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Archive for January 31, 2011

How To Film The Earth From The Stratosphere…using Duct Tape

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Using some duct tape, a helium balloon and styrofoam, Alex Baker and Chris Rose, PhD students at the University of Sheffield, sent a camera and a GPS tracking unit into the stratosphere and captured some pretty cool aerial footage.

They did this on 17 December 2010, (thought it was reported on the BBC today) and the flight time was about 2 hours and 50 mins as stated on their flickr page, which has a cool panoramic photo stitch from their footage from an altitude of about 35 km.

What to Look For in Your First Telescope

January 31, 2011 Leave a comment

If you read this blog, then it’s probably safe to assume that you have at least a mild interest in science. You probably enjoy looking at stars and really sweet astronomical pictures, which is what got me interested in science too.

You may even have considered buying your own telescope so you can check out the stars and boost your nerdiness factor up a notch.

Telescopes come in a huge range of sizes, types, and most importantly: PRICES! Picking your first telescope can be a daunting task. So I wanted to point you to an article by Mark Thompson on Discovery News about the basics of buying your first telescope.

The key points are:

  1. Consider starting out with binoculars, since they are cheaper than telescopes.
  2. Magnification means nothing! The aperture of the telescope is most important!
  3. Of the two types of telescopes (Reflectors and Refractors) Reflectors will give you the most bang for your buck.
  4. Try before buy.

Your local astronomical society will often hold events where you can go and check out some different telescopes. Even some stores which sell telescopes will let you try them out for a while before buying it.

My personal advice: GO TO AN EXPERT!

Please do not buy your telescope from Wal-Mart or Radio Shack or somewhere like that. Talk to someone who knows what they are talking about. Nerds will always look out for other nerds, so they will be happy to give you all the help you need.

Happy Gazing!