Friday, October 30, 2009
So far, I'm on the right track with my processing, but really need more work with using some of the Photoshop, levels, curves, layers, and definitely masking!
I just spent about $360 on a couple of filters for my Canon 350D camera - CLS filter for light polution, a H-alpha filter, and a book. Probably buy more stuff before the weekend is out.
Kind of fun meeting with a bunch of other astro-geeks. We all sit at tables, introduce ourselves, then pass around our netbooks and iPods sharing our "family" pictures of our backyard galaxies and objects. My little family of galaxies photos were kind of the "special needs" kid compared with some of the others that were shared (at least I think so!). There are people from all over the country, including someone from Australia and France. Always nice to meet others that share the same interest of staying out late at night, fooling around with expensive optics and computer gear while cursing into the darkness out of frustration. I did mention this is a rewarding hobby while being the most aggravating and frustrating activity around?
Friday, October 23, 2009
I saw this site that sells some pretty good looking quilts that would attract the astronomer crowd. I think if this guy was a vendor at some of the summer star parties, he would do quite well. We do need more vendors up at Table Mountain Star Party, the bad economy has made equipment shopping pretty sad the last few years up there.
Here is a nice sample of the M64 galaxy in a quilt. Forget the Snuggie, I'll curl up under a galaxy while watching a good meteor shower!
I was just thinking something else about this new rocket. It sure won't sound as good as the shuttle. One SRB rocket vs. the shuttle's 2 SRBs, and 3 SSMEs all firing at the same time. To quote Alan Bean when seeing Alan Shepard fly:
"He's gone higher than I've ever gone, and faster than I've ever gone, and most importantly, he's made more noise doing it."NOISE! Will the Aries be the rocket equivalent of a Honda rice-burner with a fart can? I've seen a shuttle launch from 6 miles away and the noise that thing makes is almost worth witnessing it in person. Here is the best sounding video I've seen with a launch (this is the STS-117 launch that I was at).
I guess I should quit nit-picking The Stick.....sorry - Aries - before I even see it fly. I'm starting to sound like I'm talking about Star Trek XI!
Also has photos, videos, news, and of course "Twitters" if you are really into that stuff. I draw the line at Twittering personally. Just too much information I don't need to be more of a twit than I already am normally!
Best of all, it's free too. Or I guess we already paid with our taxes - what little NASA does get from the budget.
Always good to see NASA working on stirring up more public interest in this. Good job!
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"The Stick" as it's been nicknamed by some, is about 30 feet short of the height of the Saturn V, but it just looks like a very tall bottle rocket. Sure, can't judge a ship by it's looks (look at the Apollo LM!), but this one does still have it's problems. The problem with the vibration is one that was fixed by adding counterweights to absorb vibration. Adding weight to a rocket does that make any sense?
Download the Press Kit below, there is a lot of good information about the flight, and plenty of diagrams for you visual types - like myself.
Anyway, it's test flight is top priority in a few days, so we'll see if the stick flies when the fuse is lit!
We have 6 countries (I guess Soviet Union is a former country) attacking Mars - Soviet Union, United States, Russia, Japan, Europe and soon China. The US is still the leader at getting through the shields and all the way to the surface!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Opportunity pretty much took a peek at this one, took a few photos, and has continued on it's quest. Maybe meteorites lying around on the surface are kind of a common thing on Mars but it really freaks me out that they have been sitting there just like this for over 3 BILLION years!
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Click the link for the size image, lots of small detail in the image. Then you can zoom in on the town at the opposite side of the island with Google Earth for a view.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
The Centaur also created a crater that is approximately 92 feet wide. Hard to see it since it's in the dark corner of the crater, but the dark corner was the target anyway to hopefully find evidence of water. No results released yet, but NASA is very pleased with the results so far. The public? - I think they expected too much out of this.
Just give them time to sort out the data, I'm sure water will be found!
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Most of the time I'll miss it. There was one about a year ago that was really bright, and I was outside in the observatory staring at the screen focusing the scope. Another time I heard those nearby saying "oooh!", but I was looking at my feet or something.
Anyway, how often does a nice fireball happen when you have a camera - and can use it quickly enough to get shots like this? Robert Mikaelyan was lucky and had a camera ready and got these shots. I think he is a professional photographer from the look of his photo site, so he was probably all set with his camera and could use it quickly.
No, this isn't a tattoo, but kind of looks like it. It's sand dunes on Mars with dark tracks left by dust devils as the moved around on the surface. Strange stuff, but this almost looks like some kind of modern art. This would look good on a wall - Mars not the tattoo.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Seriously though, this is a great poster and you can stare at this for a while!
I found this on what appears to be a French web site with some old (and newer) scans of Apollo posters.
Remember this old poster from National Geographic?
Friday, October 9, 2009
Good job NASA!
It will be a while before the data is processed, but I'm confident good information will be recovered.
I was pleased with the coverage, but it seems that the general public was expecting a fireworks show such as the destruction of Alderaan, which didn't happen. The news media hyped this up quite a bit probably raising the public's expectations to the point they expected to see a Space:1999 blast or a Bruce Willis comet bashing type of event. Even pasting in some "Star Trek" shakey camera with lens flares couldn't raise NASA's ratings on this one (don't get me started on that!). Wasn't it at least kind of cool to ride along in the front of a spacecraft on a doomed flight into the moon? We haven't had a ride like that since the old Ranger days. I guess the Deep Impact comet bashing was better since it had a big explosion of comet stuff.
The mission has been a huge success, and in the coming weeks the data could very well prove the existence of water - and confirm the data from the Indian Chandrayaan spacecraft that detected water recently.
The mission was executed for "a scientific purpose, not to put on a fireworks display for the public," said space consultant Alan Stern, a former NASA associate administrator for science.Just reading the reports of two local news sources alone, really irriated me when I get down to the bottom of the article and read the comments people left about the mission. The stupidity of people shocked and really annoyed me when it appears that about 70% of the comments were those disappointed at the lack of a good fireworks show!
Anyway, read the following articles and post a comment on what you think.
Although, it looked kind of staged - at least his first look through the scope - they had him take a peek at a double star in bright stage lights through an 8 inch Celestron - after telling him what eyepiece to look through.
We did have Charles Simonyi at our meeting once, but we are still working on getting Obama to come to our summer star party.
Thursday, October 8, 2009
It ended up that the moon vibrated for several hours after the 14,000kg booster hit the moon. In comparison, this spacecraft was 7 time heavier than the Centaur which will hit the moon tomorrow. (Click image for full view)
I was just thinking, wouldn't an old wreck like this make a great destination for the Lunar X-Prize spacecaft? Just think of the pile of junk lying the with a big nozzle flattened at one end. Don't mess with the landing sites though, those are historical sites and shouldn't be tampered with.
NASA just put out a good photo showing what to expect when the LCROSS booster hits the moon. It's a tiny splash, but I'll give it a shot with the 12" Meade and the new webcam.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I had to remove/reinstall the software a few times since it would work fine for a while, then Windows decided to forget about the camera and just ignore it. I then had to remove and re-install the driver software to get it to wake up again. Really annoying.
I'll have to test it out few more times this week to learn how to use it for the LCROSS moon smacking early Friday!
The arrow in the image I took is pretty much where the impact will happen. The moon should be directly south about 60 degrees up, so it's above the thick atmospheric gunk, and out of the neighbor's bushes.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Camera was $40 and the adapter for the scope was another $18. I've been tempted by the Orion Starshoot III, but think this would probably do close enough for a fraction of the cost. Below is an example of some planetary imaging with a cheap webcam. (click for full size)
Friday, October 2, 2009
Do you love space? Are you good about sharing your love of the stars with the public? If so, here's a
chance to join a growing network of space enthusiasts who have volunteered as NASA Solar System Ambassadors.
Ambassadors are especially needed to represent Delaware and North Dakota.
The application period is being extended through Oct. 16. Ambassadors are U.S. citizens selected from all 50 states,
plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, or U.S. citizens serving U.S. audiences abroad.
The program is one of the longest-running NASA volunteer outreach projects.
Each ambassador receives online training from JPL, and educational materials supplied by various space missions,
such as the next Mars rover--Curiosity. Curiosity will check to see whether Mars has been favorable for supporting microbial
life and preserving evidence of life. The rover is scheduled to launch in October 2011.
You can apply to be a NASA Solar System Ambassador at: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/events/ssa.cfm .
A calendar of events hosted by ambassadors is available at http://www2.jpl.nasa.gov/ambassador/events.html .
JPL is managed for NASA by the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif.