Saturday, 28 February 2009

Interesting Lectures - Part 3

So this amazingly long running two part series finally continues with a third piece!

Continuing from the last part is part 10/27 from Richard A. Muller's Physics for future Presidents course at UC Berkely, and this particular one is on Gravity and Satellites. Almost all the physics here is pretty basic, but is laid out in such a way as to make it easy to understand the concepts involved. Richard Muller does it particularly well, and even if you're already aware of everything contained therein, it's still an enjoyable watch.

Friday, 27 February 2009

The Classic DSO - M42

The Orion Nebula, Messier object designation M42 is one of the brightest nebulae in the sky, and under good conditions is visible even to the naked eye. It's the closest region of star formation to us at roughly 1500 lightyears distance and is an object of regular study due to playing host to stars in varying stages of stellar evolution, as well as what appear to be infant solar systems (or proplyds).

It's also a popular target for astrophotographers as it is very easy to locate, and because of the aforementioned inherent brightnes, which means that even short exposures will reveal colourful nebulosity. Thus it was one of the first things I took an image of after equipping for astrophotography, and after some experimentation out in the cold under dark skies the end result was the following:

Click on the above image to view a bigger version.

The picture was taken with an unguided William Optics Flt-98 refractor at prime focus using a Nikon D70 DSLR and is a stack of 40 minutes worth of 30s exposures taken at ISO1600. The frames were captured under a moonlit sky, so not ideal conditions admittedly, but it's always worth a try!

Unseen here in the overexposed core of the nebula is a very young open cluster known as the Trapezium because of the configuration of its four brightest stars. Above the main nebula can also be faintly seen NGC1973/5/7, The Running Man, which is a blue reflection nebula that is part of the same massive molecular cloud complex as M42.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Getting the blog breathing again

After almost nine months of neglect I'm hoping to get back to regular updates on Protostronomy once again. For a multitude of reasons I ended up letting the blog fall silent back in June of last year, the least impressive perhaps being a simple case of the lazies. However, fuelled by ample amounts of coffee, and new machinery with which to provide a steady supply thereof, new articles will be appearing.

After all this time I've certainly not come across a shortage of material, so here is a brief rundown of a couple of things i'd like to get going regularly on the blog on top of the usual in the near future; Firsly I intend to continue with the Intersting Lectures series, of which only two parts were previously posted. There is so much information floating around on the inside of flash videos nowdays that I don't anticipate any huge issues in keeping this a regular thing. Secondly I'll be writing up infrequent articles on astronomical objects from the perspective of an amateur astrophotographer, and the revelations that have frequently been realised in the process of attempting to actually find and capture the blighters.

A new breath then, hopefully the first in a long line of many!