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America´s Total Solar Eclipse – Useful Info

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Melissa and I will be observing the solar eclipse from Corvallis. Thanks to the Corvallis Sheriff’s department we found a new location to camp, avoiding to relocate on the day of the event, allowing us also to avoid traffic and early morning stress! Big thanks goes to all my friends that helped out.

While browsing through Youtube, I stumbled on a video by the College of Arts, Letters and Sciences in regards to observing the solar eclipse. Very useful info and insight on how solar eclipse works in general.
View more useful links down at the bottom on how to photograph or record the eclipse event at different stages during its progression as well as last minute camping and reservation info.

 

Niklas Henricson

Solar System Scope, INOVE

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Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-29-24

I wrote on my previous blogpost about the Solar System Scope by INOVE. This time I thought I’d write some extra about it. Beside their awesome interactive website, INOVE has developed their solar system to be accessible from Android devices. If you enter the App Store make a simple search for “Solar System Scope” and you’ll find it available for free.

It is the perfect app to teach yourself and others (your kids, or at the school) about our solar system. These days you can connect a mobile device to your laptop to enable projection on big screens.

Solar System Scope has some basic data about each object that is part of our solar system. From planets to dwarf planets, moons, comets, asteroids, constellations as you browse among many of them enabling you to explore their orbits, behavior and most importantly fast forward or rewind to observe their positions at a certain point in time.

Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-34-41 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-34-22

Another cool feature is that you can “open up” planets to look at their interior and see what they consist of. Above you have two examples from the planets Saturn and Mars respectively. I believe this app is the coolest so far when it comes to graphics and usability. It is a very user friendly and intuitive app that has a simple design making it possible start using its advanced features within seconds.

Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-29-36 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-31-10 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-30-51 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-31-21 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-31-48 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-32-37 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-33-18 Screenshot_2015-05-31-20-33-51

I really hope INOVE takes this app one step further and offers us to explore other neighbor solar systems that we know off in scientific ways. How cool wouldn’t that be?

Unfortunately this app is only available for Android devices. I was hoping one day they’ll make a release for Windows mobile devices as well.

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Prophecies are fun!

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Solar-System

So there’s this thing going around that California will suffer great disaster. All that according to one of Nostradamus prophecies. Let us have a closer look to what he wrote:

The trembling so hard in the month of May,
Saturn, Capricorn, Jupiter, Mercury in Taurus:
Venus also, Cancer, Mars, in Virgo,
Hail will fall larger than an egg.

Upon closer look let us sort the planets by constellations:

  • Constellation Capricorn:
    – Planet Saturn (Exists instead by the constellation of Libra)
  • Constellation Taurus:
    – Planet Jupiter (Exists instead by the constellation of Cancer)
    – Planet Mercury (The only one that matches the prophecy)
    – Planet Venus (Exists instead by the constellation of Gemini)
  • Constellation Virgo:
    – Planet Mars (Exists instead by the constellation of Taurus)

So nothing matches except of the planet Mercury. The 29th of May 2015 looks pretty safe to me, so enjoy your weekend everyone! No need to barricade in your shelters or buy any food supplies.

The image above was taken by the entirely free of charge program “Solar System Scope” which runs on a webpage at:

Solar System scope can be also be found for Android and Apple devices ready to be downloaded for free.

We’re made of star stuff

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Neutron Star Collision
Neutron Star Collision

Every single thing you can sense around you is made of matter. Every single atom in your body, was once forged inside the nucleus of a star for a very long time ago, even before our solar system existed.

We are products of star fusion, supernovas. But recently astronomers discovered in simulations, we might also be parts of even more rare events of collision of stars, which explains the rarity of heavy elements such as gold, platinum, uranium and so on.

This rarity is what makes gold so precious to humans and used throughout history as currency. Something that not everyone possess or is able to acquire in large quantities. The reason to that?

Neutron stars.

First you need a binary system… Not like our own solar system, but a system with 2 stars orbiting around each other. That’s is not extremely common either. But also in this recipe we need these stars end up as neutron stars at the end of their lives and finally a dramatic end…. A collision between them.

Now that is more of a rare event.

Although this might sound almost like impossible, the vast amount of space and the tremendous amount of star systems created over time in a galaxy, results mathematically having these events not to be as rare as we thought. To a human being,  100 years is experienced as a very long time. In astronomy on the other hand, you’ve got ridiculous huge numbers of distances, time span and forces. Something that the human mind cannot comprehend pure mathematically… It is not as far as the neighbor house around the corner, or your monthly salary, or the age of your children, or the number of pages of your favorite book. We talk about billions of years, or distance of the speed of light covered over thousands of years away, and so on.

And like Carl Sagan said… The amount of stars in our galaxy are much more than the amount of sand grains from all beaches on earth put together.

The fore the human body need some of these rare elements in order to function. Remember that stars can fuse only as heavy elements as iron (Fe), heavier than that and you’ll need even stronger and violent forces. Ones that would be expected by the death of stars or by colissions. And some of these elements are made by supernovas and now even believed by neutron star collisions.

So, if you consider proposing to the one you love and give her a ring, then explain to her. “My love, this ring is rare and unique. So unique, that two neutron stars had to collide for it to exist and now finally be placed on your finger”. I’m sure you will make her feel special, as much as that neutron star collision.

The theoretical predictions got now to be put in practice and observed by astronomers.

Read more:

Kepler discovered a remarkable exoplanet

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Kepler 19c
Kepler 19c – An artist’s impression

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovered a double earth-sized planet (Note: not earth-like) and was given the name “Kepler 19c”.

The remarkable with this discovery is not only that this exoplanet in particular is tiny in comparison to previous discoveries of super sized Jupiter-like planets, but also due to the indirect discovery while studying another nearby exoplanet at the same planet system, transiting their star 5 minutes later than anticipated.

That brings our solar system in mind with our family member Neptunus, which was discovered indirectly and mathematically by studying the motion of the neighboor planet Uranus due to the unusual orbit around our sun. A conclusion was therefore made, that another object should exist nearby disturbing gravitationally its path around sun.

When the orbit of the theoretical planet was predicted, astronomers rushed to their telescopes trying to find it. And so a Thursday night the 23 of September 1846 the little blue dot was first seen visually by the astronomers Urbain Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Galle.

Discovering new worlds has always been part of the human history. From the myths and hopes of the existence of the lost isle of Atlantis, the discovery of new continents by the famous voyagers such as Marco Polo, Cpt. James Cook, Americo Vespucio, and so on, to the discovery of new planets within our solar system and finally today to entirely new worlds far beyond in space within our galaxy!

Kepler’s mission is to study constantly the same narrow field of around 145 000 main sequence stars and by their change in brightness reveal if these stars are inhabited by planets orbiting around. The technique is quite “simple” by using the transit method (a star’s magnitude changes when an object passes in front of it, lowering the brightness a tiny fraction). However, using this technique got its limitations as the passing object got to be on the same plane as our solar system. Objects passing in different paths will be never discovered by using this method!

Other methods are: Radial Velocity, Microlensing, Astrometry, Pulsar Timing and Direct Imaging.

The current number of exoplanet discoveries has today been altered to 520!

For more information please visit the links bellow:

Star Trail

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Ben Canales webpage

Astrophotography itself can be divided into subsessions and there fore astrophotographers invest both in time and money in different sets of cameras and other equipment. For example a deep-sky astrophotographer would prefer an IR modified DSLR camera or a CCD camera, while a planetary astrophotographer would prefer video cameras or high quality webcameras. But regardless type of equipment or the money you spend into that, an astrophotographer must have a sense of an artist’s eye, big luck and enormous amount of patience. Surely good and expensive equipment makes life easier, but you are not a true amateur astronomer if you dont love nature and got people around you that support your interest wholeheartedly.

I personally admire Ben Canales work in landscape astrophotography. Ben gave me inspiration through his photos in investing my thoughts into landscape astrophotography and this season I’m going to try out and see if I can find motives. For a couple of months ago, I passed by Lund’s cathedral and watched the moon raising between the two clock towers. It was so beautiful but unfortunately I didn’t carry around my camera at that point. However, I’m planning in doing so by timing it at a later point. Another try I did, was with the dome at the observatory of Jävan and the constellation of Cassiopeia in background, but I was never pleased with the end results.

Regardless, please visit Ben Canales webpage located at: http://www.thestartrail.com/

Astrophotography blog in local newspaper

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Niklas HenricsonPhoto: Sara Frostberg Lowery

The last few years I’ve made occassionally appearance on TV, radio and news papers regarding astronomy and science related news and happenings, but in difference to these interviews, I’ve been asked this time by “Lunds Lokaltidning” to say a few words about this blog in particular.

A big thanks to Sara Frostberg Lowery for taking time and effort visiting me at home last week. It was a nice relaxing interview as we both talked about my background and this big interest around astronomy and astrophotography.

In difference to most blogs covering fashion, movies, life experiences, music and so on; this blog is ofcourse dedicated to astrophotography and astronomy related news and history. That became interesting for the local newpaper who started recently a campain of interviews dedicated in local blog authors resided within our community, Lund.

If you’re interested reading the article click this link bellow.

Lunds Lokaltidning – Med blicken riktad uppåt

A google-translated version can be found here.