Mysterious Object Passes through Our Solar System

Gene Zajack thinks positively!

Gene Zajac, Put-in-Bay’s very own Village Astronomer, reports regularly about phenomena in our universe.  Below, he writes about a recent space discovery.

On October 19, 2017 an object was discovered traveling through space at an incredible speed of 85,000 mph. Based on its orbit and speed it was determined this asteroid like object came from another star system! This visitor will not return! It was discovered by Hawaii’s Pan-STARRPI telescope. It was named Oumuamua (oh Moo-uh Moo-uh). The name means “a messenger from afar arriving first”.  It came from the area in space near Vega in the constellation of Lyra, but when this interstellar object passed through that area in space, Vega was not there. Oumuamua will head towards the constellation of Pegasus.

Oumuamua has a very unusual shape and is unlike any object observed before. The ratio of its length to width is 10 to 1. In our solar system we have objects with a 3 to 1 ratio. The 1/4 mile long visitor seems very dense and rotates at 7.3 hours. It appears reddish from millions of years exposure to cosmic radiation. It is estimated we may get such visitors every year but this is the first discovered.

NASA has been undergoing searches to find asteroids and comets that may be a threat to Earth. It is during this cataloging of objects Oumuamua was discovered. It may have been ejected from a forming star. Our own star probably sent its own armada of asteroids during its early formation.  I look forward to the next discoveries of traveling nomads from star systems far, far away! (Images courtesy of Gene Zajac)

Put-in-Bay’s “Village Astronomer” Shares Impressive Space Mission Accomplishments

Gene Zajac, of South Bass Island, highly regarded as our Village Astronomer, presents some fantastic data on the space missions of three satellites.

Saturn by NASAVoyager 1 and 2 were launched in September, 1977, making this their 40th anniversary. V-1 is 20.6 billion miles away from Earth; it is our farthest satellite from Earth. Amazingly, it is 139.3 times farther from the sun than Earth.  Reaching another star would take 40,000 years! It’s twin, V-2, is 17.3 billion miles away! Voyager 2 visited all four of the largest planets.

This week the Cassini space satellite at Saturn will end its 20-year mission, crashing into Saturn. It completed 293 orbits of Saturn, providing us with incredible pictures of its moon, the complicated ring system, and wonderful pictures of Saturn’s surface! Cassini’s final 22 orbits involved crossing the ring plane 22 times. The decision to crash the satellite in a specially designed path will prevent it from accidentally crashing into a moon. The moons, Titan and Enceladus, needed protection from Earth contamination. The end of Cassini will occur on Friday, September 15th, at approximately 7:30 am. Congratulation to both satellite teams for their excellent work with these two missions. The incredible pictures are courtesy of the Jet Propulsion Lab/NASA.

Cassini by NASA

Farewell, Cassini!


United States Coast Guard Grants Extension of Merchant Mariner Credential

Due to a greater-than-average volume of applications for Merchant Mariner Credentials (MMC):

USCGThe United States Coast Guard (USCG) is exercising its authority under Title 46, United States Code, Section 7507, and is granting an extension of national endorsements for any mariner whose MMC expires on or after December 1, 2016. This extension is effective immediately and will be valid until September 30, 2017. Mariners, employers, and owner/operators are encouraged to print a copy of the letter explaining the extension. All mariners sailing exclusively under the authority of their national endorsement on inland or coastwise voyages are advised to carry a copy of this letter with their expired credentials and produce it upon the request of USCG personnel or other officials. Expiration dates of new MMCs will be 5 years from the date of expiration of the previous MMC, in accordance with current policy. The extension of validity of expired credentials provides the opportunity for a mariner to work under the authority of that credential during this period, so there is no loss of MMC validity associated with this decision.

12/23/2016 — Kirsten R. Martin, Captain, U.S. Coast Guard Commanding Officer

For more information, please visit the National Maritime Center.