Solar System

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Yeah, i know it’s a bit out of date – but anyway…I’ve got an interesting sighting (for myself at least).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.

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On a Clear Sky

The Moon

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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

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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!

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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

Clear Skies!

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It’s 4 AM and Jupiter, Mars, and Orion are right above my balcony. Whatta treat!!

Been such a long time since we’ve had clear skies and when it was clear last night, I just had to take the Dob out! – despite loosing much sleep…with upcoming exams, oh noo!

Btw, Jupiter doesn’t look nearly like the picture I took…after 1/2 and hour struggling to get (and focus) it into the field of view of the camera. You’ll actually be able to see its orange rings with a 24mm Plossl, and swirls on it with a 10 mm Plossl eyepiece! Mars was orange as usual. And the Nebula with its Trapezium, frozen in time. Bout time I get some filters – for some colour with the nebula and for better definition of the Great Red Spot. And I reallyyyy wanna see the Horsehead nebula on Orion!

Any thoughts on good filters? I’m thinking Baader’s Moon and SkyGlow filter – seems like a good all around filter for both sodium vapour wavelengths (light pollution) and for contrast.

Clear skies!

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Misc, Observation Gear, Solar System | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Jupiter Watch

Last year, when I first bought my scope,  I didn’t realize how much weather conditions affected observing. And so I thought I would be up stargazing every night, recording and collecting my observations to make my own deductions.  But, the haze (swept from Indonesian peat fires) and rain clouds in Malaysia has severely limited my observation nights instead…Darn you weather!

But,  last year,  there was a week with two clear nights (a rare event from my home). It happened when the monsoon rains cleared sometime in October. And guess what, Jupiter was up. It was the first planet I ever saw in real!

Here’s My sketches of Jupiter. I used a 24mm and 10mm Skywatcher Plossl to view the gas giant. Check it out! To the naked eye, it appeared as the brightest star in the sky. And I was lucky enough to catch all four of it moons on one night!

Jupiter season should be back soon, can’t wait. I’m praying the skies will finally clear up by then!

 

 

Have you seen Jupiter? I’ve been saving for a set of planetary eyepieces –  I really want to get a better view of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

If you’re from the tropics, what’s the weather like there? Similar to Malaysia?

 

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Sites, Observation Tips, Solar System | Tags: , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

A Realisation

I just deduced that I live spot on on our equatorial line!

The Solar System

Image taken from Berkeley Edu / Nasa Science News

How did I find out about this?

This is what I see when I take my telescope out to the balcony to stargaze.

September – November 2011: Jupiter lies vertical to where I’m standing.

January – March 2012: Mars rises from the horizon and eventually rises to be vertical to my star gazing spot mostly.

Mid March 2012:  Saturn rises vertically above me too!

So, Earth and all these planets orbit the Sun in their respective elliptical orbits arranged in concentric layers.  And if these planets rise to be vertically above me, my home, my body, my telescope are pointed straight at those planets.  That means, we are all aligned in a straight line.

How awesome is that! Plus by observing the night sky straight up (vertically), I get the clearest view of the planets as the atmospheric layers  would be thinnest and hence, light entering my telescope would be less scattered. Yay!

What about you? Do you live right on the equatorial line too?

ps. This is a hypothesis created by me. It may be wrong. If it is, let me know.

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