May 092012
Annual Eclipse

On May 20, 2012, a rare and spectacular annular solar eclipse will take place for the Western half of the United States. Sadly, this Astropotamus is in the Eastern half of the United States and won’t see it. If you are interested in this annular eclipse, lots of information is available on the Internet. If you want to know more about what makes an annular eclipse special (and not an annual eclipse), then read on.

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May 072012
Lightning Strike

In playing with the new camera, I came across a particular fact of life as an Astropotamus:  I do not have night vision.  As a result of not having night vision, I cannot see in the dark without an external light source.  And if I shine a bright light in the dark, my eyes will stop being dark adapted for a while.  It’s then that you should avoid walking on a raised concrete walkway.

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Nov 222011

Throughout the ages, Orion has played a prominent role in astronomy.  The Pyramids are said to be aligned with its belt, though most Astropotamuses don’t believe this.  The Orion Nebula (the middle “star” of his belt”) has been a form of eye test for thousands of years.  And my favorite, it signifies the return of cold, dark, clear winter skies.

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Aug 312011


Famous all summer long (and into the winter), Casseopeia is one of my favorites.  I will just show off this picture and then let it speak for itself.  This is the resulting stacked and color-adjusted image of 50+ images taken over the course of about 20 minutes.  Again, no tracking was used so the individual pictures were pretty short.

Next time, I am going to get the Time Machine out and see what we can do while actually tracking something up there…

Aug 292011

Altair is a very bright star just under 17 light years away. It’ s one of the three stars of the Summer Triangle. It’s part of the “face” of the constellation Aquila the Eagle. It’s also the main subject of the first image taken with my new DSLR and then stacked, adjusted, and prettied up to look good.
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Aug 282011
The sky as seen straight overhead

Look straight up for ten seconds on a good, cloudless, moonless night.  Then close your eyes.  Now do it 99 more times.  Now take the best parts of the best 70 views you remember and turn it into a picture.  That’s called “stacking.”

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May 172011
Sombrero Galaxy (ESO)

M104, the Sombrero Galaxy, is a fine sight through our Time Machine.  Unfortunately, our Time Machine doesn’t do well in the rain, and so we haven’t gone outside to see it, nestled in the constellation Virgo.  Maybe this weekend…

In the meantime, if you want to see a wonderful image of it, check out this one from the ESO, the European Southern Observatory.

May 112011

Do you know how big one square centimeter is?  Point your index finger at your eye.  The end you see is about a square centimeter.  Do you know how big 65,000,000,000 is?  It’s 6.5E10 in scientific notation.  It looks big.  Considering that there are about 1E19 atoms of air in a cubic centimeter of air at sea level, 65,000,000,000 starts to look small.  But what if I said that every second, about 65 billion solar neutrinos pass through every square centimeter of the Earth that is aimed at the sun?  Seems like a pretty big number now, doesn’t it?

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