Aftonbladet

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:

Weather is stopping Christer Fuglesang from launching

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Weather is effecting each one of us in different ways and for the space shuttle mission ST-128 received another canceled launching countdown based on bad weather circumstances this early morning, 0720 CET. Fortunately there will be more chances to go and another attempt is already taking place tomorrow 20 minutes prior to the initial launching schedule today. Let us hope the weather will be more forgiving and for more details please visit the links below:

As about myself, there are 3 days left before my astronomy meeting (Astronomidagarna i Hvén) together with other astronomy enthusiasts on the isle of Hvén outside Landskrona scheduled for Friday. So far we have more than 100 attendees registered. During the astronomy meeting between Friday 28th of August to Sunday 30th of August there will be lots of workshops together with experienced astrophotographers from Denmark, Sweden and Norway, but also workshops regarding techniques on telescopes and also for beginners. We will finally enjoy lectures in astronomy from people in Lund’s university and Denmark. For a few days ago I was worried about transferring my telescope but finally I came in contact with a board member from my association Tycho Brahe. It showed up that he is going to transfer all telescopes for the people living in nearby regions including mine one! He also offered a ride which is mostly appreciated.

Other than that, my daughters are excited because their favorite program is shown again in SVT which is called “Tillbaka till Vintergatan” (The return to Milky way). The program can be viewed by younglings in the SVT children area of the website and is on air every Friday and Saturday.

An exhausted Christer Fuglesang

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An exhausted Swedish astronaut answering questions to reporters representing different Swedish newspappers.

Godspeed Christer! Good luck with your mission! It truly means a lot for Sweden to have a representative out in space.

To follow STS-128 visit one of the NASA links bellow. NASA put some effort in reporting the progress for the 30th ISS mission and I would think they will air the launch live by streaming it through their website on the 24th of August. I will get back with more links.

Links:

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Object casts shadow over Saturn’s rings

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Foto: NASA
Photo: NASA

Since the time Galileo pointed his telescope toward Saturn, every observer has been fascinated about the rings. They are mainly made of ice, grain and rocks of different sizes and shapes – some as big as cars – moving around Saturn and colliding with each other constantly causing them to be torn apart into smaller pieces. The rings are what remain from a moon in the past. Gravitational forces between the two objects (gas giant and its satellite) caused the object to be ripped into smaller parts during the ages. Today the remnants left from that moon are an astonishing beautiful sight that appears to us as rings.

The same kind of “war declaration” is claimed between Jupiter and its moon Io. Moons too close to these extremely large gas giant planets will cause them to slowly be torn apart over time. Currently Io has violent volcano and moon-quake activities ripping it slowly from the inside. One day Jupiter may have as beautiful rings as Satun. Who knows?

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA

Rocks orbiting Saturn sometimes fall out of their orbits due to large collisions between the rocks, causing the shadows we see on the image, before they fall back again into orbit. Aftonbladet reports this news as mystical as in “Mysterious object in Saturn’s rings“, which it actually is not. Sometimes I admit that they add a little bit of a spice in their news with overdramatized titles.

Aftonbladet article: Mystiskt föremål i Saturnus ring ( http://www.aftonbladet.se/nyheter/article5641347.ab )

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Aftonbladet warns readers about threats coming from space

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I recently went to my daughter’s school in order to make a 3 hour presentation about space. I took with me my laptop, a projector, photos, video sequences, illustrations and paper models on famous satellites and robots that human beings used during the Gemini and Apollo era back in the sixties and seventies. And believe me I was surprised by how much these 8 years old kids knew in advance!

One of the first questions that popped was, “What about comets, meteors and black holes?”. The kids where in need to know about the outer threats, a threat caused not by humanity itself, not by the nature on earth but about a threat coming from outer terrestrial flying objects within the inner solar system. They were fascinated on how threats from far away could cause such devastation. I tried to avoid scaring the kids by telling them about the consequences of these threats. I will tell you how I responded later.

Aftonbladet, a Swedish newspaper published an article today (Nasa kan inte skydda jorden“NASA cannot protect the earth”) about space and this time in particular they thought of writing about NASA’s NEO (Near-Earth Objects) program. It is certain that the budget in the US is currently restrained within many levels of the departments in the government. It is rough times for US economy and that has a great impact for NASA projects as well. History repeats itself, if we bring up Apollo missions as an example. Been there, done that, dont need that anymore!

Despite threats from budget cuts, the NEO program actually made some remarkable progress. It takes a great deal of time and sophisticated equipment to detect, analyze and catalogue tiny objects in space and scientists need to re-analyze these objects several times in order to detect their velocity and direction in order to predict future movements near earth.
We also have to remember that astronomy’s terms regarding distances and time are enormous in comparison to the timeframes and distances used in daily life. When an astronomer is talking about “Recent events” then she could be talking about hundreds of millions of years back in time. Or the term “close encounter” would be if a rock passes far away and behind the path of our moon. Remember that Apollo ships took 4 days to reach the moon travelling at the speed of a bullet!

In history, impacts that threatened life on earth have actually occurred. It is confirmed and well documented both from Apollo expeditions and by scientists on Earth. We also know that these kinds of impacts ending life will with all probability occur again. The question is rather “when” than “if” and if we think statistically about the time between these events it is currently believed that they occur more or less 20 million years apart. Statistically and theoretically we are currently quite close to an impact event – but nothing is certain. It may happen in 100 years or in 1000.

Again, astronomy is dealing with vast distances. Outer solar system members, such as the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, are our defence. Due to their large mass, stones are often pulled into their gravitational field before reaching Mars or Earth (ex. is Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet).

So all in all, things called “soon” or “close to us” are still very far away and most likely will not occur during our lifetimes.

Back to my daughter’s class: when I saw the importance of giving a good answer, I told them threats from these objects are not going to affect us during our lifetimes. And by the time humanity will face these threats our technology will be far more advanced and we will be able to deal with these rocks!

Enjoy the sight of Perseids that can be seen out in the summer night as we speak. They will only last for a couple of days and it is a beautiful event. Unfortunately the weather in the south regions of Sweden has not allowed me to see them yet.

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