Sunday, November 28, 2010

Astro cat

Facebook, Nintendo and texting are for kids.....astronomy is for CATS!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Amazing view of Phobos above Mars.

The ESA Mars Express orbiter has sent home another amazing shot, this time of the little moon Phobos above Mars.   ESA always seems so modest about their images, they have such great stuff, but we never really hear about them since they don't brag about them much!
I almost expect to see the Millenium Falcon in this nearly sci-fi (but real!) image.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Arctic Astronomy - Jupiter.

Arctic blast and the city crippling 2.5 inches of snow that causes Seattle to freak out has hit us this week.   I feel that I ducked La Nina's punch since my commute wasn't too bad the other day when the snow was falling, took me 1.5 hours on the bus and a 2.5 mile walk home.   Some coworkers were on their bus for over 5 hours.  Ha!  You didn't get me yet La Nina!
Clear skies last night and a miserable 18 degrees out when I got home.   I saw Jupiter in the sky tormenting me to play in the backyard.  A quick check on what was going on, and saw that there was an Io transit in progress, so I bundled up in my fuzzy pants, snowsuit and a few other layers of jackets and went out back to play for a while.
Details of the image:
Scope: Meade 12" LX200
Camera: Philips SPC900NC (Fancy name for a $40 Ebay webcam!)
Barlow:  Apo 2.5x
Stacks: about 250 of the best frames using Registax 5.1

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Proof that comets are dirty snowballs - or at least throw them

For years we have always been told that comets are "dirty snowballs" flying through the solar system until the sun warms then and melts off gas and dust. 
The guy on the science TV shows would always use the dry-ice, dirt and water stirred up to create the steaming model of a comet. 
We have proof now that they are correct. 
When I first saw those closeup images of comet Hartley 2 from the spacecraft, I was actually wondering about all those spots on the image.  Grainy image?  A lot of hot pixels on the CCD?  Or possibly stuff spewing off the comet?
Seems that it was spewing stuff!  The comet is spitting out snowballs which are possibly between the size of a golf ball to a basketball in size.  They are very light and fluffy, but at 27,000 mph, they could have still caused a big problem if the spacecraft was hit.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Closer view of 103P/Hartley 2 - not from my backyard this time!

It's always fun when you observe something from your little backyard observatory and a few weeks later, see the object again from a spacecraft.  Just the other day, this happened again.  Comet Hartley 2 which I had imaged a few weeks ago was visited by the Deep Impact (EPOXI) spacecraft and got a close view of this peanut shaped object.  The comet is only 1.5 miles long, and the smallest so far visited by a spacecraft.
Put on your red/blue glasses and see this animation in 3d.

(Thanks for always posting this great stuff Emily!)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Timelapse skies.

A couple of very nice timelapse videos with music that I came across recently.

TimeScapes: Rapture from Tom Lowe @ Timescapes on Vimeo.

Landscapes: Volume One from dustin farrell on Vimeo.