Sunday, 18 November 2012

A sparkling meteor

Take a look at this superb image of a meteor captured as star trails were being photographed.  This is a beginner's photo!

           Picture Credit : David Leece

I have just been sent this terrific picture showing a meteor in the night sky of early November.  David is new to astrophotography!  I've adjusted the brightness as 30 second exposures were made to show the star trails over one hour and the lights from the town made the image appear as if it was in daylight.  You can see the dots in the star trails showing each separate exposure.  Not only that, you can pick out the colours of the stars too - some blue stars can be seen quite easily.  During one of the 30 second exposures, a meteor shot across the sky and has been captured heading on its way down towards the horizon.  This is one of David's early astrophotos.  I'm looking forward to seeing more!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Hubble Extreme Deep Field

Hubble has done it again!  Two million seconds exposure picked out 5,500 galaxies in an area near the constellation of Cetus - the Sea Monster, found in the southern skies.  The area is similar in size to the Sea of Crises on the Moon.  All sorts of colours, shapes and sizes.   

Picture credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team

To view where in the night sky the image was taken, just copy the URL below and open:-

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Astrophotographer of the Year 2012

When you see a photo like this you think of Hubble.  Think again.  An amateur won the Deep Space category with this terrific image.  Fully deserved.

M51 – The Whirlpool Galaxy by Martin Pugh (UK/Australia)

If you are at school and think that you have no chance of matching this, have a look at the following picture taken by a 15 year old, to win the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year section.
Pleiades Cluster by Jacob von Chorus (Canada)

I love the detail in the image below showing the shattered remains of a star after a supernova explosion.

Simeis 147 Supernova Remnant by Rogelio Bernal Andreo (USA) 

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Thank you Sir Bernard

The world has lost a wonderful astronomer today.  Sir Bernard Lovell was a great visionary who opened up the new branch of radio astronomy.  I looked across the Cheshire plain in July and took this photo from the Staffordshire hills about 10 miles away.  What an impressive telescope Jodrell Bank is - the brainchild of Sir Bernard.  We have learnt so much about the universe because of his great ideas.

And a special family link.  Sir Bernard realised there was a possibility of developing a radio telescope because of the work he was involved with in developing radar during World War Two.  My father was at Worth Matravers in Dorset, helping to protect the very secret work.  Then he moved to Malvern as Churchill realised the secrets could be too easily grabbed being so close to the coast.  Dad's war was very much shaped by this work.

The great thing is that Sir Bernard Lovell has shaped the future of Astronomy.  By looking at radio waves, others realised that other bands of the electromagnetic spectrum needed to be investigated as well - leading to X-ray and gamma ray work.  What an incredible legacy Sir Bernard has left us all. 

Monday, 6 August 2012

Starlearners land on Mars

Incredible - but true.  Starlearners are on board Curiosity.  Over two years ago NASA invited people to add their names to a list to be placed on a microchip on board the craft.  I added my name and Starlearner students to the list - and we arrived on Mars this morning.  Here's my certificate.

Well done to NASA for a great landing and for the first images sent back to Earth.

                                Curiosity on the end of a parachute

                                A wide angle view around Curiosity

Pictures : NASA

Olympic STARS

As part of Team GB, we were at Weymouth to see Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson claim the silver medal in the STAR class that started our sailing medal haul.  Well done to them.  Our photo shows the pair in action on the Nothe course.

Then the star Ben Ainslie claimed gold.  An incredible four golds in four Olympics (not forgetting a silver as well).  Ben is seen flying the flag high after a very tense medal race.
If we have been a little slower than usual replying, please forgive us.  Normal service will be resumed after the Olympics.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Astronomy in the Olympics!

Did you see the amazing cross country course at Greenwich Park?
Overlooked by the Royal Observatory

The course had some terrific jumps

Awesome.  We have some great course designers.

Images: - Official site of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The Transit of Venus - with no clouds!

I was up in good time this morning - 04.20!  Opened the curtains.  Just like for the street party in our road - totally cloudy.  The only difference was that today it was not pouring down.  So along with 2.2 million others I watched the live feed from NASA Edge.  A great view of the Sun and Venus from above the clouds in Hawaii. Here is the view of the Sun at sunrise for the south coast, showing Venus and many sunspots. 
Near to the end of the transit - viewed from Mauna Loa - with thanks to NASA EDGE

Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Star Learner UK tour for writing up controlled assessments is complete!

Well done to our distance learners!  Our days for writing up controlled assessments have gone so well.  We travelled the country to keep the distances down that our students had to travel.  There are some great pieces of work to mark -

             Looking at sunspots to work out the rotation period of the Sun
             Superb images of the features of the Moon and the Messier catalogue
             Stellar density readings across the Milky Way
             Meteor shower observations, constellation drawings...  the list goes on!

The picture below shows our students hard at work near Andover, Hampshire at Farleigh Preparatory School.  Thank you to Father Simon, Head of Farleigh, for letting us use the outstanding facilities.                      

Star Learner relocates to Poole

After perfect night skies in Herefordshire, we have now set up just a mile and a half from the centre of Bournemouth.  Having written monthly night sky articles for the Docklands area of London, we will be enjoying viewing in town and out over the sea at the promenade.  The spring skies have seen some superb views of Venus and Jupiter in the western sky.  Now that all the internet connections, computers and office equipment is up and running - not to mention our webman David back from honeymoon with Shona (congratulations!) - expect to see changes soon to the Star Learner website.