Sunday, March 28, 2010

National Geographic Channel "Known Universe" Premiere

National Geographic Channel comes through again with a six part mini series highlighting profound mysteries of our known universe. Really the only fault I can find with any of these shows is the fact that they only show in the US, sucks if you live any where else. Computer Generated Imagery, time lapse sequences, slow motion footage, everyday examples and expert's input all go towards great cosmic TV viewing.

Known Universe: Cosmic Collisions

Thursday, April 1, at 10 PM ET.

Apophis a 230 meter near earth object is slated to come between Earth and it's geosynchronous satellites December 2029, it will just miss us but if it happens to enter what they call the keyhole, an area 600 meters wide above the Earth, the Earth's Gravity will alter it's orbit which will put it into a collision course with us on it's return trip April 17, 2036, fatalities estimated at 10 million. We are in a shooting gallery and it is not a question of if but when we get hit by one of these near earth Objects. Using Computer Generated Imagery you'll see, various cosmic collisions like a major asteroid hitting the north pole of Mars, removing the Martian crust and creating the Lowlands, covering almost half the planet. An asteroid hit Venus so hard that it changed it's direction of spin, you'll see 2 neutron stars collide creating more energy in a micro second then our Sun will produce in it's entire 10 billion year lifetime.

Known Universe: Stellar Storms

Thursday, April 8, at 10 PM ET.

Start off with seeing the worst, tornadoes, earthquakes, lightning/thunderstorms, heatwaves the Earth has to offer then travel to Jupiter to visit the Great Red Spot, a storm 3 times the size of Earth that has been going on for maybe 1,000s of years, with winds up to 500 mph, which btw would rip into wood, Earth's fastest recorded wind is 300 mph. Head to Neptune's Great Dark Spot, a storm the size of Earth with winds of up to 1000 mph, then off to exoplanet HD80606B (image above) with storm winds of up to 11, 000 mph. Saturn's Moon Titan coming in at around -300 F has methane showers and lakes, exoplanet Corot-7b with temps of 3,000 F has rivers and lakes of molten minerals and liquefied zinc showers. See dust storms on Mars that cover the whole planet, you'll visit these places and more with the aid of cool CGI

Known Universe: Alien Contact

Thursday, April 16, at 10 PM ET.

The age old question, is there other intelligent life out there somewhere in the Cosmos? Did God create the heavens so we could take pictures of cool things like galaxies just so we could use them as wallpaper on our desktops? I personally think there is other intelligent life out there, I mean there are billions and billions of galaxies, and billions and billions of stars in each of those galaxies, with the majority having planets orbit them, odds are there has got to be a few with intelligent life on them. You'll learn of the Kepler Mission to hunt out Earth like planets, visit SETI, travel to Saturn's Moon Enceladus, Jupiter's Europa, both ice wolds that may have life beneath their surface.

Known Universe: Decoding The Skies

Thursday, April 29, at 10 PM ET.

What we take for granted, and rarely even look at anymore, our cosmos, was what the ancients used and decoded for survival. Being able to understand the stars was key in developing, clocks and calenders, gave the hunter gathers of the time the ability to know when the best time was for planting crops, giving them the power to adapt, therefore they could advance from hunter gatherers to settlers and better make use of their time to solve more of their day to day problems. You'll see some of the most magnificent and largest monuments ever built, such as the Pyramids and Stonehenge how they are related to the heavens and if maybe the ancients had a little help with the construction from alien visitors. Just a cool fact, one of many in this show. The Dogon tribe in North Africa worshiped a star Sirius B back in 3200BC, the thing is it wasn't even discovered till 1862, how did they know about it, simple, they said they had visitors from there, well I'm not saying it's true, I'm saying it's kind of cool, the Ancients if nothing else have very interesting histories.

Known Universe: Final Frontiers

Thursday, May 6, 10 PM ET.

The two major frontiers left to explore, Deep Space and our Deep Oceans, we have only explored 5% of our oceans and less then that of space. Blind shrimp, albino crabs, huge clams, giant tube worms, with human like blood, up until just a while ago we never knew these things ever existed here on earth, deep in our oceans. The ability to stand and thrive in extreme pressures with no sunlight, life was more adaptable and creative then we could ever have imagined, life elsewhere in the universe became a whole lot more probable. This gave scientists who are looking for alien life a better understanding of how life on other planets might thrive and where to go looking for it, like the ice moons of Enceladus and Europa . Interesting fact, there are 2 million animal and plant species, living on the Earth, 200,000 living in our oceans, some scientists are saying there might be as many as 25 million more marine species to be discovered. From Deep Oceans to Deep Space, you'll learn how our universe is expanding and why. Ninety Five percent of our Universe is made up of stuff we do not know the nature of, Dark Matter and Dark Energy may be the cause of it's expansion.

Known Universe: Cosmic Fury

Thursday, May 13, 10 PM ET.

Volcanoes and Earthquakes have killed 75 million people in recorded history, can you imagine if we had planet wide volcanoes like Venus, at any one time, Venus has 1600 major erupting volcanoes and up to 100,000 smaller ones. Io, one of Jupiter's Moons has 300 going on at the same time , with eruptions 100s of miles in the air. Being so close to Jupiter the tidal forces at work are such that during it's high tide the surface is actually stretched 330 ft in the air. Our Sun has solar flares thousands of miles into space, when they break they snap down onto it's surface creating a Sun quake, 11.3 on the Richter scale, 100 times more powerful then our largest ever recorded Earthquake. Talk about Cosmic Fury, Magnetars, a type of Neutron star, their flares can cause quakes of 32 on the Richter scale, that would turn Earth's crust inside out.

Well there you have it, some cool shows coming your way the next couple months. I'll leave you now with a preview of the first in the series Cosmic Collisions.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Mostly Images

Been quite busy taking tons of images lately and just thought I'd post some of them. The Moon and Pleiades are my favorite celestial grouping and a week from tonight, Saturday March 20 they will once again be dancing together across the night sky, look to the SW just after Sunset to see them, use binoculars if you can.

I used to think that atmospheric phenomena such as Solar and Lunar halos were rather rare,

but am finding due to the fact that I am out and about more these days, I have noticed that they come and go frequently, got 3 halos a corona and some sundogs within a time frame of just over a month.

What it is, they aren't so much rare as fleeting, caught all the events while either just leaving or coming home from some place and rushing to get my camera, which by the way I have set up and ready to go by my back door.

The Solar halo above for example, I was just pulling into my driveway from work and noticed while getting out of the car and looking up, half a solar halo, ran into the house grabbed my camera which was already set up by the back door allowing me to be out on the back deck taking images just as it was completing the arc, took a few pics and then watched it dissolve away right before my very eyes, total time..around 5 minutes.

Same with the sundogs and solar pillar, coming home for lunch noticed the dogs, got the camera and snapped the image, they lasted the longest of all the phenomena, around 15 minutes, it's all about stopping to smell the roses, look and you shall receive.

Went out with Astro-Nuts to capture the elusive zodiacal lights. They are very faint but beautiful, they mimic light pollution. The zodiacal light is a product of Sunlight being scattered by cosmic dust left behind by comets and asteroids, therefore it is most apparent right above the setting Sun, lower right in the above image. Notice as well the wasted light on the left of the image taking out part of Orion, caused by Saskatoon's famous light polluting, Co2 producing Dakota Dunes Casino, wasting energy, light and also taking away our God given beauty and wonders of the night sky......they have no shame.

And a favorite thing of mine, a morning Moon, took the above image with my telescope a week ago, woke up early morning, no wind, birds chirping. God is so good putting me at the right place at the right time, to be able to transform these temporary and fleeting moments into images to be shared and appreciated by you.