jump to navigation

Astronomy Lectures for FREE April 10, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Reblogged, Recommendations, Websites.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Thanks to Heavens With Lamps for a great resource ūüôā

Heavens With Lamps

Astronomy has been lately like a drug on me. So I have decided that I should study it (though at my own pace) but study it seriously. So I was looking up for astronomy lectures and I stumbled upon this MichiganTech University lectures on astronomy for first year freshers completely free of charge. Astronomy is considered as an expensive hobby per se…..but much to my astonishment much of astronomy stuff  could be acquired on the web for completely FREE.

So I am enrolling myself for this study and perhaps sit for an exam too later….I can’t say about that. But I think giving some of my time to learning something fascinating is worthwhile.

And though there are calculations and stuff requiring mental exercise and quite of reading yet I am jumping on this. By the way anyone interested to join the bandwagon, just hop on.

So, just to give a…

View original post 552 more words

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 9 thru Apr 15 April 9, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Celestial Events, Current Events, Reblogged.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Thanks to Heavens With Lamps for the weekly reminder of what to look out for in the skies above ūüôā

Heavens With Lamps

Eyes on the Sky: Apr 9 thru Apr 15

Seeing double in Taurus with the Goddess galloping by

Venus continues moving away from the Pleiades star cluster this week, nearby the Hyades instead, setting up both color contrasts with the 1st magnitude Aldebaran and helpfully pointing the way to some binocular double stars in the vicinity. ¬†Saturn reaches opposition at the end of the week on April 15th, and offers up an even more steeply-tilted ring system this year compared to last. ¬†With a handful of bright moons revolving around it ‚Äď plus the planet splitting some 8th and 10th magnitude stars ‚Äď there‚Äôs plenty to see in the sky naked eye, with binoculars and/or with a small telescope this week. ¬†Wishing you clear and dark skies as you find and see what‚Äôs up this week!

Download Saturn chart here (file size is 2.9MB).

View original post 15 more words

Big Bigger Biggest Small Smaller Smallest April 6, 2012

Posted by astronewsus in Miscellaneous, Reblogged.
Tags: , , ,
add a comment

Big Bigger Biggest Small Smaller Smallest – Another cool post by Heavens With Lamps ūüôā

Heavens With Lamps

Credits: IMAX movie Cosmic Voyage

Credits : POWERS OF TEN © 1977 EAMES OFFICE LLC

Which is better? I am not saying about the  age-old visual quality or the Morgan Freeman’s low sound quality, but about the clarity of  explanation. I prefer the latter.

If you want the mind blowing experience of How BIG is Big and How SMALL is small,  then just visit this one, it’s the updated version.

P.S: Sometimes I ask myself : What are you doing here?

View original post

Souvenir – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark April 3, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Binoculars, Deep Sky Objects, Equipment, Myths & Legends, Open Clusters, Personal Recollections, Reblogged.
Tags:
add a comment

Souvenir (Single)
Souvenir (Single)

The last song I heard this lunchtime was Souvenir by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. This song was released in late August 1981 and reached #3 about a month later.

I love this song. I love OMD. Three groups sum up my love of¬†synthpop¬†in the 80’s – OMD, the¬†Human League¬†and the¬†Pet Shop Boys.¬†I love this song because it reminds me of the¬†Pleiades¬†star cluster¬†and a time when my passion for¬†astronomy¬†was really beginning to blossom.

Actually, there are three songs that make me think of this time and really, although Souvenir was still in the Top 20, it was dropping out of the charts when I was staring at the stars. The two other songs are Open Your Heart by the Human League  (#6, mid October) and Under Your Thumb by Godley & Creme (#3 when Open Your Heart was #6).

The reason why I love and associate Souvenir specifically with the Pleiades is simply because it has a very ethereal quality to it, much like the star cluster itself. I really love this song.

Colin had started going to¬†Putteridge High School¬†in September of¬†1980¬†and he and Mum had signed up for “art classes: in the evening. I didn’t go that year – the class finished at about 9pm and being 9 years old, they thought I was too young.

So I stayed home and played in my room until it was time to go with Dad to pick them up in the car. ¬†We’d get home at around 9:30pm and it was usually around that time that I would stare at the stars through my window. Art class was two nights a week – probably Tuesdays and Thursdays – but I would stare at the stars on a Sunday too, usually when the Top 40 was on. Hence, my association with music.

The first time I saw the Pleiades was in October of 1980 Рanother OMD song, Enola Gay was in the charts and that also reminded me of that star cluster. (I still associate Souvenir with the Pleiades far more though.)

I was learning the¬†constellations¬†at the time and I had the Usbourne spotter’s guide to the Night Sky. It was yellow. It was easy to use and it had a checklist at the back where you could tick things off once you’d seen them. Better yet,¬†as an added incentive, you could score points for each object – the harder the object, the more points you scored.

The points didn’t really mean anything, they just gave you bragging rights with your imaginary astronomy friends. None of my friends really understood it – except for maybe Ian, but he had yet to stick his head over the garden fence at this time.

(Incidentally, the book was re-released in 2006 and is available on¬†Amazon.¬†I might buy it for you James ūüôā On the other hand, I might just buy a used copy for myself, just for old times sake LOL)

So I would look for constellations and planets and star clusters and¬†nebulae… I was racking up quite a few points, and like¬†my nights in Oklahoma¬†years later, I was getting quite a kick from seeing all these celestial sights.

A typical starry, starry night would involve me opening up my bedroom window and leaning out, as far as I could, with a pair of old World War I binoculars Uncle Gerald had given me. I would get my bearings and then scan the sky.

The air would be cold – it was autumn – the heating would be on, and somehow Dad would know I had the window open. He would yell at me to “close the bloody window, you’re letting all the heat out” but I never quite fathomed how he knew.

The (simulated) view from my bedroom. Can you spot the Pleiades? (Click to enlarge - created with Stellarium)
The (simulated) view from my bedroom. Can you spot the Pleiades? (Click to enlarge – created with Stellarium)

So there I am, leaning out the window in mid October, at about nine thirty at night, and I see this tiny grouping of little stars rising in the east over the tree tops. I grabbed my spotter’s guide.¬†Hmmm… that looks like¬†Delphinus,¬†methinks, not knowing that I was completely wrong.¬†That’s a really small constellation¬†was my second thought.

The Pleiades (Taken with Slooh on Christmas Day, 2011 - Click to enlarge)
The Pleiades (Taken with Slooh on Christmas Day, 2011 – Click to enlarge)

I grabbed my binoculars and I squinted at the stars. They looked stunning, even in a pair of seventy year old binoculars. Sometimes I “borrowed” Dad’s much newer pair and I know I used those on more than a few occasions. The image that I took with¬†Slooh¬†years later resembles the view a little.

I don’t know when I realised this wasn’t¬†Delphinus¬†but rather the Pleaides. It might have even been that first night, but I do know I was pretty thrilled to see it. For one thing, nothing truly beats the excitement of seeing something like that for the first time. And besides, the Pleiades scored more points.

I was particularly excited because the Pleaides is one of those star clusters you see all the time in books, on TV and in the movies. It’s famous. Now I was looking at it with my own eyes. It was like seeing your favourite celebrity walking across the street. (I did once see¬†Tom Cruise¬†and¬†Nicole Kidman¬†in London but – you’ve guessed it – that’s a story for another time. Spoilers!)

Despite my love for the stars, I really wanted to go to art class too, so I begged and I pleaded and eventually, much to Colin’s disgust, Mum gave in and I was allowed to go too. I believe my first year was 1981.

I wrote “art class” in parenthesis because it wasn’t really a class, just an excuse to sit around and paint and draw whatever you liked. Occasionally someone would stop by, nod appreciatively, make some vague remark about your unique use of charcoal and then wander on.

Most of my art consisted of stars, planets and a humungous rendition of the¬†Battlestar Galactica¬†whenever I had difficulty filling that space with something else. But again, like most things, that’s a story for another time.

Actually, that year was also the year that Mum decided my room needed a new lick of paint, so while we were at art class, Dad would dutifully be doing his own painting. Unfortunately, it made my room stink but more positively, the smell of paint can still bring me back to those nights.

Again, Dad would complain when I opened up my window and let all the warm air out, but this time, my argument was that I had to open up the window. The room stank of paint.

Best Of OMD (Album)
Best Of OMD (Album)

I didn’t know the title of¬†Souvenir¬†¬†– or who sang it – at the time. I didn’t know the title of¬†Enola Gay¬†from the year before or even had the slightest idea it was by the same group. It wasn’t until much later, in¬†1988,¬†when I bought OMD’s¬†Best Of¬†album on vinyl that I came to those tracks and realised what they were. As stupid as it sounds, it was like meeting familiar old friends again.

In fact, that whole A side brought back a LOT of memories Рbesides Souvenir and  Enola Gay, Joan of Arc and Maid of Orleans also made me think of those star gazing nights. But nothing quite beat Souvenir.

Years later, when I was writing for¬†Astronomy¬†magazine,¬†they asked me to write a piece about the myths and legends associated with the stars. Me being all artsy decided to write a fictional piece. It promptly got rejected, with a “it was nice, but not our kind of thing” email but I kept it anyway.

One of the myths I wrote about involved the Pleiades.¬†I haven’t read it since. Knowing me, I’d probably read it and think it was crap, but if you’re interested, you can read it¬†here.¬†Enjoy. (But don’t judge me too harshly :P)

Lyrics: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/o/omd/souvenir_20103392.html

April 1, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
add a comment

Here’s an excellent challenge for April!

Heavens With Lamps

To celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night in April, take on the Moore Marathon stargazing challenge ‚Äď 55 night sky objects for you to observe. You can find the detailed and quick versions of the Marathon, listing all the objects in the challenge, here.

Sir Patrick Moore has picked his 55 favourite night sky objects and, over the month of April, would like you to see as many as you can. The Moore Marathon will help celebrate 55 years of The Sky at Night, which was first broadcast on 24th April 1957. This show has been part of the fabric of astronomy interest in England for decades, and it has been often observed how Patrick Moore is to British astronomy on TV what Carl Sagan was for viewers in the United States.

From the Moon to the star Albireo, the Moore Marathon has something for everyone.You can…

View original post 307 more words

March 31, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
add a comment

Some excellent info about Global Astronomy month ūüôā

Heavens With Lamps

AWB is planning a rich schedule of programs and events for Global Astronomy Month 2012 (GAM2012), all designed to inform and inspire the public throughout the world. Below is a sampling of some major events listed by date but there is much more to come soon. For more information on each program, click on the highlighted links.

Date / Time Program
23 March to 27 April IASC Asteroid Search Campaign
1 April SunDay
1 April Online Messier Marathon (remote observing event)
1 to 7 April Lunar Week
1 to 22 April International Earth and Sky Photo Contest
7 to 8 April In the Interstices of Life (astroart video presentation)
8 April Bats & Radio Astronomy (live presentation)
11 to 20 April Globe at Night
12 April Yuri’s Night
14 to 15 April Spiral Galaxy (video presentation)
14 to 20 April International Dark Skies Week
15 April Saturn Watch (Beauty without…

View original post 162 more words

March 31, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
add a comment

Heavens With Lamps

Looking up and finding patterns in the stars is a pastime that’s as old as humanity. The constellations are rich with mythology that has been passed on for millennia.

The name for these unofficial constellations is ‚Äúasterism.‚ÄĚ Like constellations, asterisms have a long history. Some are regional, (this particular asterism list¬† is from Germany) while others are universally recognized. Some are ancient, while others are more modern. If you enjoy stargazing, you may even have a few of your own personal asterisms. So go and be creative in the night sky and have fun.

If you are willing to find these asterisms, my advice would be to use Stellarium, if you still haven‚Äôt downloaded it, go grab it for free. you just have to type in the stars names in the Search field, for example: ‚Äúdelta Ori‚ÄĚ,‚ÄĚepsilon Ori‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúzeta Ori‚ÄĚ. And then you could be able‚Ķ

View original post 727 more words

March 29, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
add a comment

Lights in the Dark

Enceladus, Saturn‚Äôs 318-mile-wide moon that‚Äôs become famous for its ice-spraying southern jets, is on astronomers‚Äô short list of places in our own solar system where extraterrestrial life could be hiding ‚ÄĒ and on March 27, NASA‚Äôs Cassini spacecraft was in just the right place to try and sniff it out.

Why does Cassini team director Carolyn Porco think Enceladus is THE place in the solar system where we are most likely to find life? Find out here.

View original post

Entends-Tu Les Chiens Aboyer? – Vangelis March 29, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Personal Recollections, Reblogged.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Ignacio (Album)
Ignacio (Album)

The last song I heard tonight was¬†Entends-Tu Les Chiens Aboyer?¬†¬†by¬†Vangelis,¬†from the album¬†Ignacio.¬†This is going to be a short post tonight because I’m pretty beat. I’ve had to get up every day at about 4:30am and then train from 6am to 3pm. On the plus side, I get out of work early – sometimes too early, as some eateries don’t open for dinner until 5pm.

I called you from my hotel but you weren’t home. In fact, you called me back right not long after I listened to this music. You told me about your swimming and your soccer practice and then, at the end of it all, as I was saying goodbye, you asked, “can I push the red button now?” ūüėõ

Anyway, this music was used quite substantially in¬†Carl Sagan’s¬†Cosmos,¬†the documentary I wrote about¬†a few weeks ago.¬†I didn’t know what it was called for quite some time and¬†Ignacio¬†wasn’t an easy album to find at the time. Now you can easily order it from the internet.

This makes me think of the clear dark nights I spent under the stars in¬†Lawton,¬†Oklahoma.¬†It was hard to do any real¬†astronomy¬†in England. My hometown,¬†Luton,¬†was too large and the¬†light pollution¬†was too bad. I couldn’t really get far enough from the lights and, consequently, there was always a dismal orange glow in the sky.

To make matters worth, Luton is almost 52 degrees north and I never really got to see anything of the southern constellations, such as Scorpius or Sagittarius. The first time I saw either was when I flew out to see Wendy in New York, in late June of 2000.

There were so many deep sky wonders that I feared I would never get the chance to see – the ¬†Lagoon,¬†Trifid,¬†Eagle¬†and¬†Dumbbell¬†nebulae,¬†the¬†globular clusters¬†of Sagittarius,¬†Ptolemy’s Cluster,¬†the¬†Butterfly Cluster… a myriad of¬†double stars.¬†I had read about these sights and seen the pictures in books and magazines but figured my skies were too bright or too northerly to see such faint fuzzies.

I originally bought the¬†Orion¬†4.5 XT¬†Dobsonian¬†for your big brother, when I first came over to visit in September¬†2003.¬†I bought it online, from England, and had it shipped to your Mum’s apartment. We took it to a cabin one weekend, where I assembled it and we looked at the stars. Mars was still close to opposition at that time too and I remember squinting at that from a park in Lawton.

It wasn’t until I’d emigrated and we were living in the house we bought that I truly had a chance to get back under the stars. We moved into that house in late August,¬†2005¬†– our first day was actually the day after our first anniversary and the summer stars were still visible. I started to use the telescope almost immediately and within days (or more precisely, nights) I was finding some of the things I had always wished I could see. The Lagoon Nebula was one of the first. I also saw Uranus for the first time too, closely followed by Neptune – the last time I’d seen that distant blue world was twenty years previously with the¬†Luton Astronomical Society.

I was lucky because that house was like a square donut – it had an enclosed courtyard in the middle and the walls were high enough to block the light from the streetlamps on the road. Also, luckily for me, Lawton didn’t use nearly as many streetlamps as my hometown of Luton. In fact, the biggest light polluter was a nearby car dealership.

So I’d wait until everyone had gone to bed and then set up the ‘scope in the courtyard. It was fantastic. Sometimes, if your Mum was still awake, I’d persuade to come outside too, but she never stayed out for long. I loved every minute.

It became an adventure – every moonless Friday and Saturday night I would be outside, determined to find something new. And I did. More often than not, I’d find 2 or 3 new wonders. I knew I wasn’t the first to see them, but it was exciting all the same. I’d usually go looking for an object of interest – sometimes I’d see it, sometimes I wouldn’t – but occasionally, I’d stumble onto something unexpected. I’d dash back inside to the office and check my software to identify it. Another stellar treasure bagged.

I saw comets, double stars, nebulae, star clusters, galaxies… everything… but let me tell you about one of my favourite memories. It involves you, James ūüôā

I started taking pictures of the Moon РI found a way to adjust the settings on our digital camera to make it easy. I set the ISO to 100 (because the Moon is bright) and raised the shutter speed so the exposure time was as short as possible. I held the camera up to the eyepiece, held it as steadily as I could, pressed the button and hoped for the best. About one in four was a keeper.

The problem was that my photos were mostly of the Moon when it was waxing Рbetween new moon and full moon. The reason for this is because when the Moon is waxing, it always rises before sunset. Actually, the full moon always rises at sunset. I would sometimes get photos of the slightly post-full moon but I never got photos of the last quarter moon and waning crescent moon because they always rose after midnight. (Waning is when the Moon is between being Full and New.)

That is, until the week before you were born. One Sunday night, August 13th¬†2006,¬†we thought you were on your way because your Mum started having contractions. My Mum and Dad had come over for your birth so we all rushed off to the hospital. A few hours later, you weren’t with us yet so Mum and Dad went home with your big brother and I stayed with your Mum. It was about one in the morning before the doctors finally agreed you’d changed your mind and sent us home.

“We’ll see you for sure tomorrow,” they said.

James’ Moon. (Click to enlarge)

We got home and your Mum went to bed but I was still somewhat awake. It was a last quarter moon and I realised this was my chance to get that elusive photo. I was determined to get a photo of the moon on the day you were born and if you were coming later that day, this would be the perfect opportunity. Plus it would be my first last quarter moon photo.

I snapped a couple of pics and rushed inside to see what I’d got. One of them was a gem. It was taken at 2:29am on Monday, August 14th, 2006. I figured this would be your birthday moon photo.

But it was not to be. You didn’t arrive that day. You kept us waiting another eight days and, of course, you being you, you picked the day of the new moon and the moon wasn’t visible. This photo was as close as I got.

I was a little disappointed but I’m glad you’re here. I still sang “…give you a night, dipped in moonshine…” to you ūüôā

March 28, 2012

Posted by thelastsongiheard in Reblogged.
add a comment

When the Curves Line Up

Image Credit

Moon Phases

New ‚ÄĒ 21
First ‚ÄĒ 29
Full ‚ÄĒ 6
Last¬† ‚ÄĒ 13

April provides lengthening daylight and a continued dazzling display of Venus in the western sky after sunset.  During the month daylight increases by an hour to nearly 14 daylight hours by month’s end in the Chicago area.

Mercury is a morning object throughout the month. From the northern mid-latitudes it lies low in the eastern sky during predawn hours. The moon is nearby on the mornings of April 18 and 19.  On the first date, locate the moon, then use binoculars to find Mercury.

Throughout the month, Venus continues its brilliant display in the western sky.  The chart above shows the length of time between sunset and Venus setting.  During the first several days of the month, Venus sets nearly seven hours after sunset.  From that point until mid-May, when it disappears into the…

View original post 477 more words