Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

Calling all Astronomers! Perseids meteor watch this week! #Meteorwatch

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Mon Aug 10, 2009 6:40 pm by AndromedasWake

Things are changing. Really.

Internet technology allows people all over the world to connect and viralise information at speeds that would seemingly defy nature’s limits in the eyes of scientists just a few hundred years ago. For the first time ever, the annual Perseids meteor shower will be mass-tweeted by astronomers and enthusiasts worldwide. It’s an initiative proposed by the Newbury Astronomical Society (that’s here in England) and promoted as part of the International Year of Astronomy, and you can be involved!

Firstly, make sure you have a Twitter account. Then make sure you’re following me and the LoR Blog. Got you! Okay, that bit wasn’t essential, but it’s recommended. Definitely be sure to follow Newbury AS though.

Now, you’ll need to understand how hash-tags work. A hash-tag is a search term that you can attach to a tweet, instantly referencing the tweet with the term in Twitter’s database. During the Perseids meteor watch, we’ll be tweeting with the tag #Meteorwatch. By following that page you’ll be able to see the Tweets in real time as people all over the world report meteor sightings. So if it’s cloudy where you are, you can sit in and watch it all unfold online. Beautiful.

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The Electric Universe(?)

SchrodingersFinch
SchrodingersFinch
Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:02 pm by SchrodingersFinch

Recently, I received this PM in response to my video Teach the NEW Controversy.

Have a read

It is only the scientists who fail or refuse to accept we do recieve energy from the outside that fail to understand how things like hurricanes & tornados really work.

http://www.thunderbolts.info/tpod/2009/arch09/090615wind.htm

Would be interestes in your thoughts on this.

My response:

First of all, I’m no expert in astronomy or atmospheric sciences, so I might not be the best person to comment on this. But since you asked, here’s my two cents.

I agree that the Sun’s heat alone can’t explain all the atmospheric phenomena, especially on the outer planets, since they absorb only a few percent of the sunlight that Earth does. You have to take into account several factors, some more important than others. For example: the size of the planet, gravity, rotational velocity, axial tilt, topography, internal heat, atmospheric density and pressure, composition and structure of the atmosphere, etc.

It’s true that we don’t yet know the precise mechanisms by which tornadoes and hurricanes form. However, I’m not exactly convinced by the article.
“Perhaps hurricanes, tornadoes, and even prevailing winds are electrical in nature?”
Perhaps, perhaps not. Rather than just speculating I’d like to see the hypothesis put to the test and read actual scientific papers on the subject.

In my opinion, the current models of the Earth’s atmosphere seem to work just fine. After all, they are constantly being tested by weather forecasts all around the world. If the kinetic model of weather is unsatisfactory to the proponents of the Electric Universe hypothesis, they should develop a new one. Then simply test it, for example, by using computer simulations. If the new model is better at forecasting weather (or better explains and predicts tornadoes and hurricanes) they could make a lot of money and use it to fund further research on the Electric Universe hypothesis.

I’m all for the advancement of science and technology, what are they waiting for?

– SchrodingersFinch

Some further reading if you’re interested:

An article about the winds on Jupiter
http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/portal/ucla/Jupiter-s-Massive-Winds-Likely-6624.aspx?RelNum=6624
I believe this is the paper in question:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7065/pdf/nature04208.pdf

Dynamics of Jupiter’s Atmosphere
http://www.lpl.arizona.edu/~showman/publications/ingersolletal-2004.pdf

This is the first time I’ve heard of the Electric Universe hypothesis. The only thing I could find on Wikipedia is an article about plasma cosmology which I think is somehow related to it.

AndromedasWake, I would especially like to hear your thoughts on the Electric Universe/plasma cosmology. After all, you are the expert and the person who sent me the PM is your subscriber. Could you maybe comment on it on the BlogTV show?

Two new European missions are go!

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Thu May 14, 2009 8:23 pm by AndromedasWake

At 13:12 UTC today, two European observatories blasted off without a hitch onboard an Ariane 5 rocket from Kourou, French Guiana. Controllers in Germany confirmed readings from both spacecraft about 40 minutes after liftoff, following their half hour flight and deployment from the launch vehicle. CEO of Arianespace, Jean-Yves Le Gall, described the launch as “perfect”. Both spacecraft are now en route to their designated L2 point approximately 1.5 million kilometers away.  Now, both of these missions are actually a really big deal for astronomy…

Firstly, we have Herschel. To me, infrared astronomy is by far the best astronomy! By observing the infrared, we can really draw a lot information about the structure, and particularly the formation of stars and galaxies. Since its launch in 2003, I have been an avid follower of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope (named for the great Lyman Spitzer) and it continues to make astounding discoveries and send back beautiful images to this day (though now on borrowed time – it is expected to run out of helium coolant “at any time”.)

Spitzer has peered into stellar nurseries to show us baby stars, and revealed the intricate structure of Andromeda’s inner dust lanes. Now, Herschel (named for William Herschel: discoverer of Uranus) will become the new standard in infrared astronomy. It has a massive 3.5 metre Cassegrain telescope, making it the largest space telescope ever launched, and crucially, it will bridge the gap between previous space-based infrared missions and ground-based observations, by observing a waveband of ~55-672µm. Herschel’s huge mirror and cutting edge photometric technology will allow it to observe some of the coldest and most distant objects in the known universe. We can expect a lot of amazing science to come out of this mission.

Herschel (left) and Planck

Then, there’s Planck. This spacecraft, named for the German quantum physicist, Max Planck, is the third generation Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) mapping probe. It is the successor to WMAP (2001) which itself followed COBE (1989) and its principal mission objective is to measure the polarisation and intensity of anisotropies in the primordial CMB radiation that permeates the universe as a remnant of the big bang. It will also be carrying out a number of other scientific tasks, including measurements of our own galaxy’s magnetic field. Its scanning sensors will achieve several times the resolution of WMAP, with around 10 times the sensitivity, and the findings of this mission will be extremely exciting for cosmology buffs, as they will actually help us to understand the size and shape of the whole universe.

Personally, it’s thrilling for me to see these two great missions launch together in yet another flying success for Arianespace and ESA. These spacecraft will greatly influence our understanding of cosmic origins in several years. Excited? You should be!

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