May 31, 2020

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Eclipse-Rise over KSC

Eclipse-Rise+VAB. (Photo by author).

Yesterday, we told the tale of our adventures in eclipse-chasing along the Florida Space Coast. The morning of Sunday, November 3rd 2013 found us on the Parrish Park causeway outside of Titusville, Florida shooting a frame of the eclipse every few seconds. We were fortunate that we had only a low cloud deck from the front that had passed through the day before, which provided us with just enough lingering clouds to be photogenic.   [Read more...]

November 2013-Life in the Astroblogosphere: Chasing the Saros

Eclipse-Sign! (Photos by Author).

It started with a tweet.

Towards the end of 2012, our thoughts turned, as they always do in the month of December, toward the top 100 astronomical events of the coming year. Eclipses always make this compilation, and we duly noted that totality for 2013 would only occur during the brief hybrid eclipse of Sunday, November 3rd. [Read more...]

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Remembering the Halloween Flares of 2003

The Sun unleashes an X-Class flare on October 28th, 2003 as seen in UV.

(Credit: NASA/SOHO).

Our nearest star gave us a scare a decade ago this week. Back in 2003, none of us knew what Facebook or YouTube was, and most of us were still using ye’ ole message boards and chat rooms to discuss such seminal arguments as Kirk vs. Picard.

Sol was also just coming off of its peak for Cycle #23, and still had a trick or two up its sleeve. The action began with an X-ray Class X17.2 flare on October 28th, 2003. [Read more...]

Astro-Vid Of the Week: Documenting the November Hybrid Solar Eclipse

Totality as seen from Libya during the 2006 Total Solar Eclipse.

(Credit: NASA TV).

An interesting Indiegogo project came to our attention just last week.

ISSET, the International Space School Educational Trust, is working to document and create a live interactive web broadcast of the only solar eclipse to include totality for 2013.

They will be chasing after the hybrid eclipse which crosses the Atlantic Ocean and central Africa on November 3rd of this year. Maximum totality for this eclipse off of the west coast of Africa is a scant 1 minute and 40 seconds. The team is headed to the Kenyan village of Kalokol on the shores of Lake Turkana, where totality will be even more fleeting, at 15 seconds in duration.

The two hour feed will feature live interaction with an online audience worldwide by astronaut and veteran Space Shuttle commander Ken Ham, astronaut trainer Michelle ham, and astronomer Dr. Rhodri Evans.

ISSET has a solid 15 year track record of promoting international STEM education. The team has a targeted goal of $75,000 USD to make the documentary and the online event happen. Broadcasting from such an austere locale, they may be the only webcast in town for this event!

Perks range from a tweeted “thank you” at the 5$ level (they’re @IntSpaceSchool on Twitter) up to an opportunity to join the team in Kenya at the $12,000 mark. We’ll be driving over to the Florida Space Coast side if skies are clear on the morning of the 3rd, for a brief <3% rising partial eclipse.

This is a fascinating project, and for a noble cause.  We’re now within 4 years of the “Big One,” the total solar eclipse crossing the United States on August 21st, 2017. And we’ve only got three totals before then… why not join the ISSET team online or in person this coming November?

Review:Total Addiction by Kate Russo.


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Thank our good fortune for our one large Moon. While many an astronomer might curse its presence in the night sky, its very existence gives us an astronomical phenomenon that may well be unique in our neck of the galaxy; total solar eclipses. And that happy coincidence of having a Moon that’s roughly 1/300th the diameter of our nearest star but 300 times closer is also a happenstance of our position in time as well; the Moon is receding from us at about 3.8 centimetres a year, meaning that about 0.6 billion years hence, the last total solar eclipse will be seen from the surface of the planet Earth. [Read more...]

Review: Exploring the Saros with Eclipse-Maps!

Paths over North America from 2001-2050.

(Click to enlarge)

(Courtesy of Eclipse-Maps)

It happens sometimes in the world of astronomy journalism. One of the funniest stories I’ve ever heard science journalist Bob Berman tell was that of an irate eclipse chaser. He had used his erroneous article based on a faulty prediction to plan his vacation to St. Kitts, which lay well outside of the path of totality. [Read more...]