This was photographed from a plane flying at 13,300 m going 800 km/h, 960 km southeast of Bermuda. In order to get the eclipse to one side of the plane, they flew across the path of totality, rather than along it. This required split-second timing, since the shadow on the moon moves across the Earth’s surface at 12,800 km/h. The photographer, Ben Cooper, isn’t sure whether this is totality or 1 second off. I think it’s 1-second off because you can see the sunlight shining through the valleys on the edge of the moon, creating the famous diamond ring effect. Either way, it’s a wonderful photo. More information at Launch Photography.
UPDATE: There are two places where you’ll be able to observe the eclipse safely. Astrolapalma will hold a free event at Llano de las Brujas from 10:30-1:30 pm, and Astrotour will hold an event costing 2€ per person at the ecological banana plantation EcoFinca Platanologico from 11 am – 1 pm.
Do NOT look directly at the sun. You might go blind.
On November 3rd 2013 there will be a hybrid solar eclipse. “Hybrid” means that in some places it will be a total eclipse and in other it will be an annual eclipse – that is, the moon will be directly in front of the sun, but it will be slightly farther away than usual, so that it appears slightly smaller than usual – too small to cover the sun completely. In any case, from the Canary Islands the moon will cover just 40% of the sun. From here, the maximum eclipse will be at 12:15 pm. From the UK and Germany, the moon will be next to the sun in the sky, but not cover it. From mainland Spain, the eclipse will cover 10-20% of the sun, reaching its maximum at about 12:30 pm.
The next solar eclipse will be an annual eclipse in Antarctica on 29th April, 2014. I don’t think I’ll be going all the way to Antarctica myself.
For years, the IAC (Canarian Astrophysics Institute) has paid the cost of visits to the observatory. Now they need to be even more careful with their money, and visitors will have to pay 9€ each (6.75€ for residents of La Palma), which should cover the cost of the guide and administrative overhead. The visits are still daytime only, and last 45-90 minutes. This includes a short talk on why the observatory is on La Palma, a visit to the MAGIC telescope, and for over-12s, a visit to the inside of one of the other telescope. This is most often GTC,the biggest telescope in the world, but it may also be the WHT, INT, or TNG.
You can book your visit here
On Wednesday night in Santa Cruz there will be a talk on astrophotography by Babak Tafreshi and Christoph Malin (two of the most prestigious astrophotographers in the world). They’re on La Palma to teach at Astromaster LA PALMA 2013, an advanced course on image processing and landscape photography timelapse and night which will be held in Los Cancajos this week, between July 26 and September 30.
The talk will take place next Wednesday 25th at 20:00 pm in the Noble Hall of the Casa Salazar, in O’Daly, 20, of Santa Cruz de La Palma.
More information about the event:
A remarkable number of the archeological sites on La Palma line up with astronomical calendar events: particularly sunrise or sunset at the solstice or equinox, and the rising and setting of the star Canopus. Since Sunday was the equinox, I went with a group of friends to one of these sites to see the sun rise behind the highest point of the island, the Roque de Los Muchachos. It meant an early start, but it was well worth it.
Come to San Antonio volcano visitor centre and see La Palma’s “Stonehenge” mark the autumn equinox on Sunday night at 7:30 pm.
Stonehenge is a bit of an overstatement, of course, but the modern astronomical marker at the visitor centre works the same way as Stonehenge. As the sun sets at the equinox, the shadow of one stone reaches another. (Different stones make shadows which reach the marker stone at the summer and winter solstice.)
Starting at 7:30 there will be a explanations by Antonio González and Miguel Martín.
Yes, that’s a real frog, and a real NASA launch, and no, the photo wasn’t retouched.
This is NASA’s LADEE heading to the moon “to gather detailed information about the lunar atmosphere, conditions near the surface and environmental influences on lunar dust.” The automatic cameras caught this image at the launch Pad 0B at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.” For real.
So what’s with the frog?
Well, the launch pad gets deluged with water on take off, to protect it, and there’s a big pool of water to do that. It’s also in the middle of a wildlife refuge, since rocket launches aren’t very frequent. So the poor frog presumably found a spot that was comfortable and damp – at the time.
Actually, I think the frog must have been much closer to the camera than the rocket, perhaps just 7 m up.
As NASA says, “The condition of the frog, however, is uncertain.”
Mars has two moons, Demios is very small – only about 12 km in diameter, and orbits in 30 hours. But since a Martian day is 24 hours, 39 minutes long, Demios isn’t much above synchronous orbit, and it takes 2.7 days to rise in the east and set in the west. From the equator of Mars, it looks about as big as the planet Venus does from Earth.
Phobos isn’t much bigger at about 22 km in diameter. But the fun part is that it has a very close orbit – just 6,400 km above the Martian equator, so close that from the north or south poles it’s below the horizon, and where you can see it, it looks noticeably bigger overhead than down at the horizon. At its biggest, it looks about one third as big as the Earth’s full moon from Earth. Here’s the fun part – Phobos orbits Mars in 7 hours and 40 minutes, while the Martian day is 24 hours, 39 minutes. So the surface of Mars moves faster than Phobos, and Phobos appears to rise in the west, grow as it climbs to the zenith, then shrink and set in the east.
Both moons are chocolate coloured, and probably captured asteroids.
This video was taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, from Gale Crater on August 1st.
Francisco Sánchez, the founder of the Canarian Astrophysics Institute has resigned at the age of 77. Rafael Rebolo is the new director.
Rafael Rebolo is an internationally known astrophysicist who has published over 150 scientific papers, mostly to do with exoplanets and cosmic microwave background.
Francisco Sanchez is a hard act to follow.