Thursday, July 2, 2015

New sundial and planets model in Givaataim

I am very enthusiast about sundials and even helped the Israeli postal service to design a series of stamps about sundials in the past. Therefore, I was very happy to be invited to the inauguration of a new sundial in Israel. The sundial is located in "Gan-Haaliya" in Givaataim (Golomb st.) in a large garden surrounding the city observatory and is dedicated to the memory of Tal Izsak who was one of the guides in the observatory.
The sundial was built by the designer and artist Yoav Shavit with technical consulting of Eden Orion (Both sites are in Hebrew). It is hard to make new kinds of sundial but it is still possible, at first glance this array of poles don't look like a sundial at all!


But the secret is found out as you get nearer. Each pole is directed toward a different spot in the sky and when the sun reaches that spot a shadow with the correct hour will appear on the grass below. Here is the hour eleven.


Eleven o'clock
Eleven o'clock
A few words about Tal before we will go on with the clock. Tal Izsak (23.06.1981 - 12.09.2012) was one of the guides in the local observatory and volunteered in the Israel Astronomical Association (IAA). I met Tal during a public observation in 2007 when I was a newbie and just stood beside him to understand how to operate a telescope. Here is a photo of Tal during an observation. Tal was always happy with a big smile, taking care of the telescope and ready to explain everything to the watchers - children and adults.

Tal Iszak. Photo: Ella Ratz
Tal Iszak. Photo: Ella Ratz

The special design of the sundial (Which is called a time field) cause for some overlapping between the hours and in 11:30 you will see partial shade from both the 11 pole and the 12 pole. The purpose of the time filed is not to give an accurate measurement of the time, but as many modern sundials are, to be a design-element in the urban area.


Here is the hour 11 from below
hour 11 from below
hour 11 o'clock from below

A partial shade of 10 means that we are already past 10

A partial shade of 10
A partial shade of 10


The time field
The time field

A bit later at 12
12 o'clock
12 o'clock


12 o'clock
12 o'clock


And here is the artist next to his work
Yoav Shavit and the time field
Yoav Shavit and the time field

The time field is just the first part of the dedication project. From the time filed and along a 200m path a model of the solar system was built. The big half circle in the photo above is actually the sun and each meter in the walking path represents 45 million KM in the solar system. In the relative distance of the planets a concrete pillar with some details about the planet was placed. Here is a photo for the Earth pillar. The small circle in the top of the column is the relative size of the earth to the sun. The concrete for each pillar was created specifically with the correct and required colors. The pillars are not painted, the concrete itself is with the right color.


The pillar for planet Earth
The pillar for planet Earth
The new time filed and planets path are great examples of how to add scientific elements to our urban surrounding. If you happen to be in the area, jump to take a look.










Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jupiter and Venus Conjunction

One of the most interesting events coming in 2015's summer will be the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. These two bright planets can already be seen clearly in the west just after sunset. Venus is brighter and lower than Jupiter, and they get closer every day!
These planets are the brightest objects in the sky except for the sun and the moon. A conjunction between them is not rare, but such a close encounter does not happen very often. Here are links to photos from the 2012 conjunction 2012 and from the 2008 conjunction.

New photos!
New photos from the event itself 30/06/2015
I started in daylight and here are the two. Jupiter is a small orange ball and Venus shape is visible

Daylight Venus and Jupiter 30/06/2015
Daylight Venus and Jupiter 30/06/2015


The next two photos showing Venus and Jupiter through a telescope. It was amazing to see them both in the same field of view. Jupiter with its strips and moons and the thin crescent of Venus. In the photograph however I had to choose the exposure. A long exposure to get Jupiter's moons and a short exposure to get the shape of the crescent. So I took two
Venus and Jupiter through a telescope 30/06/2015
Venus and Jupiter through a telescope 30/06/2015
Venus and Jupiter through a telescope 30/06/2015
Venus and Jupiter through a telescope 30/06/2015

 OK, Saturn is always beautiful so why not take a photo of him as well?

Saturn
Saturn
I invited friends to see the wonders of the sky. Many arrived to see the conjunction, Saturn and the almost full moon. What a splendid evening!!!



These phots are from June 29 2015! Enjoy and scroll down to see the differnce of just one day!


Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015

You can clearly see Jupiter's moons in this photo!
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015

Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015

Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015

Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015

Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015
Venus and Jupiter 29/6/2015

And notice the differece in just one day
Jupiter and Venus 28/6/2015
Jupiter and Venus 28/6/2015

Jupiter and Venus 28/6/2015
Jupiter and Venus 28/6/2015



Jupiter and Venus are the brightest planets, and way back in the past, on June 17th, 2 BC, their conjunction made them so close together, just 40 arc-seconds apart, that they seemed as a single, very bright star, which might be the origin of the "Star of Bethlehem" (although there are other astronomical theories for this star, such as a Supernova, a comet or other conjunctions). Look at the Illustration below. An observer looking through his telescope at a 100x magnification, would have seen this incredible sight. Venus is closer to Jupiter than Jupiter's moons, and is just a little bit smaller than Jupiter. Jupiter's angular size is 32" and Venus's is only 25". This is indeed a sight not often seen! An even more spectacular conjunction will be on 22-Nov-2065, when Venus will actually go in front of Jupiter, obscuring a little part of it. Unfortunately Jupiter and Venus will be only 7 degrees from the Sun so the chances to see it are near to zero. The next occultation will be in 2123, a bit too far in the future for most of us.

Venus and Jupiter conjunction 2 BC illustration
Venus and Jupiter conjunction 2 BC illustration
The current conjunction will not be as close as that of 2BC and the planets will be seen as two, but very close to each other. The first event to notice is on 13/6 when Venus will pass near the Beehive cluster (M44). Even a small binoculars will be suffice to see it. The next interesting event will be on 20/6/2015 when the new moon will join the pair to create a triple conjunction.

The moon Venus and Jupiter 20-Jun-2015
The moon Venus and Jupiter 20-Jun-2015

The moon Venus and Jupiter 20-Jun-2015
The moon Venus and Jupiter 20-Jun-2015
And a short (17sec) time lapse of 18 minutes



Here is my own photo of Venus and M44 taken from a really light polluted area and yet, the cluster is visible
Venus and M44
Venus and M44

Look at the illustration below. The little cloud below Venus is M44 and it also demonstrates how fast Venus moves.
Venus,Jupiter, the moon and M44 20/6/2015 Illustration
Venus,Jupiter, the moon and M44 20/6/2015 Illustration
The nearest conjunction will be 10 days later on 30/6 with a distance of a third of a degree (22 arc-minutes). This is less than the diameter of the moon. If you have a telescope, you can use a magnification in which you can still see the entire moon to include both planets in the same field of view. If you don't have a telescope don't worry! Many people will photograph the pair and beautiful pictures are expected.
One day later (July 1st 2015) the distance will be greater, but still less than half a degree. The distance will increase with every passing day as the pair will continue to move, each in its own celestial orbit.

Updated photos 18-Jun-2015!


New moon Venus and Jupiter 18/6/2015
New moon Venus and Jupiter 18/6/2015

New moon Venus and Jupiter 18/6/2015
New moon Venus and Jupiter 18/6/2015

Venus Jupiter and Leo constellation
Venus Jupiter and Leo constellation
Venus Jupiter and Leo constellation

Here are two photos taken three weeks apart which show how the distance is getting smaller.


Jupiter Venus and the moon 21/5/2015
Jupiter Venus and the moon 21/5/2015

Jupiter Venus and the moon 9/6/2015
Jupiter Venus and the moon 9/6/2015


The following song was a big hit in Israel and you will enjoy it even without understanding the words. Its name is "Milky way Ballad " and here is my freestyle translation for it.

Milky way Ballad
Venus send a smile to Jupiter
Hey Jupiter, lets go out
A cappuccino cup in the Milky way
And drop by Cassiopeia
Grab the dipper, little or big
This night is terrific
It's quite a bit, Jupiter and Venus alone
Going out hand in hand 
hand in hand in the heavens...
Lets jump for an hour to the north star
With a light breeze blowing
Just don't be like Plato
Those I do not like
Without a notice, on the tail of a comet,
we will sit for a moment
It's quite a bit...
Jupiter and Venus going higher
The stars wink to them
And Orion said without doubts
What a couple
And only Mars become jealousy red
She will leave him soon in the future...

Monday, June 22, 2015

Carnival of space #411


Hello everybody and welcome to the #411 edition of "Carnival of Space". Many things happen in space all the time and here are some of the best astronomy and space articles from around the globe! 


Carnival of space #411
Carnival of space #411


Do you like to see Iridiums' flares? I surly do, and David from UniverseToday tells about the new generation of these communication satellites which unfortunately will not flare very well.

The biggest event of July in space is undoubtedly the arrival of New Horizons to Pluto after more than ten years! Nancy from  UT sends us a new Video which Will Get You Excited for New Horizons’ Pluto Encounter (as if you already aren’t…).

Zain from brownspaceman also likes Pluto and share with us some unknown facts about it: Pluto is absolutely fascinating! Here are my top 5 favorite things about Pluto!
  

Paul from The Meridian Journal And a new mission is on the way to investigate alien ocean: all systems go for new NASA mission to Europa

Paul also sends us an article about Mars: Methane discovered in Martian meteorites: a clue to possible life?

Joe from SpaceFlightInsider goes way beyond the solar system: Using a new technique on Kepler data, astronomers are able to determine the mass and density of exo-planets smaller in size than the Earth. The method uses Other planets in the system to look at changes in the planet's motion as it passes in front of its parent star.


The following articles are by Brian from NextBigFuture
Beyond Earth, Jupiter’s moon Europa is considered one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for signs of present-day life, and a new NASA mission to explore this potential is moving forward from concept review to development.

NASA’s mission concept -- to conduct a detailed survey of Europa and investigate its habitability -- has successfully completed its first major review by the agency and now is entering the development phase known as formulation.

The mission plan calls for a spacecraft to be launched to Jupiter in the 2020s, arriving in the distant planet’s orbit after a journey of several years. 

And also on Exoplanets
 A team of astronomers has measured the mass and size of the smallest exoplanet yet, a Mars-sized planet named Kepler-138b orbiting a red dwarf star about 200 light years from our solar system. Kepler-138b is the first exoplanet smaller than the Earth to have both its mass and its size measured. Kepler-138b is one of three planets that orbit the star Kepler-138 and that pass in front of it -- or transit -- on every orbit. Each time a planet transits the star, it blocks a small fraction of the star's light, allowing astronomers to measure the size of the planet. All three Kepler planets were identified by NASA's Kepler mission, which has discovered over a thousand planets around other stars. This video shows a mass-radius diagram based on measurements of 127 exoplanets. The video begins by showing a range of planets with masses up to that of Jupiter's, then gradually zooms toward the smaller masses and radii to display a comparison of the physical properties of the Kepler-138 planets relative to Earth, Venus, Mars and Mercury. Fifteen years ago the first exoplanet that was found was 3000 times larger than Kepler 138b. [Via Centauri Dreams]

Adam Savage shares the story of his Star Trek Captain's Chair, which he became obsessed with building from scratch after acquiring an insufficient replica. With the help of friend Jeremy Williams, Adam spends a day wiring in the electronics to bring his new Enterprise command chair to life. After much problem solving and troubleshooting, the effort pays off in a big way.

And of course, go out in the evening and look west to see Venus and Jupiter together. I've added many new photos to the article from last week
The new moon Venus and Jupiter 18-June-2015
And a video of the moon Vens and jupiter setting

This is all for this week, Thanks for being with us

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Missile launch from Israel

The Israeli Ministry of of Defense (MOD) announced that an experimental rocket was launched from Israel this morning. The exact purpose of the experiment are unknown but it seems to be similar to the defensive system "Iron Dome" which is able to intercept hostile rockets.
Israel was and still is under a major threat of rockets from Gaza strip, Lebanon and Iran and is known for its sophisticated defense systems which saved the life of many.
I saw it on my way to work, at first I notice someone who stopped at the side and photograph the skies so out of interest I stooped as well (On a safe place!) and looked myself. Which I saw it few seconds earlier.

 
ניסוי טילים
ניסוי טילים
Personally I am hoping for a peaceful future with many civilian launches from Israel that we will know about in advance and can watch them safely just as NASA notify each launch.