Monday, August 27, 2012

Top 3 Advantages of Keeping A Backyard Observatory

Do you find celestial objects fascinating? Do you wish to watch outer space every night to know more about stars? Have the lively, little satellites caught your attention in the planetarium during the last visit? If you strongly aspire to explore the wide Universe, undoubtedly, you can create your own mini planetarium in your home. Superior quality domes are readily available in the online stores. You can also get the additional equipments at most affordable price through online shopping. However, make sure you are buying the most appropriate dome for your home as size and location does matter.
The three main advantages of using your backyard for observatory are elaborated below:
1. Easy to Install
It is quite easy to install a dome if you follow the instructions carefully. You can opt for a top to bottom UV-resistant, white-colored dome for your home. Made with polyethylene plastic, it is weather resistant. The top shutter window is just perfect to capture the innumerable views of outer space on your telescope. Isn't that easy to install in the most suitable location of your home? You don't h`ve to pay anything extra in constructing platform or structure. Everything is ready-made and easily available online. Before installation, choose the size of telescope which can fit inside the room.
2. Easy to Use
After the installation, your favorite telescope and computer can be used to grab the scintillating views of night sky. As it is made with unbreakable polyethylene plastic, you can carry out modifications and improvements as per your requirements. The shutter in the bottom is wide enough to allow movement of people and objects. At any time, you can close the top shutter and move out of the room. Since all the instructions are provided in the manual, you don't have to worry about using the premise. Just relax and observe the movement of celestial bodies.
3. Easy to Maintain
Since dome is the central part of the mini planetarium, proper care and maintenance is necessary. If you are using a good quality observatory, you should be least worried about the changing weather conditions. The plastic is durable, flexible and strong enough to brave the harshness of weather. It is made up of eco-friendly structure and thus, quite safe for the environment as well. If required, you can wash with plain soap and mild water after every six months. Isn't it easy to use your telescope in your tiny backyard?
A fully assembled observatory dome is the best and most preferred options among the available ones. You don't need a platform or structure. You can even choose the design and color as per your liking. It is easy to dismantle and take inside if you wish to use backyard for some other purpose. The material used in its construction has the advantage of weather, ultra-violet rays, flexibility and durability. You don't have to think twice before buying as it's available at affordable rates. Won't you feel the comfort in this secluded part of the house, observing and talking to those mute objects in the sky?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Astro Navigation Demystified

There is rapidly growing interest in the subject of astro navigation or celestial navigation as it is also known. It is not surprising that, in a world that is increasingly dominated by technology and automation, there is an awakening of interest in traditional methods of using the celestial bodies to help us to navigate the oceans.
Astro navigation is not just for navigators; the subject is an interwoven mix of geography, astronomy, history and mathematics and should appeal to both mariners and scholars alike.
The question is often asked: 'how could seafarers navigate the oceans if the global positioning system (GPS) failed? The answer is, they could revert to the tried and tested art of astro navigation. The problem is that we have become so reliant on automated navigation systems that traditional methods are being forgotten and yet, there is a very real danger that the GPS could be destroyed.
During periods of increased solar activity, massive amounts of material erupt from the Sun. These eruptions are known as coronal mass ejections and when they impact with the Earth they cause disturbances to its magnetic field known as magnetic storms. Major magnetic storms have been known to destroy electricity grids; shut down the Internet, blank out communications networks and wipe out satellite systems (including the global positioning system). Couple this danger with that posed by cyber terrorists who could block GPS signals at any time, then it can easily be seen that navigators who rely solely on electronic navigation systems could be faced with serious problems.
Russia is one of the few countries in the world to acknowledge the educational value of astro navigation and to include it as an important part of the school curriculum. In other countries, institutions such as nautical schools and maritime colleges include the subject in their curricula as a subject in its own right while for some independent schools, it provides the perfect theme for integrated studies and open-ended project work.
Unfortunately, many sea-goers are deterred from learning astro navigation because they perceive it to be a very difficult subject to learn. In fact, it is very interesting and easy to learn but sadly, some writers and teachers of the subject attempt to disguise its simplicity by creating an aura of mystery about the subject.
Students of astro navigation come with a variety of interests and backgrounds; as well as professional and amateur navigators, there are educators, survival experts and those who are generally fascinated by the Earth sciences.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beyond The Darkness Of The Dwarf Planet Pluto

From its eminent status as one of the nine - the elite group of planets in our solar system - to its classification as a mere dwarf planet, Pluto has taken quite a shot to its reputation in recent years. Named after the god of the underworld and occupying a dusty, shadow-filled zone packed with comets and asteroids, perhaps Pluto never deserved a better fate. However, its effects on Neptune and Uranus made it one of the solar system's most influential worlds.
Understanding the Character of Pluto
Pluto is different from the large planets mainly in size and distance from the Earth. Because it is so far away and shrouded in darkness, Pluto draws less observation. Still, astronomers know that it has a diameter of less than 20% that of the Earth and contains a great deal of ice sheets, composed of methane and nitrogen in addition to hydrogen. It is a freezing place, even when its orbit takes it closer to the sun, but it remains so far away from the light and heat of the great star to average temperatures below -350 degrees on its surface.
The Orbit of the Fallen Planet
Pluto may have lasted so long as a major planet because of the extreme duration of its orbit. Taking some 248 years to complete its orbit of the sun, Pluto was seen as closer than Neptune is. However, as the orbit continued and astronomers continued to track Pluto's path through the solar system, they noticed it had gone beyond Neptune, back to the cold corner of space no planet has ever been seen to inhabit. Chances for observation are brief because of this dramatic orbital path.
The Duet of Charon and Pluto
Among the interesting features of Pluto, perhaps most intriguing is the relationship to Charon, its prominent moon. Charon is about half Pluto's size and, since its relegation to dwarf planet status, many astronomers think of the duo in tandem. In fact, they are only approximately 12,000 miles apart - the distance of a manageable flight for most humans. Were life possible on this planet, explorations to the moon would surely be more convenient and frequent than human beings in relation to the moon.
Though they are similar in size and position in the solar system, Charon and Pluto diverge in many aspects. While Pluto looks reddish to the eye and is dominated by nitrogen and other gases like methane, Charon has more of a grayish appearance - possibly due to the presence of hydrogen-packed ice formations. Still, they are locked in retrograde orbit (as is Neptune and its moon Triton).
Learning More about the Kuiper Belt
The double dwarf planets Pluto and Charon reside in an area known to scientists as the Kuiper Belt, where several other moons have been discovered. Identified as moons of Pluto, Hydra and Nix are far smaller than even the dwarf planets: 30 miles in diameter by some estimates. As Hubble telescope observations continued, two more moons were discovered. Much more information could arrive in the coming years, as an exploration already launched plans to get its closest in the year 2015.
Until then, our knowledge of the goings-on within the Kuiper Belt will rely on single discoveries. Astronomers and amateur stargazers will likely wait with baited breath as more information on these dwarf planets comes into our hands.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

To The Stars

When so many of us are concentrating on the rat race that is going on, we tend to forget to look at the stars above. One night, before my wife and I, along with her sister, were getting ready to leave for Kansas City in the morning, we spent the night out on the trampoline. It was a night that I will never forget because the Milky Way was shining brightly as we could see billions of stars glimmering in the darkness of space. I laid there in wonder and amazement, looking at the beauty and the grandeur of space.
Stargazing has always been a favorite hobby of mine ever since I got my first telescope. I remember one Christmas night, I took my brand new telescope outside and I got to look at a full moon. I saw many craters and all sorts of mountains and valley's on the moon's surface, but it wasn't powerful enough to look into deep space to view the other planets. It was at that moment that I was immediately hooked on astronomy. My wife bought me a bigger telescope a couple of years ago where I was able to test it out at her parent's house out in the field. So, that night, I pointed the telescope at Saturn and I remembered the excitement that I felt as I looked at a celestial body further than the moon.
To get the most out of stargazing, pick a night when the most celestial objects will be in full view. Also make a note of when the next celestial event is going to take place, such as a meteor shower, solar and lunar eclipses, asteroid passing, the International Space Station flyby, etc. This will be a great way to entertain your family and most importantly, it is a great way to spend time with your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. Your little ones will always remember this for the rest of their lives. It is also a great way to spend time with your spouse. I still remember that night as my wife and I talked about the Milky Way and the glory of the stars.
If it's just basic stargazing you are going to do during some free time, I recommend buying a smaller telescope to start out with. For the space enthusiast, getting a small telescope may not be enough. I recommend buying a higher power telescope that comes with the accessories that will allow you to take pictures of space objects. Just think of the kind of pictures that you will have in your possession and to be able to share them with your posterity.
Remember, do not let the rat race get in your way of exploring the heavens and spending time with your family.