Science

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:

Summer projects and the 472 Roma ockultation

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During June-July at Tycho Brahe observatory we were preparing for a large project that would involve the cooperation between many amateur astronomers from different locations in Sweden. The Swedish assosiation for amateur astronomers (SAAF: Svenska Amatörastronomiska Föreningen) helped us to get in touch with other amateur astronomers across the country. Together with my collegue Arne L Ohlsson we started to put hard work on planning, coordinating meetings, assembling nessesary instrumentation and dealing with time pressure.

The ockultation is all about a large rock out in space, or more commonly called an asteroid named 472 Roma passing infront of the delta star (Yed Prior) in the constellation of Ophiucus, causing this large red giant star to dissappear for a around 5 seconds. This asteroidal passage was meant to be easily observed from our location, but negative observations outside the occultation shadow would provide a lot of information regarding the star itself.

It has been mistaken for a long time that the delta star in Ophiucus would be a double and for the first time an asteroid would occult this star and reveal it’s secrets for us. Unfortunately just before the occultation occurred, heavy clouds surounded our area. That was our worse case scenario that just took place, leaving us with unanswered questions.

In the morning we heard that the German and Belgian astronomers were more lucky then us and that many positive reports started to fall in!

HE-0450-2958

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It has been some time since I wrote about anything on my blog, primarily because of a series of events in my life. Unfortunately south parts of Sweden have been covered completely by clouds during a long period of time. The weather became much better during Christmas holidays but unfortunately there was so little time left for observing after spending time with family and friends.

Regardless, there are some discoveries and news that came in focus for the astronomy world. Such as the sunspot activity which get increased for every week. Sunspot 1040, which was barely visible at the beggining, but now it seems to get increased both in size and activity.

A new debate started between a group of French and German astronomers regarding supermassive black holes. It came to the attention after lengty observations that there is a group of black holes responsible in the creation and formation of new stars within galaxies thank to their powerful jet streams of materia ejected by them out in the space.
The question though is, which one came first during the early stages of the universe? Was it a supermassive black hole or a galaxy? As known already to us, a supermassive black holes exist in the center of galaxies but there are some supermassive black holes that are “naked” or “without home”. Those black holes roam the universe alone, such as the quasar HE-0450-2958. There are some that oppose the idea by answering that galaxies were first to exist.
It is interesting to see what conclusion will be drawn by scientists in the future.

– In Swedish (Dagens Nyheter)
– In English (Article at Phyorg)
– HE-0450-2958 in English (Wikipedia)

Finally, I wish to you all a happy new year!

LCROSS mission and Galileo’s telescope

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Galileo's Telescope
Galileo’s Telescope

It has been a while since my last post but the reasons are mainly because of private life interference rather than the lack of news.

To sum everything up we have seen LCROSS mission at the beginning of October (search for water on the lunar surface at Cabeus crater) to the moon was finally a big success. Many of us believed that the impact would be visually greater than the result, but the most interesting part is the actual data returned to us back on earth. It is now a fact that moon holds large amounts of water, ready to be used for future lunar missions!

Few weeks after I travelled to Stockholm in order to behold Galileo’s telescope, an exhibition that lasts to March next year. The reason of this artifact being part of an exhibition here in Stockholm is to celebrate 400 years since Galileo raised, for the first time in human history, a telescope to observe the night sky for scientific purposes.

I received permissions from the museum to freely take pictures of the telescope as a representative of the Tycho Brahe Astronomy community in order to hold a lecture about Galileo to the members of Tycho Brahe back here in Lund.

I will tell you how that went later on this blog. In the mean while I must also inform that these pictures here are not of the best quality. Darkness from the museum forced my camera to long exposures and my hands were shaking. I should have brought my tripod but in my hurry I forgot it at home. Nevertheless I’ve got the chance to see closely our father Astronomer Galileo’s heritage to us to what might be the very first telescope in the name of the science.

Some interesting links about LCROSS mission can be found here:

Nobel Museum:

Example telescope
Example telescope
Construction parts
Construction parts
King Gustav II Adolf's telescope
King Gustav II Adolf’s telescope
Construction parts
Construction parts

 

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Time for Jupiter again

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Jupiter by Niklas Henricson
Jupiter by Niklas Henricson

Finally! The weather allowed me to bring out my telescope. It was about time to run some tests with my Celestron NexImage camera. There were many attempts trying to adjust several parameters such as brightness versus contrast, frame rates, quality, shutter speed and so on. I finally found out what to do and was able to record a short movie of Jupiter and then process it in RegiStax 5.

Programs used:

  • RegiStax 5.0
  • Celestron AMCap
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2
Jupiter by Niklas Henricson
Jupiter by Niklas Henricson

The trick is to capture a planet by recording an AVI-movie, process it through Registax, do final adjustments in Photoshop and voila!

Weather Forecast

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One of the most important things before an astrophotography session is planning. You can never go out shooting with your camera without being well prepared in advance. There is something however, that you can never predict – weather!

So here comes my critisism towards SMHI (Metereological Institute of Sweden).

There is no weather website that turns ou to be wrong 9 times out 10 than SMHI (http://www.smhi.se). I am totally disapointed by their forecasts for the weather in Scandinavia. And because of our unpredictable and hard mistaken summers in Sweden it is most crucial you get at least the forecast right. Not to forget about their lousy website and the services that demand a fee in order to subscribe e-mail or link their reprehensible forecast through a flash application which has large limitations and is badly designed.

Contrary to this primitive and lousy website you have the Norwegians who’ve made an effort in forecasting, website layout and usability. It is one of the best I’ve seen so far (conserning weather forecasts in Scandinavia). This is the page I’m sticking with from now on. http://www.yr.no

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The Sun

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Sun
Sun – N. Henricson

And it was time again to turn the telescope toward the closest star we know. The Sun. And this dwarf star is also the most fascinating! It shows us how other stars work, considering fusion, magnetic fields, solar winds and all other kinds of phenomena making scientists drop their jaws. He still surprises us to a moment of silence during the ending of the 11-year cycle to the moment of violence. “Here I am, and I am alive!”.

It felt like some sort of an instict to bring out my telescope that day without checking spaceweather.com. To my astonishment I saw two solar spots emerging to the southeast on the visible side and the photo to the left is the result. Unfortunately some hot spots appeared and I forgot to handle it.

The following image is an enlargement of the previous one.

Sun spots enlarged
Sun spots enlarged