Category : General

BBC The Cosmos – Episode 3

BBC The Cosmos – Tue 21 Aug, 7:30 pm – 8:00 pm 30mins

The third episode in the series asks how far out into space and back into time could we see?

Adam Hart-Davis travels across Chile’s ultra dry Atacama desert to the world’s largest telescope, the appropriately named Very Large Telescope, to discover how this massive machine is revealing incredible new sights from across the universe.

Meanwhile, astronomer and engineer Dr Maggie Aderin visits the strange telescope in Tuscany that will soon reveal the cosmos using gravity waves – predicted by Einstein, but until now too weak to detect. She also joins the team at the Hubble Space Telescope who produce the most famous images of space by mixing art and science.

It will be good to see the team at the Hubble Space Telescope and see how they get their photos.

Annual Perseid Meteor Shower Night

At the beginning of the evening of the 12th August, I thought we we’re going to have cloudy skies as at around 9pm the heavens opened and it was raining heavily, but at around 11pm when I looked out the sky was crystal clear.

I managed to stay up until 00:30am and then I ventured outside, I stayed out until about 2am, but I must say I was slightly dissapointed as I thought there would be lots of meteors every couple of minutes, well enough to allow me to put my SLR onto bulb and run it for 30 seconds a time and hopefully catch a meteor on film, but alas this did not happen.

I eventually think in about 90mins I spotted about 12 meteors. It was nice to stay up late and watch Mars and the Pleiades rise over the horizon and I managed to take a picture of this below:

Pleiades and Mars 12th August 2007Pleiades at the top of the image, with Mars at the bottom, shown in between my plum tree in my garden.

After getting up today at 8.30am I noticed the postman had delivered my BBC “The Cosmos” posters from the Open University together with a OU magazine. The posters are ok, nothing amazing, there is a nice photo of the moon landing on one of them.

Perseid Meteor Shower Sky

Free BBC “The Cosmos” Posters

There are 2 free posters accompanying the BBC series called “The Cosmos”.

They can be obtained by telephoning: 0870 900 0312

Calls do cost, so get the bill payers permission, but it took me only about 1.5mins to record my details.

Or you can go to the Open University website:

The Cosmos: A Beginner’s Guide New BBC Series

Saw Adam Hart-Davis discussing his new series entitled The Cosmos on BBC Breakfast TV this morning, from the clips it looks really good and a definite must watch for us astronomers.

The series spans five weeks.

First Episode of The Cosmos – Tue 7 Aug, 7:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Life in the Cosmos

Are we alone? In this edition of the cosmos-exploring series, Adam Hart-Davis joins alien hunters at the huge new telescope in California dedicated to receiving the first message from intelligent beings. He meets Frank Drake, pioneer of the search for extraterrestrials, who has calculated just how many aliens might be out there. And he reveals why microbes from Devon are being sent into space to find out if life could once have survived an interplanetary trip.

Also, Janet Sumner investigates a new way to detect life on Mars, using a probe made with living material from Earth. Dr Doug Vakoch of the Interstellar Messaging Composition Group who is working out how we should reply to a message from space. And Adam asks: what if the aliens are listening to us? He finds out how far into the cosmos our ancient broadcasts have travelled.

Wow, what a bright night!

What a bright night sky, due to the full moon, which was incredibly bright tonight. The brightness of the moon literally blinded me when looking through either the viewfinder or an eyepiece. The brightness also knocked out a lot of the night sky and a number of stars became invisible.

This brought it’s own new challenges when trying to complete some photography, the webcam needed to be set to a low brightness and the digital camera required lots of experimentation to get some pictures of the moon.

Most of the pictures were taken at ISO100 at 1/25 second exposures. I then brightened them with the auto levels in Fireworks.

Full Moon 290707 Prime Focus with Canon400D Moon - Grimaldi, Kepler and Copernicus areas Moon - Mare Serenitatis and Mare Tranquilitatis shown here Moon Tycho area shown here

I also finally managed to located the Andromeda Galaxy, which through my telescope looked like a small hazy disc, but I was pleased to located it at last.

I also manually found the Ring Nebula again, it did look quite small, too small infact for me to get any photographic evidence, as I just could not get focus on either the ring nebula or the andromeda galaxy. I may try again at a later date or when I have a bigger telescope.

I stayed out until 1.30am, and at that time the temperature was about 8 degrees, and it felt cold for summer! Anyway at that time I checked Starry Night Pro and discovered that Mars was now starting to appear on the horizon. Amazing my first view of Mars, it was definitely orange coloured if not a little small in my telescope. Hopefully we will be seeing a lot more of Mars in the coming months, at an earlier time of the day, enabling me to get some photographs.

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