Whilst I was testing out the setup (for spectroscopy) at the University of Birmingham observatory last week I got a few minutes to point the telescope at Jupiter. Now the problem with Jupiter with a large and very sensitive telescope is that it is rather bright, but I’m pleased to say that you can nicely see the Galilean satellites even if no detail is viewable on Jupiter…
Around this time last year I also took a quick snapshot of Neptune… which I’m very proud of but only just got around to posting it… (its the bright object in the centre)
One of my most used tasks in my daily life as an astronomer is [DS9], yes it has a geeky name, but its a darn solid piece of software. I recently decided that I wanted to use it on my Ubuntu machine at home (I quite often just use it over the network from my wok machine) and I have to say I was pleased to find it in the standard repositories, so a simple:
sudo apt-get install saods9
(at the commandline, of course) got it running and then a simple “ds9” from then onwards has me running it… great!
This sounds really weird but it also appears to be correct. Researchers at the University of California have reported in Nature today that by opening a reel of tape in a vacuum they are able to take an x-ray image of a finger. But how? It appear that the radiation is released when tape is ripped from a surface. For more take a look at [www.sciam.com]
Last night we had a rather fascinating talk here at the University of Birmingham by Dr Lucie Green (of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory, UCL) all about the Sun. She described in great detail how we have more questions about the Sun than answers and showed some quite marvellous images of the large magnetic structures on the surface of the Sun and how this effects us here on Earth. The Sun produces huge and powerful eruptions called coronal mass ejections, which throw masses of charged particles into space with explosive force. Some of these inevitably reach the Earth, creating beautiful aurora in the polar skies, but also with the potential to wreak havoc with our telecommunications and electricity networks. Here is an image of one of the largest solar flares on record (an X20 xray flare):
At 21:51 UT, Monday 2 April 2001, active region 9393 unleashed a major solar flare. Now reclassified as at least an X20. Credit: SOHO
The talk was part of our very successful tea, talk and telescope programme, for more information check out [our website].