Solar Eclipse | NASA-TV Coverage

NASA plans thorough coverage of the 21 August solar eclipse according to this announcement. Highlights will be broadcast live from unique locations coast-to-coast, aircraft, spacecraft, and the International Space Station. So, if you are unable to put yourself in the centerline, you can still see this life-changing event. Streaming can be viewed at this page.

In the announcement linked above, there is a listing of NASA app sites, social media links, NASA-TV feeds, and streaming links. Coverage begins at noon EDT with pre-eclipse programming. The main event begins at 1 pm and covers the eclipse from Oregon to South Carolina.

APOD | Miloslav Druckmüller (Brno U. of Tech.), Martin Dietzel, Peter Aniol, Vojtech Rušin | 2008

Dark Energy Survey | Year 1 Results

Dark Matter and Dark Energy have again been in the news. They can be confusing concepts as I pointed out in a previous post. The recent news is important, especially to cosmologists and astrophysicists, because it provides very strong evidence that previous studies and theory are in close agreement with this new evidence. It adds confidence in our understanding of the structure and behavior of the universe since the Big Bang.

The Dark Energy Survey team of over 400 scientists from 25 institutions in 7 countries reported results from the first year of a five year study of 26 million galaxies which cover 1/30th of the sky. Their map shows the distribution of the dark matter. Red shows regions of more dark matter while blue indicates less than average.

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory | Click to embiggen

Show me more…

Solar Eclipse | Protect Your Eyes

The first time I viewed a total solar eclipse was in 1999. We traveled to London, took the trains to Edinburgh, Glasgow, then Oban. Rode the ferry to the island of Barra for a few days. We came back to London and then to Dover for a couple of days. We boarded the high speed train to Paris. It went through the Chunnel and emerged in France going 185 mph. Another train from Paris got us to Stuttgart Germany in time for the total eclipse.

You need to have proper eye protection leading up to and following the total eclipse on August 21 in the United States. During the minute or two of totality, it is ok to view without eye protection. But, not before or after. Inexpensive viewers are available from many sources. Talk to a person from your local astronomy club. They will be happy to help.

Strawberry Moon | Micromoon | 9 Jun 2017

Moonrise for me last evening was 8:42 pm. I went out at 9:10 to see if the sky to the east was clear giving a view. Saturn was supposed to be positioned close to the right of the Moon. It was very hazy. The Moon was not bright and Saturn was not visible to me. I went back in the house for the camera and tripod. These two photos are at 9:20 and 9:21 with the Moon framed by some trees low to the horizon.

9:20 pm CDT

9:21 pm CDT

I went back inside to wait for the Moon to rise above some of the haze. When I returned at 9:59, the conditions were better. There was still a hazy glow near the Moon. I liked the effect. How about you?

9:59 pm CDT

Timing is everything, so I’ve heard. This moon coincides with the ripening of strawberries. Hence the name Strawberry Moon.

Much has been written in recent years about super-moons. That occurs when the Moon is at its nearest distance from Earth at full moon. This time, the Moon was at its farthest from Earth when full. The term mini-moon or micro-moon has been applied by some for this event. For more information about this full-moon, follow this link to The following image compares a super to a micro moon. See this link for details.

Astronomy Picture of the Day | Catalin Paduraru

Jupiter | Three Galilean Moons | 7 May 2017

The clear evening sky offered a view of our Moon with Jupiter nearby as shown at left. Near sunset we set up the telescope and camera on tripods for closer looks. Good seeing allowed a photograph of Jupiter showing a few cloud bands as well as 3 of the 4 Galilean Moons. Ganymede was at the upper right. Europa and Io were to the lower left. Callisto was visible farther to the lower left in the telescope view. But, it didn’t show in this photo.

Usually, setting the exposure for Jupiter detail underexposes the Galilean moons and makes them not visible. Setting exposure to show the Galilean moons overexposes Jupiter. This time was a compromise.

Canon PowerShot SX60HS, ISO = 100, Shutter = 1/25s, Raw

Screenshot view via Stellarium


Vatican Observatory Tour

I follow the blog The Catholic Astronomer from the Vatican Observatory Foundation. I’ve heard of the Vatican Observatory for a long time but never knew much about it. It sits a above an extinct volcanic lake at Castel Gandolfo in the Papal Gardens near Rome.

© Paul A. Zalonski

Very recently, the observatory director and foundation director led a tour of the place. Joining them was Christopher Graney who is an astronomy teacher in Louisville, KY. He recorded videos for his class to see later. His videos are posted here on the blog site.

Scroll to the bottom of his post and click the left of three small images about the history and telescopes. His link will take you to the three videos.

One aspect of interest in the tour was of the women computers who worked there and their machine used to measure stars on the glass plates. It connected well with the work of the women computers in The Glass Universe by Dava Sobel. Those women laid the foundations for many of the important principles used in modern astronomy.