Back in the beginning of February SpaceX launched their Falcon Heavy rocket to much fanfare and excitement. This test launch also had a test payload: Starman, a mannequin in a prototype SpaceX space suit behind the wheel of a cherry red Tesla Roadster. Spaceman was successfully inserted into a heliocentric orbit and there he'll remain for millions of years.
For a few days Spaceman was close enough to earth to be visible by professional grade telescopes. As an employee of a company that builds and deploys a network of robotic telescopes I had to see if I could get an image of this guy.
Dr. Tim lister and I both set up observations, but of course Tim's (who studies near earth objects) came back in better quality. I did some stacking and scaling and ended up with a .gif. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Starman in 9 parts:
The image consists of 9x32 second exposures on one of our 1 Meter telescopes in Cerro Tololo, Chile. The images were captured around 2018-02-09 08:43 UTC.
See if you can find the faintly visible galaxy in the top left corner of the image.
LCOGT has participated in this year's Cyclemaynia event in the best way we know how: by geeking out over both cycling and astronomy at the same time.
I thought it would be neat to do a scale model of the solar system that people could ride in order to experience in order to gain a deeper appreciation of how vast the solar system really is.Read more...
I've spent a good deal of time in the last few days searching for a good library to draw star charts (finder charts) that I could use to integrate with AstroChallenge. While there are plenty of utilities to create star maps, they mostly consist of desktop software or websites that are not open source.
Eventually I found fchart which resembled was I was looking for. A set of python scripts with minimal dependencies that would output star maps! This I could use.Read more...
I've been working on new project recently called AstroChallenge. While the details of what exactly AstroChallenge is will have to come later, rest assured, it has to do with Astronomy.
One of the bits of information I'm interested in is whether a particular celestial object is visible in the sky or not. Given an observer's latitude, longitude and elevation and an object's right ascension and declination it becomes a straightforward calculation.Read more...
I recently began taking classes at Cabrillo Community College in Santa Cruz California out of interest in astronomy. The college offers an AS that is pretty impressive: it requires an (expected) amount of physics classes but also includes many astronomy specific classes dealing with planetary science, cosmology and observational astronomy. I was surprised and impressed after I took a look at the catalog - it didn't take me long to enroll.Read more...