Sunday Photos: The solar system and the Large Size Telescope

March 4, 2019

On Saturday I brought up my model solar system for my clients. The sun is too small. to be in scale with the planets, it ought to be 4m in diameter, but that’s rather inconvenient to fit in the car. The first four planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars) are marbles and too small to see in the photograph, but the girl in the foreground is holding up the Earth….


Fun names on Pluto

Informal names for features on Pluto
August 26, 2015

Sorry for the hiatus: I got overtired and had a lurgy. Now that I have a bit of time and energy, I went to see what’s been happening with the New Horizons fly-by of Pluto. The space craft zipped by the dwarf planet over a month ago, but while it was passing, it was too busy taking photos and measurements to send much back to Earth. Then NASA and JPL…


Izaña part 2: stargazing

Venus and Jupiter and a different telescope, Izaña, Tenerife
July 21, 2015

  Since I got there early, I got a chance to try to photograph the nearest star – our Sun, through a small telescope with a filter which lets through a wavelength called H? (pronounced H alpha). It was tricky. I’m pretty short sighted, and I can’t see well with my glasses squdged up against the viewfinder. For normal stargazing, I take my glasses off and refocus the telescope, but…


Pluto and Google Deep Dream

  Deep Dream is all over the internet lately, but for those of you who heaven’t come across it, Google have invented an ‘artificial neural network’ which finds patterns in images, and then matches them with other pictures stored in its memory. The result is seriously weird. I recently learned that some people suffer from a phobia of objects with irregular patterns of holes (Trypophobia) and they find some Deep…

July 19, 2015

New Horizons flies by Pluto

Enormous heart feature on Pluto. Credits: NASA/APL/SwRI
July 14, 2015

 Oh wow! Today the New Horizons spacecraft zipped past Pluto at 30,800 mph (49,600 km/hr), just 476,000 miles (768,000 kilometers) from the surface. I was expecting something cool, but not a heart 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) across. The heart is quie near Pluto’s equator (the photo mostly shows the northern hemisphere) and it seems remarkably flat. The best guess is that it’s geologically new, because much of the rest of…


Carolyn Porco

Carolyn Porco is head of NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn. As a teenager in the Bronx she saw Saturn through a friend’s telescope, and was immediately addicted to astronomy. So that’s what she did at university. After graduating, she knew she wanted to study planets. NASA was sending unmanned ships to Mars and Venus, and she wanted to be part of it, and did her Ph.D. on the dynamics of…

April 28, 2014