Plasma Protection From Sun Burn.

I was just reading an MIT article on how the Earth has a plasma shield that protects it from Solar storms

Scientists and MIT and NASA where observing the magnetosphere when they noticed that when the Earth’s magnetic field comes into contact with the sun’s magnetic field the protection gets even stronger.
This  region scientists call the “merging point,” forms an extra barrier around us and slows the harmful radiation from the Sun and forces it into a plasma river.
Every time I read something like this is just makes me realize how beautifully fragile our little planet is.  A delicate balance of cosmic forces keeping us alive an self destructive as every.  It makes you wonder if everyone knows how close to catastrophe the Earth is every day.
I think Griffith Jenkins Griffith, famous in Los Angeles for donating Griffith Park and creating the Griffith Observatory in the park, stated it best when he said “Man’s sense of values ought to be revised. If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world!”

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Silence Falls.

For those of you that are Dr. Who fans, the title might have some extra meaning, but I am referring to the strange and sudden silence of the Sun.

The Sun has a cyclic period of activity that normally repeats every 11 years or so.  We are currently in solar cycle 24 of the modern era.

Solar flare

Not only are we in this cycle, but we are at solar maximum, where the most activity by the Sun usually occurs.  Lots of sunspots, flares, coronal mass ejections and the like.

But apart from the odd event, like some recent solar flares, the Sun has been very quiet.  The drop off in activity is happening very quickly, and scientists are now watching closely to see if activity will continue to decline.  The last time that the Sun was this quiet was in the 17th century, in a period known as the Maunder Minimum.

An analysis of ice-cores, which hold a long-term record of solar activity, suggests the decline in activity is the fastest that has been seen in 10,000 years.

Why would another Maunder Minimum be bad?  Well the last time this happened, the world, but especially Europe because of the effects this type of event has on the jet stream, entered into a mini ice age.  This could be a bad thing or a good thing depending on how it plays out.  Due to man made climate change, this new Maunder Minimum could be a lot more severe which would affect agriculture and other food supply areas.  On the other hand, the polar ice caps have been melting at an alarming rate and this event would probably restore them.  There isn’t enough data to figure out what is happening or what the results will be, but in a few years we may be bundling up here in Southern California for the harsh winters.  Dang, that would mean I’d have to move farther south.  So let’s just hope this isn’t a run up to another ice age.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Oh, The Places We’ve Been (https://plus.google.com/+KevinGill/posts/bGA7kwn48f5)

I found this amazing graphic (below) that shows where humans have ventured from the planet.

Kevin Gill used his very own creation, the Orbit Viewer WebGL, and data from the NASA/JPL Horizons ephemeris.

First, the program is very impressive itself (props to Kevin) and the graphics are incredible.

If you would like to play with Kevin’s program you can check it out here.  It is really amazing.

You can find the original article here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I can see clearly now.

On July 17, 2013, NASA’s Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, or IRIS, spacecraft opened its spectrographic eyes to gaze at the heretofor unseen lowest layers of the sun’s atmosphere.

http://iris.lmsal.com/press/firstlight/iris_sji_image_color.png

IRIS is built to view the Sun’s interface region, a complex area between the photosphere and corona. Understanding the interface region is important because it forms the ultraviolet emission that impacts satellites in near-Earth orbit and the weather.  The region also drives solar wind.

IRIS’s instruments are a combination of an ultraviolet telescope and a spectrograph.

Light is split into its component parts.  Two of the components are used by IRIS to provide high-resolution images one wavelength of light at a time, the other is the whole spectrum that provides information about many wavelengths of light at once.

The data from IRIS is fed into supercomputers to help interpret the data.

I suppose this puts my 50mm Coronado and PST telescopes to shame, but I still enjoy the view.

Please remember not to look at the Sun without the proper protective eyewear (NOT sunglasses) or through any telescope not designed, or shielded, for solar viewing.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

A strange solar tail wind.

 

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft took the first complete pictures of the solar system’s downwind region and it revealed some interesting stuff.

It has been theorized for a long time that the heliosphere had a tail.

 

Taking images since 2009, IBEX has shown an unexpected ribbon of high energetic neutral atom (ENA) emissions and a structure comprising lower energy ENA emissions.

Also, there seems to be two low energy ENA tail regions to the side of the previously identified high energy one.  So, instead of the expected single tail, there appears to be two “lobes.”

IBEX data shows that the heliotail is a region where the Sun’s million mile per hour (1,000,000,000 mph or 2,200,000 kph) solar wind flows away from the center of the Milkyway, eventually ending up in interstellar space.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Next up, the closest star to us.

That’s right, Sol our very own sun.  Like Terra for Earth, Sol is the Latin name of the Sun. That’s why we live in the Sol(ar) System.  The Sun is big compared to us, really big.  Actually, it is big compared to everything else in our system.  The Sun alone accounts for about 99.86% of all the mass in the neighborhood.  All the planets, asteroids and other cosmic visitors, like those comets, all together make up the other 0.14% of the Solar system.  Don’t you feel special now?

And, as you can see above, our sun is easily dwarfed by other stars in the Milkyway galaxy.  By the way, Antares isn’t the largest star we found that honor goes to:

Even bigger than that is all the space in between the stars and galaxies.  Technically, the Sun is is designated as a yellow dwarf star.  Sheesh, its enough to give you an inferiority complex!

But, it is our star and it is quite lovely.  All sorts of things happen on our sun that we are not even sure how or why.  Solar tsunamis, Solar quakes, coronal mass ejections, sun spots.

 

File:Sun projection with spotting-scope.jpg

It is interesting to note that although they appear black, sun spots are in fact about 3000–4500 K (2727–4227 °C).  But, because the surrounding material is at about 5,780 K (5,510 °C) they look black.

This is what we think how the Sun is made and operates, but until we can develop the technology to actually withstand the pressure and the heat, we will not know.

Compared to the Sun, landing on Venus is a walk in the park!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

JPL Open House 2012

WOW! I just got back from a day at JPL. I’ve heard from some of the volunteer’s that this year’s was the biggest event yet.  I will have some pictures as soon as I get them all into one place.  I had to use a variety of device (three in fact) to take all the pictures that I could.  I was only able to get about half way through all the exhibits and missed some of the ones that I wanted to see due to the amount of people.  It was like going to Disney or Magic Mountain.  The stuff I did get to enjoy was fantastic.  A big thank you to all the JPL volunteers that put this event on, you were outstanding!

I’ll have a more detailed report for you once I have rested awhile. It was 99 degrees F when I got back in my car.  Note to self, next year come earlier and wear a hat.

Love, love, loved this event.  If you ever get the chance I would plan on spending both days viewing all the exhibits.  Some people we talked to in line were coming back for their third trip to view the exhibits.  I must admit that I was tempted on a couple to get back in line and go around again.

Next year promises to be even better!  I can’t wait.

 

– Ex astris, scientia –

 

 

Image of the Venus Transit

Here are the results of my first (and last) Venus transit photos.  I had a terrible time with equipment.  None of my Canon cameras wanted to download an image.  Finally, I used Images Plus and was able to capture Live View video of the event and then stack them.  It seems, after some investigation, that the USB ports on my laptop do not supply power while it is one batteries.  So the Canon’s could not download images without power.  It would have been nice if I could control this “feature” and decide if I want the batteries to power the USB or not.  Come on man!  Anyway, the color isn’t the best, but I need to calibrate my monitor to get better color and I have not had a chance to do that yet.  Hopefully this weekend will give me the time to work on the images more.  You can view, or download the full size images here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

 

 

Venus Transit

Well, today was the big day and I got some great pictures from the event as you can see.  I spent the afternoon with K-8 kids showing them the sun and the transit.  My sun gun traveled to St. Andrews Catholic School where a fellow attorney’s child attends.  They asked if I would be willing to show these youngsters the event and, well, I can’t say no to any request like that.  I love help kids understand about the universe outside their windows. Luckily today there were also A LOT of sunspots making the display even better.  I was only able to snap a couple of photos with my smartphone during the lulls, but I must say it worked pretty well.  I was also able to get some images from home (thank the weather gods for a sunny day) so I will process them and, if any of them are good, I will post the results here for you to see.  So did anyone try for the contest from Southern Stars?  I would love to seen any pictures that you might have taken. I am exhausted, so its off to bed for me.  A couple of hundred kids and an afternoon in the hot sun has done me in.  Enjoy the photos.

– Ex astris, scientia –

More Solar Pictures

I haven’t actually had time to process all my images yet, but I have recieved requests to post what I have.  So, I created a Flickr account and will post them here.  I have added some comments and geotagged the photos so you can see the area that the images were taken.  The solar images (like the featured image)  in the Annular Eclipse May 2012 set were taken with a point-and-shoot JVC Picsio camera through a cheap solar film viewer that was given to me.  It worked surprisingly well.  Friends of mine, Diane and Sandy from the Riverside Astronomical Society used this technique with their iPhone and Droid respectively and also managed to capture several good images of the eclipse.  I hope you enjoy these and I promise to keep working on the other images.

– Ex astris, scientia –