Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sun Dogs and Desert Glass

Was out imaging a Sunrise when a couple Sun dogs formed, very pretty and long.

I thought to myself, what a beautiful backdrop for a piece of my Libyan Desert Glass so I ran home hoping that the dogs would still be there when I got back, they were, and took a pic.

You can actually see a little of a Solar Pillar coming up through the middle of the glass. What exactly is Libyan Desert Glass?

Just back in 1998 an Italian Mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele was visiting the Egyptian Museum in Cairo when he happened to notice the scarab in one of King Tutankhamun's breastplates. The Egyptians said it was a semi precious stone used in some of the Egyptian's Pharaoh's jewelery back in the day. Vincenzo had his doubts and did some research on the scarab and found it to be glass. He then remembered back in 1932 when British explorer Patrick Clayton found this yellow green glass in the Sahara desert. Comparing it to some of the found pieces he concluded they were identical. So the mystery of this beautiful glass started, how was it made and where did it come from?

Further investigation and chemical analysis showed that the dark streaks in some of the collected samples and in my first image sample with the Sun dogs, were made up of Osmium and Iridium, both very rare and something you would not expect to find in surface rocks on Earth but are very common in meteorites. Long story short using computer models and simulations they found that the samples were probably created by an asteroid's or comet's arial burst around 28 million years ago. They figure an asteroid or comet, 120 meters in diameter hit our atmosphere at around 20 kms a second, broke up just before it hit the ground creating temperatures and a fire storm as hot as the surface of the Sun melting the surrounding sand, when the sand cooled quickly it formed this glass.

There is another theory as well. " The Altlantis Blueprint" puts forth the theory that the ancients, and by ancient I mean more so then the Egyptians, understood all about nuclear power and that some incident involving nuclear power or weapons created the desert glass, very interesting, not something I really go for but still cool to read.

Roger sent me his first Earthshine image of the Moon, great shot Roger!! Roger is getting all geared up for the Moon /Pleiades conjunction this coming Tuesday night. The Moon and Pleiades will be traveling together throughout the night but will be closest around 9:30 pm CST.

I'll leave you now with a YouTube video of part one of the special "Fireball of Tutankhamun"

Monday, January 26, 2009

God Made Meets Man Made, The Sequel

A title I have used before in an earlier post, 10 Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus 3D glasses to the first person who comments when I used it last, hint, "Sunsets". Thanks to these wacky cold -40c temps I was able to get some more cool pics of Sunrises/Sunsets. This time the Sun set perfectly behind a High Voltage Tower, how cool was that?

Flat Sunrise

Do you know that in one second the Sun produces an equivalent of a million years of Earth's energy? Problem being the Sun is 92 million miles from us and only a billionth of it's energy reaches us, and out of that billionth, we only utilize a millionth, in other words we only utilize one million billionth of the Sun's energy. Don't be so sad, they figure in around 3,200 years when we attain a Class II civilization we will have harnessed the Sun's output by using something like a Dyson sphere.

Red Flash

I have always been fascinated with the types of civilizations Humankind has to look forward to;

Type 0: Where we are now, not necessarily good for nothing, just not good as Type I.

Type I: This is where we control all the planets resources, energy output will be 1,000's of times the output we have now, can control things like the weather, earthquakes, volcanoes and build cities on oceans, time frame 200 years.

Type II: This is where we harness the power of our star the Sun, probably using something like a Dyson Sphere, time frame 3,200 years.

Type III: They are able to explore the Galaxy, have broken the light barrier, yes I believe it is possible, the physics we know now say it isn't, but hey, we are after all a class 0 civilization, what do we know? Compare this Civilization to the Borg, time frame 5,800 years.

Green Flash

All the stuff about types of civilizations and time frames is purely hypothetical
and could change depending whether or not we kill ourselves off and how fast we get stuff like the LHC up and running and benefit from what we learn from them.

I'll leave you now with an animation of a Sunrise with a solar pillar I took the other day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Saskatchewan (Buzzard Coulee) Meteorite

At around 6:26 pm CST November 20 2008 a 10 tonne meteoroid collided with our Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 km an hour creating a fireball so bright it was viewed by thousands of people across the land from British Columbia to Manitoba. This meteoroid with temperatures as hot as the Sun exploded with the force of 300 tonnes of TNT sending thousands of pieces of space debris called meteorites down to Earth over a 20 sq. km area 35 km South of Lloydminster , a place called Buzzard Coulee Saskatchewan.

I now own a piece of this meteoroid thanks to the tireless, selfless efforts of Murray who has been involved with the scientists led by Dr. Alan Hildebrand. Murray is helping with the collection of specimens as well as documenting the fall. Murray has spent countless hours negotiating a price with the local farmers to bring a few pieces to average people like me and you, very refreshing considering the money hungry people out looking to make a profit from these stones.

No I'm not a fanatic, just because I made a shrine for it or gave it the name Boba jr., there is just something about holding a piece of debris from space that makes you feel you are touching something special, and the smell, I've smelt a lot of rocks in my time but this one just smells cool, like space.

Okay, a little tech stuff here. The meteorite is classified as a H 3/4 chondrite meteorite, the H just means it's high in iron content, it will be attracted to a magnet, I have it in my hands sticking to a magnet right now, that's right I am holding it and typing right now, I'm about to smell it again, excuse me,..................., okay I'm back, awesome. Called a chondrite because it contains tiny chondrules. Chondrules are tiny droplets of silicates formed in our early Solar nebula, starting out as tiny molten droplets which cooled and then through accretion by gathering surrounding dust and particles it formed it's parent asteroid. The image above courtesy me, arrows courtesy Murray show these primitive droplets in the meteorite. By studying these chondrules it helps scientist understand how our early Solar system formed, how cool is that?

The image above is a microscopic image of the dark side of my meteorite, or what is called the fusion crust. The fusion crust is the result of the surface of the meteoroid melting due to the extreme temperatures created as it is traveling with great speed through our atmosphere, making a glassy black/blue finish, notice the stress cracks.

They estimate hundreds if not thousands of pieces are still waiting to be recovered. I will be out in the spring either with the scientists or by my self or both looking for some of these treasures and will be documenting my quest with video and pics, stay tuned.

If there is anyone reading this post that has any further information relating to the fall let me know and I will contact Murray and the team with said info.

I'll leave you now with a video of some of the news coverage back in November.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Green Flash, the Red Flash

Man oh man, I just love viewing and taking pics of sky phenomenon that sound like superheroes.
"Honey.. I'm going out to try and capture the "Green Flash". See, there is something about saying that. I have made it my goal to try and capture these elusive/seldom seen phenomenon the last couple months, and finally did.

There is only about a couple months I have to do it, you have to have a true horizon and in my area the Sun only sets on a true flat horizon December and parts of January. If you don't have a true horizon the green flash happens behind a hill or the grade of the landscape. You see, when you are looking at the Sun on the horizon, you aren't, you are looking at the apparent Sun, the real Sun is actually below the horizon but due to atmosphere refraction the real Sun is bent up, much in the same way when you put a straw in a glass of water, the medium, water, bends or refracts the straw, you see two straws , the actual and the apparent straw.

Everything in the sky, the sky being the medium, is bent to a degree, about a half, or the diameter of the Sun, the apparent or fake Sun is actually sitting on top of the real Sun, which you don't see.

The illustration above shows what happens. Because the color green has a higher frequency, it has a steeper curve, more so then the reds, and is the last color to be refracted up to be seen by you.

I've also found that regular temps don't do it. I've been out in temps anywhere from -20c to -35c. At -20c the Sun looks a normal round, and no green flash, at -35c, you see a funky Sun, parts missing, square top and the like, this is because when the Sun travels along our lower atmosphere at -35c it's sunlight goes through more atmospheric temperature extremes making the separation of the reds and greens more apparent. Sorry for getting too technical but I thought there might be some of you that would appreciate the whys.

The Red Flash above is caused by atmospheric inversions causing all of the light being blocked, again the extreme temperatures, so you get the red all by itself, this time the red's longer wavelength helps, it is able to sneak through the lower atmosphere, filled with more particles, like dust, the greens and the blues are scattered because of their higher frequency, they tend to bump into all the lower atmospheric dust particles and get scattered out of the light path. What is interesting about this image is you can actually see a tiny bit of green on top of the Sun, so I have actually captured a green and red flash in the same image.

Again, sorry for getting so technical, it's not like there is going to be a test after, so if you want you can just take a look at what I think are cool pics and move along and not having to worry about a quiz or anything.

I got a cool perigee atmospheric Moon from Ivanhoe, this one I thought I would animate, looks cool, thanks Ivanhoe for allowing me to post it, and if you want , you get a free pair of Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus 3D glasses.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The January 7 Moon and Pleiades Conjunction

Moon and Pleiades conjunction January 7, 2009.

While you can, enjoy the 6 year time frame when the Moon's orbit is such that it allows these awesome conjunctions/occultations with the Pleiades, the 6 years ends 2010, and won't be repeated again till 2022.

Moon and Pleiades conjunction April 8, 2008.

I have posted the conjunctions/occultation I have imaged since I got my camera December 2007.

Moon and Pleiades Occultation June 30, 2008.

The image above was the occultation that was not to happen, all the astronomy mags stated that the occultation would be over , turning into a conjunction by the time the Moon rose in the western part of North America, not so, the Moon rose occulting both Pleione and Atlas of the Pleiades.

Moon and Pleiades conjunction September 19, 2008.

The next meeting of these two gems of the night sky will be February 3, 2009. Look to the SW around 10:30 pm. CST.

Moon and Pleiades Conjunction December 10, 2008.

They meet again March 3, 2009, they will be at their closest around 2am that morning, just as the grouping sets in the west. All the times I have quoted are CST, if you would like an exact time in your area you can email me or visit Sky View Cafe, a great site that gives you the location of all the main celestial bodies at anytime in your location.

I'll leave you now with a beautiful double lunar corona animation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

2009 Perigee Moon

Got a shot of the 2009 Perigee 98% of Full Moon, Clouds restricted me from getting a 100% Full Moon on Saturday, still the image I got the night before was still cool and big looking, and boy was it cold. It was so cold that as I was waiting for the Moon to pop up over the clouds I looked behind me and saw a couple of Sun Dogs forming.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my fish eye lens with me, like I always do, sucks, so the images I took are with my telephoto 75-300 mm at the 75 mm setting.

Got my posters back from the printers for my International Year of Astronomy 2009 "Tour The Heavens" show.

They actually turned out pretty good.

My plan is for me to set up a small scope on the front sidewalk like I've done many times before, get people interested in some of the bigger objects like the Moon, planets and then go to the pod with the bigger scope to see the fainter objects. The IYA 2009's goal is to give 10 million people their first look through a telescope in 2009, ie. 100,000 amateur astronomers each showing the heavens to 100 people, will be a lot of fun.

Mike sent me his very first Moon picture. image above. He took it with his camera at 8X digital zoom, well done Mike, let me know if you want a pair of Hanna Montana/ Miley Cyrus 3D glasses.

I'll leave you now with a cool orange cloudscape I took the other night, in animation form of course.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Six Random Space Things

Stephanie has tagged me with a meme, I don't usually do memes, mostly because of all the rules, only one rule on this blog, and that is..... 1. There are no rules, well maybe one, I can't do swears, no swears, my wife would slap me silly.

I will follow the main rule, "Write six things most people don't know about one of your specialties. This could be hobbies, professions or whatever." So, where angels fear to tread, I will proceed.

1. The Earth is flat. You read me right, actually Anna told me about The Flat Earth Society over a year ago, I haven't stopped laughing since. They have some compelling theories that the Earth is really flat. They do a pretty good job of fielding questions from the Round Earthers, such as." If you guys think the world is flat how do you explain ships on the horizon disappearing?" Duh, and hello........... the "Bendy Light Theory"...need I say anymore?.....probably.

2. Shrouds of the Night. A newly released book that is just frigging awesome!! It stands out from all the other astronomy books I own, really, it is a real long book dimension wise, that's how it caught my attention in the bookstore. I don't know what I like more about this book, (that is apart from it's stickyouteeness), the poetic historical data from Bushman folklore about how the stars were formed, to the beautifully awesome images of our galaxy and auroras. Using state of the art near infrared technology and the best telescopes, the cold dark cosmic dust shroud that masks our view of our galaxy is removed to show ours and other galaxies in a whole new light. A lot of these images have never been released to the general population before this book. About the authors David Block and Kenneth Freeman, " Their voyage lies not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

3. Gamma-Ray Bursts. My favorite Massive Earth Extinction scenario. The biggest explosions in our Universe since the Big Bang. They emit as much energy in seconds as our Sun will produce in it's entire lifetime of 10 billion years. Bright as a million trillion Suns GRBs are the result of a dying collapsed exploding massive Sun shooting deadly Gamma-Rays into space, woe to the planet it's beams of plasma strike. Mind you there is only a 1% chance of one of them hitting Earth in it's entire lifetime, but hey..shit happens (oops), all the more reason we........

4. Do you know that back in 1969 the then Vice President Spiro Agnew's Space Task Group put forth the 10 year 78 billion dollar Man-to-Mars Program, we could have been on Mars by now, but it never got past the "great idea but we can't afford it" stage. We are closer to getting to Mars technology wise today then we were getting to the Moon back when Kennedy challenged NASA to land a man on the Moon by the end of the decade, and they did it in 8 years. Why should we spend the 400 billion dollars to put a few people on Mars? see point 3.

5. I have a pretty cool meteorite collection including a Moon and Mars meteorite and even a rare piece of asteroid Vesta, mind you they are like extremely small, can't afford the regular versions, in fact they are so small that if you were to sneeze in their general direction they'd fly like 23 feet in the air before floating to the ground. My most fav meteorite is what they call an Angrite.
Angrites are very rare, only about 11 confirmed rocks have been found to date, here's the thing, scientists don't really know their origin like they do all the other types of meteorites, the best guesses are a planetary type body or large asteroid, Vesta has been ruled out, there are some scientists that believe these Angrites originate from Mercury, how cool is that? When Messenger finally obtains it's Mercury Orbital Insertion March 2011 and begins it's surface composition analysis it will give us a better idea whether or not Angrites are actually from Mercury or not.

6. Space dust in the form of Spherical micrometeorites about the diameter of the human hair fall to Earth daily, you have probably been struck by some. I have spent literally hundreds of hours looking for them where they are most likely to gather, like at the bottom of my eavestrouph downspout, I spend countless hours digging in the dirt with a spoon looking for these little treasures. I have also set up huge poly vinyl collectors on the top of my mall's roof. I am in the process right now of imaging some of my best suspect micrometeorites with the Celestron LCD Digital Microscope. One day I hope to put them all together in a movie for your viewing pleasure.

Well that's it that's all folks, hope I at least told you something you didn't already know, after all that is what I set out to do, if you knew all this stuff already let me know, I'll send you a free pair of Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus 3D glasses.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

International Year of Astronomy 2009

This year marks the 400th. anniversary Galileo first used a telescope to view the heavens. To celebrate this occasion professional and amateur astronomers alike have set aside this year to educate the general population about the celestial wonders our Universe provides, to give the guy/gal on the street a Galileo moment.

Double Star Cluster in Perseus.

What is a Galileo moment you may ask, it is sharing any astronomical experience, from viewing various celestial objects in the night sky with a telescope/binoculars, the Double Star Cluster above being my favorite, a real show stopper, to pointing out a conjunction or even a constellation, point being to show and teach somebody something they may not already know about our cosmos, kind of what I try to do here, and the main reason I started this blog. Side note here, did you know that the average person stops learning about the science of astronomy at age 10? Think of how much more you know after reading this blog for any length of time then the average person.

To find out what's going on in your area visit the International Year of Astronomy 2009 website and go to your county or as they call them National Nodes, 135 all together, you will receive a "single point of contact" call them up and chat, going to the Canadian node you learn that on January 10 the Ontario Science Center is having a full day of demonstrations and presentations, very cool.

I am having printers do up a poster for me which I downloaded from here, letting passersby know that there is a celestial tour going on in my backyard, my own little tour of the cosmos. An open invitation to any readers who want to hang out in my pod and tour the cosmos with my scope, can't pay for your flight out but to the first 463 people a free pair of Hanna Montanna/Miley Cyrus 3D glasses, hey, while you're down we can do lunch.

There are a lot of regular readers here that are totally qualified to share a Galileo moment, step out of your comfort zone to pass on what you have learned here to the average non astronomical person on the street. I won't leave you hanging, if you feel so inclined to do such an astronomical event, email me, I will give you some good dates in your area and what to point out. You'll be hooked after the looks on people's faces and the appreciation they'll show you with the spark in their eyes.

Moon and the Pleiades meet June 30 2008.

Some upcoming events to watch out for. This Wednesday look to the East at Sunset for the Moon and Pleiades conjunction. On the 12th another conjunction, the Moon meets the Beehive Star Cluster in the constellation Cancer, image below shows what the cluster would look like in binoculars, it is an image I took of the Mars /Beehive conjunction I took last May, look to the East once again around 8:30 pm EST.

Mars and the Beehive Conjunction May 22 2008

A few more events happening throughout the year you may want to consider for your Galileo moment. February 4, March 2, and August 14 all Moon and Pleiades conjunctions. February 27 a beautiful early morning conjunction of Venus and the crescent Moon, look to the east just after Sunrise. Another conjunction to watch out for, April 26 just after Sunset, look to the west to see the Moon/Mercury conjunction with the Pleiades close by. June 19 just before the Sunrise around 4:30am look to the east to see the Moon/Mars/Venus gathering, very pretty. October 8-16 watch the Mercury/Venus/Saturn conjunctions, on October 16 the Moon joins the party, lots more going on, these are just a sampling of what's in the works, again great Galileo moments.

I'll leave you now with one of my Milky Way Galaxy shots twirled in Photoshop.

Milky Way

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Last Aurora of 2008 and The Moon, Jupiter, Mercury Conjunction

First of all I like to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best in 2009.

Just as I was going to call it an early night and head off to bed I got a call from Dr. Tony Phillips at Spaceweather Phone telling me that a Solar wind was due to hit Earth the morning of the 31st. and to expect Auroras!! It would be the last Auroras of 2008. It had been overcast that night but I looked outside just in case it had cleared, and it did. Was able to get my Photon Phix in between all the clouds we have been having lately, mind you still -30c but at least clear.

If I were to rate seeing a meteor fall from the sky a "10" I would have to give Auroras a "9", very beautiful, dancing through the night sky. Deadly charged energetic particles so energetic that not even the Sun's gravity can keep hold of them, escape the Sun to form the Solar winds. Once they arrive at Earth our protective Magnetosphere direct them away from us, some charged particles sneak into our upper atmosphere where they collide with our oxygen and nitrogen molecules, turning their deadly energy into the harmless lights we see as Auroras, paintings in the sky. The Auroras got their name from Galileo Galilei, he named them after the Roman Goddess of Morning.

I would have liked to have seen the Moon, Jupiter and Mercury conjunction but due to clouds wasn't able, actually the clouds broke just after the Moon set, sucks, but hey Genie got the awesome shot below, thanks Genie!

Jupiter being the top planet in this picture, Mercury below, so Genie gets another pair of Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus 3D glasses for submitting her image to Black holes, congratulations again Genie.

I was emailed by Find Schools Online letting me know I had made their top 100 list of Space and Astronomy Blogs, which is kind of cool, there are some really good blogs/sites that you might want to visit, nice thing is they are all together, you don't have to search around the net for them, all in one place.

I'll leave you now with a short clip I put together of the Aurora, 55 frames over a real time of 10 minutes. Also don't forget the Quadrantids Meteor Shower this Friday/ Saturday, peaking between 2 am and 6 am Saturday morning. Look to the NE under the handle of the Big Dipper around 11:00 pm Friday.