I just found this rad climbing video on Vimeo of Scott Bennett and Cheyne Lempe on a first ascent of a new route in Patagonia on the Fitz Roy massif.
The video really pumped me up for my trip next year to Patagonia! Hope you enjoy it!
Way back in January I was asked to give a few comments on the “Space Camera”, Slooh. Earth Magazine was interested in writing up an article, and found my blog and twitter accounts where I mentioned slooh and shared quite a few images. Since then the article was published in the April edition and thousands have read it.
I just received and read my complimentary copy, which I’ve been eager to read for months! (Since I was traveling, I wasn’t able to check my mail ) Below you can read a scanned in copy of “On the Web: Stargazing with SLOOH” by Carolyn Gramling of Earth Magazine.
Finally the skies had cleared here in Dirmerzheim, Germany for me to take some photos. Sadly, I don’t have an equitorial mount with me, or a barn-door. So I’ve had to deal with limited exposures and star trails. Anyways, I was still pleased seeing some Milky Way to show up in the image, with all the light pollution from Koeln (Cologne).
I just recently visited my first German public observatory, the Volkssternwarte Köln. The telescope and dome were absolutely beautiful, but the experience was completely different. Though I know from experience in the US, that observatories all operate differently in their own way, this one was quite different from any other experience I had.
The first big change for me was that it wasn’t the typical location of an observatory (okay it was in the big city which isn’t very usual for many observatories, but I know a few of those). The real difference was that it was located atop a school! It was really cool to go to the 4th floor of the school, go in a class room for the demonstration and walk up a winding stair case to the telescope dome!
The program started at 19:30 and we went right away up the stairs and into the telescope dome. Their were about 11 people including 2 volunteers/staff members. The dome was just big enough to fit us all it and had a nice sitting area along the wall for all (Except for me, I had to stand!). As for the dome and scope itself, it was beautiful! The scope was nothing special, but the dome was a beautiful wooden interior with a metal outer shell.
The Dome itself was the main highlight of my visit to the observatory, as the telescope was nothing too special. As we entered we listened to an introduction about the observatory as we waited for the sun to pop out of the clouds. After about 20min of talking about the observatory, and 20min of talking about the sun we finally had a chance to take a look. First a quick view through White Light (No Sunspots of Course), then a view through H-alpha (Which should us three beautiful prominences). After that we were done with the dome. I took a few more pics and then back down the stairs to the class room for the presentation.
Once downstairs we all gathered into a room and sat in front of a projector. The wall projected a large view of the famous planetarium software, Stellarium. We first received an introduction to the presenter and then he started talking about the night sky of Koeln. The program was said to be of the Solar system and meant to explain the types of bodies and review the planets. Well, after 30min of seeing what venus looks like going down in the sky in the planetarium software, we looked at how the motions of planets vary from those of star (for 20min), then we moved on to Saturn and reviewed its rings and heard about its moons. Sadly, this was the breaking point for me in the room. The presenter was a very nice guy, only the presentation was the driest, plainest, dumbed-down version of what the solar system is ever. Everyone in the room was bored and tired, two couples even left! Though I felt absolutely terrible about leaving, I didn’t want to sit there for another 2 hours.
All in All, I must say the trip to the observatory was quite nice. I missed seeing a large telescope, and it was wonderful to see such a beautiful dome. The program was nothing special, and thanks to the experience I had, I doubt I would go back. But of course, it all depends on who present it and what should be presented. So maybe when someone else goes they might get a much better experience!
Pros: Beautiful Dome, Nice telescope, easy access, small groups, a lot of question time, more one on one experience.
Cons: Do not like photos to be taken, long explanations, Bad Program, Not Handicap accessible, Local Light Pollution is strong, some unfriendly staff.
Thursday morning I will be leaving Wichita, Kansas for Erftstadt, Germany. I leave at 4AM Thursday morning, a connection in Chicago and then arrive at Dusseldorf airport around 8AM Friday morning. I will not have Internet connection the first days I am there as, I need to install the system myself (which will probably wait until Sunday). And thanks to Daniel Fischer (aka @Cosmos4u) I will hopefully be attending the ATT astronomy convention in Essen on Saturday.
The ATT is one of Europe’s largest astronomy conventions with hundreds (if not thousands) of people in attendance. According to their website, “You will find state-of-the-art telescopes and accessories as well as used and homemade instruments. Here you meet manufacturers and experienced amateur astronomers from all over Europe to share your thoughts with. Furthermore the ATT offers a platform for public presentation of observatories and astronomy clubs. In short, this is the place to be for anyone who is interested in astronomy.” As this sounds like something completely different to what I have been to, it should be a blast! I will surely be taking a bunch of pictures, and possibly tweeting if I have the ability. Other than that I will be sure to update later on about the ATT.
For the third time the United Launch Alliance has had to “scrub” their launch of their Delta IV rocket carrying the Air force’s “next generation of GPS Satellites”. On the first launch attempt (Friday, May 21) the problem was with the telemetry signal from the satellite. This time the problem was with the rocket.“During the final seconds of the launch countdown, an anomalous data signature with the thrust vector control system on one of the two solid rocket motors mounted to the Delta IV booster was detected.,” ULA & Air force said in a joint statement late Monday night. The TVCS (Thrust Vector Control System) is used to steer the rockets SRM’s (Solid Rocket Motors) during flight. If launched the rocket could have suffered near fatal damages.
The new launch attempt will have to wait until after Shuttle Atlantis’ landing, Wednesday morning at 08:48EDT. So Thursday is being targeted with the launch window being from 23:00 -23:19EDT
United Launch Alliance Delta 349 Launch Update Site - http://www.ulalaunch.com/site/pages/Launch.shtml#/8/
Recently I was lucky enough to be featured on the Night Sky Network as an “Astronomy Addict” (Big Surprise ). For the article I was asked two questions by a very nice lady from the ASP (Astronomical Society of the Pacific), “Why did you get interested in Astronomy?” and “What was you most memorable outreach moment?”. The first question of course was really easy to answer, but it was the second what that took some thought. As I started to think back to my very first outreach events at the Lake Afton Public Observatory in 2008, I remembered how much my “style” of conveying astronomy to the public has changed (in a good way that is).
Since the first time I was introduced to a telescope, I felt the need to share the wondrous views of the universe with others. And thanks to Jerelyn Ramirez, Robert Henry, and others, I was supplied with the correct information and materials to start sharing the sky with others (while teaching them about the objects). Fast forward a year and I already see my self-attending star party’s, conferences, telescope shows, and traveling to astronomy “hot spots” around the globe. I truthfully would not have been as interested in this hobby (and career path) were it not for those astronomy enthusiasts sharing the sky with me. And I believe if it were not for those who give up their time to educate others, we wouldn’t have a public interest in the universe.
With amateur astronomers all around the world, most likely glad to share their knowledge, there isn’t a chance you won’t eventually “bump” into one. So be sure to listen to what they say, peer through their telescope, and maybe discover the wonders of the universe for yourself; you never know that may inspire you to be the next Carl Sagan, Einstein, or Hubble.
The Night Sky Network is a wonderful organization that will provide you with the intelligence, resources, and skills to improve your outreach abilities. With the friendliest staff, and a superb website they will surely help you (and your organization) better your outreach events.
The Hubble Space Telescope, ESA page has just recently released a new image of the striking galaxy Messier 66.
The spiral galaxy, M66, is found in the constellation of Leo nearby Messier 65 and NGC 3628 (Creating the Leo triplet, a trio of interacting spiral galaxies) Out of the three galaxies, is the largest at a size of nearly 100 000 light-years across!
Messier 66 is somewhat an unusual galaxy, as it has “asymmetrical arms”. Meaning that the arms are not of the same proportion, which is very unusual for a galaxy as, most often, waves of gas and dust from new born stars “blow” around the galaxy’s center in a symmetric way (Where as it does not here). This is believed to be caused by the gradational pull of its nearby galactic neighbors, Messier 65 and NGC3658.
As always, ESA has also a terrific new installment of the HubbleCast, going into depth about the image (To view it click here).
Yesterday, March 19th I traveled to the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson Kansas. I never really visited the place since I’ve become interested in astronomy & space, though back in 6th grade we did take a school field-trip, I don’t remember much from it. This time we went to not exactly visit the cosmosphere and tour their wonderful museum but to watch the newly released Hubble IMAX.
So here is a break down of our visit, though we didn’t get to tour the museum, we still got to walk around the lobby, and other areas of the cosmosphere. We spent nearly 3 hours there waiting to see the Hubble IMAX show, thanks to me forgetting to call in for the tickets, the show we were planning on seeing was sold out. Thus we waited for the next, as we did drive an hour and a half to get there. Anyways, I didnt take many pictures while there, as I didn’t take a real tour of the cosmosphere, but here are the best of the few images I took:
What more is there to say other than, “Cosmosphere”
A original SR-71 Blackbird is what you walk into when first entering the Cosmosphere’s lobby. Next to the Blackbird (which may be hard to see) is a full scale model of a Space Shuttle!
More Artsie stuff, but it was really nice, so I took a picture.
The Cosmosphere has a pretty strict policy on not touching their artifacts (also all replicas) and that makes perfect sense…only, sorry Cosmosphere, but I may have touched the Surveyor Spacecraft Replica. (It was by accident! I promise)
And some more Pictures: Just click on them to view full size.
Anyways, enough of my weird pictures, I surely will be going back t the cosmosphere soon as they are holding a special presentation featuring most of the MCC from the Apollo 13 mission on April 17th!
So all in all my trip to the Cosmosphere was great, the Hubble IMAX turned out to be a wonderful movie, which truthfully I cannot offer any criticism for other than it was not long enough. But I guess not all people are like us “spacenuts” and want to site in a domed theatre and watch some space movie for hours on end…