Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Comet Tempel 1 / Deep Impact Collision 4 July 2005

I made the loop above from a number of CCD frames that I took on the night of the collision. The telescope used was the 14 inch S/C at the Pima College East Campus Observatory, Tucson, Az. The comet is the "star like" object that is moving downward toward the left of the frame. If you look closely, just before it repeats, you can just see a slight bright dot appear at the top of the comet. That was the impact!

Here is a NASA description of what was to happen during the collision:

A NASA spacecraft named Deep Impact is going to shoot an 820-pound projectile into the rocky, icy nucleus of Comet Tempel 1. The 23,000 mph collision will form a big crater, and Deep impact will observe the stages of its development, how deep it gets and how wide it becomes. Researchers expect a plume of gas and dust to spray out of the crater. Deep Impact will measure its composition and record what the billowing plume does to the comet's atmosphere. In all, Deep Impact should be able to peer into the new crater for almost 15 minutes before the craft speeds away, continuing, like its cometary quarry, to orbit forever around the Sun.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Song of India?

In October of 1995 I traveled to India to view a total solar eclipse. I was excited about being in India. As a child I remembered watching a TV program about an Indian boy and his elephant. He would sing a song to his elephant. I remembered that song and when I got to India I hummed it for my Indian guide. He said he never heard the song and that it was a Hollywood invention. At that moment I decided that if it wasn’t an Indian song it would be before I left. At a village called Gato I assembled several children who were about to witness the eclipse and taught them the song!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A total lunar eclipse

I flew the night of a total lunar eclipse to show the relative positions of the Sun and Moon as the eclipse began. I was much younger during my flying years...the flight originated from LaCholla Airpark where I kept my plane. Date of the eclipse was 26 September 1996. The video clip is from my Elements of Astronomy cdrom available for purchase at: