Posts Tagged ‘telescope’

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!

Planck Sees the Universe as Never Before

January 12, 2011 Leave a comment

The first results from the European Space Agency’s Planck survery have been released today, and what a pretty picture these results make.

The Planck space telescope was launched in 2009 and currently resides in a Lagrangian point between the Earth and the Sun, roughly 1.5 million km away.

(A Lagrangian point is a point in space where the gravity from two bodies cancel each other out).

Planck’s mission is to study the Cosmic Microwave Background, the “echoes” from the Big Bang that appear everywhere in the sky.Plank was designed to be successor to the recently retired WMAP satellite, which measured the CMB with more accuracy than any instrument before it.

Artist's Conception of the Planck Telescope. Photo: ESA

The image above the top of the page was released back in July 2010, but the first scientific results have just been made public. They include 25 papers submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. The results include some pretty cool stuff.

Planck has found evidence for an otherwise invisible population of galaxies shrouded in dust billions of years in the past, which formed stars at rates some 10–1000 times higher than we see in our own Galaxy today. Measurements of this population had never been made at these wavelengths before. “This is a first step, we are just learning how to work with these data and extract the most information,” says Jean-Loup Puget, CNRS-Université Paris Sud, Orsay, France.

These studies allow us to gain a better picture of how the Universe formed in its very early stages, about 380 000 years after the Big Bang.When the CMB was first discovered, it was thought to be completely isotropic over the entire sky. This made no sense, however, since the Universe is made up of clumps of matter like stars and galaxies. There had to be some structure in the CMB, and that is why these tools like WMAP and Planck have been developed; to see that structure in the CMB.While these results are exciting, the best is yet to come,

Today’s results are the tip of the scientific iceberg. Planck is exceeding expectations thanks to the dedication of everyone involved in the project,” says David Southwood, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

Asteroid Hits Jupiter!

June 5, 2010 Leave a comment

Jupiter Impact Scar is Going, Going, Gone
Last year in July, an asteroid struck Jupiter, leaving behind this dark black scar on the planet’s surface.

As luck would have it, an amateur astronomer named Anthony Wesley happened to be recording the impact as it happened! He has posted this video:

This is some freaking cool stuff! You can read more at the Hubble Telescope’s Website.