May 25, 2017

Review: Blast! A Film by Paul Devlin.

BLAST...Astrophysics Indiana Jones Style!

BLAST...Astrophysics Indiana Jones Style!

Blast! Can be seen as a documentary that was 13.7 billion years in the making. Directed by Paul Devlin, Blast! follows the exploits of a group of astrophysicists as they break new ground with a unique balloon borne telescope. BLAST stands for Balloon-Borne, Large Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope. As reported earlier this week in our post “Antarctic Astronomy”, “Sub-millimeter” is the name loosely given to the wavelengths roughly between microwave and infra-red. [Read more...]

An Arctic Moon?

 Everybody knows that north of the arctic circle, the sun can stay above the horizon for months at a time… but what about the Moon? Living in North Pole, Alaska, at latitude 64.5 north for four years, I know that the path of the Moon can do some bizzare things, as well! I decided to run the simulation below in Starry Night to find out;     

Arctic Moon Simulation. (Credit: Starry Night).

Note: If the above link isn’t visible in your browser, click here!

    The site setup for the above video was Alert, Canada at north latitude 82.5 north. The simulation was sped up to x3000 real time speed. Full Moon itself occurs the night of December 12th-13th, but running the Moon through simulation, it never rises or sets! In fact, “moonrise” from Alert is 10:14 AM local on the 7th of December, and “moonset” doesn’t occur until 2:40 PM local on the 17th! This is because during those two weeks, the Moon occupies roughly the same spot on the ecliptic that the Sun does during and around the summer solstice. The phenomena of the midnight sun runs down to about latitude 66.56 degrees north, (just north of Fairbanks, Alaska), but that of the “midnight Moon” runs down to  about latitude 61.42 degrees north, just north of the town of Wasilla (of Palin fame!) Alaska. This is because in addition to the tilt of the Earth, the Moon’s orbit is inclined an additional 5.1 degrees!

   In the southern hemisphere, the same is true, although at opposite times of year… also, keep your eyes out during the time lapse video for a cool occultation of the Pleiades!  

Astro Event for July 29th-August 4th, 2008: an Arctic Eclipse.


Path of the August 1st Eclipse.

(Credit: NASA & Fred Espenak)

    Eclipses rarely happen over civilized areas. It seems as the shadow of the moon is extremely shy, avoiding your local suburbia and instead forcing eclipse chasers to risk life and limb, often courting terminal illness and kidnapping to see this elusive spectacle. The total eclipse of August 1st, 2008 is no exception.  [Read more...]

Keeping Vehicles Running in Sub-zero Temperatures

Winter time temps provide their own “unique” challenges when it comes to vehicle maintenance. More than ever, we rely on our vehicles as our lifeline in the winter, especially in a rural setting. I grew up (and currently reside) in Northern Maine, were temps routinely drop below 0F.

[Read more...]