Relative Time: Photography Year 2

Last year after getting a Canon DSLR camera, I spent as much time as I could doing some basic astrophotography.  I took photos of stars, planets, the Moon, and even did some star trails.  One thing I quickly realized is that there are limitations if you don’t have a tracking mount or a telescope adaptor.  The tracking gives you a method for taking longer exposures, and the telescope adaptor as expected gives you the ability to zoom in on distant objects. Even with these temporary limitations (I hope to invest in them someday) there are still a lot of options...

Motivation Monday: Seasonal Downside

I am still here.  It’s been more than a week since I’ve written a word on the digital page, meaning there is a lot to catch up on for a guy who is trying to write a blog post every day.  But it happens, sometimes there are vacations, busy weeks at work, and crises to manage.  Life happens, yet still I continue.   Today’s motivation post will talk about part of the reason for my shift, and how I may be the only person who sees a changing season as a frustration, even if it is the long-awaited Spring. If you...

An Extra Leap Day

I decided to take my own personal leap day on writing about the leap day.  Partly due to being busy at work, and partly due to lack of mental faculties.  All that aside, it’s only another 1,459 days until the next leap day, so we better start preparing. A leap year occurs because the solar system seems to slightly disagree with the way we manage time.  Earth’s trip around the Sun, a year, doesn’t take exactly 365 days each lasting 24 hours.  It takes a bit longer.  A year is actually 8,765 hours, or 525,949 minutes, which is 365 days, 5...

Constellation Series: Orion

Since the dawn of human history, we have looked up into the night sky and found patterns in the stars.  Some of us saw animals, others saw gods and heroes, but we all agreed that they were greater than our simple existence. In this blog series, we will take a deeper look into the constellations that Astronomers use to map today’s night sky.  We will look into the history of each of the 88 constellations and the stars and objects that form them, to discover more about our culture, and our connection with the universe. Our first constellation on the list is bright, large,...

Motivation Monday: Situation Variation

Why is it hard to keep a long term goal? Logically, if you complete 1/365th of a task every single day of a year, you will complete your goal.  When I started my year of blogging, I thought it would be easy to commit 30 minutes every day, in the morning, to writing a post, and then after a year I would have 365 posts.  How it actually happened was a few weeks of consistency, a few days of nothing, a few days of double, triple, or even quadruple posting to catch up or get ahead, and no regularity or discernible...

12 Years of Martian Opportunity

This week marks the 12 year anniversary of the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, part of the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission.  Only expected to last 90 days, Opportunity is still working.  Not only functional, it’s still returning good data about Mars. It’s definitely taken a beating, and it has to be careful.  Being powered by solar panels and not a thermonuclear generator like it’s younger cousin Curiosity means it has to be careful to stay in the sunlight.  Dust on the panels certainly reduces their efficiency, but Opportunity has had some help from Martian winds to keep the dust from...

More Than Just a Big Dipper

The big dipper is visible every day of the year from the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s easily recognizable and most people have spotted it at least once in their life.  But most people also assume that it is just a boring collection of stars where nothing interesting ever happens.  The big dipper is so much more than a simple spoon in the sky, especially right now. The well-known asterism, part of the much larger Ursa Major constellation, is home to many visible deep-sky objects, though right now it is visited by the comet C/2013 US10 Catalina, close to the visible binary...

The Unpopular Meteor Shower

Everyone in Canada looks forward to the Perseid meteor shower each August.  The weather is warm, the skies are clear, and they have a high zenithal hourly rate (ZHR).  But once they are done, it’s not long before the weather starts to cool down, Canada moves into Autumn and eventually the deep freeze of winter sends our fine nation into hibernation.  But if you do feel like coming out of your fort this weekend, in an unseasonably warm December, you will be treated to what has often been the best meteor shower of the year: The Geminids. Under ideal conditions,...

Massive Ice Cloud on Titan

Titan is the most interesting body in the solar system from a weather standpoint.  It has a thick and robust atmosphere, a liquid cycle of methane and other hydrocarbons, and it has seasonal variations in these patterns.  It’s essentially a cold and oxygen-deficient version of Earth.  Because the seasons on Titan take 7.5 years to pass, we have few opportunities to study them up close with the Cassini spacecraft.  So as long as Cassini is operating, we are using our time wisely to see how Titan is changing.  The first major change is a giant ice cloud that has formed...

‘Tis the Season..For the Orion Nebula

It’s that wonderful time of year again, when Halloween passes, and Christmas commercials dictate the airwaves.  I’m still in the tolerant stages of hearing bells ringing in commercials, where they remind me that the northern hemisphere is once again treated to a familiar sight.  The return of the Orion nebula! In reality, it didn’t go anywhere.  Earth’s predictable motion around the Sun means that Northern Hemisphere observers see the sky gradually appear to move a bit further West each night.  This is the time of year when Orion rises around 9pm, making it easily visible by midnight.  I consider midnight...