Infrared Expands its Utitlity Astronomically

Hot Stars Found Hidden in Galaxy's Dusty Embrace
By Staff

A European telescope has used infrared vision to pierce the veil of dust around the galaxy Messier 83, and revealed clusters of young stars hidden within dusty regions that harbor star factories.
The new galaxy photo comes courtesy of the HAWK-1 camera belonging to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Such findings help astronomers seek out the younger star clusters in order to better understand the birth and evolution of stars.
An infrared view not only eliminates makes much of the dust effectively transparent, but also tones down the brightly lit gas that tends to hang around hot young stars.

Binocular-wielding stargazers already know Messier 83 as one of the brightest nearby galaxies. The galaxy is located 15 million light-years away from Earth and spans over 40,000 light-years, where a light-year is the distance light travels in a year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion km).
Messier 83 also looks like a strikingly similar twin to our Milky Way galaxy with its spiral shape and bar of stars across the center, despite having just 40 percent the size of the Milky Way.
Astronomers recognize Messier 83 for its record-breaking number of observed supernovas that mark the end of many a star's life. Just one other galaxy can match that record.

Home Star Legislation has Passed!

Republished from Yahoo! News
Pelosi: 'The Home Star Jobs Bill is About Building a Stronger Economy That Works for Main Street and the Middle Class'
Thu May 6, 5:32 pm ET

WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire - Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued the following statement today following passage of the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act, providing incentives for consumers to make their homes more energy efficient. The bill passed by a vote of 246 to 161.

"Today, the House took another step forward to create good-paying, American jobs that cannot be outsourced, to lower energy costs for consumers, and to build our clean energy economy.

"The Home Star jobs bill is about building a stronger economy that works for Main Street and the middle class. The legislation will create nearly 168,000 jobs in construction, manufacturing, and retail – some of the hardest hit sectors during the Bush recession. It will cut costs for consumers, decreasing energy bills by up to $500 per year for 3 million families. And it will reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and dirty fuels, cutting energy use equal to roughly 7 million barrels of heating oil in 2011.

"It's not surprising that Republicans offered a poison pill in their motion to recommit – demonstrating, once again, that they are not serious about addressing the top concerns of the American people: job creation, economic security, and energy independence. We will work with the Senate to fix this flawed language and focus the final bill on these critical challenges for our middle class.

"I applaud the Members of Congress who voted for this bill. With bills like the Home Star jobs legislation, Democrats are standing up for Main Street and creating jobs for our middle class and small businesses, while Republicans side with Wall Street, Big Oil, and special interests."

(*Note, we have no political preference or affiliation, we are simply enthusiastic as a company that the legislation passed)

Energy Star Fraud - Beware, Applicable to Homes Too

A new report from the auditing arm of Congress shows that the federal Energy Star program has a sloppy certification process that can be easily abused.

The 18-year-old program, which is administered jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, offers consumers rebates and tax credits on appliances that meet certain standards for energy efficiency.  American consumers, businesses, and federal agencies rely on the Energy Star program to identify products that decrease greenhouse emissions and lower energy costs. Companies use Energy Star certification to market their products to consumers in the hopes they will buy products based on government certification of their energy consumption and costs.

Given the millions of dollars allocated to encourage use of Energy Star products and concerns that the Energy Star program is vulnerable to fraud and abuse, GAO was asked to conduct proactive testing to (1) obtain Energy Star partnership status for bogus companies and (2) submit fictitious products for Energy Star certification. To perform this investigation, GAO used four bogus manufacturing firms and fictitious individuals to apply for Energy Star partnership and submitted 20 fictitious products with fake energy-savings claims for Energy Star certification. GAO also reviewed program documents and interviewed agency officials and officials from agency Inspector General (IG) offices.

But in a report issued today, the Government Accountability Office says its auditors obtained Energy Star certifications for 15 of 20 products it submitted using fictitious companies and individuals. Those certifications led to requests from real companies to buy some products because they had received Energy Star endorsements.

The phony products included a gasoline-powered alarm clock, which was approved by Energy Star without a review of the company web site or questions about the efficiency claimed for it.  Auditors also submitted a geothermal heat pump, which they claimed to be more efficient than any product listed as certified on the Energy Star Web site.  The product was certified and its efficiency data was not questioned. Two bogus products were rejected by the program and 3 did not receive a response. One of the products that an outside company wanted to buy was a computer monitor that had been approved by Energy Star within 30 minutes of submission.

This clearly shows how heavily American consumers rely on the Energy Star brand.

At briefings on GAO's investigation, DOE and EPA officials agreed that the program is currently based on self-certifications by manufacturers. However, officials stated there are after-market tests and self-policing that ensure standards are maintained. GAO did not test or evaluate controls related to products that were already certified and available to the public. In addition, prior DOE IG, EPA IG, and GAO reports have found that current Energy Star controls do not ensure products meet efficiency guidelines.

In 2008 Energy Star reported saving consumers $19 billion dollars on utility costs.  Energy Star is slated to receive about $300 million in federal stimulus money to be used for state rebate programs on energy-efficient products.

Energy Star fraud not only affects products, but your house. Many homes are Energy Star “approved”, while a quick thermal scan can determine whether the house is, in fact, energy efficient. As a licensed home inspector, I have come across many homes that were “Energy Star compliant” but consistently had gaps of missing insulation. Beware of an Energy Star rated home, get an infrared energy audit before investing in a property.

Below are some sample pictures of mine from home inspections of Energy Star approved houses: