Following a link from the APOD widget for http://google.com/ig I stumbled upon this fantastic shortlist of picture of the year. There are some stunning entries, my favourite three of which are:
The Seven Dusty Sisters
Which sums up perfectly why I dream of one day being able to cruise through the stars and simply gawp at my surroundings!
For proof that in fact I don’t need to cruise through the stars to enjoy their beauty, I can see them from here on planet earth! And personal favourite…
Saturn’s Iapetus taken by Cassini
For a demonstration of both the totally (almost) unexplored that exists in our own solar system, combined with marvelling at the staggering quality of some of the technology used to produce this image. The source for all these pictures and more is here
Well my wonderful girlfriend got me something I have wanted for years this christmas – a real telescope for my astronomy ambitions!
We were in Sweden of course at the time, but the weather there conspired to frustrate me after I assembled it by snowing heavily every night with thick cloud all the time. This happened every night and I was especially disappointed when we were staying with friends out in the sticks near Ljunby were there was no light pollution for miles around (though we did have a fantastic new years eve!).
Then even once we got back to britain it has been cloudy every single night and I have been watching weather reports like never before, until finally last night, it was fairly clear and cloudless and I could give my new toy a run-out
It took a long time for me to get used to such a complex telescope, but eventually I managed to point it at the moon and get focused in. The view was pretty impressive as the moon filled up the optic and I was finally getting somewhere with the controls! Then I changed the optic to a higher magnification and…. WOW!!! I was zoomed in on a tiny portion of the moon’s surface and could make out all kind of details very easily. A massive crater, different types of impacts, patterns I had never been able to see before all in super clarity. The coolest thing (I still don’t know what it is called yet as I haven’t had time to look it up) was what looked like a range of ‘mountains’ in a sort of double helix pattern on the very ‘north-east’ edge of the moon.
Anyway, after 30 minutes of that I was feeling cocky and decided to start trying to find something more difficult. I pointed the scope in the vague vicinity of a bright star and tried to get focused in, but alas this was much more difficult. I did have some success, and the great thing was when I thought I was pointing at a single star (as far as the naked eye is concerned) and when you did get focused in there are 10-15 other stars all around it you would never normally have seen!
However it was very difficult to orientate myself and I haven’t calibrated the viewfinder too well so wasn’t very accurate. But I am really looking forward to learning about it all hope to move onto some astrophotography once I know my way around. I highly recommend anyone vaguely as consumed by space-lust as me to get a good scope and enjoy the view!
The image looks like an eyeball and explodes over time in this animated gif series. The star, named V838 Monocerotis, has suddenly grown so big that if placed in the center of our solar system it would engulf Jupiter. The full story can be found here
Amazing – what if one of our Sun’s neighbours did this???!!!
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“He did some analysis of the data, and by all indications this powerful, narrowband radio signal was from outside of our solar system. But was it sent by an advanced civilization?”
Fascinating story of the strongest signal ever sent from space and received by one of Earth’s SETI team. As with all of these things you are of course a little sceptical as until an actual alien walks up to you and shakes you by the hand, you have to find ways to disprove any data/theoretical contact as a matter of good science.
However what makes you really think about this one is in the last couple of lines of the report…
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“This is a link to one of the most spectacular photographs ever taken – the Hubble Ultra Deep Field.”
Incredible to think that almost every point of light on this image is an entire galaxy! It’s the kind of thing that blows my mind and I wish in many ways I was born a few decades/centuries later so I might live in an age where these places and civilisations are accessible to us!
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