Friday, November 30, 2007
December 2007 Southern Skywatch Up
Labels: southern skywatch
The Nearest Stars in Second Life
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Venus Express Results for All
The prestigious journal Nature has made the first published science results from Venus Express available free of charge. The full Focus issue is here, try starting with the News Feature, then Venus dispatches, before going on to the more meaty bits. There is also the Nature podcast, with an interview on the Venus Express results.
From the catalogue card generator.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
A Different World by Moonlight
This was bought home during a performance of "Second to None", an astounding musical and dance celebration of the Aboriginal and maritime history of Port Adelaide.
The performance involved being bussed to several important sites of Port Adelaide history, including Harts Mill, Glanville Hall and the Snake Pit. Many of the venues had limited lighting, like kerosene lanterns at Glanville Hall, or the fires at the Snake Pit.
In the twilight at Glanville Hall, the kerosene lanterns were enough to illuminate the dancers. As we left the venue, the full Moon rose, a gorgeous sight on the horizon. We then went to the Snake Pit, a hollow in the dunes of significance to the Kaurna people to witness more dancing.
To enter this area, we were welcomed in by a projected face of an aboriginal Elder. Behind the projection, Orion, seen as a group of celestial hunters by the Karuna, was rising. As part of the performance in the hollow was a group of hunters going after game, the significance of the projected elder backed by Orion was something special to me, and made the performance even more haunting to me.
While most of the illumination for the traditional dance was firelight, the bright Moon made it easy to see the performers without more traditional lighting. You can understand why before electric and gas lighting, people used to live their life by the rhythms of the Moon, and major festival were held on the night of the full Moon. Even with fires and burning brands, it is hard to see without the light of the Moon. And the light of the Moon has a whole other quality about it compared to artifical light. Under the Moon it's a different world out there.
The whole "Second to None" performance was magical and haunting, but being astronomically inclined, I got a different perspective to most people. As we drove back from the Snake Pit to the Waterside Workers hall, on one side was the Moon, lighting up the
dunes, on the other, the Karuna shield fire sculpture, lighting up the beach. Natural and artificial lighting up a timeless landscape.
I .. I can't tell you why, but I had to draw this to exorcise an image in my mind. Imagine the figure saying "Are you my Mummy?"
I .. I still think I have to move to Alice Springs, as far away from the ocean as possible.
Curse you PZ Myers!!!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The 30th Carnival of Space is up.
Labels: carnival of space
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Don't forget Comet F1 LONEOS
While we have been awed by comet 17/P Holmes, Comet F1 LONEOS has been quietly achieving some nice things.
It stared back weeks ago, just after Holmes burst into view. LONEOS was passing by Antares, and Michael Mattiazzo snapped this great shot, (with Antares and a globular cluster in the field, see Mikes web site for some more great comet shots).
Then between October 29-32 a coronal mass ejection hit the comet. You can see the comet outburst in Comet Al's false colour image (see his Gallery for more great shots) generated from STEREO satellite images, and he also made a great animation of it as the CMA passed.
LONEOS has faded now, but it was a gem of a little comet.
Comet 17P Homes is Freaking Amazing!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Comet 17P/Holmes and Mirfak
UPDATE: Have a look at Tom's images, with a meteor streaking through comet Holmes!
Umm, about the occultation of Neptune
So I forgot to mention the occultation of Neptune. Heck I forgot it myself. On the day I spent a large chunk of it sitting in a doctors waiting room, only to find that although I feel like death warmed up, there appears to be nothing wrong with me. Then in the evening Chez Reynella headed of to be part of the Port Adelaide Twilight Christmas Parade. We formed part of the contingent walking with SmalestOnes kindergarten. We all wore elf hats or reindeer ears as part of the Christmas Spirit, and handed out small containers of bubble mix to the crowds. So the parade was accompanied by a cloud of rainbow bubbles.
Again, like Halloween, Christmas doesn't quite work in Australia.
It's hard to conjure up images of snow when at 8:00 pm in the evening it is quite bright and around 30 degrees C .
Still, the kids had fun, Santa Claus arrived in a sleigh pulled by a red FJ Holden. Then we hung out at the street festival, listened to kids bands and danced to Jungle Jooce (a sort of 70's -80's cover band, I think). SmallestOne even tried some break dancing (not entirely intentionally, I think). Then we watched the fireworks and went home with a car full of tired pumpkins.
And so I fell asleep, completely forgetting about the occultation (or finishing my bit for Sky&Space). I don't think I could have stayed up even if I had remembered. Ironically, the skies were beautifully clear. Over Australia, most sites were clouded out, a couple of people saw it though. Oh well, I only have to wait until 2017 for another chance at a Neptune occultation.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Leonids this morning (19 November)
If getting up for Comet 17P/Holmes, why not hang around to see the Leonids? The Leonid meteor shower occurs in the early morning of Monday, 19 November (actually it's been going for a while but the peak occurs at this time this year). It will not be very exciting as the main peak occurs in daylight as seen from Australia, but we may get as many as 10 meteors an hour around 4:00am. The point of origin of the meteors is roughly in the sickle of Leo, near the bright star Regulus, which will be in the north-east. Saturn will be nearby, and Venus will be rising, so it will make a nice mornings viewing.
Friday, November 16, 2007
Hubble Images of Comet 17/P Holmes
The Hubble Images of comet 17P/Holmes have been released. They look pretty cool, so head on over and have a look.
Comet Holmes, while not as beautiful as comet McNaught, is still pretty amazing. Over two weeks since it exploded into view, it is still quite bright, at least magnitude 3! The comet's coma is now bigger than the Sun! The history of comet Holmes is pretty interesting, David Strange recounts this history here.
Comet Holmes is getting pretty close to alpha Persii (Mirfak), and may be hard to distinguish with binoculars over the next few days.
I've uploaded a new printable PDF spotters map here.
Martin Mobberly has some fantastic images of Holmes near Mirfak here and here. Dave Kodama has a wonderful wide field image, with a very rich starfield. There is another fantastic group of images and an animation here.(yes, i know I use fantastic a lot,but I mean it). Reader TMO has a great series of timelapse movies here. A nice black and white shot is here. Bob Yen does some fantastic comet blogging from Baja Mexico. More images of the comet can be found at Spaceweather Gallery, and there a whole IceInSpace thread for Australian images.
In the bloggosphere, Dirty Skies experiences Comet Madness, DaveP gets to see comet Holmes, Tom sees comet Holmes, Top of the Lawn sees comet Holmes above the street lamps! Comet AL plays with some images and come up trumps!
Carnival of Space 29 rides out!
If you want to write submissions for the next Carnival, here are the instructions.
Labels: carnival of space
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
In which I finally get to see Comet Holmes
Joy! Happiness! The northern horizon was free from cloud for once. But not sky glow, following the stars of Perseus down showed that the comet was located just above the glow of the harbour. Not the worst glow, over the big cranes, but still non-negligible.
The comet was not visible to the unaided eye, but then, Holmes turned out to be only two fingerwidths above the horizon, and even alpha Persii, Mirfak, was difficult to see at magnitude 1.8.
But through binoculars, the comet was perfectly visible. It looked like 47 Tucana, a perfect misty sphere. I was entranced. Even though I had the good fortune to see comet McNaught, with its spectacular tail, this little blob, possibly the most unusual comet recently, held my attention. This disk of light exploded from obscurity and is still bright weeks later. Why? A mystery not yet solved.
And so my cold came back big time, probably due to standing out in the windy cold watching the comet. Why do we amateur astronomers do this too ourselves? Are we insane? Most people would say yes, but then these are the people who will get up at 3:00 am to watch peope kick a ball around on a small screen. This is a puzzle, as the eminent entomologyist Mike Majerus remarked, kids will spend hours collecting and memorizing endless lists of Pokemon, and that's normal, kids who memorize moths and butterflies (or dinosaurs), are seen as weird. Why is this? Everyone is beholden to some passion, but those of us who have a passion for the natural world are seen as strange.
That is an issue for another post some day, but now, pleased that I can share my experience of comet Holmes, I must take my drugs and go back to bed.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
New Charts for Comet 17P Holmes
The chart on the left (click on it to enlarge it) is the comet as seen looking north at 1:30 pm ACST from Adelaide, other places will see similar views at equivalent local times (eg 1:30 pm AEST Sydney and 0:30 am AEST Brisbane).
A printable PDF spotters map is here.
The further North you live, the higher the comet will be above the horizon, with the best views in Darwin and North QLD. Go out tonight and have a look. It's amazing!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
I Spy Comet LONEOS at Last (and 17P/Holmes update)
Tomorrow night (Monday, Nov 5), the comet will be just off Antares, and should be a very nice sight.
Comet Holmes is still bright (and we southern hemisphere types still have to get up at 3:00 am in the morning to see it, see this map). There are some nice Australian shots in the Ice in Space forum. Some great images are coming out of the northern hemisphere too. This is probably the most amazing one. This one is pretty good too. A nice black and white shot here, and scroll down for some nice images here.
Friday, November 02, 2007
November Southern Skywatch finally up.
Labels: southern skywatch
Thursday, November 01, 2007
All Hallows Eve
I've written before about how celebrating All Hallows Eve (Halloween) doesn't make sense in Australia. This very there wasn't the same brightness of sky and sea that made a celebration of all things spooky somewhat ironic, due to the clouds that have been stopping me from seeing the various comets about. Still even cloudy the atmosphere was hardly spooky at all.
This year we were all a bit less organised due to illness (blasted flu) and work. And the Twins were busy studying for exams. Still, the Bettdeckererschnappender weisle organised lollies for the neighbours to hand out to the kids, MiddleOne dressed as a ghost again, and made a Jack O'Lantern from an apple and a glow stick (worked well too). EldestOne went as a Teenager (that was scary).
I was going to do some experiments, like last year, but things didn't work out that way. The cloud meant no comet LONEOS, or other astronomical phenomenon to show the kids when it did get dark, but the sugar charged kids would probably not have paid attention anyway. Everyone had fun though, and that was the main thing.
Labels: home life