When I Heard the Learned Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide,
and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with
much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.

Walt Whitman, 1819 – 1892

Watching the eclipse


Very freaky light during the eclipse today but I thought I would use my Explorer as a backdrop to see it coming in. Here it’s at it’s peak – normally a cloud at that moment would not be looked on favourably but it did enable me to have a good look at it unfiltered.


412.7 Million Miles

After too long a time, I whipped out the telescope of joy this evening to have a look at the moon and Jupiter. The freezing night made for mostly clear skies and although I was wearing my parka, my hands were very cold which made adjusting the telescope rather difficult. The moon is always fascinating to see fully filling an eyepiece and with my very cheap set up, namely pointing a camera down the eyepiece, photographing it never does justice to what the naked eye can see. Nonetheless, here’s a shot of the moon, looking rather ovoid and a little blurry.


If you look in the bottom left of the egg, you’ll see the clearest range of craters on the southern edge of the Mare Humorum – the ironically named Sea of Moisture. That’s the best approximation of how clear a view, even a cheap telescope can provide. At the bottom of the egg is the large crater Tyco, surrounded by an ejecta blanket with long rays. At 9 o’clock is Copernicus, the crater below the Mare Imbrium (Rains) and to the east of the Mare Procellarum (Storms.) You could spend a lifetime looking at the moon, and some astronomers have done so.

I finished off, just as the clouds came along, looking at Jupiter. I’ve posted before about seeing this monstrous planet and tonight’s views were on a par with those two years ago. The large moons were not as helpfully laid out in orbit but the view of the planet’s main storm bands was as clear.

I did manage to grab a quick and dirty shot of Jupiter accompanied by Europa and Io, using my phone’s camera. It’s not a great shot but tonight, Jupiter is 412.7 million miles away.


Super-moon, super-planet

This month’s full moon has been the talk of the planet, given it’s orbit’s current close position to the earth providing the illusion of a much larger appearance.

Well here in Edinburgh any decent view has been occluded by the usual conspiracy of clouds and rain.
In compensation for this typical meteorological failing, I’ll post a rather stunning shot of the Earth taken through Saturn’s’ rings by the Cassini probe.

How significant we are!


Crater creation captured

Caught, a meteor impact creating a new crater on the moon, in September last year, as seen by two telescopes in the south of Spain which were searching for lunar impact events and struck gold. The flash lasted for eight seconds and the longest and brightest confirmed impact flash ever observed on the Moon.

Jose Maria Madiedo of the University of Huelva and his colleagues estimate the meteoroid was about the mass of a small car and was traveling at 38,000 miles per hour. When the rock hit the moon, the energy released equalled that from 15.6 tons of TNT. This giant explosion created a new crater with a diameter of around 40 meters, or about half a football field.