, Outreach Director, and Symposium Coordinator positions.

Open to ALL UofT undergrads! NO astronomy/science background required!

If you’re interested in one or more of the positions please email us at space.society@utoronto.ca with a 200 words or less statement of interest and an attached résumé/CV. Please also feel free to email us any questions.

UPDATE: THE SUBMISSION PERIOD IS NOW OVER, SUBMITTED APPLICATIONS ARE BEING REVIEWED.

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More information on the vacant positions:

SECRETARY: The Secretary must take minutes during all executive meetings, and must promptly distribute them to the executives once the meeting is done. The Secretary is also responsible for establishing and maintaining the electronic mailing list, and managing the ASX email address. The Secretary is also responsible for managing and sending emails to ASX members, including a monthly newsletter which describes all the relevant space-related events scheduled during the next month. The Secretary is ASX’s primary contact person.

OUTREACH DIRECTOR: The Outreach Director is primarily responsible for advertising ASX, managing ASX’s social media profiles, cultivating relationships with external organizations, and recruiting members. For large events which require substantial advertisement, the Outreach Director may delegate responsibility for advertising to a number of executives, and should cooperate with the Secretary in creating an effective and consistent online message.

SYMPOSIUM COORDINATOR: The role of the Symposium Coordinator is to help the Symposium Director oversee and
manage all activities and tasks related to the Annual Symposium, including contacting and confirming speakers, booking their travel and accommodations, booking the Symposium venue and audio-visual equipment, choosing catering, and any other logistics related to the Symposium.

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