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Back to the Moon – Skywatching


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After many years we are on our way back to the moon. This will also include Canada.

There are many reasons to be excited about the prospect. It is a new beginning of exploration of the solar system and perhaps of the universe one day.

A moon station orbit space station will be a better jump from space missions to Mars and other planets. The big advantage is that we don't need the huge rockets we use to get out of the Earth's surface.

Earth's orbiting space station, like the International Space Station, is better, but even when we build our spacecraft in Earth's orbit, components must still be lifted off the Earth's surface.

What if we could make materials and maybe make some moon-based construction, hopefully using locally mined resources.

There is a rich solar energy and there is no atmosphere. In addition to the weaker gravity of the moon, it is much easier to get things from the moon's surface to the Moon's orbit.

We can just slip them up, and when what we're lobbling gets to the right height, the onboard engine can accelerate to orbital speed, or someone can meet it and catch it before it falls again.

You can't do this from the Earth's surface because we'll have to lobby much harder and trigger things off the ground at high speed likely to end up burning them for atmospheric friction.

Current space missions are starting relatively slowly, and the accelerator pedal does not reach the atmosphere.

Running from the moon could be done with a large cannon like the one in Jules Verne's story, From Earth to Moon.

However, this would be difficult on what is triggered and even harder on any human crew. One popular concept in science fiction that is perfectly feasible is actually to use electromagnetic acceleration.

The load to be sent in orbit will accelerate on the ground like maglev, but at much higher speeds. Then the track turns up and drives the vehicle into space.

Having a space station in moon orbit has a huge scientific potential. If the orbit is arranged to always have a line on Earth (critical to communication), it will see both the front and the back of the moon.

The back of the Moon would be a fantastic place to place a radio telescope or two. Because Earth never rises above their horizon, they won't have to cope with the growing radio communication we do.

One cell phone would be far brighter than any space radio source. Being projected from interference coming from Earth would allow researchers to access most radio spectrum. In addition, we could observe the cosmic emissions that are blocked by our atmosphere and ionosphere because it does not have the Moon.

This does not mean that work and research on the Moon will be easy. The facility will have to handle large monthly temperature changes in the moonlight, from deep below zero during the night to around the boiling point of water during the day. The biggest challenge for operating equipment on the moon's surface is probably dust.

The moon has accumulated over a billion years on its surface a layer of very fine dust, such as flour or perhaps even finer.

As Apollo astronauts have found it, it just gets into everything. Because it is very dry, it easily charges the electrostatic charge, forcing it to stick to everything it touches. But we have some dusty places on Earth and we have learned to live and work there.

We can be very creative when there is a strong enough incentive.

  • At 13:58 PST on March 20, the sun will cross the equator to the north, marking the spring equinox. Since then, he has spent more than 12 hours on the horizon every day in the sun.
  • Mars is in the southwest after dark.
  • Jupiter rises around 2 am.
  • Saturn 4 a.m.
  • Venus 5 am in the pre-war glow.
  • The moon will be full at 20th.

March 9, 2019 / 11:05 pm | Story:

In 1979, two Voyager spacecraft flew past Jupiter on its way to the outer solar system.

When they shot around, they sent back images of huge storms. Now we look better. The Juno spacecraft orbits a giant planet and sends back the most amazing images.

Try to see the "Jupiter Polar Storm". One shows one of the planet's poles, there is a huge storm, a polar vortex, surrounded by several thunderstorms, other images show more storms, some stand upstream and create a turbulent awakening.

Then there's the Great Red Spot, a storm big enough to engulf the Earth that raged for at least 300 years. What drives all these activities and why is it so organized?

On Earth, the energy for the weather is provided by the sun and processed by the rotation of our planet and the circulation of the atmosphere. If we stood on the equator, that rotation would carry us to the east at about 1700 km / h.

However, if we were at the North or South Pole, we would move to zero / h, only once a day. At the hot equator, air flows on the ground, warms and rises and moves upward.

At the poles, the air cools and falls and moves straight. This means that the air is constantly moving where it is faster or closer than the Earth's rotation.

Precipitation between the amount of air moving at different speeds drives most of our weather. The situation is more chaotic with the presence of large oceans and continental continents.

Things are different about Jupiter. First, Jupiter is about 1400 times larger than Earth, but only has
318 times the mass of Earth, which means that Jupiter is mostly gas, although somewhere in the middle can be a rocky body. The atmosphere is very deep and has no underlying soil or ocean that could interfere.

Second, the Earth has a diameter of 12,756 km and rotates once every 24 hours, which means that the equator has a speed of 1,700 km / h.

Jupiter has a diameter of 143,000 km and takes less than 10 hours to complete each spin. The peak of the atmosphere above the equator is almost 43,000 km / h.

As in the Earth, the atmosphere above the poles moves at 0 km / h. This speed difference means that the north-south movement of the atmosphere is more difficult, and the meteorological systems settle into the East-West bands. Even a small telescope will show them.

The speed differences in these bands and between them drive a lot of small storms – small by Jupiter's standards. Some of them are larger than Earth. This structure of the atmosphere band helps to form a regular circle of storms around the polar vortex.

One thing that is particularly interesting about the weather in this vast world is that storms can remain solid while the rest of the atmosphere flows around. A very good example is the Great Red Spot. He hadn't moved much since he was discovered.

Some have suggested that it is because it is powered by a huge volcano erupting beneath it. However, there is no volcano, only thousands or tens of thousands of kilometers of atmosphere.

There is a very interesting illustration in James Gleick's Chaos book. This shows the rotating pan of colored oils. After it was running enough to settle down, bands of color developed, like on Jupiter, and the whirl formed.

Colors have to be selected for this fact, because the vortex is colored red in the image. Once created, it remained rotated between adjacent bands. This suggests that the Great Red Spot is not just a local feature but is related to the Jupiter Global Weather System. How is it?

  • Mars is in the southwest after dark.
  • Jupiter lies low in the south in the heavenly sky
  • Saturn to Jupiter left
  • In September, Venus shone low.
  • The moon reaches the 14th quarter.

March 2, 2019 / 11:00 | Story:

Beatrix Potter was interested in science and wanted to be a botanist.

However, in the 19th century England, it was almost impossible for women to get into science, so she became a famous writer of children's books.

There have been some women who have overcome the obstacles of that time and have become renowned scientists, such as Marie Curie.

However, not all institutions have been hostile to women, so some have had the opportunity to make an indelible mark on modern astronomy.

In 19th century astronomy, women worked mainly as computers and data analysts. Then the word "computer" meant someone who spent his time calculating by hand.

Today, even though computers still do all these calculations, the word now means something completely different.

Until recently, astronomical images were recorded on glass, photographic plates. They were insensitive to modern standards, and required expositions of many hours to record usable images.

After processing, these plates were usually handed over to female data analysts who carefully extracted the required information and carefully scanned the plates for other things that were accidentally caught, such as previously unknown comets, asteroids, and exploding stars.

At that time, observations were mainly made in two ways. The telescope could be used as a giant camera that records sky images on glass photo plates. Alternatively, a diffraction grating, often across the front of the telescope, would be placed in front of the plate.

This would divide the light from each star into its basic colors, just as we see when we pass the light through a glass prism, or just look at the rainbow. On these boards, every star image is smeared into its basic colors.

From this data, analysts would determine the star's temperature and composition. By comparing the star with its neighbors, its brightness can be measured.

Over time, women analyzing these plates understood the photographic plates and their limitations and became highly qualified in obtaining information from them.

To achieve this, they had to learn some astronomical science, and over time their work taught them much more, leading them to ask their own scientific questions and become researchers.

In most places, this development was little encouraged or even discouraged, but in other places, such as Harvard College, things were different.

The result was women making important and fundamental contributions to astronomy, some of which are still at the core of astrophysics.

For example, Henrietta Leavitt discovered a special class of variable stars, called Cepheids, after the first being discovered, Delta Cephei. These stars alternate periodically in brightness, and the cycle time tells us how bright this star is.

So we can look at a distant galaxy, find Cepheid or two, measure the time of their cycle and how clearly they look and calculate how far this galaxy is. She gave us a ruler to measure the universe.

One of the great efforts was to create a star classification system. After gathering and assembling a large number of observations, Annie Jump Cannon assembled them into a system we use today.

Then Cecilia Payne showed that the system simply arranged the stars in descending temperature.

These women and others have contributed significantly to astronomy and are recognized for them.

Last thing Beatrix Potter was interested in all natural sciences other than astronomy. Maybe it was her big mistake.

  • Mars is in the southwest after dark.
  • Jupiter lies low in the south in the sky,
  • Saturn is on the left
  • Venus shines brightly, low at dawn dawn.
  • The moon will be new in 6th place.

February 25, 2019 / 11:00 | Story:

One of the images sent by the Chinese Longjiang-2 spacecraft shows, on the opposite side of the Moon, a blue marble with white clouds, a monochrome, heavily sliced ​​disc, and Earth at a distance.

It is difficult for both objects to look so different because they have so much in common. Although the moon is one of the simplest objects to be observed, it is one of the most serious.

First, it's big. It has an average of 3,475 km, compared to Earth 12,756. The moon's diameter is over a quarter of the Earth.

There are larger moons in the solar system, like the four largest moons of Jupiter or Titan, the largest moon of Saturn.

However, Jupiter and Saturn are huge planets, and their largest moons are less than four percent of the orbiting planets. This has led to the Earth-Moon system being often referred to as the "double planet".

The question is still open as this arrangement came into being.

The Solar System came about 4.5 billion years ago from the collapse of the cloud of dust and gas. It formed a rotating, diminishing disk, with a large piece forming in the middle, which became the sun.

In the surrounding disk, smaller disks formed with the planets to build in their centers, and their moons from what remained in their birth disks. This approach always leads – as far as we know – to a large piece with lots of small lumps that circulate around it.

This mechanism nicely explains the moon systems of the other planets, and of course the solar system itself, but not the planet Earth-Moon.

The moon should be much smaller than it is.

The idea of ​​getting a lot of attention at this point is that the planet was in the process of forming when another planet hit it for many kilometers per second. Both bodies were pulverized and formed a spinning cloud of dust and fragments that eventually collapsed to form two bodies, the Earth and the Moon.

This could also explain why the orbit of the Moon is around the Earth at an angle to the plane in which the Earth and other planets orbit the Sun.

The earth and the moon probably originated essentially from the same mixture of ingredients. But as the Earth and the Moon emanated as hot, molten rock balls, the Earth had enough mass to hang gravitationally on its atmosphere and water vapor in it.

The moon, less massive and weaker gravity, could not, and its atmosphere was lost into space. So today it is almost airless, dry rock ball that bakes during the lunar day and freezes at night.

When the moon's interior was still a soft, somewhat stronger gravity thrust on the Earth's side than the lunar move on the far side, it pulled the moon out of shape, making it slightly oval with a long axis pointing toward Earth.

This continual change in shape, when the Moon was rotated, turned into the Moon's energy to rotate to heat and slowed down such rotation until the Moon eventually became locked, with the same side of the Moon facing Earth all the time, like two swirling dancers holding hands and they faced each other.

There's another monthly puzzle. Our moon side consists of old, cratered areas and huge plains of huge lava flows. They are darker than the surrounding terrain and form the familiar face of "man on the moon".

The side facing the Earth has much smaller lava plains and is mostly craters. We do not yet have a good theory as to why both sides of the moon are so different. It is interesting to think that today, when examining the depths of space and time, there is still much we do not know about the Moon.

  • Mercury, the nearest planet to the sun, is low after sunset.
  • Mars is in the southwest after dark.
  • Jupiter lies low in the south in the heavenly sky
  • Saturn is to the left of Jupiter.
  • Venus shines in September.
  • The month reaches the 26th quarter.

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