Sunday, October 30, 2011


     During this observation session, several constellations were identified.  One that I found particularly easier to find than the others was Sagittarius, probably because of the teapot.   I was also able to see M11 again, which I think is pretty cool.  One thing I was unable to spot was the Andromeda Galaxy, however, some of my friends had success at this.  I also have gotten good at spotting Jupiter, and I now can recognize it even when I'm by myself.

Monday, October 24, 2011

APOD 1.8

Clouds of Perseus
     The constellation Perseuscontains the California Nebula which contains atomic hydrogen gas and the blue star Xi Persei.  In addition to the California Nebula, it also contains the Flying Ghost Nebula.  These dust clouds are hundreds of light years above the galactic plane and they reflect light from our Milky Way galaxy.
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Friday, October 14, 2011

APOD 1.7

The Color of IC 1795
     IC 1795 is a region that forms stars in the constellation Cassiopeia.  This picture of IC 1795 shows the dust clouds and glowing gas.  The red color comes from the narrow filter which only transmits the red light of hydrogen atoms.  IC 1795 is located near IC 1805 also known as the Hear Nebula and belongs to a group of star forming regions that are located on the edge of a molecular cloud.  IC 1795 is a little over 6,000 light-years away and spans 70 light-years across. 

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gian Cassini: Biography

     Gian Domenico Cassini was born on June eighth in 1625 in Perinaldo.  Originally given the name Giovanni Cassini by his parents, he changed his name twice throughout his life. After studying in Vallebone, Cassini attended the Jesuit College in Genoa where he studied poetry, math, and astronomy under Casselli. At first, he was interested in astrology as a career, but he soon decided that it was too unpredictable.  In 1644 a senator from Bologna with a passion for astrology offered Cassini a job at the Panzano Observatory.  There he learned a lot from the famed scientists Giovanni Riccioli and Francesco Grimaldi (discoverer of diffraction).  At age twenty five, he became a professor at a university in Bologna where he used telescopes to make planetary observations.  He discovered the flattening of Jupiter, he also concluded this about Earth through his measurement of the arc of the meridian.  Among other things, Cassini observed comets between 1672 and 1707.  He is also known for publishing tables that predicted eclipses of Jupiter’s moons (1668) that were useful to many people.
He moved to Paris, France in 1669 to become part of the renowned Academie des Sciences because Kind Louis XIV invited him.  In 1671 he  became director of the Observatoire de Paris.  In 1673 he officially became a French citizen and adopted his French name Jean Dominique Cassini.  Before moving to Paris, Cassini made many important contributions to astronomy.  He discovered what is known today as the Cassini Division which is the gap between Saturn’s rings A and B.  He also discovered Saturn’s moons.  In addition to these discoveries he also predicted the rotational periods of Jupiter and Mars.  His measurements were later used by Danish astronomer Olaus Romer to calculate the speed of light.  While in Paris at the observatory he became director of a group of astronomers called the Paris School.  In 1673 he married the daughter of an advisor to the king and had two children with her.  His son, Jacques Cassini became an astronomer and also worked at the Paris Observatory.  Later, Cassini’s grandson and great grandson also became astronomers.  Unfortunately, in 1711 Cassini went blind and died in Paris shortly after(1712).
Cassini lived a fairly long life and was very accomplished in astronomy; so accomplished in fact that even today he is still well known.  NASA named a Saturn orbiter and a region on Saturn’s moon Iapetus after him.  However, Cassini was not only accomplished in the field of astronomy; he also worked fervently in hydraulics and engineering.  He was consulted in 1657 in hydraulics regarding the River Reno in order to help settle a dispute between two Italian cities.  Also, in Italy in 1665 he was named Superintendent of waters.  Although the Pope wanted Cassini to permanently work for him, Cassini’s heart was not in it and he decided to remain teaching astronomy and mathematics because that is where his true passion was.  Throughout his career, Cassini was well known for his brilliance in astronomy and good reputation as a scientist.

Friday, October 7, 2011

APOD 1.6

Dark Matter Movie from the Bolshoi Simulation:
     The Bolshoi Cosmological Simulation allows us to simulate a flight through the universe seeing dark matter.  This computer shows us what the beginning of the universe may have looked like because it shows different parts of dark matter such as a microwave background.  Dark matter may contain normal galaxies or clusters of galaxies.  The Bolshoi simulation is thought to be a reliable source of information because it is in agreement with the regular sky maps of today.  The Bolshoi simulation supports the theories of dark matter but we still do not know the composition of dark matter or the nature of it.  Scientists hope to use this simulation to explain how galaxies and other objects in the universe have changed since the Big Bang.