There are a lot of exoplanets around us

It is an exciting time indeed!
I stumbled upon this pic a year back, and I thought it was really cool – cause when you hear the figures of all the exoplanets, the numbers don’t really register (for me at least!). But this pic got it registered – we’re on to something big. And can you imagine the prospects of life on those tiny circles!
Never managed to retrace this pic from the first time I saw it a year ago, but a few days ago, I stumbled upon it again.
And here it goes! It’s gonna be an epic time!

ps. I’m thinking of studying Aerospace Eng, to make interstellar travel a reality – but really, to get on that flight to space (and to meet aliens).
Any thoughts on the prospects of majoring in this? See ya then!


Categories: Exoplanets, Misc, Planets | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Words from the Gita

Just something to ponder on – on souls and solstices.

“The path pursued by those who have no return is as follows:
Fire, light, day-time, the bright fortnight, the six months of the northern solstice; following this path, men who know BRAHMAN go to BRAHMAN.

As contrasted with this path of no-return there is the path of sure-return which is explained in the following:
Smoke, night-time, the dark fortnight, also six months of the southern solstice, attaining by these to the Moon, the lunar light, the “YOGI” returns.”

These are words from the Bhagavad Gita, a book on Hinduism.
Those who have no return are those who have found Moksha, those who will unite with God (Brahman)
Those who return are those who die, who go to heaven, and then return to Earth for yet another life (these are the Yogis).
These are the two paths that the soul takes when it leaves the body – according to the Gita.
My mum has been reading the Gita. She stumbled upon these words, and told me to take a look.
And I just felt they were so mysterious….

Whether or not you believe in the afterlife and souls and paranormal activity (which I have to admit I find all quite intriguing),  I’ll leave you with a clip on the solstices – it’s scientific, so wary not. I wasn’t quite sure myself what the solstices meant (the last time I studied these was back when I was 15 – and my mind has forgotten everything since, besides meeting Good Charlotte for autographs, and fist-knuckling Bill). So I did some reading. And it’s all quite easy actually. The earth moves around the sun in a plane, the Ecliptic.
But Earth’s rotational axis is tilted at 23.5 degrees. So that means, 6 months in a year, the northern hemisphere will have longer days than the south, and the next months, the southern hemisphere will take over. Solstices happen on the peak of these: The northern solstice when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer (a latitude line). The longest day happens in the entire northern hemisphere happens then; and the longest night happens in the Southern hemisphere. And the southern solstice, when the longest day is in the Southern hemisphere (to be more specific, the Tropic of Capricorn); the longest night in the northern.

Solstices and Equinoxes

I couldn’t help but google spirits and solstices, to see if there was really a link. And I found it!: The Best Times for Paranormal Activity, by the Crawford County Illinois Ghost Hunters Society.

Categories: Misc, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

And if you can’t catch DA14, here’s what you do:

Wow! That’s one speedy asteroid!

You can see it through your computer at
NASA’s JPL Streaming:

It’s passing by Australia now! —on its path to the Northern Hemisphere.

Categories: Misc, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Brief Observing Guide for Asteroid DA14

The best pic I’ve seen thus far, for catching asteroid DA14.
All times are in GMT, on Feb the 15th. The asteroid begins from the bottom of Leo and moves to the Plough.

You’d need a pair binoculars (50mm aperture is the minimum, I believe) to see it. It’s too faint for the naked eye, about 250 times fainter than the stars of Ursa Major (the Plough). If you’ve got a telescope, all the better!

Sadly, I can’t be catching it today…Ohh why (said in anguish!)
The clouds are too heavy down here. I can’t see a single star – so there’s no way I could navigate the constellations.

And if you’re from the Americas, you won’t be able to catch it too, as its daytime. But, if you’re at the Eastern Hemisphere, keep a lookout.

This is the view from home. Not the best pic, but the skies are entirely void of stars today – and it’s all just an orange blur (though the sky looks black in the pic).
Oh well…

…guess I’ve gotta wait  40 more years before I see you. Till 2046 then!20130216-021604.jpg

Good luck hunting guys!

And yes, don’t forget to check out these links:
1. How to spot Asteroid 2012 DA14 – by The Guardian
2. NASA’s Guide

My bed’s calling 😉

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Misc, Observation Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

21/12/12 – an interesting sighting

So, Doomsday, couldn’t miss out on that, could I?
Yeah, i know it’s a bit out of date – but anyway…I’ve got an interesting sighting (for myself at least).

Always, Jupiter’s orange bands lie almost horizontal when seen through my scope. Sometimes, they’re in line (on the same plane) with Jupiter’s moons.

But around 11pm, on the 21st December 2012…(ta da da)

The bands were almost vertical.
But Jupiter’s 4 biggest moons, were scattered about the usual horizontal plane.

I had to make a sketch of it. And as soon as I get it scanned, I’d post it.

So, take a look at the sketch and let me know what you think.
Perhaps it’s got something to do with Jupiter’s speedy rotation (one rotation takes 9.9 hours) or tilt-too-much of its axis (if that ever happens).

So intriguing.

Do enlighten me, if you can.

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Misc, Physics, Planets, Solar System | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On a Clear Sky

The Moon

Categories: Misc, Solar System, The Moon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Hey conglomerates, they’re in Mars too!

First day at the Geology Department. The three types of stones in the rock cycle are the igneous stone, sedimentary stone and the metamorphic stone.

The igneous rock happens because liquid magma hardens either above (extrusive rock) or under (intrusive rock) Earth’s surface. Obsidian is simply beautiful by the way!

Sedimentary rock is formed when layers of the sediments from the igneous rock as well as sand from the sea bed is packed under high pressure and temperature. It is compacted in a rock. It is lighter because it has more air spaces compared to the igneous rock, which is heavy and dense.Conglomerates, that’s the one Curiosity discovered on its journey to Mt. Sharp – more evidence to channels of water on Mars. The ones on Mars are essentially a bunch of gravel fused together…and since MOST of the gravel is rounded, that could only mean it’s worn out by water (their too heavy to be transported by wind),like the pebbles we find in rivers.

The metamorphic rock is formed when igneous rocks and sedimentary rocks are submerged underground (where rocks originated from in the fist place as magma) under high pressure and temperature, but it doesn’t melt. I swear we saw a migmatite, a rock at its last stage of metamorphism where it’s so close to melting (it escapes the melt though), though the department labelled it a gneiss. A feature of these metamorphic rocks is “foliation”: the alignment of crystals in the rock in a direction perpendicular to the stress/compressive force applied onto it.

Me and a shiny migmatite

Categories: Misc, Solar System | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Tides – the origins

It started off with mum and I watching the floods brought by Sandy on CNN and mum asked what’s the cause for waves. Well wind caused Sandy’s waves. But, Daily tides, high and low, are caused by the moon.

The accepted theory is the moon exerts a force of gravity on earth as the moon rotates earth (both the moon and earth rotate counter clockwise, but earth’s rotation is much faster). The parts of earth passed by the moon are pulled towards the moon, and when water is pulled, tides are formed! Yayy! Sounds easy right.

But, there comes this picture

– with the theory that the moon pulls the side closest to it the most, pulls the middle of the Earth with a medium force and the side furthest away with the least force. So the bulge of water on the left of the pic is pulled the least, appearing as a bulge as Earth is moved towards the right.

The sun comes into the picture as well, also exerting a pull on water. But, the moon’s pull beats the sun. Though the suns is massive, it’s too far away (F=GMm/r2, Newton’s Law of Gravitation) And if the moon and sun are on opposite directions to Earth, high tides become lower.

But then again, if the moon pulls pulls parts of Earth with different distances from it with different forces, each part would have a different acceleration. F=ma. The parts closest to the moon would accelerate the most (in the pic above, it would be the right end of Earth) and the opposite end (the left), the least. And so, with one end gaining acceleration compared to the other, Earth would be stretched and eventually pulled apart.

So, there has to be a restraining force. Earth’s gravity and its tension? Or a centrifugal force? Now what about a centripetal force?

If you want to end up confused (like myself), I suggest you read:
1. Tides and Centrifugal Forces by Paolo Sirtoli. Lots of physics explained here – with equations.
2. Tidal Forces and the Effects on the Solar System by Richard McDonald. Simpler physics and much easier to understand.
3. Tidal misconceptions by Donald. E Simanek. This is the most comprehensive to me, though let me warn you its quite long.

And then there’s the belief that tides don’t form on the equator. But I’ve seen it for myself, they do form! In fact, they’re semidiurnal tides (two equal high tides and low tides in a day). One high tide on each of the pair of “bulges” created. Check out ocean motion. to find out about types of tides at different latitudes on Earth.

I’ll keep you updated on tides once I piece everything together (and find some missing links, like I’m sure the moon’s orbit around Earth at at about a 5 degree angle to Earth’s ecliptic would have an effect as well). Let me know if you’ve got any ideas of your own!

And mum has two questions of her own:
1. Why isn’t paper pulled towards the moon when its so light.
To me, it is, but the effect is so small that you’ll never realize it.
2. Why do you get the highest tides on the full moon. This, I don’t know. So let me know if you do pleaseee.

ps. Here’s some videos on movements of the moon and of Earth.

Some cool stuff here!

Categories: Misc, Physics, Solar System, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Star Party Time!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Was looking through some old pics and I stumbled upon this bunch.

Our stargazing night to catch Saturn! Sometime around mid this year I believe. And we had late night park-walkers joining in! The clouds were coming in and we were keeping our fingers crossed. And we were lucky to catch Saturn in time! It was the first sight of the beautiful planet – its rings and the Cassini Division – for many of us, including myself! And when the clouds rolled in, we packed up and headed off for some seriously unhealthy but the sweetest supper: “Roti Tissue”, paper thin pancakes cooked with a layer of condensed milk. Sounds good right.

One mystery though…Some of them said Saturn looked white, but to me, it was orange….

How’s Saturn like to you?

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Misc, Observation Sites, Solar System, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: