The image above is a color composite I created combining 6 hand drawn black and white images, each by a different astronomer, of a total solar eclipse which occurred on July 18th 1860. Although photography already existed at the time of this eclipse it was nowhere near precise enough to make truly useful astronomical observations. The astronomers who recorded it continued on with the method of hand drawing observations, which they’d employed long before the invention of the telescope, let alone the upstart photography. This particular eclipse was special in that the drawings are now thought to be the first known representations of a coronal mass ejection. See below for the original images, which are beautiful in their own right, and a bit more info.

09.10. filed under: science. space. 9

Quote, “Some stars undergo a natural process that generates acoustic waves similar to those produced by wind instruments. The gas inside the star contracts and expands, which leads to a heating and cooling cycle. This periodic change in temperature alters the star’s light intensity, and astronomers can detect the resulting pulse patterns with telescopes. Kolláth and Keuler use this data as a basis for their music, but after one critical adjustment: Since the frequencies of star sounds are much too low for humans to hear, the team uses a computer program to shift the pitches by as many as 30 octaves—over four times the difference between the highest and lowest notes on a piano. So essentially, stars produce sound waves that appear visually as patterns of light, which are then translated into music.” Seed story on astrophysicist Zoltán Kolláth and composer Jenő Keuler’s Stellar Music Project.

Related: space sounds, space audio, ESA sounds from space, space weather vlf receiver, listening to leonids, sounds from space: sonification applications, NPR The Musical Sounds of Space, and the sounds of Titan.

12.10. filed under: bits&bytes. space.

Russell William Porter (1871-1949) was an architect, explorer, mapmaker, watercolorist, and pioneer in the field of “cutaway illustration.” As though this were not an impressive enough skill-set Porter was also an ameture astronomer and telescope builder, sometimes referred to as the “founder of amateur telescope making.” It was presumably this wonderful intersection of talents which lead astronomer George E. Hale to recruit him to work on the design of the 200-inch telescope on Mt. Palomar (for a time the largest telescope on earth). During its conceptual development Porter produced 19 beautiful drawings of the instrument, which amazingly (considering their technical depth and exactitude) were all done before the telescope was actually constructed using only blueprints as a guide. The Prime Focus, from this set, is pictured above.


One of the long-running challenges faced by proponents of space exploration has been finding compelling reasons to sell such efforts—particularly big-ticket government programs—to the general public. This is a challenge because in the United States there are few coherent attitudes about space. The prevailing attitude might best be classified as apathy. Jeff Foust of The Space Review talks a bit about a recent forum held on Capitol Hill: What’s the value of space? This is one of those questions that literally boggles the mind. For those of us who view space the way others might view… well… God, it’s hard to even frame a response. So what is the value of space? I’d love to hear how all of you would answer that question. If you’re not too shy or apathetic why not answer in comments?

Further space linkage for today:

NASA offers Planet Quest, the search for another earth (flash presentation)  which rounds up information on 8 separate up-coming missions. Here is the homepage.

NASA’s Constellation Program is “getting to work on the new spacecraft that will return humans to the moon and blaze a trail to Mars and beyond.” Here is a nifty flash presentation.

After a decade’s work, physicists are flying an antimatter observatory. PAMELA.

They all see it. It comes and goes. Could it be that it’s alive? From clues to hypotheses, the forensic investigation of the dark dune spots of Mars. Via.

Lastly, a nice alphabetical way to browse the major space artifacts on display in the National Air and Space Museum.

06.20. filed under: link dump. space. 5

There are one hundred billion stars in the Milky Way
and not one is star-shaped. -Hans Hollein.

05.28. filed under: !. observations. space.

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