Posts Tagged ‘sky’

Why God stopping the Sun in the sky is so stupid, no matter which way you look at it!

October 6, 2012

Joshua call on God and God stops the sun in the sky right?

Well considering God was only doing this such that Joshua could have light to continue his butchery of a fleeing people (man woman and child), this has to be the most inefficient use of military force ever.  The Earth rotates once a day (ish, it actually depends on how you define days, when the Sun is in the same place again (solar time) , or the stars (siderial time)).  Just to give that some perspective, the people at the Earth surface on the equator are travelling about 1000 miles per hour (1.4x the speed of sound in the frame of reference of the Earths center of mass), those at temperate latitudes are doing about half of that, and those at the poles are doing zero!  This means if God merely stops the Earth, the people on the surface will be doing about half the speed of sound relative to the surface.  Given that it generally hurt to fall over, hitting objects at the best part of the speed of sound is probably going to sting!

Just so you know, this is what it looks like for something to hit a wall at about the speed of sound!

 

However to truely ‘Stop the Sun in the sky’ you need to stop the Earth in it’s orbit.  Here the calculations are actually very easy.  The Earths orbit around the Sun in about 30 km/ second.  Given the speed of sound is about 1/3rd km per second, this means the Earths orbital velocity is some 90 times the speed of sound.  So in order to stop the Sun in the sky you need to reduce the Earth velocity by 90 times the speed of sound, which in a frictionless environment is the same energy it would take to accelerate the Earth from rest to 90x the speed of sound.

So how much energy would this take?

Well kinetic energy is given by 1/2 x mass x velocity^2 (thats velocity squared)

So lets take a unit mass (1kg), and accelerate from rest to 30 000 meters per second (30 km/s the orbital velocity of the Earth around the Sun)

KE = 0.5 x 1 x 30 000^2 joules (1/2 mv^2)

KE = 225 000 000 joules = 225 000 kJ

So how much explosive would be needed to accelerate a unit mass to his velocity.

Well wiki tells us that a killogram of TNT exploding releases 3 000 000 J of energy per kg,  = 3 000 kJ

That means it will take about (225 000/3 000) kg of TNT to accelerate a kg to the orbital velocity of the Earth around the Sun.  Give or take, it requires about a 100 times an objects mass in TNT to accelerate it to this orbital velocity.  So to stop the Earth in its orbit would require about 100 times its mass in high explosives.

Lets just take a look at this in terms of total war.  Historically it turns out bombing is not a very efficient way of killing people, such that in WW2 it would typically take about 1 ton of bombs to kill one person.  Some ball park numbers,

In the bombing of Berlin, some 60 000 tons of explosive were dropped, which killed some 20-50 000 people.  These are actually fairly typical numbers for WW2.

So modern(ish) warfare takes about a TON of explosive to kill one person.  That might sound inefficiency till you compare to to God!.

God expends 100x the mass of the Earth in high explosive (~100 x 6 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 tons)

So lets say God killed 10 000 people by doing this, this means that God expended about the same energy as 6 000 000 000 000 000 000 tons of high explosive per person killed. The biggest atom bomb ever was the Czar bomb at some 50 megatons (50 000 000 tons of TNT).  This means that Gods expenditure of energy here was about the same as 100 000 000 000  (ONE HUNDRED BILLION Czar bombs per person he killed).

So, lets see, God, determined to wipe out a fleeing people, first tries throwing rocks at them, and manages to kill some of them, and then when Joshua wants some extra daylight to continue with this religious genocide, God obliges by stopping the Earth in its orbit at an energetic cost of 100x the Earth mass in high explosive, when the same effect could have been had with a truck load of flares.  Given that people can be killed simply by simply stopping the electrical current that regulates the heart, stopping the Earth such that Joshua can continue to kill man, woman and child by stabbing them with sharp pieces of metal seems to be both EXCEPTIONALLY inefficient and psychologically VERY messed up.

 

 

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Venus, Jupiter and the Moon, Cosmic Ballet in February and March 2012.

February 21, 2012

For those who have been paying attention to the sky over the past few months, you will have seen Venus crawl out of the evening twilight, and Jupiter sink towards it.  These two VERY naked eye planets (both outshine even the brightest stars) are now only about 15 degrees apart (about the spread of your fingers held out at arms length), with that value set to shrink to about 3 degrees over the next 3 weeks.  Get the popcorn is ‘cos its gonna be a fantastic show!

The ballet is highlighted in the sequence below.

Venus Jupiter conjunction of 2012 (click to enlarge)

A) t= 0.  Jupiter and Venus hang in the evening sky.  Venus, by far the brighter of the two lies below Jupiter, and the pair are separated by about 15 degrees.  For reference, the Moon and Sun are about half a degree in diameter, and your outstretched fingers at arms length are about 15 degrees in angular size.

B) t= 5days.  The moons orbit takes it out of the solar glare and by the 26th it resides between Venus and Jupiter.  This will be a spectacular sight for those who get to see it, with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th brightest objects so close together in the sky.  The angular distance between the two planets has now closed to about 10 degrees.  Most of this apparent motion of Jupiter is due to the Earth moving around the Sun, while with Venus, about half of the apparent motion comes from this planet orbiting the Sun.

C) t~21 days. The Venus, Jupiter conjunction of 2012.  The two most spectacularly bright planets appear at their closest  (~3 degrees).

D) t~33days.  The Moon has now made a complete orbit since it last visited these planets.  When it last did, Jupiter was the higher, and Venus the lower.  The second time the moon visits these planets the order is reversed!  Venus the beguiling bright is now the higher of the two objects!  The objects are again separated by about 10 degrees.

For those who want to see what this looks like in animation form, take a look!  Download the  free solar system visualization software Celestia (http://www.shatters.net/celestia/)

GIANT VOLCANIC CHIPMUNKS

August 31, 2011

A fun couple of days all in! (28-29th July 2011)

So for night time I decided to indulge in a guilty pleasure, and just drive off into the quiet forests of Oregon, and just, well, sleep!  Well mostly sleep.  I did leave a timelapse going of the milky way from the forests of Oregon…. Pretty!

The next morning I was up early, and spent it bumming around crater lake.  When I first got the lake, it was mirror still!  It’s rarely that still at crater lake (normally wind disturbs the surface, as it had does by the end of this timelapse), so I set up the camera… more pretty!

While that was going down, I got accosted by one of the GIANT VOLCANIC CHIPMUNKS that roam the area!

And boy did that 4.5mm sigma 180 degree fisheye lens earn its keep at crater lake.  Y’see Crater Lake is just so big by the time you can see it, basically only a 180 degree lens will get it all in!

A keep back sign? Now that's just being a 'cliff tease'. Seriously though, these signs litter Crater Lake, which to be fair has a lot of cliffs, but does it really need all the idiot warning for people too stupid to spot poor footing and a terminal drop off?

and these ‘keep back signs’ litter the area in a way that smells of ‘frivolous lawsuit evasion’, or maybe it’s just to keep the number of Darwin Award winners from Crater Lake down.

Spent that evening on top of Mount Scott, well actually a rocky outcrop you have to climb up on near the top of Mnt Scott.  But the views were amazing. Just sat there and watched the sun go down over the lake!

Thunderf00t on mnt Scott looking down on crater lake. And yes, its about a 50ft drop off that rock! Mnt Scott is the highest point in Crater Lake NP. The actual summit has a fire lookout built on it and smells of urine. However for those willing to do a little hand n foot scrambling, there are a couple of satellite summits that have amazing views.

Spent the early evening helping doing some astronomy outreach (of a sort).  Skies were dark, but a little murky.  Had the scope catching photons from the M101 supernova till about 2am before packing up.  However Jupiter rising over the lake gave some captivating specular reflections!  Left the timelpase running till about 4am, would have been longer, but I feel asleep before changing the battery.  Damn my intolerance to sleep deprivation!

Next morning, a very tired Thunderf00t decided the air was still enough to take to the skies, using the helmet of doom!  Here I was alternating between first person flying, and flying by direct sight.  It’s really ballsy stuff in that by the plane has to be quite close (relativley) to fly by direct sight, and if you go further, you are 100% reliant on the video and RC gear working.  There is also the problem that by the time the plane is so far away, that you cannot see it, the plane also cannot see you!  So bascially you have to navigate by big cliffs and the sun to find your way home.  The bottom line is, while the plane was almost beyond the point where you could see it to fly it, it still didn’t make it over the lake.

After that little adrenaline rush I was ready for some excitement, which came in the form of swimming in an ice-cold lake formed by a collapsed volcano!

and yeah that water looks perty and blue, its just as amazingly blue when you get your head under it!  Regrettably, by the time I’d worked that out, I’d left the contraption for getting the camera underwater (a sort of ziplock bag) back in the car, 1000 ft above me on the crater rim 😦

A Night looking at Uranus!

August 24, 2011

Uranus is frequently overlooked and for many reasons.  Firstly, lets just say its name hasn’t phonetically aged well.  Secondly it’s small and faint, barely visible to the naked eye, and even the most powerful telescopes show little more than a tiny featureless grey-green disk.

Most powerful telescopes will show the five main moons of Uranus, Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon.  The innermost of these Miranda, has, if memory serves the highest cliffs in the solar system (due to being previously (presumably) smashed by an impact) and has an orbital period of about 1.5 days.  That means you should be able to easily see its movement over the period of a night.

Now I had tried this previously, and had been surprised that the planets movement was comparable to the movement of its moons, but that night had been scuppered by a flat battery.

Movement of Uranus vs background stars

The stars in the background are fixed. The two picture of Uranus are taken a few hours apart, and while the moons (relatively close to the planet) don't move much, the planet conspicuously moves against the background stars!) (click to enlarge)

So it was that I set out with my scope on the evening of 22nd Aug 2011 to see what could be captured.  I decided to head up to an observatory site that had previously seemed good up near the top of the somewhat active volcano, Lassen Peak.  The site is high, almost 2 miles up, but the seeing was less than perfect (a very constant ~ 5mile an hour wind, which was probably a blessing in that it bought warmer air from somewhere, but was also a curse due to the wind chill- I was surrounded by snow fields!).

Nonetheless, at prime focus of the 11in CPC1100 with ~1000 iso and 4 second exposure on a canon 60D seemed to bring out easily at least 4 of the moons of Uranus.

After that, I just had to maintain the kit for 8 or so hour.  A pain in the ass, as there were several pieces of kit that all need to work or the night would be ‘lost’.  So you basically have to periodically check all the batteries on the various time lapse and tracking kit are working functionally.  The bottom line is you can actually get quite a lot of sleep, but its horribly disjointed. The practical upshot of which was the next day I was wiped out to the point where I had actually planned to head up into Oregon to do something, but for the first time ever on a road trip I did something I’d never countenanced before.  I stayed a night in a motel!!  First time in 5 years!  A motel 6 I should add!  All I wanted was somewhere where I could get a shower, a bed for the night, and damn, just sit back for a moment, put my feet up, and have a glass of wine……ahhhhhh.

I was REALLY happy when I processed this, not really for what I had hoped to achieve, which was to get the motion of the moons, as while it was visible, it wasn’t that great.  But what was great was the motion of the whole Uranus system against the background stars.  I knew this MIGHT be visible, but I really didn’t expect it to looks as cool as it did!  Now it should be said that most of the motion you see here is probably not due to the motion of Uranus, but due to the motion of the Earth.  Nonetheless, its still really cool!

The finished results!

Sunday 31st (Sodium Boom n beyond)

August 4, 2011

Spent the morning very happily going over the potassium footage.  The whole thing is a symphony of physics and chemistry that eventually I decided it would take too long to explain, so I just put up the explosion footage.

It had been raining in Ridgecrest and this clearly was  a freak event.  The standard greeting in Rigercrest between the notably fat folks seems to be ‘hot enough for you’, and not without reason, I think it’s been over 100C every day I’ve been here.  However for the afternoon I decided I would give blowing up the sodium a go.  Now I have lots of sodium, and the scale and geometry is different.  Eventually I decided the way to do it was to get a stick over a reasonable sized vat, which meant that I could lift up the sodium from a distance, have it swing over the vat, then be lowered in.  Sodium is significantly less dense than water, and so would need to be weighted.  The sticks were typically about 10g, so eventually I wrapped up about 4 sticks in aluminium foil, attached weights to them and lowered them in to the vat from a distance.

Initially the reaction seemed really quite slow, to the point where I was wondering how this was going to pan out.  Indeed it took over 10 seconds before the first ‘explosion’ (compared to about 1second for the potassium experiment).  I, for my part am mostly certain this is related to the metal boiling.  However, when it really blew up (and did so quite convincingly) it really made a mess of the container.  Again, the hydrogen burning wasn’t really even a relevant factor, it’s just the adiabatic expansion of the gas released by the reaction.  In this case 40g gives about 40L of gas.  Thats a lot of gas to release in a 5L container!  On inspecting the aftermath it became clear that large chunks of sodium had been thrown clear of the reaction, not just unreacted, but unmelted!  This for me was a stunning observation!  It shows that whatever the reaction that takes place, the rate that heat is generated at the surface is MUCH higher than the rate the heat can be conducted away from the surface.  Sodium is an absolute bitch for making a mess!  Small amounts of sodium had been sprayed all over the tripod, and stripped the paint.  They had then picked up water to make conc. NaOH, draincleaner which will first turn you skin into soap, before chemically burning you.  The stuff was everywhere!  Cleaned up as best I could (again I was on the inaccessible dirt road to nowhere in my little ravine).  Headed back to LA.  Stopped off to see Lisa n Howard n pick up a shower, which I more than needed.  Initially i wanted to get up onto mnt Wilson early, for sunset, but got chatting to Lisa and that never happened.  It was full dark before I set out on the nightmare trek across LA by dark.  It didnt help that I managed to set the GPS wrong, and ended up on the long drive through the horrific twistiy winding roads of the Wilson range (rt 2).  There had been rain here too, and while the road was all but deserted, top speed was about 40 mph and ‘tire killing rocks’ materialized out of the gloom on a regular basis.  Driving that 20 miles was an incredibly intense experience, ultimately driven by ‘do u want it or not’.  I did, I wanted to get up on mnt wilson and do something on light pollution and LA.  I got there about midnight, and got my piccies!

Tuesday 26th July (SCREWED, by a screw)

July 27, 2011

Tuesday 26th July.  Oh woe is me.  It always the bugger with astronomy is the more powerful the kit becomes, the harder it is to set up and get it all working.  Further seeing as it takes so long  to set it up etc, if you’re doing it you could as well be trying to do something.  However it’s a dangerous strategy.

So in the morning I headed down into Ridgecrest for breakfast and wifi at Mcdonalds.  Turns out they have some 1000 calorie breakfast (big breakfast deluxe or some such) for ~3.5  bux.  Great for a man travelling as it means you don’t have to worry about finding much food for the rest of the day.  Rendered and sorted out the files from the previous night, before picking up some food and water for potentially a few days in the mountains.

I was heading up to a place I found on google Earth that looked okay, but always difficult to tell.  Sky forecasts were excellent!  Going in I could tell it was going to be dark, very very dark, as you pass a sign going into the mountains, the first says ‘Next gas 90 miles’, and the next says ‘NO GAS’ (Sherman Pass Road).  Damn did my car struggle with that hill.  It was HUGE.  Small engine, in a very heavily laden car means the engine can, if you are not being very gentle with it, go from normal to overheated in less than a minute.  Indeed there was one point on the slope when I thought ‘that’s it, time to turn back’ as even with the heater going full blast, to suck as much heat out of the engine as possible, it was still getting hotter and hotter, and eventually I had to stop.  Fortunately a little further up the wind picked up and that helped out a lot.  But damn was this road deserted.  Once at the top it leveled out into a sort of plateau.

Found a turn off very soon just opposite the ranger fire station, and headed off down the dirt road off the road to nowhere.  Found a shade tree in the forest and put my feet up for a few hours.  Resting myself for the long night ahead.  The wind was strong, but I had confidence that it would die down by night.

At dusk, and not having seen another soul on the road I decided to head out for a astro site.  Turns out the site I had found on google was almost 20 miles away! Ag.  That would put me getting there in astronomical twilight.  The road snaked up above the trees, then I could see down the other side of the sierras and the smog in the valley on the other side.  All of a sudden the clearing opposite the rangers firestation looked very appealing, but that was 10 miles behind me now.  While I hadn’t seen another soul on the road, I was uncomfortable doing astronomy by the road side.  Drunk guy driving home at night, not paying too much attention, or expecting anything else on the road could me a recipe for a bad night.  I headed back for the dirt road off the road to nowhere, and set up the telescope!

The beginning of the night was amazing, watching the Milkyway appear out of the darkness overhead.  The initial idea was to run down the kit, and hopefully get some stuff done.  The original plan was to get Saturn, Jupiter and the Moon, all on the same magnification.

There are several ways I have of doing this.  I have a stripped down HD webcam I wanted to give a go.  That crashed and burned first.  It has one of those bright blue LEDs that needs to be covered, and I didn’ have anything to do that on hand.  Next was to try eyepiece projection on either the DSLRs or a camcorder.  That was the most annoying one.  Turns out there are screws to hold the eyepiece in, and the eyepiece projection kit slides over the top of it.  Well the location screw was missing!  I had no way to hold the eyepiece in, and no realistic prospects of finding it in the car.  Fortunately I have many screws in the car, and soon found one that would do the job, its just that it sticks out too far to allow the eyepiece projection tube to slide over the top.  NOOOOOO.   50 miles from anywhere with thousands of bux worth of kit, all rendered effectively inoperable by a 1 cent screw.  No problem, I still had that new Deep Sky video camera bought with the kind donations to this channel.  I was going to use this to give people a reasonable idea of what you can see through the eyepiece while looking at deep sky objects.  Regrettably it was still all boxed, and in the dark in the middle of no where, with no wifi, is not the best place to engage on the learning curve.   After much fiddling, I got it working, but it was shite, pathetic, unbelievably poor.  I wasn’t too fussed, I didn’t believe for a second that folks like Orion could field such a product that would perform so poorly, and that I was just missing something.  However the battery was dying on the laptop by this time, and I had to stand off on this was too.  By this time, the Milkyway was a magnificent arch overhead, the sort of thing that would move a man to poetry, but I was tired, and frustrated by my repeated failures over really small stuff.  It kind of reminded me of that Apollo 11 story.  While on the moon they managed to break off the lever that armed the return rocket.  For the want of a dime store component a multibillion dollar rocket and two mens lives lay in the balance.  Fortunately for them they managed to flip the switch using, if memory serves a biro!  I too probably could have solved all the problems given time.  But the night was getting on and I was very tired.  Set up the D60 (I’ve been v. impressed so far with the sensitivty of this camera).  This was just a 1min unguided exposure of M16 (The Eagle Nebula) (albeit with the ISO jackted to 5000).  After that I left it chuntering away doing 30s exposures at ISO 1000.

The Eagle Nebula

The Eagle Nebula, July 26th 2011

By this time it was getting cold, really cold, and I took refuge in the car, only to doze off once or twice as Jupiter rose in the East.  Went out about 4ish to see how the kit would perform on a planet, to my horror to find that the battery power supply for the telescope was struggling.  Depending on the supply, if you flatten the battery, it’s dead for good.  That pretty much put an end to the night.  Packed up everything.  The car was a complete mess by the time I finished, but had the engine running to get some juice back into the powertank.   Then drove up the dirt road to find somewhere that would have some form of shade come day break.  The horizon was already light by the time I finally pulled over for some shut-eye.

Monday 25th July (WHOLE SKY time lapse!)

July 26, 2011

Monday 25th July, up after dawn and rolled into LA.  Traffic is a nightmare!  Picked up the fixed camcorder by 9ish and headed over to a mcdonalds for wifi.    Caught up with blog n emails.  Notably I’ve now got a buddy in Hawaii who’s ready to give the global timelapse thing a go.  He sounds like he really knows what he’s doing and certainly has much better kit than me.  However I still needed a location to head to.  I checked out the clear sky forecasts and they were excellent in the Sierra Nevada valley.  Packup up and headed out, charging batteries on the way.  This is always the absolute nightmare of astro-on-the-road is when you are spending so much time out of doors in the hard sunlight, your body really syncs up with the sun in a powerful way.  Almost to the point where, sun goes down and you go to sleep, and yeah it’s REALLY hard to fight against that to stay up all night doing stuff.  On the way out of LA I stopped by and saw Lisa, who had lent me a couch during TAM.  Then the drive out to the North.   Again the traffic was a nightmare.  Got to Ridgecrest in late afternoon passing enroute something that looked like an observatory, but I now believe to be military radar of some sort.  It looks a good site.  Lots of roads leading off into the desert near the top of a mountain, purportedly for dirt bikers, but whatever, looked like my polite surburban 2wd low clearance could handle it.  Picked up the largest coffee I could find, and headed out into the desert.  In the end I hardly had to go that far off the road and was there for a fantastically dark sunset.  However there was wind, 10-20 mph wind.  Firstly thats the kiss of death if you are trying to point a telescope at a point source, and secondly there was a small amount of dust with it.  Now that was great for the lasers, meant you could see them easily, however its a killer for shutter mechanisms, drives gears etc.  I decided I would stand off on setting up the scope till the wind died down.  The wind didn’t die down, not even a little.  However the sky was superb with the milky way forming a glowing arch from horizon to horizon.  Started messing around with the cameras.  Even if I can’t do any astro, I’ve got some stuff to field test.  Most notably the 4mm ‘180 degree lens’.  Gave good piccies of the Milkyway and after a while I decided to laser my name into a mountain, just for yuks.  After that, I spent a wonderfully pleasant night, with the cool desert wind blowing steadily through my car, all the time with my head poked out of the window, watching the stars slowly spin above my head.  Jupiter rose fast and high, and the late cresent moon somewhat after it.  The next morning I was quite happy with the results!

The Solar System in Motion (LIVE) – it’s going to happen

July 25, 2011

For those who didn’t catch it earlier this year, the ‘global planetary timelapse’ project was rejected for youtubes ‘nextup’ program.

However the idea is still a good one, and it’s going to happen!  So behind the scenes I’ve been putting out feelers, and working out how we are going to make this project happen.

As we are unifying several concepts that have never really been put together like this, doubtless there will be a learning curve.  Different guys, with different kit, trying to get a unified data stream.  Hmmm, tricky!

So I’m now heading up to the dark skies round the back of the Sierra Nevada (GREAT SKY FORECAST!)

http://cleardarksky.com/csk/prov/California_map.html?Mn=light%20pollution

to see what I can actually do with the kit I have.  We will then put the project together in stages.  I think our first attempt will be to do a time lapse of the moon from both the mainland US and Hawaii.  We will then try to get people involved in Australia and further around the world (indeed if you are in Australia, or further round the world (so to speak), please contact me @ thunderf00t@hotmail.com, this project Needs You!).  In the first instance it will probably work best with folks who know pretty much what they are doing, but also I would love to put a project like this together with school kids watching the moons of Jupiter, which could be done with almost any telescope that can track.

Anyways Gentlemen, Ladies!  The Mountains and the Dark Skies Await!

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND!