Friday, April 29, 2016

Yellow Dwarf Star, Our Beautiful Sun.

Our yellow dwarf star, the Sun. Image source
Trying to find a subject beginning with"Y" was looking like quite a challenge when I got to work this morning but I still had to deal with the letter "X" so I didn't spend too much time thinking about it. After publishing the "X" post I had to get back to work, things were a bit hectic. Later on things calmed down and I had a little time to search for some "Space" subject beginning with the letter "Y". The first thing that popped up was Yellow Dwarf Star and lo and behold, Our sun is a Yellow Dwarf. I've heard this before so was not too surprised about the fact and decided this was the star I wanted to write about, I haven't written about our sun yet so here goes.
Believe it or not our sun is one of the brightest stars in the Milky-way being brighter than about 85% of the stars. Most stars in the Milky-way are known as red dwarfs with only about 5% of the stars in our galaxy being bigger than the sun. One wonders why they would call it a dwarf if almost everything else is smaller than our sun. It's known to be a very hot and young star with temperatures reaching as high as 15.7 million degrees centigrade in the center. The light, and of course the heat from the sun takes just a little over eight minutes to reach us. We are quite a long way from the sun, for which I'm actually grateful, 150 000 000 kilometers.
The sun has this eleven year cycle it goes through with sunspots and coronal mass ejections appearing when it's most active and being almost uniform when it's at it's most peaceful. We are told that the sun comprises mostly Hydrogen which is changed into Helium through nuclear processes. This process which creates sunlight and warmth, which is completely free by the way, is what has sustained all life on this little world ever since God created it. Thank you Lord.
People have known just how important the sun is for a few years now, they have even built entire societies and civilizations worshiping it and in some instances gotten into a whole lot of trouble for that. God got quite annoyed with the Egyptians, the Israelites and a few other wayward peoples. Worship God, not the sun silly people.
There is a very well written and interesting article in Universe Today about the sun that is well worth taking a look at.
Well it's once again time for me to get back to work. Blessings to everyone and have a fantastic weekend, Geoff.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X-ray Telescope

The Chandra X-ray Space Telescope. Image Source
Some times scientists use different types of telescopes to view what is going on in the Universe, there are Radio Telescopes, Optical Telescopes, Gama ray Telescopes and then there is something that sees in x ray vision, the Chandra X-ray Space Telescope. The reason for all these different methods is because not everything can be seen with the naked eye. You can't see electricity but it's there, no doubt about it. You can't see X-rays either but they are also there, that's why you can get pictures of your bone structure without seeing or feeling anything, but there they are.
Yesterday was a public holiday in South Africa and therefore I was not at work nor could I publish a post for the "X" letter in this April Challenge. I did however hear some, in my opinion,stupid person saying that if he can't see something or feel it then he doesn't believe in it. There was a discussion going on about the reality of the existence of God. I thought "How stupid can you get?" Mankind has been around for thousands of years but only discovered the ability to use X-rays about a hundred years or so ago. And once we started using this new found invisible and unfelt energy that has been affecting mankind for millennia we started looking for ways to utilize it. This has taken some of the keenest minds but the results have proven to be spectacular.
Now, getting back to the stupid conversation I mentioned before; Jeremiah 29 verse 13 states, "If you look for me you will find me, if you seek me with all your heart and all your soul I will let you find me." Wouldn't you think that all those people who spend their whole lives searching for ways to explore the universe with energy source detectors that haven't been been utilized before would take just a little time to seek God, the true source of all these energies including the very life force that has allowed them to spend so much time looking at the way the Universe works? Man, some people are so sure of their own brilliance, it really annoys me no end. Anyway enough about stupidity, lets get back to "X."
The Earth's atmosphere is opaque to X-rays so any observatory must first be lifted into orbit beyond the atmosphere. These observatories are there to observe far off objects in a spectrum that isn't visible to other telescopes. How these telescopes work is a bit different to other telescopes in that the light isn't passed through a lens but instead reflected off angled mirrors to a collector. very clever and interesting.
how things work. Image source
I need to get back to work again. We have an exhibition stand going up in Cape Town today and these people are stressing me out big time. I'm not there, I'm still in Johannesburg a thousand miles away and as far as I know everything went down with the truck. Man, this job can be very trying :)
Anyway here's to more time with God and less time stressing. Blessings and love to all, Geoff.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Wind Space craft

the wind spacecraft, image source
I've never even heard of this Spacecraft before but what I've learned about it's mission has fascinated and enthralled me. This spin stabilized spacecraft was launched in 1994 by Nasa and put into an orbital point between the sun and Earth where the gravity of each of the two bodies counteract each other in such a way that the spacecraft can orbit in conjunction with both bodies. This point is called a Lagrangian point. The reason for doing this was so scientists could study the radio and plasma goings on before they reach our magnetosphere.
Very interesting. This little spacecraft is still there doing it's thing and revealing some very interesting characteristics of what is going on ahead of our bow wave, magnetic bow wave that is.
I have known about our magnetospherical bow wave for a long time now but always thought it was relatively uniform with not much interesting going on there, wow, was I wrong.
Just look at all those squiggly waves. Image source
  You have probably seen representations of what this bow wave looks like at some time in you life and how they protect you from the radiation given off by the sun but they didn't look anything like this. The Wind spacecraft has been studying these waves now for more than twenty years and helping scientist to understand how some waves and particles get through this shock wave and how some just get turned around and sent off at huge velocities.
I highly recommend a bit of delving into this tiny crafts accomplishments, there is quite a lot written about this data in scientific journals. It does make fascination reading.
When I got home last night I was chatting to my daughter about writing blog posts about space. I turned to her and said, "What on earth does one write about space starting with the letter "W"? Without batting an eyelid she said Wall-E. I was as surprised as can be, I didn't even think about writing about a movie. I told her that I'd never even seen the movie Wall-E and she replied that we could watch it while having dinner, she has the DVD and so while eating grilled vegetables and chops we watched Wall-E.
Pixar's Wall-E image source
I did enjoy the movie but found it a bit disturbing in some respects, the fat people and the sadness of Wall-e got to me.
I decided not to write about it but instead decided to write about the Wind spacecraft, a lot less disturbing in my opinion and far more fascinating.
God has put this huge unseen bubble around Earth to ensure that we are protected from any disaster that could come from outer space, thank you Lord.
From me to you, blessings and good health, Geoff in South Africa.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Venus, the goddess of love.

Lonely Venus image source

Venus is the second brightest object in the night sky being outshone by the moon only. The planet is also the second planet out from the sun and is also very close in size to Earth. The atmosphere of Venus is, would you believe, Sulfuric acid. I'm not sure I would want to go sky diving there. Sulfuric acid is the stuff they put in your car battery, yuk! 
You may also know Venus as the evening star but it is also known as the morning star. I think that has something to do with Venus' orbital speed. It's the hottest planet in our solar system with temperatures at about 465 degrees centigrade, water boils at 100 degrees.

Venus is also a lonely little planet not having any companion moons but because of the extremely high temperatures and caustic atmosphere bringing her help in the form of human space craft doesn't really work. Anything that lands on Venus only lasts for a few hours before being destroyed.
In the Bible the planet was known as the Queen of Heaven and in the book of Jeremiah the Israelites Become defiant and say they will still pour out drink offerings to the queen of heaven. Well we know very well what happened next. Not a good idea.
Blessings from South Africa, Geoff.  

Monday, April 25, 2016

Ursa Minor and the North star.

Ursa Minor's tail, Polaris. Image source

On Friday when I left the office for the weekend I left my dongle on my desk, the result, no internet over the weekend, rats! I came in this morning and started writing straight away with the letter "T" for Titan. But I'm one day behind at this stage so now need to write about the letter U and what what astronomical body begins with that letter. I first read up on Ursa Minor, you will probably know it as the little dog or the little dipper. It's not visible from the Southern Hemisphere, only in the north but it is a very important constellation. This constellation has been used for navigation for eons. The first reference to it comes from 1000 BC. It was used by the Babylonians who apparently got the idea from the Phoneticians. Apparently the bright star at the end of the handle in the little dipper is Polaris, the north star. Useful for navigation but not so useful in very high latitudes.  Because Polaris is directly above there is no way to decide which way is which.
As far as the Bible is concerned the star Polaris isn't specifically mentioned but as of last year astronomers have found that Polaris is getting brighter and they don't really know why. One of the things mentioned by Jesus is the behavior of the stars when the end times are near, that could be what is going on, I'm not sure though.
Blessings from Geoff in South Africa.

Titan, the second largest moon in our solar system.

The Huygens probe lands on Titan. Image source
In my previous post I wrote about Saturn and how beautiful this planet is. Well, Titan is the largest moon orbiting Saturn and was visited by the Cassini space craft carrying the European space agency built Huygens probe which was released and then descended by parachute to the surface of Titan. The picture shown here is obviously an artists representation of the landing process, unfortunately I wasn't there with my camera :)
This is the first time any craft from Earth has landed on Titan. While descending it took samples of the atmosphere and photographs, the results were beamed back to Earth for analysis. Titan is the only natural satellite known to have it's own atmosphere with clear evidence of :stable: liquid bodies, Methane I think. It's a rather cold little world with temperatures being about minus 180 degrees Celsius. Titan is kind of like our moon in that it is tidally locked with Saturn, it shows the same face to Saturn in much the same way as our moon always shows the same face to us. It's bigger than our moon and takes just a little under 16 days to orbit Saturn, our moon takes about 28 days to orbit Earth, not quite twice as long.
Titan has captured the interest of scientists for centuries now having been discovered by Christiaan Huygens in 1655 but wasn't named as Titan until 1847 by John Herschel in his publication Results of astronomical observations made at the Cape Of Good Hope.  
Titan in orbit around Saturn. Image source


Titan was eventually named after one of the Greek myths about the gods who reigned during the legendary golden age. Today we know who reigns supreme, the one and only God.
Blessings from Geoff in South Africa, home of the Cape of Good hope.