Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |

How To Observe The Sun Safely by Lee Macdonald

Rating: 9/10

Historically it is known that sunspots were observed in ancient China and they were also seen by one of the first astronomers to point a telescope towards the sky – Galileo Galilei. While in the first case thin jade disks were used, in many of the other cases the Sun would be observed through clouds when near the horizon or through a darkened glass. Was it safe however ?

In Macdonald’s book the reader finds different methods and a variety of equipment that can be used for observing our nearest star without any damage to their eyesight and also gets ideas on what to do with the observations.

The cheapest way to observe the Sun if you’ve already got a telescope is by using the projection method – you either attach a screen to the telescope or somewhere nearby, aim the telescope at the Sun by looking at the telescopes shadow (never look at the Sun through a normal telescope!) and projecting the image on the wall. One gets a nice view of the Sun in white light, and you can observe sunspots quite well.

Another option is to get a solar filter for your telescope or a special solar telescope , which are able to show more features on the Sun. For example with a Hydrogen Alpha telescope one can see solar prominences on the edge of the solar disk as well as filaments – prominences seen edge-on on the solar disk, as well as dark and bright spots on the Sun.

In addition to the equipment one probably want to know what to look for during observations and whether or not the observations would be useful. In this book you can find out how to calculate the sunspot number and even how to record the locations of sunspots.

I’ve been a somewhat active Sun observer for the past two years, and I found the book very useful, especially since I mostly photograph the Sun, and this book has two chapters dedicated to imaging the Sun - with a DSLR and with a webcam.

If you’re thinking of starting to observe the Sun, this is a great book to get more information about all the available options.

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Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
Indian Space Research Organization has been successful in the Mars orbit insertion maneuver of their Mangalyaan spacecraft (Mars Orbiter Mission or MOM).

As MOM's first objective is to show the capability of ISRO in planning, designing and operating an interplanetary mission, it seems to be a great success already, as statistically the probability of a successful Mars mission is lower than for some of the others and to achieve Mars orbit on the first try of the first mission is great.

MOM will be in a highly elliptic orbit that takes it as close as 365.3km from Mars' surface and as far as 80 000km from it during a period of 76.72 hours.

As for NASA's MAVEN, MOM will be in a commissioning phase for some weeks before starting to gather scientific information.

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Posted on Monday, September 22, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
MAVEN's science mission can now start after its successful insertion into Mars orbit on September 21st, 2014 at 14:24 UTC.

After about 11 years from the initial inception of the idea for this mission, Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will soon be starting its one year scientific mission to find out more about the atmosphere of Mars and how both the atmosphere and water on Mars have disappeared over time, before going through six weeks of commissioning.

MAVEN's orbit is areocentric, meaning it's in orbit around the planet Mars ("areo-" prefix coming from the name of the Greek god of war Ares), with a period of 4.5 hours and nearest approach to Mars 150km and the furthest pint in it's orbit 6200km from Mars.

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Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will be entering Mars orbit on September 21st, 2014 after about 10 months of travel since its launch on November 18th, 2013.

To find out more about the orbit-insertion see the video below:

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Posted on Thursday, September 18, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |

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Posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |

Emigrating Beyond Earth by Cameron M. Smith and Evan T. Davies

Human Adaptation and Space Colonization

Going into this book I had certain expectations inspired by the book's subtitle, hoping to find out what kind of challenges humans might face on other planets or the Moon and how humankind might go about colonizing space.

However the book has so much more to offer and to go through before the reader gets to the space colonization part, as the book starts with anthropology, history of humans colonizing Earth and reasons why we shouldn't "keep all our eggs in the same basket" and have only one blue planet as the place where humans can live.

The reasons given for space colonization are quite interesting and are inspired more by necessity rather than curiosity and a sense of adventure. So one can read about how its inevitable that humankind will either colonize space or go extinct.

In addition to the reasons, what was very interesting was a look at how humans might evolve on a different astronomical body and why a colony on Mars might be more self-sufficient and over-all more successful than one on the Moon.

Although there are several books dealing with this same topic, this specific book looks at it from a really different angle and doesn't focus on the necessary technology and the available resources on other planets, but rather on the human aspect - how might the human culture change or stay the same depending on how far from Earth the colony is? Would colonies in the Earth-Sun Lagrangian points be a good idea and what could they be used for?

I think reading this book would be a good introduction to the idea of space colonization for those who otherwise might consider it as an utopian idea while reading about the technologies necessary for transporting hundreds of people to distant locations in the Solar System and possibly terraforming a planet. "Emigrating Beyond Earth" shows it all more in a way that's easily understandable and logical without too much previous knowledge.

In a way if compared to something more down to Earth like the Global warming - when most books would be about the science behind climate change, what happens if current in the oceans change and how to combat it through international cooperation, then this book would be showing how and when Global warming would start to affect the general public's life.

This book brings a difficult topic closer to the reader and because of the way it introduces the topic might and should find a wider audience.

But then again the more technically minded reader might find the long look into the way that Homo Sapiens Sapiens has evolved into the species it is that has established at least some living-places on all of the continents and in Near-Earth Orbit and how they went about colonizing islands with the example of some Indonesian islands quite distracting as one might lose sight of the actual topic that probably inspired the reader to pick the book up in the first place.


Posted on Tuesday, September 09, 2014
By Kadri Tinn |
The Chinese Yutu rover which landed on the moon in December of last years seems to be still working, as it has taken a new 360 degree panorama on the Moon.

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