Friday, August 20, 2010

Earth and Moon from 114 Million Miles

Here is a really cool image that was sent to me earlier tonight from a fan. The MESSENGER (MErcury Survice Space ENvironment GEochemestry and Ranging) Website released this image of the Earth and the Moon from 114 Million miles away.

In the lower left portion of this image, the Earth can be seen, as well as the much smaller Moon to Earth's right. When MESSENGER took this image, a distance of 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) separated the spacecraft and Earth. To provide context for this distance, the average separation between the Earth and the Sun is about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles). Though it is a beautiful, thought-provoking picture, viewing our planet from far away was not the main reason that the mission team planned the collection of this image. Instead, this image was acquired as part of MESSENGER's campaign to search for vulcanoids, small rocky objects that have been postulated to exist in orbits between Mercury and the Sun. Though no vulcanoids have yet been detected, the MESSENGER spacecraft is in a unique position to look for smaller and fainter vulcanoids than has ever before been possible. MESSENGER's vulcanoid searches occur near perihelion passages, when the spacecraft's orbit brings it closest to the Sun. Today is another such perihelion, and MESSENGER is taking a new set of images to search for tiny asteroids lurking close to the Sun.

Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


Tuesday, August 10, 2010 released this image this morning showing a long-exposure Hubble Space Telescope image shows a majestic face-on spiral galaxy located deep within the Coma Cluster of galaxies, which lies 320 million light-years away in the northern constellation Coma Berenices. The galaxy, known as NGC 4911, contains rich lanes of dust and gas near its center. These are silhouetted against glowing newborn star clusters and iridescent pink clouds of hydrogen, the existence of which indicates ongoing star formation. Hubble has also captured the outer spiral arms of NGC 4911, along with thousands of other galaxies of varying sizes. The high resolution of Hubble's cameras, paired with considerably long exposures, made it possible to observe these faint details.

This natural-color Hubble image, which combines data obtained in 2006, 2007, and 2009 from the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys, required 28 hours of exposure time.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stephen's Quintet

It's almost 4AM here at the observatory, and we are starting to wrap things up. Once we obtained our goal of photographing M13 (see previous post), I asked to see if we can grab an image of Stephen's Quintet. This sweet collection of galaxies can be found in the Pegasus Constellation. From our location in Twin Falls, ID our target was pretty close to the Zenith, so we didn't seem to have trouble.

The final jpeg was shot in B&W, and can be grabbed here.

We did 25 exposures at 90 seconds each.

Monday, July 19, 2010

2010.07.19 - Seeking to Capture M13

l folks,

Ken Thomason and I are sitting here at the Centennial Observatory, grabbing some images of M13, the globular cluster in Hercules. Doing astro-photography is a lot harder than I originally thought!

Currently we are using a MaximDL4 software with an Apogee 47E CCD camera on a 24 inch research grade telescope made by DFM Engineering, Inc. We do have MaximDL5, but we have not had the chance nor time to sit down and really play with it.

The parameters we are setup with are:

CLEAR - 40sec Exposure - 25 images
RED - 48sec Exposure - 10 Images
GREEN - 60sec Exposure - 10 Images
BLUE - 108sec Exposure - 10 Images

Combining the upload time, this project should take us just over an hour to capture, and maybe another half-hour to compile all the images together in order to obtain our final image.

If it turns out halfway decent, I'll post the image later!

It is now.... later! And here is our final image.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists -

Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists -

Scientists are preparing the world's largest atom smasher to explore the depths of matter after successfully restarting the $10 billion machine following more than a year of repairs.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Astronomy Day at The Herrett Center

The Herrett Center will be hosting its annual Astronomy Day events on Saturday May 2nd. Our club, Magic Valley Astronomical Society, will be assisting throughout the day. During a break in the days events will be the monthly Astronomy club meeting. Please use the schedule below to better assist you.

1:00-3:00 Space and Astronomy Videos/Frost-Eccles Library

1:00-5:00 Space & Astronomy Make-n-Take Activities, Puzzles, and Coloring Pages/Rick Allen Room

Water Bottle Rocket Construction & Launch/Rick Allen Room & East Lawn

1:00-6:00 Solar & Daytime Target Viewing/Centennial Observatory (weather permitting)

Self-guided Scale Model of the Solar System/North College Road Fitness Trail

2:00 “Blown Away – The Wild World of Weather”/Faulkner Planetarium

4:00 “Mystery of the Missing Seasons w/ Live Sky Tour”/Faulkner Planetarium

4:00-7:00 Space and Astronomy Videos/Frost-Eccles Library

7:00 “Bad Astronomy – Myths and Misconceptions”/Faulkner Planetarium

7:00 Magic Valley Astronomical Society monthly meeting, “Barringer Impact Crater” by club president Terry Wofford

8:15 “Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon”/Faulkner Planetarium

8:30-12:00 Star Party/Centennial Observatory (weather permitting)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Magic Valley Astronomical Society

If you live in the South-central portion of the state of Idaho, and you have a fondness towards Astronomy, allow me to invite you to come out to the monthly meetings of the Magic Valley Astronomical Society!

We meet every 2nd Saturday of the month in the Rick Allen Room at the Herrett Center on the CSI Campus.

Meetings start at 7PM and run for approximately an hour. Afterwards is a free star party in the adjacent observatory.

Come on out! We hope to see you there!