Sunday, March 26, 2017

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse Guide UPDATED

Hey Space Placers!

You are probably aware that there is a total solar eclipse occurring across the continental US on August 21, 2017. Millions of people will be able to see either a total or partial solar eclipse from wherever they are.

With just under 5 months to go now is the time to get ready for this event. Here is a COMPLETE guide to the eclipse courtesy of Sky and Telescope of which I am a long time subscriber as well as author.

The most important thing about the event is that you have to SAFELY observe the Sun. Be sure to read the safety guidelines.

This is part of S&T's Guide but I wanted to highlight it NASA has a Solar Eclipse Guide.

I will have more on this as we get closer to August.

Sky Guy in VA

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Surviving Lunar Night

Hey Space Placers!

The Moon is going to be a place where humanity will build outposts to stay long term; it is only a question of when.

One of the biggest issues to a lunar outpost is how to keep people and facilities warm when there is no sunlight. The Moon has day and night but it is on an almost month long cycle as opposed to our 24 hour cycle.

Temps can drop drastically during the lunar night and will need a heat source to keep people alive in their facilities.

The European Space Agency (ESA) is working on this problem and is looking to using lunar soil as a solution. 

It will be interesting to see how this research pans out.

Sky Guy in VA

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maunakea Observatories Photo Essay

Hey Space Placers!

On a tour arranged by Holland America's Westerdam I was able to return to the summit of Maunakea, Hawaii earlier this month to see the numerous observatories located there. It has changed quite a bit since my last visit in 1992.

Yesterday's blog included a picture of the VLBA radio telescope that is part of the Event Horizon Telescope. SO I won't include it here today.

The biggest change being that the 10-meter Keck Observatory now has a twin Observatory, Keck II. These are currently the largest optical telescopes in the world, having surpassed the 5-meter Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory with the commencement of observations with Keck I in 1993.

Maunakea is a VERY special place because it has such clear and dry skies at almost 14,000 feet altitude. The telescopes there can observe above much of the Earth's atmosphere and enjoy excellent conditions. That is why there are so many telescopes there.

Collectively the Maunakea Observatories  are a very important asset in our study of the Universe. Here are some of the Observatories - refer to the link for more information about them.

Subaru Telescope
Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
NASA Infrared Telescope Facility
University of Hawaii Telescope
Gemini Telescope (foreground) and Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (Center)
Submillimeter Array w/ 8 Antennas (Right)
United Kingdom Infrared Telescope
I hope to get back there someday when I can enjoy a night time few of the Observatories and the night's on my Bucket List.

Sky Guy in VA

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

Hey Space Placers!

Here is an excellent article on the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT)

EHT is supposed to start observations next month if all goes well but as the article states, it will be months of data processing before we know if the attempt to image a black hole event horizon was successful.

On my recent voyage I was able to get a photograph of the Hawaii-based radio telescope that is part of the EHT network. It was so cool to see this clone of the Very Large Array (VLA) that was featured in the movie 'Contact' and is poised to make history with EHT.

I couldn't get my "touch history" selfie as I usually do so I had to improvise.

Tomorrow I will share my visit to Mauna Kea, HI.

Sky Guy in VA

Friday, March 17, 2017


Hey Space Placers!

This is one of the most AMAZING pics I have ever seen:

It shows multiple images of a quasar 6 billion light years away that we can see due to the gravitational lensing of a foreground galaxy. A quasar is a galaxy that has an active supermassive black hole at its center. The black hole has infalling matter - planets, comets,  gas, etc - that heats up to millions of degrees as it gets consumed. It produces a great deal of light and energy that we can detect and study.

The gravitational lensing helps us to see this quasar and make measurements of the black hole.

See this video to help understand what you are seeing and read the article.

Really amazing - what a universe we live in.

Sky Guy in VA

Thursday, March 16, 2017