Archive for April, 2009 – Twilight Sky Show 4-26-09

Posted in astro blogs, moon, observing, urban skies with tags , , on April 26, 2009 by bellaireastro

4-25-09-moon-pleiades-mercury points out that tonight the Moon, the Pleiades, and Mercury will be close together just after sunset in the far western sky not far from the horizon.

The forecast for the Houston area is for cloudy skies but you never know!


The Big Picture covers Cassini and Saturn

Posted in Uncategorized on April 25, 2009 by bellaireastro
Small, battered Epimetheus before Saturns A and F rings, and and smog-enshrouded Titan (5,150 km/3,200 mi wide) beyond. The color information in the colorized view is artificial: it is derived from red, green and blue images taken at nearly the same time and phase angle as the clear filter image. This color information was overlaid onto a previously released clear filter view in order to approximate the scene as it might appear to human eyes. The view was acquired on April 28, 2006, at a distance of approximately 667,000 km (415,000 mi) from Epimetheus and 1.8 million km (1.1 million mi) from Titan. The image scale is 4 km (2 mi) per pixel on Epimetheus and 11 km (7 mi) per pixel on Titan. (NASA/JPL/SSI)

Small, battered Epimetheus before Saturn's A and F rings, and and smog-enshrouded Titan beyond. (NASA/JPL/SSI)

The Cassini mission to Saturn has entered the next phase and one that is a complete bonus. The probe has exceeded expectations and been so successful that a new mission was crafted for this prodigious robotic scientist.

Recently the extremely cool photo blog The Big Picture featured some stunning images from the new Cassini mission. The new science we have gathered about how saturn, the rings, and the moons are connected changes weekly. It is the kind of re-teaching I find particularly exciting.

A Short Post About Two Seriously Cool Videos

Posted in astro blogs with tags , on April 16, 2009 by bellaireastro

From Mythbusters comes an insane rocket sled/car collision. Be sure to watch the last shot of the car being hit by the rocket at slow motion speed. The link is to an entry at the Bad Astronomy blog.

Next is a beautiful but imagined visualization of how magnetic fields might look and is stunning. Astronomy students will note the comparison of the magnetic fields of both the Sun and the Earth. The blog post notes that the reason why the visualizations are so compelling is elusive but this isn’t some filmstrip from the 1980s.

400 Years of the Telescope on PBS

Posted in astronomical history, IYA, observing, space, Student Astronomy with tags , , on April 12, 2009 by bellaireastro

Check out the trailer for the upcoming show about 400 years of the telescope showing in the Houston area this Tuesday April 14th at 8pm on Houston PBS KUHT. Find out when it is showing near you at the official website for the show.

There is web content and there are some planetarium shows to go along with this hour-long documentary.

Universe Today has more about the show and an interview with Kris Koenig who wrote, directed, and produced the show. Check it out.

100 Hours of Astronomy Star Party

Posted in IYA, moon, observing, stellar astronomy, Student Astronomy, urban skies with tags , , , , on April 11, 2009 by bellaireastro
25 Obsession Dob at Sunset

25" Obsession Dob at Sunset

Last Saturday night the Bellaire astronomy class and the HCC-southwest astronomy club threw a star party for the public as part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy event which is part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. The weather did not cooperate. It was very cloudy and we even had a bit of light rain off and on.

Still we had a crowd even though it was small and we talked a lot of astronomy. The moon was out for a while and we were able to get several different magnifications and everyone got a look. The most exciting thing for me personally was helping to setup the 25″ Obsession dob that HCC just got. The moon was the first target for this behemoth and was an awesome view.

The blog has been slow lately while I ramp up for the other class I teach – AP computer science. The exam is approaching and so that course is consuming a lot of my time right now. But more posts will be coming soon.

For now, enjoy the images of the star party and hope for clear skies.

Corondao Solar Scope

Corondao Solar Scope

Star Party April 4th from 6 – 9

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 1, 2009 by bellaireastro


This Saturday April 4th from 6pm – 9pm the Bellaire astronomy class and the Stafford campus of HCC will host a star party as part of the 100 Hours of Astronomy event in celebration of the International Year of Astronomy. Come out and see some stars and learn some stuff about astronomy. Everyone is welcome at this public event so come join us.

For more information including a map to the Missouri City HCC campus see the 100HoursOfAstronomy entry for the event.