News

Square Kilometer Array (SKA)

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Square Kilometer Array

One of the most prestigious projects is about to take place in south Africa called the SKA (Square Kilometer Array). SKA is a group of smaller parabolic antennas which together combined will create a huge telescope array that is 3000 km in diameter and will occupy 12.5 million hectars.

The sensitivity of this array of telescopes will exceed 50-100 the sensitivity of current radio telescopes around the globe. The building project itself it about to cost 1.5 billion euros (1.5 followed by 9 zeros €)!

This is a major breakthrough for astronomy. Astronomers will have now a big advantage in order to uncover the secrets from the big bang aftermath shortly after it took place.

The SKA is about to be operable in year 2025. Let us cross our fingers and wish all involved project members congratulations for this opportunity and good luck during the assembling period.

Recommended reading:

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Discovery’s last journey

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Early STS concepts: Image from Wikipedia
Early STS concepts: Image from Wikipedia

A historical decision (article in Dagens Nyheter) been taken in NASA for a while ago retiring all old space shuttless  (a.k.a. STS: Space Transportation Missions) starting with Discovery. I remember back in my early years reading my grandfather’s space magazines originating from the 70:ies regarding the plans for constructing these advanced ships, taking people out for space missions. Back then, it felt almost like science fiction. I recall the accidents with Challenger and Columbia as if there were yesterday and what devastating consequences they had upon the astronauts families, NASA’s budget and the common view on the risks astronauts are taking trying to conquer and master space. It never was an easy job considering all the risks and accidents that happened through all the years even if the shuttles gave a false safety thinking in comparison to the Apollo missions back in 60:ies. Regardless the STS program was made to be longlived and it has outlived many previous manned space programs in time length. I personally will miss these shuttles that wrote history (Hubble Space Telescope, International Space Station. MiR), but this retirement means also the opening of a new era taking humans further deeper into space in future missions, such as the planet Mars!

http://www.nasa.gov/

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/shuttle/main/index.html

Partial solar eclipse in Sweden

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Unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to see anything behind the thick layer of clouds and heavy mist passing by the entire morning yesterday. However, we had news channels, local radio stations and news papers droping by asking us about facts regarding this fenomena. Seems when it comes to Sweden that only Stockholm had good visibility.

I’m going to attach a few Youtube clips I saved as a memory from this event.



The interviews were made by Swedish national TV (short: SVT, Sveriges Television)

The Sun through H-alpha

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Less then 48 hours left before the partial solar eclipse that occurs during the tuesday morning 2011-01-04. I was testing my equipment and saw that there were a few sunspots. The image is photographed with a Canon EOS 50D at ISO 800 through a Lunt LS60THa H-alpha telescope.

The news have already been requesting curiously on details about the partial solar eclipse on tuesday. Regardless the weather conditions we will be there taking care of our guests and giving interviews. If the weather allow us to observe anything I promise to get back here with some photos.

More newspapers publishing about the solar eclipse on tuesday:

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

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I wish every blog reader a merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Using new stuff

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Baader UHC-S
Baader UHC-S

Studying physics is really limiting my time from doing fun stuff, especially when it comes to one of my most favorite hobbies (astrophotography & star gazing). Even though of my time limitations, I couldn’t stop myself from finally buying new equipment I’ve long desired and saved money for, such as a mount upgrade (EQ 6 Pro), a new camera (Canon 50D) and two refractor telscopes from William Optics (Equipment page). I’m definetely now a happy amateur astronomer and even if I’m not able to perform any backyard astronomy these days, the weather wouldn’t allow me anyway and there fore there are no hard feelings since I miss nothing.

Although that is not the truth entirely, I’ve been out late evenings scanning the night skies, focusing on my primary goal objects such as M31 (Andromeda galaxy), M13, Double cluster and the Pleiades. These objects will definetely occupy my time for hours (apart from photo processing the images). I’ve also upgraded myself to Baader’s UHC-S filter which is a fine filter suited for astrophotographers living in suburban areas.

During mid october this year we had comet 103P/Hartley 2 passing by between Cassiopeia and Perseus constellation but I must admit that this comet was absolutely nothing spectacular and definetely not worthy the time. I went out trying to locate this object which was around magnitude 8 and even though with well trained eyes it still looked like any other star. No tail or obvious halos around it even by using wild imagination, so I decided instead to spend some time gazing at galaxies.

Radioastronomy

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For almost a week ago we received our radio telescope which was originally owned by the institute of astronomy at Lund’s university. The telescope was used primarily by astronomy students. It weights around 200 kg and is 1,20 m across in diameter. With this telescope we will be able to observe regardless weather conditions and even at daytime the sun, some strong radio sources in Milky way and many other things.

At the same time we have spoken with the architects from the municipality office regarding an extension building northside from our observatory. I will publish soon some blueprints which will give a clear picture of how our future observatory will look like. Because the building plans are not official yet, I’ll have to wait from publishing any further information regarding construction plans until all plans are set.

Last night I held a lecture about Galileo’s telescope for members in our Tycho Brahe astronomy society here in Skåne. I would have kept going with my entire presentation for more then a hour but my time was limited to half. The lecture was describing the difficulties Galileo encountered in order to build his first telescope and the differences and achievements with later versions of his telescopes, as well as his first observations based on Jupiter, Venus and the moon that changed the world’s view.

Unfortunately Bengt Rosengren a member in our astro-society felt ill and couldn’t attend our meeting. He has created a Galileo telescope replica which would be available for our attendees to study. I am providing an image from his replica here.

Galileo's telescope
Lecture
Galileo's telescope
Lecture
Galileo's telescope
Lecture
Galileo telescope replica
Galileo telescope replica