Enceladus’ Hot Heart

We’ve all seen the beautiful Cassini images of plumes emanating from the surface of Enceladus.  So that begs the question – how is Enceladus hot enough to produce liquid when the moon appears to be an icy wasteland?

Enceladus' Jets

Enceladus’ Jets (NASA)

In 2008 Cassini flybys of Enceladus led to the startling discovery of Enceladus’ plumes and the presence of cryovolcanic activity on the moon.  Further investigations found that there are higher temperatures at the Tiger Stripe region of the moon, where the temperature is –93°C.  This is at the very least 115°C warmer than other regions of Enceladus!

Enceladus' Tiger Stripes

Enceladus’ Tiger Stripes (NASA)

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A tour of the ISS

If you’ve ever wondered what the ISS looked like on the inside, and how astronauts (and cosmonauts) go about their daily business? Well here’s the tour for you!

Outgoing ISS Commander Sunita Williams gives us a brief but super interesting video tour of the ISS.  It’s a fascinating tour of all the modules, including the kitchen, toilet (Sunita describes the process in alarming detail…) command centre, sleeping area, right down to the extremely cramped space in the Soyuz vehicle.

Check out the tour here.


Solar Eclipse 2012 – The Big Day

Last night I went to bed with some trepidation about the cloudy forecast for this morning. When I got up at 0400 I was heartened to see the stars and only a few clouds. We decided to go for a short walk along the Trinity Beach esplanade to see how many people turned up for the event.

All the way along the esplanade people were lined up, either with their cameras or just sitting there waiting for the big event. A couple of seasoned observers were out with their Takahashi mounts, cameras and scopes. We were also hoping to see famed astro photog Thierry Legault, we suspect that we ran into him the other day, and we thought it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him setup somewhere around Trinity Beach.

Back to the room at 0500 and the clouds slowly started to roll in…. by sunrise at 0535 there was pretty comprehensive cloud cover. Undeterred we snapped away and here are a few of the better shots of the morning.


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Solar Eclipse 2012 – Update

This morning, at 0530 hours I was up taking some test photographs, for the eclipse which will occur in about 24 hours. Unfortunately I was greeted by a fairly comprehensive blanket of cloud across the horizon. I couldn’t see the sun rise, and only managed to capture glimpses of the sun through short breaks in the cloud cover.

In the photo below you can see some slight cover cross the sun. This photo was taken with my Canon EOS 400D with a 300mm lens at F5.6 and 1/125, ISO 400 with a Baader solar filter.

Lets hope for better weather tomorrow morning.


Solar Eclipse 2012

Hello from sunny Cairns in North Queensland!

If you didn’t know it – this week, on the 14th of November, the moon will find it’s way between the Earth and the Sun and cast it’s shadow across a small area of northern Queensland.

Although I’ve seen a few partial eclipses, I haven’t see a full eclipse. So Wednesday is the day, starting from about 0545!! It’s very exciting. There are quite a few fellow astronomers, stargazers and eclipse junkies in town. It’s quite the astro-geek convention.

Unfortunately I don’t have my telescope here, but we do have a pair of binoculars and a DSLR (and associated filters) so I’m hoping to catch a few photos of the event. Today I took a test shot – to make sure that we could capture the event from our hotel room balcony. I’m using a Canon EOS400D, 300mm lens. I’ve posted the test shot here….

I’ll keep you all posted on Wednesday via Twitter. Mean time in the next few days before the eclipse I’ll be enjoying a snorkelling tour of the reef, a trip to the Daintree forrest…. and quite a bit of lazing about the hotel pool.