University Photographer, Mark Philbrick, captured this sunset image of the BYU West Mountain Observatory in early June 2016. At the same time, Physics and Astronomy students were at work preparing the telescopes for yet another night of research observations. Data are secured on these nights for a wide variety of projects ranging from careful searches for exoplanets to monitoring active galaxies. The resulting data support research efforts of BYU students and faculty and in many cases contribute to larger international collaborations.
This picture shows the familiar winter constellation of Orion setting in the west as it moves behind the main dome at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. The constellation of Orion is filled with giant molecular clouds and current star forming regions. Even in this short exposure, the Orion nebula is clearly visible in the sword of Orion. This picture was taken by Professor Michael Joner while working at the observatory on a clear spring night.
This is a photo taken in the early evening of September 27, 2015 showing the full moon rising over Y Mountain. This is the last of four total lunar eclipses that were visible during the two year period that began with an Easter eclipse in 2014. This cycle of four total lunar eclipses is known as a tetrad. It is relatively rare to have a cycle such as this coincide with religious holidays such as Easter and so these eclipses were frequently associated with "end of the world" speculation. Photo credit: Dr. Michael D. Joner
What do precision laser metrology and broadband femtosecond lasers have to do with each other? Plenty! This marriage was the reason Ted Haensch and Jan Hall shared the 2005 Nobel Prize in Physics. Part of that experiment has been reproduced at BYU, and it has been used to correct a serious spectroscopy error in atomic ytterbium. This work was published in Phys. Rev. A 94, 052511 (2016).
This image was secured during the installation of the 0.9-m telescope at the BYU West Mountain Observatory. Data for this image is from August 27, 2009. This was the first night that a CCD had been mounted on the telescope so that imaging was possible. This 'First Light' image shows the globular cluster known as M15 in the constellation of Pegasus. The distance to this cluster is more than 33,000 light years and yet individual stars are easily resolved all through the cluster. Globular cluster stars have an extremely low abundance of heavy elements as compared to stars found in the solar neighborhood and represent the oldest population of stars known in the Galaxy. It is interesting to note the many cool red giant stars that are visible in the cluster as well as a large number of evolved horizontal branch stars that are blue in color. Many of the horizontal branch stars are known to be RR Lyrae variable stars that are useful as distance indicators since it is possible to determine their luminosity and compare that value to their apparent magnitude as measured from the observed images. The color image processing for this picture is the work of renowned image processing guru, Dr. Rob Gendler.
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Mike Joner et al. recently published an article titled "Space Telescope and Optical Reverberation Mapping Project.VI. Reverberating Disk Models for NGC 5548" in Astrophysical Journal. Click on the image above to read it.
King of Wings Hoodoo under the Milky Way : This rock structure is not only surreal -- it's real. The reason it's not more famous is that it is, perhaps, smaller than one might guess: the capstone rock overhangs only a few meters....
This photograph and Description come from NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day web site.