The day has come. Finally, I get to promote my excitement for the importance of Space Beer. Ohhh yes! Incidentally, Space Beer has been the theme of the last few days of the AAS conference (free beer, special free Galileo limited edition Sierra Nevada beer. Did I mention it was free?), so it seems fitting to have my 365 Days of Astronomy podcast broadcast the day after returning from the conference fuelled by (free) space-themed booze.
To top the whole experience off, I had the superb fortune to meet the musician behind the 365 Days of Astronomy theme tune, plus we were also treated to a mini-concert by him during the official USA opening of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 at the AAS conference on Tuesday. Written and performed by George Hrab, the entire audience at the IYA2009 grand opening ceremony had a great time singing along to the lyrics. I’m assuming the song is called “Far”, for obvious reasons. Funnily enough, in the audience participation parts of the tune, avatars participating in the Second Life virtual world were also singing along. George not only entertained the real world, he transcended this life to make the Second Life rock! Now that is inspirational!
It’s Thursday afternoon and the hangover is finally subsiding. This morning wasn’t a nice experience, having stumbled back to the hotel at 2am, knowing very well I had to get up at 7am for the final round of sessions at the AAS conference, I knew the lack of sleep might be a problem.
After all, there would be no presentations in the afternoon and I was very motivated to get the scoop on some more breaking astro news. Unfortunately, 7am turned into 10:30am, and although I tried, I couldn’t make it past the hotel lobby. For me, Thursday was cancelled. Oh well, at least the previous night was awesome… Continue reading “The AAS Finale: Astronomy Cast Meet-up (Photos)”
Events are amping up at the AAS conference in Long Beach. Tonight, we were treated to the official US opening of the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (plus superb live music by George Hrab, a Second Life IYA2009 ribbon-cutting and the premier of “400 Years of the Telescope“). In the day, I had a stack of presentations to go to including a session on black holes and another on white dwarfs… I never knew white dwarfs were so interesting!
Day One: Information overload! When Fraser and I turned up in Long Beach, CA yesterday for the 213th American Astronomical Society meeting, I had an overwhelming feeling that I should have done my homework before travelling to the event. Hundreds of participants, hundreds of posters and hundreds of presentations… as an astrophysicist, I feel like a kid in a candy shop, but as a blogger, it’s hard to know where to start!
Fortunately Team Universe Today has some strong backup in the form of Nancy Atkinson who is operating from home, delivering a huge amount of AAS coverage on the Universe Today. This is good, as the Internet connection at the Long Beach Convention Center is patchy at best. It’s great to meet Pamela and everybody else involved in the Astronomy Cast effort, and everyone seems to be finding articles and lining up the press releases rather nicely.
I am just about to attend the 10am Session 328 Black Holes I presentations, and I’ll hopefully be adding a long “live blogging” post about each of the speakers. All going well a couple of interviews might come out of the session too. Until then, here’s a brief run-down of the Universe Today coverage of the various press releases, from supermassive black holes, brand new Hubble views of the galactic centre, shredded asteroids around white dwarfs to the heavy Milky Way…
Back in 2006, I was feeling a bit nostalgic about my four years of research at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth Solar Group, so I decided to try to find some high resolution prints of the Sun. After a lot of effort, I didn’t find any prints I could buy or download, but I did find some high resolution images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) image archive. Although some were a bit noisy, I was able to clean them up with Photoshop and did some layer tweaking/saturation/balance to draw out the fine detail of the chromospheric network–as seen above in the 304A Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope filter–plus a distinct prominence (in the bottom left-hand of the image).
Not stopping there, I decided to give the same treatment to high resolution 171A and 195A images. They came out very well and I kept rotating them as my wallpaper for months. Having just read Phil’s post on today’s perihelion (the time of year when the Earth is at its closest to the Sun during its orbit), I came across a comment asking whether anyone had any wallpapers of the same 304A EIT image. Well, here it is! Plus two more!
If anyone wants to find out how the images were edited, feel free to ask and I’ll let you know. Truth be known, there’s thousands of space images held by NASA, ESA etc. open to the public domain that rarely get the “airtime” they deserve. So it’s about time I dust off these three-year old edits and share the magnetohydrodynamic love.
I miss active regions, I wish the Sun would amp it up a bit so we can see all those lovely flares, CMEs, filaments and coronal loops… ahhhh… coronal loops…
I’m currently organizing myself for this week’s AAS meeting down in Long Beach, so expect a feast of breaking news and information from one of the biggest astronomical conferences on the planet! Dictaphone? Check. Pen? Check. Laptop? Check. Camera? Check… Beer money? What do you think?
This will be a new experience for me, as although I’ve been to many conferences, this will be the first time I’ll be reporting on other people’s research. So, the pressure is off and I can enjoy the vast ocean of knowledge being shared with the world. However, this isn’t going to be your normal reporting gig. Pamela and Fraser have been organizing this New Media venture to distribute information accurately and rapidly. This is the power of blogging; we are on the ground publishing articles as the news becomes available. This means you don’t have to wait to get your conference news fix, it will appear on the blogs as soon as we hear it.
So, from Monday Jan. 5th, to Thursday Jan. 8th, I hope to stack Astroengine.com full with breaking news articles from the frontier of astrophysics, astronomy and space exploration.
I will also be dumping as much information onto the Universe Today as possible. Plus, ace Universe Today writer Nancy Atkinson will be back at UT Mission Control overseeing the whole event. This way, you don’t only get your regular news updates, you also get the best the AAS has to offer!
All blog posts on every space news website will be linked to via Astronomy Cast LIVE, so be sure to check on that regularly for your up-to-the-minute news.
Don’t forget Twitter! I will be firing microblog posts out every time I get a new piece of news, so be sure to follow Astroengine.com’s Twitter Feed. I might even activate the Twitter feed though my main blog on Astroengine.com, but we’ll see how quickly the news breaks before I do this (I don’t want to create a bottleneck of news overflow!).
Rock Bottom is located at 1 Pine Ave, at the E Ocean Blvd./Pine Ave. cross street. This place is big, in a prominent location on the corner of Pine, so you shouldn’t miss it. Check out Google Maps for the location.
So, keep an eye on Astronengine.com, Universe Today, Astronomy Cast LIVE and my Twitter feed for the full spectrum of the conference… it’s going to be awesome.
It might seem a little egocentric, but I thought this was rather cool. After wading knee-deep in Facebook code for the last few days, I came across some nice little tools. As with 90% of Facebook apps, it is debatable as to whether they are considered “useful” or not, but the power of this social media platform is abundant.
Take this application for example. Using an easy to use Java interface, you can get a visual snapshot of your online social network. I’ve only got as far as displaying all my friends according to location; in my case, predominantly from my hometown of Bristol, England and university town of Aberystwyth, Wales. There is also a strengthening contingent from the US (in the bottom left of the image, above).
So, this is my very own social universe. All they need to do is to make this 3D and rotate dynamically and it really will be like having my very own planetarium of Facebook friends 🙂
Ok, ok, I’m getting back to the space science writing now…
Facebook recently officially announced the release of Facebook Connect. At first, I was a little dubious as to what it would do; after all who needs to sign in to their Facebook account when surfing other websites, right?
Actually, Facebook Connect is a little deeper than that. Until now, Facebook has remained on Facebook.com, there was no way to transplant any of the social media applications to your own website (apart from a few developers). Applications for Facebook have been around since the dawn of the site, allowing users to develop and launch their own “useful” tools to connect, play, message and inform friends. Some have argued that the site was becoming cumbersome, with a vast number of user applications ballooning the platform out of all proportions. Many userpages were cluttered and overcrowded (including mine). So only a few weeks ago, Facebook underwent a huge face-lift, appearing to cut most of the chaff from userpages.
So far, so good.
But then the growing company announces it was developing its flexible platform to branch out. It would appear Facebook.com was just the beginning, over the coming months we’ll see Facebook applications appearing on other websites, expanding the scope of this social networking tool across the Internet… Continue reading “Astroengine Social Media: Facebook Connect”
In an effort to boost the community “feel” of Astroengine.com, I’ve added the Google Friend Connect widget to the panel to the right. It seems like a great way to communicate the site’s articles and a useful tool for visitors to meet like-minded individuals. I’ll be assessing its effectiveness over the coming days, plus you might see some more tools appear. These moves are all intended to improve Astroengine.com content and boost the number of ways visitors can share information.
Simply click on the “Join Site” button and enjoy…
Thank you Avi for pointing out this nifty little gadget, let’s see what it can do!
Before today, I hadn’t heard anything about the possibility of looking for moons orbiting planets in other star systems. Sorry, exomoons orbiting exoplanets in other star systems. But a British astronomer has calculated that it is possible to not only detect exomoons, but it is possible to deduce their distance from the parent exoplanet and their mass.
All this is done by measuring the exoplanet’s “wobble”; a practice more commonly used in the pursuit of the exoplanets themselves. By detecting the wobble of distant stars, the gravitational pull of the exoplanet becomes obvious. The same can be done with exoplanets, possibly revealing the presence of Earth-like exomoons.
Of the 300+ exoplanets discovered, 30 are within the habitable zones of their stars. If these large gas giant exoplanets (usually several times the mass of Jupiter) have an exoplanet system of their own, these exomoons also fall within the habitable zone…