Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas Moon

The above Lunar image is the December 100% of Full Moon, or as the Colonial Americans used to call it, "Christmas Moon". Actually went looking for a Sunset just on the outskirts of town, no luck again clouds, but when I turned around and glanced at the East, a got a light red Moonrise low on the horizon, took my anamorphic widescreen camera and got the pic. Just before Mars came close I got the shot below of the Christmas Moon through my Telescope, complete with a light cloud cover.

Various Cultures have different names for the monthly Full Moon. The Celtic call the December Full Moon "Cold Moon", the Chinese call it "Bitter Moon", Neo Pagan "Long Night Moon" but my fav is what the Colonial Americans called it "Christmas Moon", although "Twelfth Moon" is kind of catchy, that was the name given to the December Full Moon by the Dakotah Sioux.

If you don't mind getting up at 2 in the morning, boy have I got a meteor shower for you. The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks Jan 3rd. evening through to the morning hours of January 4th. It's radiant, that is where all the meteors seem to start from, is in the constellation "Quadrans Muralis" which by the way no longer exists. In 1920 the International Astronomical Union dropped the constellation when it decided on the final 88 official constellations we know and love today. So come next Friday at 2 am look towards the N.E. that's when and where the show begins, don't forget to dress warmly, it is January. Expect around 1-2 meteors a minute. I'll be up and out there, the weather network says it will only be -1c, and the weather network is always right!

UPDATE: NASA/JPL Near -Earth Object Program announced Friday that the chances of Mars getting hit from asteroid 2007 WD 5 has increased from a 1 in 75 chance to 1 in 25 chance . They made the adjustments based on the asteroid's appearance on 3 images taken November 8th, nearly 2 weeks before the actual discovery, the observations were then added to the existing observations and the prediction was refined.

Below is an animation of Spirit arriving at it's winter resting place, broke wheel and all, apparently little Spirit's been travelling around with a broke right front wheel since March 2006, the cause is a broken circuit on the wheel motor drive. Opportunity being closer to the equator is still doing science over at Victoria Crater at Cape St.Mary.

Coming up January 3rd. is Spirit's 4 year anniversary, Opportunity's 4 year anniversary is January 25th., not bad for a mission that was only supposed to last 90 days.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Mars Occultation by The Full Moon

If you lived in North West Canada, Alaska, Northern Russia or Eastern Europe you would have been treated to a Lunar Occulatation of Mars December 23rd, that is when Mars slips behind the Moon. Here in Saskatoon we didn't get the Occultation but Mars did get close enough to the Full Moon to get both in the same field of view of my telescope. The cool image above was taken with my big scope and digital camera, Mars is the little unassuming red planet bottom left, not like some planets, not like Saturn, "Hi I'm Saturn, I'm the most beautiful planet in the universe, I have lots of moons and beautiful rings". Mars is more like , "Hi .... I'm Mars". Earlier in the evening I also got a cool wide angle image with my anamorphic widescreen palmcorder, I made a gif with reflecting water below the image. The wispy clouds over the Moon give it a haunting appearance. Hey by the way, the next time you get that Email hoax thing where it says that Mars is going to be the same size as the Moon, send them back the above image, note the size difference.

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The real neat thing is I had my scope and equipment on my front sidewalk in front of my house and people were going by asking what I was doing, when I explained about the occultation, how Mars was going to get very close to the Moon they all wanted a look and all were were amazed at how Mars and the Moon looked in a scope, a lot of wows and amazings were spoken by all, I gotta do more sidewalk astronomy, very fulfilling.

Got a couple of cool things for Christmas. My wife got me a Moroccan Iron Meteorite , it was found by nomads in the Sahara desert, meteorites are awesome, they've been flying around out in space for 4.5 billion years, to one day land on Earth to be held by me, if that isn't just the coolest thing I don't know what is.

My wife also did a painting of the Trifid Nebula complete with stars! It was really quite amazing the work that went into it, how many layers of paint, and that most of it was done with her fingers, not a brush, the stars were accomplished with a flicking of the brush.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Solar Stuff and Mars Attack!!!!

Got a cool pic of the Sun a couple days ago. it was shinning behind some wispy clouds and looked huge, grabbed my palmcorder and took the pic. The thing I like about the images is that they are in 16:9 Anamorphic widescreen, looks classy, and I love to say Anamorphic. Another Anamorphic Widescreen image I took is below, it is our lovely Sun in all it's Solar Minimum glory. Just missed an actual sunspot, #0978 had just rotated out of view a few hours before this image was taken. I took this image of the Sun with my Anamorphic Widescreen Plamcorder, stuck my white light telescopic Solar filter in front of it with one hand and snapped the image with the other, in this image you can see solar granules on the surface of the Sun, gives it a grainy appearance, basically they are caused by bubbling plasma, the same way when you boil fudge on the stove it bubbles, or boling water.

I put on the image for comparisons sake circles representing the sizes of Jupiter and Earth, the ratio is 1, 10, 100, that is the Sun is roughly 10 x the diameter of Jupiter, Jupiter is 10x the diameter of Earth, therefore the Sun is 100x the diameter of the Earth. Haven't posted many pictures of the Sun since I started my blog mostly because it is at Solar Minimum. The Sun goes through this 11 year cycle of high and low activity, right now and up until March of next year we are at the low spot , after March the Sun will start it's 5 and a half year climb to Solar max and we will slowly see increases in the amount and frequency of items such as solar flares, sunspots and prominences, nothing like a good ole solar flare to raise my spirits! Below is an image I took of the Sun a couple years ago while it still had some cool activity.

An asteroid, which by the way has been tracked by NASA since November 20, has a 1 in 75 chance of hitting little Mars on January 30th, 2008. Asteroid 2007 WD5 is around 160 feet across, is also supposed to be similar to the asteroid that broke up in midair before it flattened a Siberian forest back in 1908. If it does hit Mars the rovers may or may not get an image of the event, they figure it will hit somewhere north of Opportunity.

The blue arrow in the above image shows the predicted path of the asteroid and the orange line is the predicted impact zone. Scientists say the asteroid is behind the Moon right now, they will have a better idea if and when it will hit Mars in January when the glow of the Moon dies down and they can fine tune it's trajectory. NASA is pretty excited about the prospect of an asteroid hitting Mars, no one has ever witnessed an asteroid hitting anything, I'm all excited it's not gonna hit us!!

Since this will be my last post till after Christmas, MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE !!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Lunar Images and Black Holes

Finally a break in the weather, was able to get some good detailed shots of the Moon's surface. The last month or so we have either had cloud cover or frosty skies making the Moon look like a giant frosty ball, not good for taking pics. The above picture is a 68% of full Moon. I'd like to thank Anna over at My Only Photo for helping me figure out how to get the GIF file below working on my post, she had a great reflecting Full Moon on one of her recent posts which I just had to replicate with one of my Moon shots.

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I also got good shot of a 43% of Full Moon a few nights back. I used a yellow filter to bring more of the Lunar surface detail out.

Hopefully the weather co-operates cause December 23/24 we have a Full Moon, which is cool but that's not all, here in Saskatoon Mars is going to get very close to the Moon as well, might be a good photo op, actually if you live in N.W. Canada, Alaska, Northern Russia or Eastern Europe, you will get what they call a Lunar occultation of Mars, that is when Mars slips behind the Moon, I'm not quite far enough N.W. to get to enjoy the occultation but Mars and the Moon should get close enough to get in the same image, we'll see.

Okay now here is a Black Hole with some serious attitude! NASA called a special news conference last Monday to announce the awesome discovery of what they are calling "The Death Star Galaxy" In the image above the bigger galaxy's black hole is shooting out massive amounts of X-Rays and Gamma Rays to its smaller probably friendlier neighbor galaxy. The effect of this unprovoked attack could be disastrous to any planets in it's path, especially since the galaxies are only 20,000 light years apart. Scientist figure this happened about 1 million years ago. Because of the rarity of the event NASA will be paying close attention to this one. To put this into perspective, a death ray this size would basically destroy our ozone layer within a manner of months and life as we know it would eventually cease to exist.

NASA has just announced that they have found the cause of Shuttle Atlantis's faulty fuel sensors. The problem has been traced back to an over sized electrical socket that bridges the interior and exterior of Atlantis's external tank. They now have to figure out if the repair can be done in time for the new January 10th. launch date.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Rovers Get Ready For Martian Winter

NASA is moving Spirit Rover to a sunnier place to prepare for the upcoming Martian winter. They have found a nice sun facing slope to park the little rover. Opportunity on the other hand is closer to the equator so they aren't quite as concerned about it as much, also Spirit still has a lot of dust on it's solar panels left behind from the dust storms so it will have less power over the winter months. The majority of Opportunity's dust was blown off by wind gusts.

NASA scientists are going over Spirit's most important discovery to date. Just before the dust storms Spirit discovered nearly pure silica, scientists say it could have come from either a hot spring or fumarole, fumaroles are vents or holes in a volcanic environment in which gases and vapor vent to atmosphere. Either of these conditions on Earth would harbor lots of microbial life, just more evidence life once or still may exist on Mars.

NASA has a cool section on their website called Spooky Sounds, check it out, one of the sounds is a sonic boom of Jupiter captured by Voyager 1 in 1979, the sonic boom is created as the Solar wind moves past the planets at supersonic speed. There is also a cool Saturn's Aurora sound picked up by the Cassini's Spacecraft electronic equipment. I found a YouTube video of a lot of these sounds together below including the Voyager 1 probe encountering Solar winds.

JD from "The Uneasy Supplicant" has once again honoured me with an award, the "Blogger Cleverness Award, for being terribly clever" Jd has an awesome story, poetry, photo site all grouped into one which I visit quite regularly.

I want to pass this award on to swubird, Ya gotta check out his blog, he has an extensive military background and has very interesting posts, very glad I found this one!

Okay just got a new toy, a palmcorder. Panasonic SDR-H18. My wife got it for me as a pre-Christmas gift. Think of the possibilities, my first use of this device is to bring you Bing and Dean, check out the video below, after Dean does his thing notice what he does with his mike hand, cracks me up every time!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lunar Surface In HD 3-D

People, this has got to be the coolest thing ever in the world, or should I say Solar System. Kaguya the Japanese Moon orbiter has released the first ever super high def 3-D images of the Lunar surface and released them in movie form!!! They were taken with Kaguya's onboard terrain camera, which is basically two cameras in one, one pointing forward and one pointing behind the orbiter, therefore being able to take stereoscopic images. There are 3 movies released, two of which can be viewed by the general population without 3-D glasses, the third or anaglyph images movie has to be viewed with 3-D glasses, which of course I just happen to have, and is it the sweetest thing ever, just feels and looks more real. You may ask how did I come by 3-D glasses. Good question, when I purchased my copy of Spy Kids 3-D Game Over , believe it or not came with 4 pairs of 3-D glasses! You may also ask, why I would purchase a copy of the kids movie Spy Kids 3-D game Over, because I used to be a spy kid when I was a kid. My parents bought me a Secret Sam outfit.

Secret Sam came with a gun you put together, white bullets, a cool periscope you could attached to the gun, so you could spy ducked down behind something, but the coolest thing you got with it is an actual working camera that as you can see from the lower left of the picture, fit into the briefcase, you could then close the case and activate the camera with a secret button on the outside of the case and take the enemy's picture like a spy without them knowing about it. I think that was the point when my love for cameras started, I just remember taking a lot of pictures with that camera and my Dad having to get them all developed the old way, you know we didn't have digital back when I was a kid, sorry for the major tangent, back to space stuff.

Not to be outdone NASA just released the highest ever resolution of a couple of Saturn's UFO shaped moons. Atlas 24x11 miles big and pan 20x13 miles big. Both images were taken with the Cassini spacecraft's narrow-angle camera. Both moons orbit around Saturn in Saturn's outer rings.

Saturn's rings formed due to a few major moons orbiting Saturn colliding, the resulting debris quickly fell into orbit around Saturn forming the rings we know of today, scientist figure that some smaller particles attached themselves to a couple of the larger core rocks forming the UFO shaped moons Pan and Atlas.

On a final note, don't forget the Geminid meteor shower starts tonight at around 9pm EST, look in the east for the constellation Gemini the radiant of the shower for the start of the show.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Lunar Real Estate

Still can't think think of what to get for that someone special for Christmas? How bout real estate? How bout Lunar real estate? For a mere $36 you can purchase one acre of prime view Lunar property. Dennis Hope of the Lunar Embassy back in 1980 made a claim for the entire Lunar surface at his local Government claim registries office, and it was accepted and registered! But Dennis, or the "Head Cheese" as he likes to be called, didn't stop there, he also sent a letter of intent to claim and sell extraterrestrial property to The UN, USSR and the US governments. To this date no one has contested his claims so Dennis Hope was able to take it to the next step, to copyright his work with the US copyright registry office.

NASA has said "property rights on the Moon are governed by the United Nations" "The Moon comes under the same jurisdiction as international waters" I say who is NASA to say anything, just sour grapes that they didn't think of claiming the Moon first. The Outer Space Treaty , that's right the Outer Space Treaty, forbids countries from claiming celestial bodies but nothing in the treaty says an individual or corporation can't.

To date over 4 million people have bought property on the Moon, including celebs like George Lucas, Barbara Walters, a few ex-Presidents, some NASA employees and me. That's right me, mock me now but when my Great Great Grand kids are negotiating with NASA to buy their property because they want to build a Helium-3 Processing Plant, I'll be having the last laugh, well I won't, I'll be dead but my Great Great Grand kids will be alive and laughing all the way to the bank. So what do you get for your 36 bucks, you get your Lunar Deed, your Lunar map of where your property is , The Lunar Constitution and a short story "You Own The What" which includes the Declaration of Ownership filed with the US, USSR and United Nations. They have an excellent FAQs area, questions such as "Can I get to the Moon Now?" to a vitally important question "Do you believe in the prime directive?" (alien bases far side).

NASA just announced hours ago that they have again delayed the launch of STS 122 Atlantis due to another faulty fuel sensor. These fuel sensors protect the Shuttle's main engines by shutting them down in the event of unexpectedly low fuel. The launch has been rescheduled for January 2nd.

Tatiana over at Totally-Useless has honoured me with her Totally Useful and deserving blogger award, I accept the award and will post it proudly on my blog. Tatiana has a great blog about her personal philosophies and things that may seem useless on the surface, usually aren't. I would like to pass this award on to 3 blogs I visit and enjoy regularly.

JD at The Uneasy Supplicant , awesome writings and images.

Will at Healthy Living for People and Planet Earth , great advice for a healthier life.

Rick at Deep Sky Blog another awesome astronomy site to visit for your astronomy/astrophotography updates.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Voyager 2 Approaches Termination Shock

Voyager 2 is set to cross the Termination Shock either this month or early next year. The termination shock is the point at which the solar winds change dramatically from about a million miles per hour to around 250,000 miles per hour, in other words, little Voyager is leaving home and the effects of our Sun. The Voyager will then be in the Heliosphere, after that intergalactic space. Voyager 2 launched August 20 1977 on a five year mission to explore our planets and their moons, well it is 30 years later and both the Voyager 1 spacecraft, (which by the way reached the Heliosphere back in 2004) and Voyager 2 spacecraft are still in daily contact with the Deep Space Network sending new and unknown information from afar. Voyager 1 is about 10 billion miles from Earth, and it takes 14 hours for information from the spacecraft to reach Earth, Voyager 2 is around 8.0 billion miles from Earth and it's signal takes 11 hours to reach us. Both spacecraft carry with them a message on a gold record just in case aliens decide to pull them over, hopefully friendly aliens, since we gave them the directions to get here.

Just a friendly reminder that the Geminids meteor shower is just a week away, look at the date of this article, did I miss a time warp or something? The above photo was taken by Anna over at My Only Photo. Anna got a good shot last August of a Perseid meteor, awesome shot, check out her other work as well. Anna is my Blackholes and Astrostuff roving reporter out east(unpaid), she has a a cool Story Blob blog you should check out as well. The Geminids will start Thursday December 13th at around 9 pm EST and continue on through the night until Gemini sets in the west early Friday morning. The Geminids are the most reliable of the meteor showers producing around 50 meteors an hour or about one a minute. The Geminids originate from the 3200 Phaethon asteroid. The shower appears to radiate from the Gemini Constellation which will be low in the east around 9pm, as the night progresses Gemini travels to the SE, then the south ,then SW then sets in the west around 10 am EST Friday, bonus, look for Mars, a bright orange object in the constellation as well that night.

Being Christmas time and all I thought I would link to my Buying a Telescope post, it has a lot of good information in it, if your looking to buy a telescope for someone special this year you should find this post useful. Isn't that a nice summery picture above? I decided to go out to my cold backyard and take a picture as it looks now.

I don't usually give names to my photos, but this one I call "WINTER SUCKS"

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Shuttle Atlantis STS 122

Shuttle Atlantis has been given the green light to launch Thursday December 6th. at 4:31pm EST. STS 122 main mission is to install the the European Columbus space laboratory onto the newly installed Harmony Node 2 on the International Space Station. NASA's website has had a cool makeover, very user friendly and aesthetically pleasing to the eye, check it out, has something for everyone, even the kids.

Anna over at My Only Photo tagged me with "Proudest Moment Of My Life". I have been tagged numerous times but being the introvert I am have not followed through with any of them. I am going to do something different this time, the last 3 tags I have received this week I will group in this post.

The proudest moment of my life besides being married of course was holding my new born baby girls in my arms for the first time, I was in the operating room for both procedures, very surrealistic, one moment they were in their mother's body, the next thing I knew I was holding a living breathing being in my arms, to this day I am proud of the fine young ladies that they have become.

DrowseyMonkey over at DrowseyMonkey has tagged me with name 5-10 courses you would like to take to improve your life and then one you would like to take with the person that tagged you.

1. A University course in Astronomy, I would love to learn more of the technical aspects and theory of the cosmos, also to help me sound more professional when I post about astrostuff.

2. Computer Science/networking, so I could be a computer IT guy, I just want to say to somebody over the phone, "is it plugged in?"

3. Automotive repair 101. lets face it wouldn't it be nice to be able to fix your car or at least do more then check that the battery cables aren't loose when your car doesn't start.

4. Photo shop, there is so much in this software that I would like to know how to use besides the saturation and contrast features.

5. Creative Writing, so I don't sound like a caveman when I do work memos or blog posts.

The last part of the tag is to pick a course you'd like to take with the person that tagged you, that would be the astronomy course, no particular reason for that choice other then the fact I love to share the wonders of the Universe and I think drowseymonkey would like that pick.

The last tag came from Tatiana from Totally- Useless, list 7 random or weird facts about yourself and tag 7 others.

1. I've just found out that I use "your" instead of "you're" when writing, spellcheck of course doesn't pick it up, and when I proof read my brain doesn't see it as a problem, I'm sure you will find lots of stuff like that in my posts with other words I shouldn't be using, see point 5 above.

2.I'm the only guy I know my age that loves video games. Right now I have a fake steering wheel, fake orange gun and fake guitar that I play more then my real one.

3. People who have monotone voices make me sleepy and bored.

4. Can't stand the sight of blood, or medical diagrams/pictures, you know the ones that show the muscles and veins and organs, get wheezy just thinking about it. I was getting an eye exam and the doctor had a medical diagram and was explaining the procedure he was going to perform, talked in a slow monotone voice naming all the various parts of the eye, I thought great I am stuck looking at this diagram and getting queasy, my only hope is he puts me to sleep before I pass out, too late the next thing I knew they were asking me if I was okay and if I would like some water, geez I hate when that happens.

5. I hate big giant books with no pictures.

6. I sing and play my real guitar really loud when no one's home.

7. My 2 most prized possessions are a couple of Christmas song singing dummies called Bing and Dean.

Because it is that time of year, and everybody is probably busy shopping and getting ready for Christmas I will put off the tagging other people part for a later TBA date. I'll leave you now with a pic of my fav singing dummies.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Beaver Moon

The above Lunar image is my full November Moon. Taken with my BIG scope not my computerized scope, my BIG scope allows me to take wide angle pictures of the Moon, and at these cold temps if I were to turn on my computerized scope it would blow up and then start on fire. Taken last Friday night during a break in the clouds. The November full Moon is called the "Full Beaver Moon", a name given it by early Native Americans because it was time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze so they could gather a good supply of furs for the winter months, another reason for the name is the beavers are actively preparing for winter. I have also labeled my Moon with most of the major seas and some major craters and a couple mountain ranges, gives you an idea where everything is.

Ever wonder why we only ever see one side of the Moon? To really understand this concept you have to stick a loved one, cat or plant in the middle of the room and look the loved one, cat or plant in the eye, stand 3 feet or so away from them and pretend you have a surprise behind your back you don't want them to see. Do a complete circle (orbit) around them until you are back at your starting point. Notice what you had to do with your body to keep your back and surprise away from them, you had to rotate your body in the direction of your travel around them exactly 360 degrees. That's what the Moon does, it rotates on its axis one time for every orbit of the Earth to keep its alien bases surprise from us. Technically we are locked gravitationally into a synchronous rotation/revolution pattern with the Moon.

NASA just released a couple days ago images of Mar's moons Phobos and Deimos. Taken by CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars)Probe. CRISM is mapping Mars geology as well as looking for water and as they put it "Help locate Martian resources that could provide local support for eventual human exploration and colonization of Mars". Phobos, top image above is a captured asteroid and is on a slow collision course with Mars, slow as in 50 million years. Deimos is also a captured asteroid and the smaller of the 2 moons. Okay now take a look at our lovely and beautiful Moon, as in the top image I took above, now take a look at the second image of Mar's moons, need I say more? I'm just saying our Moon is an oddity not only in the way it was formed by a collision of two planets but also because of how beautiful and mysterious it is.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Comet Holmes Update

The above clip has my best 74x images of Comet Holmes, notice the size of the comet getting progressively bigger until it is bigger than my field of view of my scope set up. I played with with the last 2 images in photo shop to get below the debris layers to see what was going on again with the nucleus. The photo shopped versions really show how uniform the expansion of the debris field away from the nucleus is, very cool, also notice the green color in the second image, this is carbon monoxide gas, a by-product of the explosion/impact fluorescing in the sunlight.

Scientists still don't know the exact cause of Comet Holmes outburst which increased it's brightness one million times, there's 2 major theories; the comet was hit by an asteroid or due to the repeated warming of the comet's nucleus the protective ice subliminated exposing a piece of the nucleus which then exploded shooting 100 millions of tons of dust into space.

Comet Holmes is now moving away from us, it is 250,000 km distant, as you can see from above image it will be moving in the sky as well, you can now spot it on the other side of Mirfak in the constellation Perseus. It is actually getting harder to see because even though it's overall brightness has remained the same at around 2.5-3.0 magnitude the light is spread over a greater distance as the comet continues to expand from tens of thousands of miles across to now several hundred thousand miles across. Better get out and enjoy it while you can, won't be around for another 6.88 years and chances are unless it gets hit by an asteroid or has another explosion, you will not be able to see it, in other words, this could be a once in a lifetime event!

JD over at The Uneasy Supplicant , who by the way has an amazing blog, check it out, has awarded me with "You're an Amazing Blogger" award, I proudly accept this award. Awards are always good to get, shows that someone out there appreciates what you are doing. I will now pass this award on to some of the amazing blogs that I visit regularly, give them a try, from photos to the paranormal to totally useless stuff, it's all here.

Rand at My Paranormal Life ,

Anna at My Only Photo ,

DrowseyMonkey at DrowseyMonkey ,

Paula at self taught artist ,

JJ at Nature Shows and Dreams ,

Kathy at Photography by KML ,

Peter at St Vincents Darlinghurst Male Nurses,

Tatiana at Totally-Useless .

I don't usually give out this many awards, but it is Christmas time and to date I hadn't gotten these people anything, so, "MERRY CHRISTMAS!"

One final note, the The Saskatchewan Roughriders won the Grey Cup last night, we are all pretty proud here in Saskatchewan!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Colors Of The Moon

Very happy, got a break in the clouds and was able to snap some images of the Moon a couple nights ago! It has been cloudy, cold and snowy here what seems like forever so when I got the opportunity, carried my big A_ _ ( hint, not arm) scope up the stairs and outside the front door to snap some quick pics before the clouds come back, which they did after about an hour. It was cold out, about -10c but that's good, less turbulence in the air, on my Moon shots there is more detail, the ray system of both Tycho and Copernicus really stand out.

I put my camera on the highest quality setting to squeeze as many pixels as possible out of it to see if I could draw out the colors of the Moon by saturating it in photo shop. The image below was the result. My best attempt to date. The blues/greens such as the Sea Of Tranquility, (the blue color sea top center of the Moon), represent Lunar basalts high in metals such as titanium, thorium and iron; the rust colors are metal poor basalts like the Sea Of Serenity , just to the west of the Sea of Tranquility and one of the eyes of the famous face on the Moon; the white colors represent the continental highlands platform ejecta, consisting of anorthosites containing some aluminum and finally the bright white areas are recent impact ejecta.

Notice Tycho crater, the bright white crater bottom right of the Moon with the extensive ray system, scientists believe that the impactor which hit the Moon and created Tycho was the result of a collision between 2 asteroids in the main asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars and they also believe that same collision created another impactor which in turn hit the Earth 65 million years ago and caused the mass extinction of the dinosaur. Well right about now you're probably wondering as I am how you got from a guy taking a picture of the Moon in his front yard to the mass extinction of the dinosaurs, don't ask, couldn't tell you, I do this on the fly a lot of times, hope you find it interesting.

I was reading an article the other day about how odd our Moon is, odd in the sense that our Moon was probably created by our Earth colliding with a Mars size planet about 4.5 billion years ago, the rocks and dust that were blasted from the collision formed the Moon. Scientists are saying this only happens 5-10% of the time. Planetary systems are usually formed side by side or planets acquire their moons by gravity.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Magnificent Desolation

Just when I thought I'd have to wait until February/08 to watch Astronauts walk on the Moon I happened to be surfing the net and found a newly released DVD called " Magnificent Desolation Walking on the Moon ", it's tag line being, "Only 12 have walked on the moon, YOU'RE NEXT". So within a half hour I had picked it up and double bonus just as I arrived at Rogers they were unpacking Guitar Hero III for the PS3 which I picked up for my boss, you can not find this game anywhere in town, so killing two birds with one stone made both of us happy and made 10 bucks in the process, the tip from the Boss. The movie is Narrated by Tom Hanks and you can't go wrong with Tom Hanks as a narrator, second only to James Earl Jones in this category, oh and both Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are the executive producers.

Buzz Aldrin the second man to walk on the Moon and the Apollo 11 Lunar Module pilot actually coined the phrase "A Magnificent Desolation" when he stepped on the Moon , magnificent for the ability of man being able to go to the Moon and desolation for the extreme desolation of the Moon. There is a lot of rarely seen footage on this DVD, some of the astronauts would be walking along just talking to capcom (capsule communications from Earth) when they would trip over a rock or just trip up and fall, quite funny the amount of times this would happen, never saw this on the live versions. Another very interesting thing I learned from this DVD is that the Moon played visual tricks on the astronauts, because there was no buildings or trees on the Moon the astronauts perspective was out of sync, they had a hard time telling how big or far away things were, example, Capcom was asking the Apollo 15 astronauts about how far away they were from Hadley Rille, they replied they weren't too sure but estimated about 50 metres, right after that they were surprised when the edge gave way and it started to slope down to the bottom of the Rille, now Hadley Rille is a gorge comparable to the Grand Canyon, yet they couldn't see it coming, I found that very interesting and as they put it they had to be very careful because of it.
Overall a very good movie, if you like the Moon and space travel it is a no brainer pick it up.

There is a newly released computer network sharing program called Cosmology at Home. Works on the same principle as SETI at Home, you donate your computer's free time, resources and bandwidth for the greater good of either looking for aliens as with SETI or help solving the mysteries of the universe with cosmology at home. Some of the things you will be helping research with cosmology at home are items such as the universe acceleration, distribution of galaxies and fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, right now as I'm doing this post I am also looking for new pulsars as well as aliens, no flys on me! All you do is go to their web site and download their interface a program called Boinc and you're good to go. You don't have to do aliens or cosmology stuff there's numerous research programs you can help with, such as temperature patterns if you're in to global warming, to researching malaria.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Moon Rise In High Definition

The Japanese Moon Probe Kaguya has sent back stunning images of an Earth rise, the above picture and Earth set the below picture. Notice below in the Earth setting picture the Earth appears upside down, visible is Australia and Asia. The images were taken 62 miles above the Lunar surface. Bonus for us Canadians, the Discovery Channel HD in partnership with Japanese broadcaster NHK will be showing Return To The Moon which is about the probes mission to the Moon and will show the most current images. This program will be repeated throughout the coming weeks starting November 14/07. I will be PVRing mine this afternoon while I'm at work, very cool.

The Shuttle Atlantis made it's 7 hour 3 mile journey to it's launch pad in preparation for the December 6th. launch. This will be the 24th shuttle mission to the ISS. Atlantis's main mission will be to install the European Space Agency's Columbus module which will be dedicated to long term space research.

The Google AdSense ads have been working out great for me! So far I've purchased a 9.95 Earth rise Hi Res print, and 2,000 satellite TV stations for my laptop for only 50 bucks. the one ad said "Shocking discovery they don't want you to know", well who doesn't want to know what they don't want you to know? So now I have 2,000 satellite TV stations on my PC AND I now know what they didn't want me to know, check and mate, sometimes my own intelligence amazes even me.

I will leave you with a video I put together on Lunar travel using my Tycho perspective image, duplicated over and over again with the perspective changed a little each frame to give the illusion of moving over the Lunar surface.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Comet Holmes' Tail

Hot off the presses, my latest image of Comet Holmes taken last night. It is composed of 80 images at 10 secs for each image and the best stacked together. I then processed it in photo shop using the shadow/highlight feature to remove the whites of the dust particles to get underneath the exterior dust to see what was going on with the nucleus, I then increased the levels of the other colors to get a false color image showing the highly magnified nucleus releasing particles to feed it's ever expanding tail, isn't that just too cool! I put the before and after photoshopped images into a little clip above and entitled it, that's right "Comet Holmes Tail".

Comet Holmes is moving away from us now, and is also moving in the sky as well. Last night it appeared much closer as in the above image to the star Mirfak, and the comet will in the next few months make a semi-circle around the constellation Perseus. The best time for viewing is right now while there is a nearly new moon and the comet is still in it's bright phase, who knows how long it will last.

I signed up with Google AdSence, certainly not for the money but to provide a service for my guests. I was leery about the type of advertising they would supply for me, but the very first ad change my mind on that. It was an ad to purchase the newly released Apollo Hi-Res scans of the original Hassleblad lunar 70mm camera images, and get this you can get them in sizes of up to 3x4 feet! The images that have been scanned to date so far are kept at Arizona State University

Also on the site where you can purchase the framed prints is a Trailer for David Sington's directed documentary "In The Shadow Of The Moon". I definitely want to see this movie but it probably won't be released here in Saskatoon, have to wait for the DVD release February 12th. 2008. The film is a documentary about the astronauts who circled or landed on the Moon between 1968 and 1972. One astronaut said as he was standing on the Lunar surface looking back at Earth "I felt that I was literally standing on God's front porch" I am going to leave you with another one of my flying over Tycho perspective images. Tycho is the crater top center of the image with a Central peak.