October 15, 2011
Do you remember the radio telescopes in the Film Contact where Jodie Foster and her team of geeks received the first haunting signal from alien intelligence? That was actually the Very Large Array run by the NRAO in Mew mexico and it has just finished a big upgrade to its electronic systems. They think that VLA is not a sufficiently imaginative and so they want to rename it but they also want the public to come up with the new name. You can very quickly and easily make a suggestion or several suggestions here.
I have already suggested “Carl Sagan Radio Observatory” and I am sure I will not be the only one using that theme. The BBC has gone for “Unfeasibly Large Telescopes”. There must be some more sophisticated ideas out there, so submit them and let us know.
June 15, 2011
This is how the Moon looks near maximum eclipse as seen on Google/Slooh. Still a little time left to view it. Hope some of you have clear night skies unlike us!
In case you haven’t noticed you can see the eclipse live on the main google search page.
The intense red colour of the moon is due to light being refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere which scatters the blue light leaving just the red end of the spectrum to bathe the moon in a warm glow. The colour is said to have been deepened by dust from recent volcanoes.
In 2009 Japan’s Kaguya lunar orbiter took some spectacular pictures of a similar eclipse from lunar orbit. The Earth passes in front of the Sun making it look like a solar eclipse except that the Earth is bigger than the Moon so the Sun disappears for much longer. The atmosphere of the Earth continues to be illuminated by the Sun from behind like a continuous ring of twilight. In this sequence the eclipse was rising above the moon’s surface which blocked the beginning of the eclipse as aseen from the orbiter. In the final frame the Sun emerges again from behind the Earth.
June 13, 2011
On 15th June 2011 you can watch a total eclipse of the moon. Total lunar eclipses are not very rare, they come on average once a year, but this one is exceptionally long. Firstly, the moon will pass through the centre of the Earth’s shadow which last happened about 11 years ago, but also because the sun is more distant at this time of year and the Earth is a little closer to the moon. This makes the Sun look smaller and the Earth look bigger from the moon’s surface. In fact the eclipse will be total for 1 hour and 41 minutes. That is only five minutes short of the longest possible.
The Eclipse will be visible over most of Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia and South America, leaving only North America and a few other corners of the world with no chance to see it. About 90% of the world’s population can view at least part of it directly, weather permitting. For the rest the internet saves the day with some live webcasts of the event. So far three organisations are planning webcasts so it is unlikely that they will all be clouded out.
Sky Watchers Association of North Bengal: here or here
Eclipse Chaser Athaenium New Delhi: here
From first contact to last, the eclipse is visible from 17:23 to 23:02 GMT on Wednesday