I think NASA just won timelapse

View from the ISS at Night from Knate Myers on Vimeo.

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and another video

I just love these :)
This one shows some nice timelapse video of the Australian Telescope Compact Array with some of the local wildlife. Nice!

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timelapse video, nasa

haven’t had much time for star gazing lately, so I thought I’d share this lovely timelapse video of the milky way at the ESO VLT obervatory in Chile.

On another note, here’s another video this time of a great talk given by Jeff Greason on A Settlement Strategy for NASA. He talks about what the future of the USA’s space program should be all about, and how at present the space program is goal-less. More importantly he gives an example of how to achieve those goals with sensible strategies and tactics. Very worthwhile if you’ve got ~50mins to spare.
http://www.vimeo.com/24260744

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conjunctions? I saw no conjunctions! & radio astronomy

With all the news of planetary conjunctions this month I thought I’d state for the record that I haven’t actually seem them myself…  this is mostly due to sheer laziness on my part (who wants to get up at 5am?!), but also because I don’t have a good view of the eastern sky. Oh well, maybe next time.

I’ve decided what path my amateur career astronomy will take: radio astronomy! Everybody’s doing astrophotography, and it seems to be hellishly expensive to produce any good pics, but I think scavenging for useful equipment such as a dish, amplifier, signal processors and related software etc, is just up my alley. Blogging about my experience with radio astronomy is on the cards, so I’m sure to post about equipment I get, discoveries and “a-hah!” moments, etc.

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camping report

Well that was fun. I had forgotten just how *dark* skies can get! Thankfully the moon didn’t rise until late in the evening, which left plenty of visual opportunities before bed.

Some of the objects I saw:

  • Saturn and Titan with my 30×100 binos – it was easy to make out the rings (though not separate rings), and Titan was there in all its miniscule glory 😆
  • It was dark enough to see the Coal Stack
  • I reckon I actually saw Eta Carinae without the need of the binos, and of course seeing it through the binos was great fun
  • A satellite. I shall need to check stellarium to try to figure out which one it was
  • some meteors

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going camping. What’s to see?

So I’m going camping up at Poona for this easter long weekend. Should be fun; fishing, relaxing, reading, relaxing, playing board games, swimming… oh and relaxing.
The skies shouldn’t be too bad except for the moon still being between about 83% and 64% luminous over the 3 nights we’re there.

My star gazing goals for the trip are:

  • Obtaining data (and even submitting a report if possible) at the location for the globeatnight.org project
  • Trying to pick out Saturn’s rings with my 30×100 binoculars.
  • Maybe having a look at Eta Carinae or some of the other bright DSOs visible at this time of year.

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ISS sighting – saw it!

I saw the ISS for about 3 minutes on Sunday April 10th. huzzah! I know it’s been there for years, and will be there for many more, but hey: this is what amateur astronomy is all about! 😀
I’m surprised it was so bright. I saw it with the naked eye and also trained my 30×100 binos on it. It seemed to just be a bright blob; not sure whether i was out of focus, or whether my eyes were failing me (I had been inside all day staring at a computer, and for a good 5-10 mins before the sighting time everything at a distance was doubled)

Unfortunately the long April 11 sighting opportunity was a no-go due to clouds.

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ISS sighting for my region

So it would appear there is a good 5-minute opporunity to view the ISS from Brisbane / Gold Coast region next week. Hopefully my Arnold Schwarzenegger arms (a pre-requisite for owning 30×100 binoculars without a tripod) will be up to the challenge of tracking it! I don’t think I’d be able to track it with the telescope very easily; that would involve leaning over on a weird angle, trying to find the sat through the finder scope, getting the focus right, using an appropriate eyepiece, and guiding it by hand.

SATELLITE LOCAL DURATION MAX ELEV APPROACH DEPARTURE
DATE/TIME (MIN) (DEG) (DEG-DIR) (DEG-DIR)
ISS Fri Apr 08/06:45 PM 1 14 10 above S 14 above SSE
ISS Sat Apr 09/07:10 PM 1 27 11 above SW 27 above SW
ISS Sun Apr 10/06:01 PM 4 18 10 above S 11 above E
ISS Mon Apr 11/06:26 PM 5 88 11 above SW 16 above NE
ISS Tue Apr 12/06:53 PM 2 16 16 above WNW 11 above NNW
ISS Thu Apr 14/06:09 PM 1 14 14 above NW 11 above NNW
ISS Tue Apr 19/05:47 AM < 1 13 10 above NNE 13 above NNE

We shall see.

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more star gazing

A great night to be viewing the heavens: the temperature has dropped off, not a cloud in the sky, not too much of a breeze. Visual magnitude is about a 6, and earth hour was on lol.

Tonight I saw with my 1200mm 8″ dob (with 25 and 10mm eyepieces):

  1. Saturn and four of its moons! Titan, Tethys, Dione and Rhea.  :O
  2. Eta Carinae
  3. Tarantula nebula
  4. the Alpha Centauri double star
  5. tracked a satellite for a bit across the sky with my 25mm ep from southwest to south! Thankfully I have Stellarium and there just happened to be a sat passing over the right spot at the right time – Radio-Sputnik 15!

Awesomesauce!

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Titan, atheism vs agnosticism

I spied Saturn’s moon Titan for the very first time a couple of days ago with my 30×125 binoculars. Saturn’s rings are side-on at this time of year/orbit, so i’m not sure whether i saw them or whether it was some sort of optical aberration. Its always satisfying to find something ‘new’ which you haven’t seen before, not to mention the pleasure of scanning the sky for other notable things like the Carina Nebula, etc.
Next on the agenda – see if i can find anything in the vicinity of Cygnus A.

This might come as a surprise to many people,  not the least of which would be my wife (forgive me! :( )… i don’t consider myself to be a christian anymore. The reasons are many and varied, but I just don’t see the evidence. Over the past decade or so i’ve become increasingly scientific in my world view, thinking about my beliefs with what i think is a healthy degree of skepticism.
So at the end of the day i’ve found the need to classify myself as an atheist… i can’t see any evidence of any religion as being actually provable, demonstrable fact. Most scientists are atheists… so then why would I consider agnosticism instead? Well, i’m currently (still?) of the opinion that the average human has the capacity for spirituality. It is this very capacity that makes me ask: is spirituality a concept based on some tangible condition, or is it merely an aspect of typical human thought processes?
I believe the jury is still out on this issue (as Dr Ellen Arroway in Carl Sagan’s book Contact mentioned). Apparently, scientists/medical folks have actually measured that at the precise moment of death the human body weighs very slightly less. What is that? Is it the ‘soul’? I don’t know. We need more proof.

But all I can say is that it would be awful nice if life after death was fact. This is why I’m confused as to whether to call myself an atheist or agnostic; i want to believe… but i have to be skeptical.  But maybe even such a concept of an afterlife is a fallacy. Heck, maybe ‘spirituality’ could actually be a ‘6th sense’ of sorts… maybe it is a capacity of mankind that we collectively need to discover and actually – demonstratively – prove exists. How?
(just don’t ask Why – i’m not a philosopher!)

Or maybe spirituality is just a byproduct of evolution. Go Dawkins!

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