Posted in Astronomy at 12:00 pm on 2 December 2013
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Posted in Astronomy at 8:26 pm on 28 November 2013
This is a video of comet ISON which, since it has now passed within about one solar diameter of the Sun, may have broken up and faded by now but otherwise promised to become a very bright object in the night sky. The video featured on Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday.
The sun gives out light across the visible spectrum (the colours of the rainbow) and beyond. We see the sun itself as yellow or red according to its position in the sky and what we experience as “white” light is made up of all the colours. If that light is passed through a prism or difraction grating it splits up into these colours.
What about when the sun’s rays are blocked?
Constantine Emmanouilidi caught a great picture of the sun’s spectrum split in this way but during an eclipse. This was Astronomy Picture of the Day for 15/11/13.
Thanks to Mr Emmanouilidi for permission to copy his picture.
It was through images similar to this where a line spectrum is obtained that the chemical element helium was discovered in the sun’s atmosphere before it was isolated on Earth.
Posted in Astronomy at 11:00 pm on 18 September 2013
Since it’s tidally locked to its parent planet people from Earth do not normally see the Moon rotating. However the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has built up a series of pictures allowing a video of the rotating Moon to be compiled. This video was Astronomy Picture of the Day for 16/9/13.
It starts with the familiar view from Earth – a side which has an abundance of dark areas known as maria which are relatively low-lying – then the rotation shows the “far” side as much lighter in colour. This lightness is due to lunar highlands.
Posted in Astronomy at 12:06 am on 23 July 2013
So sad to hear the news of the death of Patrick Moore.
I watched the latest episode of The Sky At Night only a week or so ago and he did look frail. It has been obvious for many years now that Chris Lintott was being lined up to take over the presentation duties but Patrick will be sorely missed.
He was one of Britsh TV’s glorious eccentrics – who else in the modern world wore a monocle? – and as well as his scientific credentials he could play a mean xylophone.
His long and productive life was overshadowed by sadness as his fiancÃ©e was killed during WW2 by a German bomb and he didn’t wish to settle for what he would have considered “second best.”
As a child I may have been aware of him as a late-night TV presenter (his record for continuously hosting a show will surely never be surpassed) but I certainly remember reading his Science Fiction – from that Children’s Section at Dumbarton Library accessed down the external stairs – where, along with the SF of Captain W E Johns (yes, the author of Biggles; whose WW1 adventures led me to other books coming from the same hands) I gained my introduction to the genre. Blame the pair of them.
Patrick must almost single-handedly have contributed to several generations of British astronomers taking up their trade and won a new set of admirers when he appeared on GamesMaster which is where my own sons came to know him well.
I have a particular debt to him myself as I drew on one of his astronomy books, which contained a reasonably detailed map of Mars that I found fascinating and invaluable, for the background of my first published story, The Face of the Waters.
Sir Patrick Alfred Caldwell-Moore, CBE, FRS, FRAS: 4/3/1923-9/12/2012. So it goes.
Posted in Astronomy at 11:07 pm on 19 November 2012
This is the Red Spider Planetary Nebula from Astronomy Picture of the Day for 29/10/12. What a weird apparition. I don’t think it looks much like a spider, though, more some sort of weird jellyfish or flying creature or maybe an alien spacecraft like those in Star Trek, not a Klingon Bird of Prey but close.
Posted in Astronomy at 11:14 pm on 13 November 2012
This is Methone, one of Saturn’s moons, as shown in Astronomy Picture of the Day 6/11/12.
What makes it strange is its apparent smoothness. Most celestial bodies in the Solar System outwith the gas giants and the Sun – including Earth – are cratered. Not only is Methone’s unpock-marked surface unusual, its egg-like shape is puzzling. As a rule small celestial objects are irregular in shape.
Posted in Astronomy at 12:00 pm on 6 November 2012
I haven’t done one of these for a while.
This is Phobos: one of Mars’s two moons, from Astronomy Picture of the Day, 28/10/12. Phobos definitely resembles a potato in this view. Its orbit is so close to Mars that it will eventually be broken up by tidal forces and the remnants smeared into a ring around the planet.
Posted in Astronomy at 8:04 pm on 3 October 2012
If you take a look at today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day it shows a fantastic aurora over Greenland. (The photo is credited to J C Casado. It has been overlaid with the outlines of the constellations in that part of the sky. The building in the forground is a farmhouse in Greenland.)
APOD describes this as looking like a goat’s head but for some reason it reminds me of Munch’s The Scream.
Click through to here and other fantastic aurorae are shown whose photos were taken on the same expedition.