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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Where's he been!?

Okay so it's been over a year since my last post... I've been receiving a shed load of emails recently from those of you simply complimenting my work here and asking for advice for their own blogs.
While I like to consider the idea of monetising such advice, I prefer to just offer a little experience points.

Simply put, the only real advice I can offer to anyone starting, or maintaining, a blog site; is...

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Great Nebula in Orion

Finally got this thing processed! Again, taken at the OAM with a 12" Meade SCT and SBIG CCD with three waveband filters, calibrated and stacked in MaximDL.

Tried to get the right balance between contrast and brightness and I think it's okay. Either way, my first ever shot of a nebula and of course my favourite nebula :)
I may go over it again with a bluer filter for some funky styles, if I do I'll make sure I post the results.

This is a huge image, so it's best to download to view it properly. Do so by clicking the image to make it big, then right click, save as...


Sunday, 25 September 2011

My very first RGB astro-photo!

And less importantly, my 100th blog post!

Albireo (β Cyg, β Cygni, Beta Cyg, Beta Cygni) is the fifth brightest star in the constellation Cygnus.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

To boldly sow: Seeding the galaxy with Earthly life

Go forth and multiply (Image: L Allen (Harvard-Smithsonian CFA)/D. Padgett (SSC-Caltech/NASA

If there is no life on other planets, let's send it there
EARTH'S first interstellar expedition seems to be a disaster. During the long journey most of the passengers die from radiation sickness. When at last the spacecraft arrives, it crash-lands on the surface of a bleak and barren world. The capsule splits open and the alien air finishes off many of the remaining explorers. Over the ensuing days, some of the few survivors succumb to the extreme temperatures, while others die after drinking from pools of acid.

But one stalwart survives. Soon there is even better news: our explorer divides into two clones. Earth life reproduces for the first time under the light of an alien star. Its offspring mutate and begin to adapt to their new home, eventually spreading across the planet and evolving into new forms of life. That's one small step for a bug, one giant leap for bugkind.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Creative Thinking or Daydreaming; What's the difference?

Creative thinking differs from daydreaming in one important way. When you daydream, for the most part, you are entertaining yourself. When you use creative thinking, you are working.

Creative people think, a lot. What creative people soon realize is that creative thinking is hard work. You can actually get tired when you think creatively.
People who don't use their imaginations in this way don't understand how thinking, even creative thinking, can be actual work that is as tiring as physical labour. Thinking is just thoughts and don't those run through your brain constantly, with little or no effort anyway?

Thoughts do run through your mind constantly, all sorts of them. That would be what makes staying on track with creative thinking so difficult.

The key is to know when your mind switches from creative thinking to daydreaming

Saturday, 29 January 2011

New inflatable module will attach to ISS

NASA is in talks with Bigelow Aerospace to potentially acquire a new inflatable module for the International Space Station. Yes, that's right: they're going to blow up the ISS!

Bigelow Aerospace has been at this inflatable space station thing for quite a while, and it's actually got two prototypes in orbit already, demonstrating that making a space station out of glorified party balloons is provably not completely nuts.

Maser set to predict Milky Way's fate

WILL the Milky Way slam into its giant neighbour, Andromeda, in a few billion years?
A laser-like spot of light in the galaxy hints at an answer...

The speed at which Andromeda is moving towards the Milky Way can be determined from the Doppler shift of the light it emits. But the galaxy is too spread out for its subtle sideways motion in the sky to be detected. If it moves fast enough in this direction it may miss the Milky Way altogether.

Will we ever glimpse the universe's first stars?

The race to see the universe's most distant objects continues. Astronomers reported a few days ago, the discovery of the farthest galaxy seen to date. Its light, which was captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, was emitted when the universe was less than 500 million years old, making it the oldest galaxy yet observed.

If history is any guide, the galaxy, dubbed UDFj-39546284, is unlikely to hold that title for long. So how far back in time, ultimately, can we go?

Friday, 28 January 2011

Windows 7 HomeGroup not working? Try these 10 quick fixes

In theory, HomeGroups are supposed to simplify the process of sharing key folders and printers on your network. Sadly, they can be more trouble than they're worth – try these troubleshooting tips.

Windows 7 Hidden Options and Tools - A Tutorial

Microsoft has done a fine job with Windows 7. All you need do is pop in an installation disc and provide the installer with some internet access information, then you can leave the room and make a cup of tea.
When you come back you'll have a fully working PC, complete with features that make working and playing much easier.
Windows 7's Taskbar makes it quicker to find, launch and manage your apps. There are also Libraries, which help you locate related files so you can view your work without spending ages browsing your hard drive.

Get more from your PC by using its advanced features

You get improved security, a host of new and revamped applets, low-level tweaks that improve performance and much more.

Microsoft Announces Official Support between Kinect And Windows 7

Last year only a couple of weeks after Kinect hit the market, a bunch of dubious hackers managed to crack the hardware and get it running on a Windows 7 machine. While the function it performed was fairly basic, it opened the flood gates for the rest of the hackers and developers since acquiring the new hacked drivers.

Initially it didn’t look like Microsoft condoned this practice and didn’t seem too happy about it. But then at CES, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that the company would announce official PC support for Kinect “in the right time”.

It looks like Microsoft decided to take a leaf out of the hackers book, realising the potential that having the Kinect controller connected to a PC would bring.

Leaked Internet Explorer 9 Screenshots Show Some Changes

Only a few days from the supposed release of the Release Candidate for Internet Explorer 9 and some screenshots have been released by a Russian website which show changes in the appearance of the browser. The speed and compatibility of the browser is also said to be better in this next release, but i’ll hit the high points of the changes made to the user interface.

It appears that the header and toolbars have been shortened yet again to provide even more real estate for the webpage.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Fake Mars Astronauts Are Approaching Fake Mars!

With less than 10,000 miles to go until they reach fake Mars, the fake mission to the Red Planet is going as planned. Which is to say, the space travel simulation project known as Mars-500 project is full of mishaps and surprises, as the Russian Institute for Biomedical Problems tests the fake astronauts’ ability to handle anything outer space could throw at them.

The next milestone: the fake arrival in Mars orbit on February 1.

Polar Ring Galaxy NGC 660

NGC 660 lies near the center of this intriguing skyscape, swimming in the boundaries of the constellation Pisces. Over 20 million light-years away, its peculiar appearance marks it as a polar ring galaxy.

A rare galaxy type, polar ring galaxies have a substantial population of stars, gas, and dust orbiting in rings nearly perpendicular to the plane of the galactic disk. The bizarre configuration could have been caused by the chance capture of material from a passing galaxy by the disk galaxy, with the captured debris strung out in a rotating ring. The polar ring component can be used to explore the shape of the galaxy's otherwise unseen dark matter halo by calculating the dark matter's gravitational influence on the rotation of the ring and disk. Broader than the disk, NGC 660's ring spans about 40,000 light-years.

Image Credit & Copyright: Stephen Leshin

Friday, 21 January 2011

Podcast: What’s New With Supermassive Black Holes?

Podcast desription:
Of all astronomical objects, there are few that inspire the imagination more than black holes. I’ll tell you about a couple of results that have come out recently having to do with supermassive black holes. 
(Podcast download at bottom of article.)

What’s New With Supermassive Black Holes

Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka

Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka, are the bright bluish stars from east to west (left to right) along the diagonal in this gorgeous cosmic vista.

Click image for HighRes version

Otherwise known as the Belt of Orion, these three blue supergiant stars are hotter and much more massive than our Sun.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

10 Amazing Theories and Discoveries of Modern Astronomy

Astronomy has come a long way in the past 100 years, with revelations from Einstein, Bohr, Hubble and other great astronomers, physicists, and scientists.  While certainly some of the greatest discoveries in astronomy of all time include the discovery of the other planets of the solar system, the true relation of the Earth to the Sun, and the mathematical calculations for planetary orbits by Kepler and universal gravitation by Newton, more shocking discoveries have been made in modern astronomy than in times past, and shows us just how cool our universe actually is.

Dark Energy

As we’ll discuss later in this article, it has been discovered using the Hubble constant and measurements of supernovae of distant stars that the universe is not contracting, nor is it static (as Einstein thought), but instead, the universe is expanding, and the expansion is speeding up.

Hubble takes a Clear look at the Lagoon Nebula

The Hubble telescope has offered stunning images, such as colliding galaxies and top 10 Hubble images, for over 20 years. One of my favourite Hubble images is the Lagoon Nebula in the Sagittarius constellation. In this amazing picture you can see almost every ripple in the nebula’s murky starscape.

The Lagoon Nebula (catalogued as Messier 8 or M8, and as NGC 6523) is a giant interstellar cloud in the constellation Sagittarius.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Ophiuchus, what is it and why? And just how wrong is your horoscope?

So you've heard that the astrological charts are changing and that the birth signs are somehow incorrect?

Okay, well it seems that there is now a 13th sign added to the zodiac, which means pushing the others aside to make room for it and some of you will now find yourself with a completely new birth sign - how is this possible? well...

Classical representation of a horoscope, showing the 12 houses

The world of astrology is all abuzz with this news, but in fact it's not news at all. This thirteenth constellation (Ophiuchus, or The Serpent Bearer) has always been there. And astronomers have known for centuries that it's intruding into the zodiac.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

NGC 3521 Close Up - and what a beauty!

This was such an awesome picture I had to share it with all, such awe inspiring largeness in a teeny little photo. Click the image to see a HighRes version.


A Free Course in Introductory Astronomy!

If you're just slightly interested in the area of Astronomy and have always had a yearning to understand things a little more, or already a seasoned stargazer wanting to brush up, then you'll not be able to resist this short course.
Designed as a 'work-at-home-for-qualifications' course, the lectures are recorded live in the classroom with the legend Professor Robert Nemiroff, incidentally also the editor and author of NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) Website, as a means for students to 'work from home'.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

New Molecule Could Lead to More Efficient Rocket Fuel

Trinitramid is the name of the new molecule that may be a component in future rocket fuel. This fuel could be 20 to 30 percent more efficient in comparison with the best rocket fuels available today, according to researchers. The discovery was made at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Sweden.

"A rule of thumb is that for every ten-percent increase in efficiency for rocket fuel, the payload of the rocket can double.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse, December 21st

This night also happens to be the first day of Winter for us in the Northern parts with the Winter solstice occurring 23:38 UT - as well as being a FULL moon!

Starting at 05:29:17 UT (Universal Time) and ending at roughly 11am UT.

Geminids Meteor Shower Peak - December 13th and 14th

 Every winter around the middle of December one of the most spectacular meteor showers of the year occurs like clockwork. It is known as the Geminids meteor shower and it begins on December 6th and ends around December 19th. In the middle of this duration is when it will reach its peak. This will be on December 13th and the 14th.

This meteor shower is one of the most showy and dazzling of them all in the northern hemisphere...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

16th century astronomer exhumed to solve murder mystery

PRAGUE: It's a 21st-century high-tech ‘whodunit’ 400 years after death: did renowned Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe really succumb to kidney failure or was he poisoned, in a royal plot over a love affair?

Pinning their hopes on cutting-edge technologies, this week a Czech-Danish team exhumed the nobleman's body from the tomb where he was buried in 1601 inside Our Lady Before Tyn church in Prague's historic Old Town Square.

For four days, they will subject his remains to tests they hope will confirm or deny whether kidney failure will remain the ‘official’ cause of death - or whether something more sinister might have been afoot.

Was Tycho Brahe - the astronomer who constructed this zodiacal armillary instrument for the measurements of altitudes and azimuths of celestial objects - murdered?

Tipped off by the mercury in his beard

"In fact, we are not coming here to investigate and say it was a murder or not, we're going to investigate... the whole life of Tycho Brahe," said Jens Vellev, a professor from Denmark's Aarhus University who heads the 50-member research team.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Gazing tips: Observing Venus Without Staring at the Sun

Venus is currently a prime observing target and stargazers should be careful aiming telescopes at the brilliant planet because it is appearing close to the sun at dusk.

Venus' orbit is closer to the sun than Earth's, so the planet passes between Earth and sun once every orbit. This is known as inferior conjunction (to distinguish it from when Venus passes on the far side of the sun, known as superior conjunction).

Venus was at its greatest brilliancy Sept. 23, and is now moving swiftly toward inferior conjunction Oct. 28.

What happened to all the antimatter?

.....was a question posed recently on the QA wall by, Msomi Thobani.
Let me attempt to answer this as briefly as I can...

Experiments teach us that for every fundamental particle there exists an antiparticle. The big bang and its aftermath almost certainly produced particles and antiparticles in equal numbers. However, for as far out in the universe as we can probe, our observations indicate that we live in a universe of matter, not antimatter. What happened to the antimatter?

A tiny imbalance between particles and antiparticles must have developed early in the evolution of the universe, or it all would have annihilated, leaving only photons and neutrinos. Subtle asymmetries between matter and antimatter, some of which we have observed experimentally in the laboratory, must be responsible for this imbalance.

Saturn's not-so-famous giant ring

The Spitzer infrared space telescope imaged a very large and extremely tenuous ring around Saturn in October of last year, sharing the orbit of its innermost retrograde satellite Phoebe.

The media were likely to make much of this but so far we've heard very little. It certainly helps to explain the strange albedo asymmetry of Iapetus. There is a BBC story here, but the image they have included does not show the new ring at its correct size. The picture above is an artists conception, but correctly to scale.
See here for NASA press release.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

New Nanoresonator display tech will make the Apple Retina Display look low-rez

Apple is justifiably proud of their so called "retina display", but a new display technology promises to make it look like about as sharp as a worn out 1977 Sylvania Superset!

This picture might look fuzzy, but that's because it's a super magnified image of an incredibly tiny area. About six of these University of Michigan logos would fit in the width of a single human hair.

Pulling Electricity Straight Out Of Thin Air?

Lightning storms show us that there's plenty of electricity up there in the clouds, and scientists have been trying to harness it since Ben Franklin's famous kite experiment.

Now there may be a breakthrough.