From our vantage point in the Milky Way Galaxy, we see NGC 3344 face-on. Nearly 40,000 light-years across, the big, beautiful spiral galaxy is located just 20 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo Minor. This multi-color Hubble Space Telescope close-up of NGC 3344 includes remarkable details from near infrared to ultraviolet wavelengths. The […]
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Colourful star trails arc through the night in this wide-angle mountain and skyscape. From a rotating planet, the digitally added consecutive exposures were made with a camera fixed to a tripod and looking south, over northern Iran’s Alborz Mountain range. The stars trace concentric arcs around the planet’s south celestial pole, below the scene’s rugged […]
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Last week, a car orbited the Earth. The car, created by humans and robots on the Earth, was launched by the SpaceX Company to demonstrate the ability of its Falcon Heavy Rocket to place spacecraft out in the Solar System. Purposely fashioned to be whimsical, the iconic car was thought a better demonstration object than […]
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Happy New Year everybody! To begin the year we’re doing something a little different. This month’s image is taken by Afsheen Rane, an amateur astronomer at University of Toronto. Photographed is the Orion Nebula (also known as Messier 42) which is around 1300 light years away from Earth. Its brightness allows it to be visible […]
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Fans of our fair planet might recognize the outlines of these cosmic clouds. On the left, bright emission outlined by dark, obscuring dust lanes seems to trace a continental shape, lending the popular name North America Nebula to the emission region cataloged as NGC 7000. To the right, just off the North America Nebula’s east […]
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Important Notice for Nov. 29, 2017 Star Talk

November 29, 2017
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Hello everyone,

Sadly, the Star Talk which was originally planned for 7:10-8:00 tonight is cancelled because Professor Jonathan Kelly is sick and cannot make it to the event.

HOWEVER, for those who are interested, we will still be holding the telescope observing session from 8:00-9:00pm and we will be meeting in the lobby of McLennan at 8:00

We sincerely apologize for this last-minute change of plan.

– The ASX executive team

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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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