The Solar Dynamics Observatory is open for business and man are the first light images amazing!!
Be sure to see the videos which are better-than-HD quality.
One my favorite targets for me and for star parties is the optical pair Alcor & Mizar and Mizar is also a binary system itself which is apparent through pretty much any telescope.
In reality each of the stars in the Mizar pair is a binary making the whole telescopic view a total of 6 stars when you include the star that also shows up in the field-of-view.
Recently astronomers at the Palomar observatory were looking for extra-solar planets using near-infrared techniques and discovered that Alcor also is a binary system! That makes a total of 7 stars when you look at that one spot in the Big Dipper. Read more over at SkyandTelescope.com
I have found videos to be some of the best ways to get ideas across in terms of visualizing data or complex ideas. Wired published the best Science Visualizations Videos of 2009 and some are very very cool.My favorite is the explosion of type Ia supernova. Dang…. awesome stuff!
Vodpod videos no longer available.
Yesterday while enjoying the July 4th holiday with some grilling outside I setup a borrowed Coronado PST to take a look at the sun and there was an active sunspot group!
Later I setup my 8″ Dobsonian with a solar filter and between the 2 scopes managed to get a few shots of the sun at 2 different wavelengths and the sunspot group is visible.
The SOHO instruments caught the entire thing from space in multiple wavelengths but here is just one:
The sun is an amazing astronomical target when it can be done safely. Our sun goes through an 11-year cycle and we have been at the minimum in terms of activity for a couple of years now. It looks like the solar minimum is finally over.
I haven’t posted in a long time. The end of school has occupied a lot of time. Look for more posts though as the summer progresses.
One of my Twitter friends told me about these cool introductory astronomy videos.
This one features lots of thrown balls to demonstrate the discrete energy levels in an atom.
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.
From Lifehacker: WorldWide Telescope Puts the Night Sky in Your Browser.
Over at Lifehacker, I saw a post about the new Microsoft World Wide Telescope Web Client. Microsoft created a pretty darn cool Windows-only desktop version of World Wide Telescope and now they have created a Silverlight-based web-application that should run in any browser if the computer has the Microsoft Silverlight framework installed.
Give it a try. It’s pretty neat.