A cosmic 1st: Images of a black hole, and Astronomy Month 2017

GULF OF MEXICO — Greetings from at sea aboard the ms Oosterdam in the Gulf of Mexico.

A cosmic first got underway this week: humanity’s attempt to image a black hole using the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). Using radio telescopes located around the globe to combine their separate signals into the equivalent of an Earth sized radio telescope antenna, the EHT will be making several observations.

EHT will try and image the supermassive black hole (SBH) located at the center of our Milky Way Galaxy known as Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) and the SBH located in nearby galaxy M87. EHT will also be observing several other galaxies.

SBHs are thought to be at the center of most galaxies. Sgr A* is over four million times as massive as our sun and is 26,000 light years distant. Due to intervening gas and dust, we cannot see the center of the Milky Way Galaxy using optical telescopes, but we can do so using radio telescopes. EHT has been a decade-long project that has now come to fruition with this history making observing run.

EHT will be collecting a huge amount of data during its 10-day observing run.

The first several days have been going well and according to schedule. After the observing run is concluded, EHT astronomers will then begin the arduous task of correlating and analyzing all of the data to try and achieve the first ever image of Sgr A*.

It will take months of work before they know if they have been successful and publication of their results is expected in 2018.

April is Global Astronomy Month (GAM), organized the same month each year by Astronomers Without Borders (AWB).

It is the world’s largest annual global celebration of astronomy and brings new ideas and new opportunities. GAM 2017 is currently underway and is bringing enthusiasts together worldwide to celebrate Astronomers Without Borders’ motto “One People, One Sky.” You can find more information one events on their website.

Be sure to look at bright Jupiter in the southeast at sunset as it will be in the sky for several months. Venus has moved to the morning sky and is visible before dawn.

Follow Greg’s daily blog at http://www.whatsupthespaceplace.com to keep up with the latest news in astronomy and space exploration. You can email him at skyguyinva@gmail.com.

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