Sunday, October 14th, 2012 | astronomy, photos, science | No Comments
This week’s photo was taken through a 200mm mirror telescope (Schmidt-Cassegrain) functioning as a tele objective with my EOS 20D.
A half moon provides a much better photo opportunity than the full moon – the full moon has very little contrast.
Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 | astronomy, science, space | No Comments
I consider that there are three great spectacular events to see in the sky. All are very rare, and I have not seen all three of them. Let us take a look at this :
1. Meteor Storm :
In 1998 I was looking to get to see a meteor storm from the Leonid meteor shower. It peaks every 33 years – with variations in the size of the peak.
Following the most common predictions of the peak I made ready to stay up for a night. But – as my luck (or lack of it) was – the show did not happen on that night . . . A slightly different, but even more spectacular show of a fireball meteor storm came one night BEFORE the prediction. Many people missed the opportunity, and so did I. A colleague of mine was up in the middle of the night and thought, “fireworks at this time of the night ?”. When he looked out there was one bright fireball after the other appearing in the sky.
The following night I stayed up, and essentially nothing happened. What a disappointment. Some people claim that it was the show of a century – and I missed it. On top of that – it was a clear sky that night, something of a rarity where I live.
2. Total eclipse of the Sun :
This is one event where 99.9% is *very* different from 100%. I went to see the show in Northern France in August 1999, and nearly missed the climax of the show. but minutes before totality a small blue patch appeared in the sky, and we got to see totality. Quite a spectacle.
I wrote a modest report on the event – with a few pictures, you can find it here.
3. Northern lights – Aurora Borealis.
In Denmark where I come from, I have seen the Northern Lights twice in my life.
Funny enough, moving further South to The Netherlands I would have expected to see less of it there. But in a shorter time span I have seen Northern Lights at least twice, and even photographed it. The photo is far from spectacular, but it will have to do for me.
Enter Norway – to be more precise, the town of Tromsø. There the auroras are a common occurrence. I came across a beautiful time lapse movie made by Ole Christian Salomonsen in Tromsø.
He publishes it (in HD Video) on his blog
I heartily recommend taking a look at the 4.5 minutes of movie, the aurora and his foreground images are – well – spectacular.
Friday, September 18th, 2009 | astronomy, science | No Comments
The planet is about twice the diameter of our own Earth with a mass about 5 times that of Earth. We would probably feel rather heavy on that one.
When will we see the next one ? I am sure there are others within our range.
Monday, August 10th, 2009 | astronomy, science | No Comments
The Spitzer InfraRed Space Telescope, launched a few years ago, has , more or less by accident found the remains of – not one – *but two* rocky planets around a star about 100 light years away.
The two planets, one estimated to be in the order of Earth sized, the other Moon sized , appear to have collided probably a few thousand years ago, very recent in astronomical terms.
More detail can be found at Bad Astronomer Blog
This is, as far as I know, the first, however indirect, evidence of Earth/Moon sized planets.
That is not all : A few days ago it was reported that the Kepler Space Telescope, launched this year, had detected the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star
Exciting times indeed.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009 | astronomy, science | No Comments
On April 23th the most powerful gamma ray burst ever recorded was detected by the Swift telescope. More about can be found here at NASA’s site.
With that type of bursts we look back in time, this time more than 13000 million years, this belongs to the earliest generations of stars in the known Universe. Impressive.
Thursday, November 27th, 2008 | astronomy, science, space | 2 Comments
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected large glaciers just under the surface of Mars.
This can be very interesting as water supply when (yes, I am optimistic) we send people to Mars – they do not have to bring large supplies of water. Could it be that – with care – the people going there can be self supporting with water supply ? Quite possible.
This is also a sign that Mars has had much more water than it has today. Maybe it even had an atmosphere dense enough to support life, more or less as we know it.
Tuesday, November 18th, 2008 | astronomy, science, space | No Comments
This is the kind of thing that can excite me. Imaging a planet 25 light years away in visible light. The Hubble Space Telescope ha done just that.
Around the star Formalhaut Hubble found a ring of dust, corresponding to the Kuiper Belt in our own solar system. an Anomaly in the shape of the ring indicated that the gravitational pull of a planet influenced the ring. The hunt was on.
Two images taken 21 months apart show an object following the star and apparently orbiting Formalhaut in about 870 years.
Before we get too excited, there is no real chance of finding any ET’s in the Formalhaut system. The star is only 200 million years old and burning fast – the life expectancy is only 1000 million years, not enough for life as we know it to develop.
There are indications of further planets around Formalhaut, this time inside the dust ring, but none are observed yet.
More details from ESA’s website
Thursday, November 6th, 2008 | astronomy, meteors, science | No Comments
According to Spaceweather.com we should have the possibilities of seeing some fireballs in the sky the coming nights.
I might have to check for clear skies (not often in The Netherlands) for a while
Monday, November 3rd, 2008 | astronomy, science, space | No Comments
I just looked at a few sites providing space related images for download. All images – except the logo’s from these three sites are freely useable for non-commercial purposes, including personal web sites – of course with a clear attribution of the source.
The three sites I looked up here are
NASA (of course)for general space travel and some astronomical images.
The Spitzer Space Telescope for images taken in infrared
and of course The Hubble Space Telescope with some of the most stunning astronomical images made
If you like images, maybe using them part of your web pages these are three very good sources.
Do not forget that many observatories and universities have images available. These include very old images from the classical telescopes in the world. I believe there is a project to scan all those ancient images before they are lost forever due to the deterioration pf the photographic material.
The old images *could* become important for detecting transient events or variable phenomena, like recurring nova outbursts, so we can not afford to lose these images.
This is exciting for me as a science fiction fan and as someone interested in space science in general.
Epsilon Eridani is a star a bit smaller than our own Sun – and quite young – only 800 million years old, located about 10.5 light years away. Recently the Spitzer Telescope has detected a double asteroid belt around the star. The inner belt is located at a distance similar to the asteroid belt in our own solar system. Furthermore what looks like a cometary ring similar to the Kuyper Belt and indications of a planet at a distance similar to Jupiter’s. The Epsilon Eridani system looks more and more like our own solar system.
For more information take a look at these websites :
In the 1960′s I remember the scientific programs on the radio talking about SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) and mentioning this star as a likely candidate. At the time the young age of the system was not known, but it gave rise to the use of many science fiction writers using it as a home for intelligence.
In “Star Trek” the Mr. Spock’s home world Vulcan is located in the Epsilon Eridani system. and in “Babylon 5″ the space station is in orbit around a planet in the same system.
Of course the star is featured in many other science fiction stories, too many to mention here.
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- September 2011
- March 2011
- January 2011
- October 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- December 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- August 2009
- July 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- December 2008
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008
- January 2008
- December 2007
- October 2007
- September 2007
- August 2007
- July 2007
- June 2007
- audio play
- Babylon 5
- comet outburst
- Doctor Who
- film and tv
- off topic
- solar energy
- star trek