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Yeah, i know it’s a bit out of date – but anyway…I’ve got an interesting sighting (for myself at least).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

StarHopping – Old Skool Style

So, if you don’t have a PushTo, GoTo or a Telrad (like myself), this is whatcha gonna need for some old-skool style star-hopping.

Gear

Star Chart

Here’s a link to a free downloadable version which I’ve used for my observation nights with my club: SFA Star Chart. Star Charts map constellations, nebulae and galaxies, and they sometimes even indicate brightness! So, before you start observing, you’ll need a star chart to know what’s up in the sky tonight, decide which object to hunt for and use the pattern of stars to guide you there. Without star-hopping, locating an object is like looking for a needle in a haystack – especially if your eyepiece has a narrow field of view and a short focal length – talk about tunnel vision!

Hands

A Compass

Instructions

The trick is to imagine your star chart as a sphere encapsulating Earth.

From the Equatorial Region

Check your Star Chart and lookout for today’s date (its on the horizontal axis). If you imagine a vertical line through the point which marks the date, that would be the view of the skies at the Celestial Meridien at 8 pm. Then on, just minus or add the time of your viewing to the Meridien (at 8 pm) and shift your focus (the imaginary vertical line) on the map – basically, aligning the Celestial Meridien to the current time. So, if you’re observing at 11pm, you would need to add 3 hours (11-8=3) to the 8pm Meridien, which means, looking 3 hours to the left of the imaginary 8pm Meridien line on the map. if you’re observing at say 7 pm, look an hour (8-7=1) to the right of the 8pm Meridien. Once you’ve approximated your vertical axis, look up to the skies and align it with what you see.

Now if you wanna see the Eastern sky, align yourself to face East – here’s where the compass comes in. Look at the left of the vertical line which matches your time of viewing and date. And if you want to see the Western sky, face West and look at the right of the imaginary line. You see, as Earth rotates, you’ll see new stars emerging on your East and other stars falling under the Western horizon.

It all may sound quite confusing. So, back to basics, imagine your chart as a sphere wrapped around Earth, and remember how Earth’s rotation makes the sky look like its moving. Check out: Why Stars Move

Next up, is using your hands. Once, you’ve located what you see on the chart, to hop to the right star, you’ll need to measure. On the chart, are “latitude lines” 10 degrees apart. How on earth would you know what’s 10 degrees apart in the sky. Well, make a fist and point it up to the sky, the length of a fist measures 10 degrees in the sky. The thumb, about 5 degrees. And if you open you hand as wide as possible, from the tip of the little finger to the thumb’s tip, 25 degrees.

Now, you’re all set!

Zoomed in Star Chart

ps. What’s the Celestial Meridien?It’s a circle the passes through the north and south celestial poles, the zenith and nadir. Read: Measuring the Sky to find out more.

Categories: Amateur Astronomy, Observation Gear, Observation Tips, Stars | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 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

Neil Armstrong, may you stop by the moon again on your trip up to the heavens above…

Armstrong and his buddies – The Apollo 11 Astronauts

 

On August the 25th 2012, we lost the one of the greatest heroes of all time, Neil Armstrong, the man who showed us all that hard work, humility, and guts can lead to dreams.

The Daily Beast: What Neil Armstrong Really Taught the World

Universe Today: Neil Armstrong; 1st Human on the Moon – Apollo 11, Tributes and Photo Gallery

ps. Armstrong’s family sends a lovely request to those wishing to pay tribute and remember his achievement: “Honour his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong, and give him a wink.”

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The Cosmic Dance – Just Something to Think About

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The Nataraja in my home.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had this bronze sculpture in my house. We call it the Nataraja. The dancer is Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction – and surrounding him is a ring of fire.

Out if curiosity, I googled this sculpture and discovered it symbolises the creation and destruction of our universe. Cool! Basically, the dance represents rhythm, the source of movement in our universe – rhythm sustains our universe. The drum he holds signifies sound as the origin of our universe. And the upper left hand holds fire and the belief is fire shall destroy our universe.

I don’t know myself if this truly represents how our universe works. Yet, no one truly knows the answer to it either. So maybe, just maybe this statue holds the key – then again, it could just be a statue of a Hindu god as he dances.

ps. The Nataraja is also at CERN!

Here’s an article about this. Source: http://www.fritjofcapra.net/shiva.html

Shiva’s Cosmic Dance at CERN

On June 18, 2004, an unusual new landmark was unveiled at CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva — a 2m tall statue of the Indian deity Shiva Nataraja, the Lord of Dance. The statue, symbolizing Shiva’s cosmic dance of creation and destruction, was given to CERN by the Indian government to celebrate the research center’s long association with India.

In choosing the image of Shiva Nataraja, the Indian government acknowledged the profound significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s dance for the cosmic dance of subatomic particles, which is observed and analyzed by CERN’s physicists. The parallel between Shiva’s dance and the dance of subatomic particles was first discussed by Fritjof Capra in an article titled “The Dance of Shiva: The Hindu View of Matter in the Light of Modern Physics,” published in Main Currents in Modern Thought in 1972. Shiva’s cosmic dance then became a central metaphor in Capra’s international bestseller The Tao of Physics, first published in 1975 and still in print in over 40 editions around the world.

A special plaque next to the Shiva statue at CERN explains the significance of the metaphor of Shiva’s cosmic dance with several quotations from The Tao of Physics. Here is the text of the plaque:

Ananda K. Coomaraswamy, seeing beyond the unsurpassed rhythm, beauty, power and grace of the Nataraja, once wrote of it “It is the clearest image of the activity of God which any art or religion can boast of.”

More recently, Fritjof Capra explained that “Modern physics has shown that the rhythm of creation and destruction is not only manifest in the turn of the seasons and in the birth and death of all living creatures, but is also the very essence of inorganic matter,” and that “For the modern physicists, then, Shiva’s dance is the dance of subatomic matter.”

It is indeed as Capra concluded: “Hundreds of years ago, Indian artists created visual images of dancing Shivas in a beautiful series of bronzes. In our time, physicists have used the most advanced technology to portray the patterns of the cosmic dance. The metaphor of the cosmic dance thus unifies ancient mythology, religious art and modern physics.”

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