Monthly Archives: March 2013

A map which tells the age, origins, and ingredients of our universe – from The Planck Mission

Isn’t that one interesting map – never seen anything like that before – and those dots of blues and yellows reveal so much!
Basically, the mottling in the map represents small changes in the CMB background, which permeates the universe. The cool part is, these deviations are essentially the “seeds” of the stars, galaxies, and clusters we see today – the “seeds” of matter.
I guess the density differences amplified with time – but that’s just me making sense of it…
And the pattern: the age, shape and contents of the universe.
But if you still can’t decipher the map (like myself), check out the picture below. Took this snapshot from the newspaper I was just reading – and I think it’s a wonderful summary of the breakthroughs of the Planck Mission, and also of the timeline of our expanding universe.

Source: The STAR, TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2013, Malaysia

Source: The STAR, TUESDAY 26 MARCH 2013, Malaysia

Though I must add, the Planck Mission (by NASA/ESA) has also proved that temperature differences in the opposite hemispheres of the sky (it’s the first I’m hearing the universe has hemispheres – must read up a bit about this!) are not anomalies of measurement (as they were once thought of), but the real deal…and there’s something about a “cold spot” as well: it’s now proven to be bigger than predicted.
Cool stuff right.

Here’s some links if you’ll like to find out a bit more:

Planck Mission Brings Universe Into Sharp Focus

New View of Primordial Universe Confirms Sudden “Inflation” after Big Bang

The first link is NASA’s article, and has much more detail. The second is by Scientific American, easier to digest 😉

ps. The CMB (cosmic microwave background) is essentially light, the earliest light in our universe, produced when the first elements, Hydrogen and Helium were formed. This was 380 000 years after the formation of our universe. But as the universe expanded, the wavelength of these light waves lengthened, and now it is of the microwave radiation wavelength – wonder if it will ever become radio waves!

Categories: Misc, Physics, The Universe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Stumbled upon a really useful article on my Astronomy reader – written by the CuriousAstronomer…every “telescope-user-beginner” has got to read it! And voila, my first reblog! 😉
These are really the essentials you’ve got to know when collimating your scope. If you need to collimate the secondary mirror of a reflector, you’d need to adjust the bolts on the spider to get the mirror aligned to the focuser (you’d need a sighting tube for this)…but mostly you’d only need to adjust the primary (the rear) mirror – and for that, just tweak the screws on it, till you get an out-of-focus star that looks like a doughnut :)) (pic is below). Here as well, a sighting tube or a laser collimator come in handy (though they’re not altogether necessary).

Heyyy thanks Rhodri for posting this up – been great meeting you! — who knew the world was so small!


I was on the BBC last week recording an interview which will go out this week. One of the topics discussed (in addiition to how to take a pee in the dark) was how to collimate a telescope.

Two types of telescopes – Refracting and Reflecting

There are two basic types of telescopes, refracting telescopes (which use lenses) and reflecting telescopes (which use mirrors). Either type of telescope can become mis-aligned, usually through the telescope being knocked. Putting it back into alignment (technically called collimation) is not a difficult process, and should be the kind of thing anyone can do with a little patience.

There are many expensive gadgets available to help you align a telescope, but none of them is really necessary. The easiest way to do it is to simply point the telescope at a star and then de-focus the image. You will end up with a…

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Categories: Observation Gear, Observation Tips, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Astronomy gear that tempt me ohhh so bad.

After a year and a half of OptCorp and Cloudynight/Astronomyforum reviews, here’s what I’ve come up with.

My “Must Have” or rather ‘Futilely Desire” list:

1. A Barlow (would love a Televue 2″ 2x Powermate)
2. A Wide Field Eyepiece ( aVixen 1.25″ 40mm NLV seem like the best bet! – would love the 2″ 50mm, if not for the extra 100 dollars!)
3. A Devoted Planetary Eyepiece (William Optics anyone?)
4.A Stellarvue (yes you heard it!) 10x60mm Finderscope – that’d also serve as a mini portable refractor for the planets, with its 2″ focuser, and 1.25″ adapter.
5. A pair of binoculars (less than 70mm aperture, so I wouldnt need a tripod) ….or should I get a monocular? Waterproofing is great as well! Any recommendations?
6. A Baader Planetarium Moon & SkyGlow filter.

And yes, you must know my scope and viewing conditions.
I have a 10″ Dobsonian Skywatcher.
And the basic set of accessories that come with it, a 24mm and a 10mm Plossl.
Heavy light pollution and haze from my side. Viewing is mostly limited to planets.
But occasionally the skies are clear – and I get to catch the brighter nebular. Still a dream of mine to catch the Horsehead Nebula someday.
Thinking of getting a wild-field eyepiece to starhop. Do you think it’ll work? There really isn’t much point in starhopping with a finderscope, as the stars are too dim from where I’m at.

So let me know what’s your favourite pick? And if you’ve got any other suggestions, that’ll be great!

Till then, cheers!

ps. This is THE best article I’ve read on planetary eyepieces. Learnt so much from it – and it wasn’t a tad bit boring at all!
6mm Lunar/Planetary Eyepiece Comparison – by Bill Paolini

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Gear, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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