Beneath The Stars (by Steelopus)
The Perseids were a bit disappointing last night. I awoke and went out at 3:30am to drive to my favorite star-gazing spot south of the city. It was quite chilly with a stiff breeze so I only stayed for about an hour. I only saw ~25 meteors, and none were very dramatic. The crescent moon with Venus and Jupiter was pretty, but far too bright.
Oh well. Now I’ll look forward to the Geminids on the night of December 13th. It will be a new moon during that show so that will certainly help with the darkness.
Not A Comet (by Steelopus)
Holy crap I made some pictures tonight that I’m really happy with, but I’m going away for the next 5 days, so you won’t get to see any until next week. This is just a teaser. Click through because it looks much better large on black.
Hopefully by then they’ll feel fresh again after the deluge of fireworks pictures that everyone is dealing with tonight.
Click here for my set from last year (when I stumbled upon this style after forgetting my tripod).
Stunning Star Trail Photographs from International Space Station
NASA astronaut Don Pettit recently uploaded a gallery of photos to the Johnson Space Center’s Flickr page. Pettit on how he captured these amazing images:
“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, the ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
Ed note: Here are the Hubble Space Telescope’s finest photos.
h/t Twisted Sifter
I must have this on my blog.
2012 Venus Transit (by Steelopus)
Well… not quite.
Without a filter, my setup didn’t stand a chance. Not even at f/40, 1/4000s, -5ev, ISO100.
Still a fun picture.
(No… those aren’t stars… just a very dirty camera sensor.)
(via Psychedelic Star Trails and City Lights From Orbit: Big Pic : Discovery News)
“Streaks of psychedelic colors show the passage of cities below the International Space Station (ISS), airglow in Earth’s atmosphere and the circling motion of stars in this stunning new image from Expedition 31 Flight Engineer Don Pettit.
Pettit created the image by combining 18 long-exposure digital images taken with a camera mounted inside the ISS on March 16, 2012. Because of the limitations of digital imaging sensors, multiple exposures are needed to get such an image.
“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes,” said Pettit. “However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do: I take multiple 30-second exposures, then ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
The bright blotches lined up at the lower portion of the image are lightning flashes within storm clouds.”
I’m in love with this photograph.
Compiled below is a selection of estimated dates for some events given certain assumptions in the evolution of Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe. Most events are of an astronomical and cosmological nature though some are geological. A more complete list from which the ones included here were taken can be found on Wikipedia.
- In 10,000 years - The end of humanity, according to Brandon Carter’s Doomsday argument, which assumes that half of the humans who will ever have lived have already been born.
- In 50,000 years - Niagara Falls erodes away the remaining 20 miles to Lake Erie and ceases to exist.
- In 500,000 years - By this time Earth will have likely been impacted by a meteorite of roughly 1 km in diameter.
- In 1 million years - Highest estimated time until the red supergiant star Betelgeuse explodes in a supernova. The explosion is expected to be easily visible in daylight.
- In 50 million years - The Californian coast begins to be subducted into the Aleutian Trench
Africa will have collided with Eurasia, closing the Mediterranean Basin and creating a mountain range similar to the Himalayas.
- In ~240 million years - From its present position, the Solar System will have completed one full orbit of the Galactic center.
- In 250 million years - All the continents on Earth fuse into a possible new supercontinent.
- In 1 billion years - The Sun’s luminosity increases by 10%, causing Earth’s surface temperatures to reach an average of 47°C and the oceans to boil away.
- In 1.5 billion years - The Sun’s circumstellar habitable zone moves outwards as its increased luminosity causes carbon dioxide to increase in Mars’s atmosphere, raising its surface temperature to levels akin to Earth during the ice age.
- In 5.4 billion years - The Sun becomes a red giant.Mercury, Venus and possibly Earth are destroyed.
- In 7 billion years - Collision between the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies.
- In 14.4 billion years - Sun becomes a black dwarf as its luminosity falls below three trillionths its current level, while its temperature falls to 2239 K, making it invisible to human eyes.
- In 20 billion years - The end of the Universe in the Big Rip scenario. Observations of galaxy cluster speeds by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory suggest that this will not occur.
- In 100 billion years - The Universe’s expansion causes all evidence of the Big Bang to disappear beyond the practical observational limit, rendering cosmology impossible.
- In 1012 (1 trillion) years - Low estimate for the time until star formation ends in galaxies as galaxies are depleted of the gas clouds they need to form stars.,
- In 2×1012 (2 trillion) years - All galaxies outside the Local Supercluster are no longer detectable in any way, assuming that dark energy continues to make the Universe expand at an accelerating rate.
- In 1015 (1 quadrillion) years - Estimated time until stellar close encounters detach all planets in the Solar System from their orbits.
By this time, the Sun will have cooled to five degrees above absolute zero.
- In 3×1043 years - Estimated time for all nucleons in the observable Universe to decay, if the proton half-life takes the largest possible value, 1041 years, assuming that the Big Bang was inflationary and that the same process that made baryons predominate over anti-baryons in the early Universe makes protons decay. By this time, if protons do decay, the Black Hole Era, in which black holes are the only remaining celestial objects, begins.
- In 1065 years - Assuming that protons do not decay, estimated time for rigid objects like rocks to rearrange their atoms and molecules via quantum tunneling. On this timescale all matter is liquid.
- In 1.7×10106 years - Estimated time until a supermassive black hole with a mass of 20 trillion solar masses decays by the Hawking process. This marks the end of the Black Hole Era. Beyond this time, if protons do decay, the Universe enters the Dark Era, in which all physical objects have decayed to subatomic particles, gradually winding down to their final energy state.
- In years - Estimated time for a Boltzmann brain to appear in the vacuum via a spontaneous entropy decrease.
- In years - Estimated time for random quantum fluctuations to generate a new Big Bang, according to Caroll and Chen.
- In years - Scale of an estimated Poincaré recurrence time for the quantum state of a hypothetical box containing an isolated black hole of stellar mass. This time assumes a statistical model subject to Poincaré recurrence. A much simplified way of thinking about this time is that in a model in which history repeats itself arbitrarily many times due to properties of statistical mechanics, this is the time scale when it will first be somewhat similar (for a reasonable choice of “similar”) to its current state again.
I really enjoyed reading through this.
The first daguerreotype of a solar eclipse
The first correctly-exposed photograph of the solar corona was made during the total phase of the solar eclipse of 28 July 1851 at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad) by a local daguerreotypist named Berkowski. Berkowski observed at the Royal Observatory following a proposal by its director A. Busch. A small refracting telescope (D = 6.1 cm, f = 81.2 cm) was attached to the hour drive of the 15.8-cm Fraunhofer heliometer, and a 84-s exposure was taken shortly after the beginning of totality. After the eclipse, Busch (who did not observe the eclipse at Königsberg but at Rixhöft), published some details about the daguerreotype (without mentioning Berkowski’s first name) and ordered a local artist (R. Trossin) to make an enlarged steel engraving from the daguerreotype plate. On the original plate the moon’s diameter is 7.85 mm, and at least 5 prominences are well visible on the limb of the sun. Later Berkowski himself made some daguerreotype reproductions from his original plate.
1851. EIGHTEEN FIFTY-ONE.
LOOM WITH A VIEW This natural color view of Saturn, taken with the red, blue and green spectral filters of the orbiting NASA spacecraft Cassini in May, 2011, shows the rings of Saturn behind Titan, the planet’s largest moon, and Dione. (Photo via NASA APOD)
“People” often complain that NASA hasn’t done anything productive since sending man to the moon. “People” are stupid.
Aurora Borealis over Lake Ontario (by Steelopus)
Sometimes it’s 12:03AM and you’ve got your pajamas on and you’re ready to hop into bed but then you check Twitter one last time and see local meteorologists mentioning Northern Lights activity in the area and so you sit for a minute and try to convince yourself to just go to bed because you have to be at work in less than 8 hours and you really should get some sleep because you’ve been extra tired lately.
Then you snap out of it and realize that this kind of opportunity doesn’t happen often. It’s rare enough that the aurora borealis is even visible at this latitude, let alone on an autumn night. It’s even rarer that the conditions are right in the thermosphere while the troposphere is free of clouds - Rochester is, after all, completely overcast an average 200 days per year.
So you quickly throw some clothes on and you get your camera gear together and you drive 25 minutes up to the Sea Breeze Pier on the shore of Lake Ontario. You walk out to the pier through nearly complete darkness until you emerge from the trees and find yourself standing alone on the concrete. The vast, ocean-esque, lake - illuminated by starlight and lighthouses - surrounds you while a forceful and biting Canadian wind blows in your face and instills temporary moments of regret (30 minutes ago you were just 5 minutes from your bed).
Tripod legs are extended. Camera is mounted. You snap off a few test shots. Review and tweak. Manual focus set to infinity. ISO at 500. Aperture at f3.2. Shutter speed at 30s. Wireless remote ready. Open. Wait. Closed. Pan. Open. Wait. Closed. Pan. Open. Wait. Closed.
By this point you’re colder than you’ve been since March - and very glad you remembered to bring your gloves and your ear warmers. You review again and like what you see. For the hell of it, you go a little further and snap off a couple 2+ minute exposures (you’re cold already, might as well make the most of the situation) and then you call it a night. Carefully you pack everything up while being sure to not make any technological sacrifices to the boulders that surround you. Walk back to the car, crank the heat up, and drive home.
30 minutes later you’re back home and importing the photos. You catch a glimpse of what you’ve shot and understand that you made the right decision. The regret of missing such a beautiful sight would’ve frustrated you for years. The photos are processed and uploaded and a blog post is drafted and queued. Over two hours later than you’d planned, you slip into bed as you mentally cross “Aurora Borealis” off your bucket list.
(green!) (View it large.)
Picture: This illustration shows all 1,235 of the potential alien planet candidates NASA’s Kepler mission has found to date. The planets are pictured crossing front of their host stars, which are all represented to scale.
CREDIT: Jason Rowe and Kepler team
A photo may be worth 1,000 words, but a new depiction of NASA’s Kepler mission is worth 1,235 potential alien planets. Created by a devoted mission scientist, the image takes stock of the Kepler observatory’s prolific planet-hunting results so far.
Read more: http://www.space.com/11279-nasa-alien-planets-image-1235-exoplanets.html
I think this is the most astounding sentence from the referenced article (emphasis mine):
Based on the amazing wealth of planet candidates from Kepler, astronomers have estimated that our Milky Way galaxy could hold as many as 50 billion alien planets, with 2 billion of those perhaps being about the size of Earth.
Dude. You guys. That’s a star. Sometimes that fact just completely blows my mind. (Taken with Instagram at Jefferson Avenue School)
SpaceX Falcon 9 with Dragon is scheduled to liftoff at
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SpaceX launch aborted. Next target time: 10:42am EST.