Category Archives: Astronomy

San Francisco Bay Area from the ISS

Here’s a neat image of the Bay Area taken from the International Space Station. I particularly like the visible outflow from the receding tide through the Golden Gate as well as the visible colored salt ponds in the south bay.

Photograph of San Francisco Bay

In this photograph of the San Francisco Bay area taken from the International Space Station during Expedition 4, the gray urban footprint of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and their surrounding suburbs contrasts strongly with the green hillsides. ISS004-E-10288 (April 21, 2002, 105 mm lens) Click on the image for full-resolution version.

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Shuttle and ISS

NASA

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Earth As Seen From Mars

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The Last Twelve Lunar Eclipses

Here’s a nice montage of the 12 most recent Lunar eclipses from APOD. Click on the image for a higher-res version.

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  an mpeg movie file.

Twelve Lunar Eclipses
Credit Tunç Tezel (TWAN)

Explanation: Welcome to the extra day in the Gregorian Calendar’s leap year 2008! To celebrate, consider this grid of lunar eclipse pictures – starting in leap year 1996 and ending with February’s eclipse – with the date in numerical year/month/day format beneath each image. Mostly based on visibility from a site in Turkey, the 3×4 matrix includes 11 of the 13 total lunar eclipses during that period, and fills out the grid with the partial lunar eclipse of September 2006. Still, as the pictures are at the same scale, they illustrate a noticeable variation in the apparent size of the eclipsed Moon caused by the real change in Earth-Moon distance around the Moon’s elliptical orbit. The total phases are also seen to differ in color and darkness. Those effects are due to changes in cloud cover and dust content in the atmosphere reddening and refracting sunlight into Earth’s shadow. Of course, the next chance to add a total lunar eclipse to this grid will come at the very end of the decade.

For another nice series of images highlighting the Moon’s libration (wobble and variation in orbit ) see my related post entitled “Our Constant Moon?

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Lunar Eclipse Tonight

Don’t miss tonight’s Lunar Eclipse. Otherwise you’ll have to wait at least three more years to see another one.

Eclipse Diagram

More details at NASA.

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Twinkle Twinkle Little Variable Stars

My astrophysics professors always TALKED about variable stars and how particularly important the Cepheid and RR Lyrae variables have been in helping establish interstellar and intergalactic distance scales. They would show “Light Curve” graphs like this one from McMaster University in Canada that depicted the changes in stellar brightness over time.

I realized intellectually, that many of the variable stars had periods on the order of a day and rather large changes in magnitude, but for some reason, nobody had taken any decent movies to really highlight the ubiquity or true visual impact of these stars. But contrast this traditional static image of the M3 Globular Cluster

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download  the highest resolution version available.
with this relatively recent four-frame movie take by Krzysztof Stanek and Andrew Szentgyorgyi over the course of one night in 1998 on the 1.2 m. telescope at F.L. Whipple Observatory in Arizona.

M3 Color Movie

Wow. That really gets the idea of variable stars across. And now with the temporal information across field of view, you start to notice other things that weren’t obvious before, and that leads to new questions such as, “…so why to several of the stars separated by many light years seem to flash in synchrony? What is the mechanism for synchronization?”

If you like that action, you’ll love what the forthcoming LST telescope will turn out. Stay tuned for more.

Images courtesy (APOD)

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ISS over Italy and Greece

Courtesy of NASA.

https://i0.wp.com/antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/image/0711/earth_sts118_big.jpg

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