Wednesday, July 31, 2013

riding the booster

this is the first video i've seen of a shuttle launch with all the crazy sounds enhanced.   really incredible!  

read more info about the creation of this video HERE.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

galaxy fireworks: conference photos

i wanted to share some photos from the galaxy fireworks conference from late june, including my favorite - the conference photo!

Conference Photo (Credit: Angel Lopez-Sanchez)
at the beginning of the conference, i welcomed everyone by recognizing and thanking the local organizing committee, and by sharing the geographic and gender demographics of the conference participants (~50% from outside australia; 40% women).

i like this demonstration of how computer simulations start from the most simple approximation to the most complex (nature):

Slide by Danail Obreschkow
the conference brought together the current (left) and most recent former director of the australian astronomical observatory (AAO).

warrick couch and matthew colless
before the conference dinner, we admired the stars of the southern sky and heard a few stories of australian indigenous astronomy.

astronomers actually looking at stars in the night sky!
the cape made a brief appearance at the conference dinner ;)

super science was discussed
and i'll mention an entertaining moment during the talks - this slide suggesting conference-themed acronyms...

Slide by Stuart Ryder
see more photos from the conference: HERE.

see all previous posts discussing the "feeding, feedback, and fireworks" conference:  HERE.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

a history of the sky

this is a really great idea by ken murphy - shoot the sky everyday for a year, the sky above san francisco, and then put together a single, short video to demonstrate the patterns of clouds and weather moving through the sky.  more blue sky than i was expecting, to be honest.

A History of the Sky from Ken Murphy on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

the blame line

the blame line - it always seems to end here....

comic by something of that ilk

... but gravity almost always wins, so we must try to use it instead of being its victims.  

Monday, July 22, 2013

a second a day for a year

sam christopher cornwell created this video of his son's first year, by adding together one second of footage from each day.   it's surprisingly engaging and of course, super cute!  i was cheering the little guy through his first steps...

A Second a Day from Birth. from Sam Christopher Cornwell on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the perseus cluster of galaxies

about 250 million light years away lives a giant city of galaxies called the perseus cluster (because it lives in the direction of the constellation perseus, but it is also known as abell 426 by most astronomers).  the perseus cluster is made up of thousands of galaxies that are all stuck together by gravity.

this is one of the largest objects that any human will see across our sky and is one of the closest galaxy clusters to us in the universe.  cool, right!?!

let's start with the widest view of the perseus cluster.  most of those fuzzy blobs are individual galaxies that contain hundreds of billions of stars each.

The Perseus Cluster (Credit: Bob Franke)
at the very heart of the cluster, at the gravitational center, lives an active galaxy called NGC 1275.  in the above image, NGC 1275 is at the far left-center.   below is a closer look at the cluster.  can you identify NGC 1275 by the detailed muck surrounding it?  it almost looks like a galaxy firework ;)

here is an image from the hubble space telescope of NGC 1275, which is one of the closest giant elliptical galaxies to us.

Giant Galaxies NGC 1275 and its filaments of gas (Credit: NASA/ESA)
in the above image you can see thin threads of red reaching out and surrounding the galaxy.  these filaments are cold gas suspended around the galaxy by a magnetic field.

the red filaments show evidence of how the super massive black hole that lives at the core of the galaxy interacts with its surroundings.   the filaments form when the black hole transports energy outward in the form of radio bubbles.  you can see these in the below image, which again shows NGC 1275, but includes the radio (pink) and X-ray (purple) data.

NGC 1275 with Xray and radio data (Credit: NASA/ESA)
when the black hole bubbles its energy outward, it pushes out hot X-ray gas (shown in the surrounding purple regions) and leaves cavities that produce radio lobes - you can see two large pink radio lobes roughly to the north and south the bright galaxy center.

the hot gas first cools as it sends off x-rays and then by mixing with the outer cold gas.  as the gas cools, it congregates in filaments and starts sinking back towards the center, until the next episode of black hole bubbles commences.    

at the galaxy fireworks meeting a few weeks ago on hamilton island, andy fabian gave an excellent talk showing evidence that the super massive black hole in massive galaxies continously inputs energy into the surrounding gas, like the bubbles that rise from a filter placed in an aquarium.  it is unclear how this process can keep working over several billion years, but this scenario matches the observations much better than having just a few, isolated black hole feedback events.   

Friday, July 19, 2013

50 common science misconceptions

there are so many little tidbits we have stuck in our heads and assume are true, but really, many of them are misconceptions, old wives tales and just plain wrong.   watch and listen as hank green races through 50 such items in less than eight minutes!

got it?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the einstein tower

the einstein tower is a cool piece of expressionist architecture built in germany in the 1920s.  the building was designed by erich mendelsohn and dedicated to understanding einstein's theories.

the building had to be reconstructed recently after it had been damaged in world war II and left for a while.

today the einstein tower is a working solar observatory.

Monday, July 15, 2013

david malin astrophotography awards

the central west astronomical society of australia holds an astrophotography competition once a year.  this year's winners were announced over the weekend at the AstroFest event held at parkes "the dish" observatory.

here are some of my favourites, among the collection of amazing shots!  this image shows a thin dark cloud stretched across space, blocking the light from ALL the stars behind it.  

The Dark Doodad in Coonabarabran (Credit: Ross  Giakoumatos)
i visited the pinnacles near perth, but only during the day.  great idea to capture these night shots!

Milky Way Pinnacles (Credit: Grahame Kelaher

Milky Way (Credit: Julie Fletcher)
the overall winner was martin pugh with this stunning deep sky photo of the galaxy NGC 3718:

NGC 3718 (Credit: Martin Pugh)
see all the winners: HERE.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

washing hair in space

astronaut karen nyberg is currently living on the international space station.   many people have asked her how she washes her long hair in space, so she made a video!

Friday, July 12, 2013

what being born a woman is like

dustin hoffman starred in an excellent movie called "tootsie" in 1982.   he played an actor who couldnt get work and so decided to dress up as a woman to score a soap opera gig.  i always thought the movie was hilarious, but as he describes below, the film was more than just a comedy...

dustin hoffman as dorothy michaels in tootsie

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

observing mars in 1926

here is a nice old photo from the smithsonian institute showing George Van Biesbroeck at yerkes observatory in wisconsin, USA, with the world's largest refracting telescope.

Photo Credit: Smithsonian Institute
i used to run public viewing nights with old 9 inch refractor on UT-Austin's campus.  it was clearly not as large as the one at yerkes, but it was really fun to use because it had no electronics.  the old beast only followed the rotation of the stars because of a mechanical clock drive hanging inside its mount structure!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

in saturn's rings

look out for in saturn's rings, what looks to be an incredible IMAX movie.   i'll certainly be watching!  the opening credits explain the details.  enjoy!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

galaxy fireworks: great barrier reef

for the day after the galaxy fireworks conference ended (midpoint summary), we organized a boat trip to the great barrier reef.  a two hour ride east took us floating past massive whales migrating north from antarctica, and saw us to hardy reef.  we snorkeled and dove, swam with colourful fish, coral and turtles and i went on a helicopter ride to see the famous heart shaped bit of reef!  it was a nice way to end a big week.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

cosmography of the local universe

this video shows a nice visualisation of all the stuff in our local universe.  enjoy, but remember what is in the milky way galaxy alone - there's a lot to enjoy out there in universe!

Cosmography of the Local Universe from Daniel Pomarède on Vimeo.