The Trials of Solar Eclipse Photography

Although the August 21st eclipse happened about 6 weeks ago, I realized it would take me a long time to edit all the photos I took during my trip.  I had over 2000 individual shots of the eclipse alone, taking a single (1/4000 s) shot every 10 seconds, at ISO 100, with my telescope coming out at around f/6.  I’ve done a lot of time-lapse photography before, so I thought it would be a routine shot, but I was wrong.  Eclipses are much tougher to edit in terms of a time-lapse. But first, the end result of my 10 hours...

The How and Why of Planet Nine

It hasn’t been found yet – let me make that clear.  But with evidence that it should exist, astronomers are looking more closely at the proposed planet nine and how it might have formed, and how it could have ended up in such a distant orbit. When you start to think about how a planet ten times the mass of Earth could have ended up more than ten times as far from the Sun as Neptune, a few scenarios pop into mind: It was formed in the inner solar system, where interactions with gas giants or another star pulled it out It formed...

A Ring of Fire

A direct consequence of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, and an observational way to prove it, is gravitational lensing.  It requires a powerful gravitational source to work, such as a galaxy or cluster of galaxies.  It works in a similar way to a lens of glass, where rays of light are bent toward a single source, increasing the brightness.  In this case, instead of glass, the bending of the rays is due to the curvature of space. Light rays coming from the source would otherwise miss Earth, but instead are bent toward us when there is a massive object in front of it.  It’s...

Where does the Gold come from?

Gold doesn’t come from your local jewelry store, and the Gold rush that occurred in the Yukon territory at the turn of the 20th century is not the source I’m talking about either.  I want to take it further back, to the origins of gold the element.  Similar to the origins of most other elements on the periodic table, it requires an immense amount of energy, such as the nuclear fusion that goes on within a star.  But Gold can not be made by a star’s thermonuclear engine.  Gold requires more energy, as does every other element heavier than Iron.  So...

New Life in Space

Humans have lived in Space. And so have fruit flies, mice, monkeys, chimpanzees, guinea pigs, rabbits, frogs, reptiles, and a variety of plants.  Now we can add a new life form to this list: Flowers.  The first ever space flower was revealed recently, and it’s a yellow Zinnia. Scott Kelly has been aboard the International space Station (ISS) for over 300 days.  It’s not an easy job, being away from loved ones, nature, and the rest of humanity, locked up with at most five other humans in a tin can that experiences a sunrise every 45 minutes.  It messes with...

New Horizons Loses Contact with Earth on Final Approach to Pluto

On July 4th, for about an hour and twenty minutes, my heart stopped. This was the amount of time that New Horizons was quiet.  No contact, no data, nothing but the lonely black of space.  In this time, the craft did what it was programmed to do.  It transferred control to its backup computer, which told the main computer to enter safe mode and suspend all non-essential functions.  Then the backup computer attempted to re-establish contact with Earth, 5 Billion Kilometres away. Contact has been re-established with the craft and its backup computer has been transmitting telemetry data back to mission...

Comets Crashed into the Moon

The Moon has clearly seen some stuff.  It’s visibly heavily cratered across it’s surface, which has remained unchanged since it’s surface solidified 4.2 Billion years ago.  Think about that – the Moon has been the same, with the exception of cratering, for 4 Billion years. This is a stark contrast to the Earth, whose erosion and tectonic activity cause the crust to change on scales of a few hundred million years. Astronomers have worked hard to learn about the early solar system by looking at the Moon and its cratering patterns.  Most of the visible craters on the Moon are...