On May 21, 2012, I observed the annular solar eclipse from Akashi, Japan. That was not the location I had wanted to go and was chosen as the result of some hasty re-planning due to unforeseen events, but it turned out to be a better choice than my original plan. ２０１２年、５月２１日には、私は明石市から金環食を観測しました。元々、別の予定がありましたが、結局、明石市にして良かったと思います。
Since the start of the space age, technology development has been hampered by one major problem: The launch cost per unit of payload mass has always been prohibitively high. This very effectively dissuades users from developing large orbital applications. Because there are no large applications to be launched, there is no strong incentive for anyone to develop a large and significantly less costly launch vehicle. This leads to a deadlock.
Germany wasn't the best location to view last saturday's total lunar eclipse. Seen from my hometown, Darmstadt, which is pretty far to the West, when the Moon finally rose over the horizon, it had already largely left the Earth's umbra cone. Still, I set up my 'scope and started taking pictures. Around 5 p.m., I hit pay dirt: an airliner had crossed the still partially eclipsed lunar disc just when I was taking a picture. I didn't even notice it right then; I was too busy pointing, focusing and clicking away. What are the odds of this happening? Right. (More)
Normally, rocket launches are viewed from below - you see the rocket rising into the sky trailing a massive pall of smoke and disappearing in the distance. With yesterday's launch of the space freighter, the European Space Agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle ATV-2, named after the German astronomer Johannes Kepler, things were different. One lucky person had a grandstand view: European astronaut Paolo Nespoli on the International Space Station took these great shots of the launch of the Ariane 5 rocket carrying the ATV-2 to orbit from above.
Is this cool, or is it? Douglas H Wheelock, aka "Astro_Wheels", astronaut and current ISS commander, also blogs and twitters from orbit. And he certainly has amazing talent. Sure, one could argue that he also has amazing motives. But that isn't all. What camera makers never tell you is that a photograph isn't created on a photographic emulsion or an electronic chip. A photograph, first and foremost, is created in the photographer's head. You need that innate feel for image composition, colours and lighting. That's the photographer's "right stuff". You can't learn it. You just have to have it, and Astro_Wheels has got it. (More)
+++ OK, folks, that's it, the quiz is over and submissions will no longer be accepted +++ I am going to try something new in my blog: a quiz. Of course one with a scientific background. It is not going to be all that easy, but on the other hand, there will be a prize for the winner: either a t-shirt or a baseball cap, emblazoned with the logo of an ESA mission.
October offers opportunities to observe comet 103P/Hartley 2 bieten. Hartley 2, a small Jupiter family comet, will pass its perihelion on October 28. That will be 8 days after closest approach to the Earth at a distance of just over 18 million kilometres on October 20.
Pow! After a long stretch of uncanny calm the Sun erupted in a violent flurry of activity with a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) on August 1. This belched a stream of solar wind our way, vastly increasing the number of charged particles trapped in the Earth's magnetosphere.
Ask people what their first thought is when they hear the word "Nigeria" and what will they answer? More likely than not, the first association they make is ye olde "419 Scam", a rip-off that typically starts with an e-mail that should have been deleted unread. For sure not only Nigerian internet criminals use this ploy, but the "Nigeria connection" did originally invent it. Sadly, this is not just the first, but also the only thing many people can think of. But I think Nigeria is worth taking a closer look at and here's why ...
+++ Update: The entry capsule has landed and shall be retrieved in the course of Monday. The Hayabusa craft dis-integrated in the atmosphere. More here, with pix +++
Talk about a chaotic mission. What could go wrong did go wrong, except for that final crippling damage that would have terminated the mission for good. But I bet nobody would have thought Hayabusa would make it. (More)
Rhyolite, Nevada, April 1, 2010: Earlier this year a team of astronomers under John Sutter from the American Western Center for Minor body Observations of Nevada (AWCMON) in Rhyolite, Nevada found yet another Earth orbit crossing asteroid. Nobody took much notice; neither the asteroid's orbit or its size were remarkable. It was given the identification code 2010AU79 and that was that. Back to more important work - or so one thought.
The German constitutional court, the highest court in the Federal Republic of Germany, on March 9, 2010 refused to accept an appeal filed by a German woman living in Zürich, Switzerland, for an injunction forcing the German government to take action to limit operation of CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC).