Monthly archives: January, 2005

Fiery tail, riding high

Want to see a comet?

Alright, here's how.

Around 8:30pm, go outside and look at the west-southwest horizon. Look almost 90° upwards (okay, 81° to be exact)

You're now looking at comet Machholz C/2004 Q2.

This comet will be rising in the south eastern sky before nightfall and make its way to the north western sky where it sets around 4am. 8:30pm is when it'll be directly overhead.

If you have binoculars, you'll have a great view of it, but you can see it with the naked eye if you don't have any.

Because I care

Law of Universal Gravitation

Every object in the Universe attracts every other object with a force directed along the line of centers for the two objects that is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the separation between the two objects.

God I love science when I'm dr0nk

now for Hubble's Law which tells us the expansion of the universe is smooth. This relates to the expansion of galaxies.

V = Ho D

Recessional velocity that we observe agalaxy (ie: moving away from us)
Hubble's Constant (around 70km/second per megaparsec) (There is some debate in the community whether this is the true value for all cases)
Distance to the obseved galaxy in megaparsecs

Remember a parsec is about 19,173,560,000,000 miles, which is also means a metric fuckton of gas money.

So if we see a galaxy with a recessional velocity (compared to us) at 5000000mph, that is 0.00745582 the speed of light.

Lets divide that by Hubble's Law (Constant) of 70km/s per Mpc and we get 31.95 Megaparsecs, which is equal to 104.22 million light years. That galaxy is 104.22 MILLION light years away.

Fuck yeah.

Well, they did it.

Scientists, using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile, have finally imaged for the first time a planet outside our own solar system. The planet is 225 light years away from us (that's 225 times 6 TRILLION miles away) and is about 1.5 times the size of Jupiter. The Hubble Space Telescope provided a follow-up confirmation. The image is in the infra-red spectrum.

The planet orbits a Brown Drawf-type star. This is a dead star that did not have enough thermonuclear activity to go nova, and instead is a dark body that emits mainly heat. The planet and star in question is in the constellation Hydra.

Amazing. The Hubble is 13 years old and failing, and the VLT is earth-based and still manages to do this against the odds. This, my friends, is engineering, astronomy and terrestrial astro-optics at its best.

You can see the picture and read a full write-up about this here.

Mr. Spacely

Counting stars by candlelight, all are dim but one is bright;
The spiral light of venus, rising first and shining best,
On, from the northwest corner, of a brand new crescent moon,
While crickets and cicadas sing, a rare and different tune,
Terrapin station.

The gods must be teasing me

Warm weather at night, but skies completely conceiled by a high overcast. For the past week. With light pollution to add insult.

All the well, I've taken a sturdy cardboard box and a sharp knife and began constructing my aperture mask. I did the calculations and I'll need to make a 4" hole to stop the scope down to f/12. As I'm working on this, I'm thinking how I can make the aperture mask be adjustable in size. I'm thinking, by using self-adhesive velcro strips, I can make a series of concentric rings of cardboard and reduce the aperture in 0.5" increments by adding rings.

Anyhow, my main goal here is observing the sun. While reading about doing this, I've learned about the different wavelengths differnet parts of the Sun gives off. Coronas, promenences, etc. The holy grail of solar observing appears to be adding a special filter to one's collection, specifically a Hα (Hydrogen Alpha) filter, but prices for these appear to be in the thousands of dollars. I guess it's due to the very very small and certain wavelengths of light they allow through (we're talking half an angstrom in size.) These filters bring out details one normally would not see. Oh well.