October 17, 2008

Zodiacal Light

Zodiacal Light
Originally uploaded by Computer Science Geek

Awesome picture! I've never heard of zodiacal light before today (I know, its embarrassing considering I run an astronomy blog) but I've been checking out some photo's and found these great ones from Computer Science Geek on Flickr. I definitely think this stuff is right up there with aurora and Milky Way photography is terms of coolness (way more important than scientific relevance!).

Zodiacal light is really cool. It basically is light from the Sun reflected back by interplantary dust. To produce this light, according to Wikipedia (which I will choose to trust this time), only a 1mm dust particle every 8 kilometers in space that is equally reflective as the moon can produce this effect.

Orionids Meteor Shower

I posted up some stuff about last year's Orionid meteor showers here and here.

The Orionid meteor shower comes from the Earth passing through the dust trail of quite possibly the most famous comet of all time, Haley's Comet. Pieces of debris, like ice, dust, or rock, enter Earth's atmosphere and become superheated causing a bright flash and streak as the material completely burns up. The larger and/or denser the material that enters the atmosphere, the longer the streak lasts before vanishing.

A meteor shower's radiant is the point at which all the meteors appear to originate from. For the Orionids, it is the left shoulder of Orion.

Grab a chair, find a dark spot, and hopefully see some good meteors. Unfortunately, a bright moon will be up from dusk to dawn, drowning out much of the Orionids. Don't let that dissuade you, there's still bound to be a few screamin' meteors that'll make it worth the wait.

Great X-Ray, Infrared, and Visible Light Composite

I grabbed this picture off of this week's SPACE PHOTOS from National Geographic. I think this is an absolutely gorgeous composite of the an irregular galaxy 210,000 light years away. I swear, sometimes astrophotos borderline on art!

I'm back... again!

Due to the fact my readership has continued to grow, even though I have not posted since late June, I've decided to continue this blog!

Look forward to near daily posts in the future. Sorry for the absence, I've been extremely busy with school and work.

June 9, 2008

Why We Should Continue Manned Spaceflight

Here's a major quickie post: We should continue manned spaceflight because when we develop new technology for spaceflight, we make discoveries that improve our everyday lives. Want proof? Check out this awesome site on Discovery.com.

When We Left Earth

When We Left Earth is an awesome documentary from the Disocvery Channel that has been airing. I absolutely think it's just awesome; it presents all sorts of footage in a visual and stylistic way.

It certainly is something to watch with the whole family. I'm going to try to get my kids to watch it with me tonight (I have it on DVR; the Box Set pictured is available on July 24, 2008.)

The "secret" footage isn't actually very secret. Anyone can watch it, and people have for many years. Some of the footage is just rarely seen.

However, even though this footage is new or "secret", it looks a heck of a lot better: Discovery Channel was granted access to NASA's footage and remastered it all digitally and converted it to HD. In turn, they gave the footage back to NASA for future generations to enjoy.

This is a must watch that anyone can enjoy!

June 2, 2008

Best Ever Skeptic Comment Against Alien Life

This is a real zinger...

In 2000, a group based in the Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology in Wales declared they had found alien microbes in a Leonid fireball based on an infrared spectra of the organic material. Skeptic Matt Genge had this to say:

The infrared spectra of the Leonid meteors are not evidence for bacteria, nor
are the infrared spectra of comets," Genge said. He added that the data show a
feature that is common in all organic material.

"If you took me, put me in an oven, dried me at 300 degrees and then took my
infrared spectra, I'd have [this feature] too. This would certainly not be
evidence that you'll find Matt Genges on comets.

SOURCE: Space.com

Alien Life On Mars?

Alien life on Mars is a very real possibility. It's not green men, martians, or anything like that, but the organic basis of life, in my opinion, and the opinions of some others, is that there's a big possiblity that life exists on Mars in a very primitive form.

Many conditions on Mars prohibit life from evolving, but not from existing. Many phenomenon that occur on Mars are, if we observe them on this planet, of an organic nature. And there are plenty of inorganic ways that these can be achieved, but my hypthesis is that if their are multiple processes occuring that appear to be of an organic nature, and you can explain each one individually in an inorganic way, doesn't the likelihood of life increase with each seemingly organic process?

For a more detailed post definitely check out my previous post about why I think theres life on Mars.

Is this Ice?

Does this look like ice to you? It's the new scoop of dirt from the Phoenix lander. This very well could be the first color ice picture from the Red Planet. Check out the white substance to the right; definitely looks like ice chips to me, but there is a possibility it is salt.

Exciting times for Mars enthusiasts indeed! I am glued to my computer and NASA TV non-stop around 2-3pm, waiting for the latest news updates.

Come on... let's find a Martian microbe... now THAT would make the 11 o'clock news!

Deep Sky Blog on Google

Just for those who would like to know, we have progressed to Google PageRank of 4. Awesome!

Has Anyone Else Noticed The Similarity?


I think the likeness is uncanny. What do you think?

May 31, 2008

Space Shuttle Launches Largest ISS Lab Yet

At 5:02pm, the shuttle launched into space carrying with it the $1 billion Kibo laboratory. The laboratory will be the largest room in the ISS yet, and is approximately the size of a tour bus.

Kibo, Japanese for "Hope", is culmination of 20 years of research and development by the Japanese. This section marks the unofficial start of a collaboration that is turning out to be very international indeed. It is a great symbol of Japanese pride, and should be.

I personally am very excited for the Kibo, and that the Japanese are coming aboard the ISS in a very big way. As an American citizen, I recognize that we sometimes have a severe superiority complex about our nation being the "best", but I'm excited for the Japanese, because to make true progress in the realm of space travel we need to work globally and not nationally.

Congratulations Japan!

We've Struck Ice (we think)!!!

What you are looking at researchers are fairly certain is a layer of ice excavated by the blast of Phoenix's retrorockets.
The possibility still exists that it's just rock, however, I doubt geologists would make that mistake, even with a black and white photograph. I was really hoping for a full color photograph letting us know once and for all if this is what we came to find, or if it's just a layer of rock. Based on the smoothness and the behavior of the soil around it, NASA's putting their money on ice.
The way we look at Mars just changed. Forever.

Hacker Shuts Down Phoenix Lander Website

Overnight, a hacker got into the Mars Phoenix Lander at the University of Arizona and changed the mission page to his signature with a link pointing to some overseas website.

This kind of behavior is totally unacceptable. This website is very popular now, and is providing us with the most up to date information about the Phoenix lander findings. If you remember correctly, the last update was that there may be a possibility of water-ice just barely under the surface of the retrorocket blast zone. I don't know about anyone else, but I have been feverishly checking the mission page to see if that was in fact water-ice or just rock. However, some foreign moron hacked the page, robbing the whole world of real-time mission data we've come to expect.

Hackers like this are just total scum. The thing that makes me mad is that if you are smart enough to hack a website like this, you should at least be smart enough to understand what it's trying to do. And why did you do it? For emails? Spam? Porn advertisements? Come on now, I know you're better than that Mr. Hacker

May 30, 2008

We all know there's been talk of an alien peeking in a window in Colorado that's very authentic. I didn't want to have to show this, but I have actual alien footage and it's debuting right here at Deep Sky Blog:

I'm an expert. It's authentic.

Phoenix's Retrorockets Unveil Possible Ice

Today's news release from the Phoenix lander is very exciting: in the retrorocket blast zone, near a footpad, scientists believe there may be water-ice chunks uncovered by the blast.

This is quicker than anyone could have imagined and very exciting. The only problem right now is that the image sent back was in black and white, which all CCD cameras inherently are, and we won't have a color image until probably tomorrow after the color is added.

Phil Plait at the Bad Astronomy blog has a great article about why CCD cameras take pictures in bacl and white, and how we essentially "trick" them into creating highly detailed color pictures.

I'm very excited about the possibility of water-ice that close to the surface. I thought the lander would find ice, just not so close to the surface. Perhaps if there's an ice layer, there's liquid water below. And who knows what that could mean. Why water? Phoenix says it best. (Space Science teachers, that links a freebie; use it!)

The digging arm will dig very slowly over the next couple of months, carefully analyzing each bit of soil as it goes ever deeper. We've barely just scratched the surface and already the discoveries are fascinating.

Sorry... No Doomsday in 2012!

I'm glad someone did it. This is a crucial must-read article for anyone who is concerned about December 2012 and the so-called "apocalypse" that is going to occur then. This is a ridiculous rumor started by... who cares...

Check out Universe Today's post on why this won't be happening.
Only the genious' at Universe Today could mathematically disprove a doomsday theory. Very cool, check it out.

FlickrFind: Fall/Late-Summer Milky Way

Fall/Late-Summer Milky Way
Originally uploaded by chipdatajeffb
I'm a sucker for wide-angle milky way photography and this photo is absolutely stunning. Check out the author's Flickr feed for sure!


I hope the "real" alien looks this authentic!!!

Laughed so hard I cried...!

Real Alien Picture!

Finally, what all astronomer's have been looking for! A real alien looking through a window! Apparently after traveling a few million light years this alien stopped by a notable nut job's window for some "peeping".

Yeah right. It looks almost like someone super imposed E.T. from the Atari over a dark window pane.

The YouTube jockeys are already claiming this as the real thing, but it's quite laughable. What they're actually saying is the "real" thing is an admitted hoax, because this still is the only released footage of this so called "authentic" video.

Check out Phil's post on how easy it is to fake this. Apparently, stupidity is contagious. YouTube has been quarantined.

In Honor of New Mars Fever

Since everyone seems to be talking about Mars these days with the lander firmly and safely on the surface, I thought I'd post the winning photo captured by Spirit in Gustav crater back in 2005.

Kind of looks like the second sun setting on Tatooine...

This picture always leaves me breathless and I thought I'd come up with an excuse to post a three-year-old photograph.


Image Courtesy of NASA/JPL

May 29, 2008

Coolest Landing Pic Ever

Want to see your tax dollars at work? Nothing says it better than the breath-taking oblique angle photograph of the Phoenix lander, it's parachute, and its parachute lines descending into (actually past) the "Heimdall" crater!

A satellite we launched 42 million (give or take a few million) miles to orbit the planet takes a photograph of the entrance of another spacecraft we send to check for samples.

Your viewing the first ever photograph of a spacecraft landing on another world taken by a camera not attached to it.

This is history. Now Phoenix... find us some water, and some life!

EDIT: Changed post title. Yeah, I totally copied the title of Bad Astronomy blog's post. Sorry. It REALLY wasn't intentional.

Deep Sky Blog is Back

To everyone who reads this blog, I've been away without making any new posts for quite a while. I've had some family issues, and I've re-enrolled in school to make a pretty drastic career change. Enough of that though, I just wanted to confirm the fact that I'm back, and this blog should be updated as often as it was.
I've also been without an internet connection until about a week ago.

Thanks for your patience.

January 18, 2008

Mercury Messenger Flyby 1 Summary

MESSENGER has returned quite a few high quality Mercury photographs. Check these out; the surface details are of the side of Mercury the Mariner 10 missions did not photograph!

The cratered surface of Mercury has not been visited in about 30 years. Only 45% of the surface of Mercury has been imaged by the Mariner 10. MESSENGER has a full suite of scientific instruments and will be able to tell us many things about the geological history, and hopefully about the highly reflective material (possibly water-ice in the perpetual shadows) of the north and south poles, of Mercury as well as image the remaining portion of the planet unseen by the previous Mariner mission.

The official MESSENGER website has a slew of great, entertaining, and interactive information pertaining to Mercury. Check it out for some fast facts, great animations, and even an interactive quiz or two to test your Mercurian knowledge.

January 14, 2008

MESSENGER Now At Closest Point To Mercury

MESSENGER is now at its closest point (about 124 mi) from the surface of Mercury. Now... we wait for the pics!

Mercury Flyby Photo # 1

Today's Mercury photo from the continuing coverage of MESSENGER is posted! Check it out!

January 13, 2008

Today's Mercury Photograph

Tomorrow, the first flyby of Mercury will occur. As you can see, we are quickly approaching the closest planet to the Sun.

January 11, 2008

MESSENGER Update: New Photograph Released!

Yeah, so it looks like the old one but bigger; who cares! We're closing in on the first rock from the Sun!

Great New Blog & Awesome Astrophotos

I found a great new astroblog called the Orbiting Frog. Check it out; great content here as well!

Also, pointed out by the legendary Bad Astronomer, Travis Rector has a gallery of images available for public viewing. He has the fantastic job of processing the data from large telescopes around the world into the desktop-wallpaper-worthy photos we've all come to enjoy!

Identify Never-Before-Seen Galaxies

GalaxyZoo is probably not new news, but it is to me. If you create account, you will make a significant scientific contribution by classifying new galaxies, many of which have never been seen before!

Trust me it's as easy as it sounds. Turn in your name and you'll even be credited! Try to determine spiral, elliptical, and merging galaxies from fuzzy original photos. The computer program can pick out the galaxies, but the human eye is the only thing that can classify them.

Easy as it sounds, labelling can be tricky. They are awfully fuzzy, and sometimes you have to identify photographs from a bad angle.

Got some down time? Let's classify some galaxies!

P.S. The GalaxyZoo blog will be on the blogroll from now on too! Check it out!

January 9, 2008

MESSENGER Team Receives First Optical Navigation Images

Interplanetary space junkies will have a treat in the next upcoming days: Mercury will be imaged by the MESSENGER spacecraft. In fact, it already has, according to the site: here's the first photo of Mercury by MESSENGER:

The first of eight navigational photos have been received. The spacecraft features two cameras: a wide-angle camera, or WAC, and a narrow-angle camera, or the NAC. To assist in navigation, the WAC takes photos of the starry background, and the NAC, which photographs the planet. Since the stars are so far away, they may as well be 'fixed' in space, and, in conjunction with the planet photograph, are used to determine exact position and if any adjustments need to be made. Stay tuned for more Mercury photographs as they become available!

January 5, 2008

Processed Mars Pic

Here's my older pic of Mars...

And my newer pic. This one is 7 exposures stacked through Registax, and with adjusted Curves through Photoshop (with a custom diffraction spike brush as well).

Stay tuned in for how I made the improvements!

January 4, 2008

Photoshop Tutorial: Diffraction Spikes #1

Lately, I've been fooling around with my Adobe Photoshop, and decided to give a whirl at creating artificial diffraction spikes on wide-angle astrophotography. My final photograph will be submitted after this article because it is still in need of some processing, though I will include some great examples such as the preceding photo of the Pleiades, which has very visible diffraction spikes.

It should be noted that diffraction spikes actually detract from the scientific worth of a photograph, as certain features of stars may be obscured by their inclusion. They are strictly there to "pretty up" a photograph, and provide no calculable scientific value.

I have created a custom brush preset using instructions I found on IceInSpace.com, an Australian amateur astronomy website with some great information.
Do these steps and soon you're astrophotos will have those cool diffraction spikes on them as well! Look forward to my published photographs of Mars (similar to one already posted) stacked with Registrax and using IceInSpace's diffraction spike tutorial. It's going to be pretty cool, and I think a gigantic leap forward in quality.

January 1, 2008

Featured Photographer: The Star Doctor

Not to get repetitive with the photographer posts, but this site is just too incredibly awesome to pass up and not blog.

Ruben Kier over at The Star Doctor has some of the most amazing astrophotos I have ever seen, but I think the real meat and potatoes of this website is the observatory this guy has set up in the mountains. The roof slides off and everything (and he even has a La-Z-Boy recliner in the observatory too!).

Says on the site he takes naps in the recliner and double-checks every hour or two that everything is still aligned, tracking, and in focus. Now that's the life!

Once I get to retirement age, I hope I can have something this nice! This site is definitely something any amatuer astronomer can drool over!