Left side of the Universe

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This was a phrase I thought of this afternoon, then realised it was impossible.

The Universe is apparently infinite, so you can’t have a centre, you can’t have a top, bottom, side, front or back?

Obviously we know that stars are a certain distance away, and if you look at star maps you can identify individual stars. But did you know they move? Stars move around the centre of the galaxy. Some faster than others. The distance to a star is measured by parallax. Hold your hand out at arms length, look at the tip of your thumb with one eye, then the other. Notice how the background seems to move. That’s because each eye is at the base of a very long thin triangle and your thumb is at the tip. Now think of the stars. How do you measure their parallax.? The answer is take the measurements at opposite sides of the Earth’s orbit, six months apart.

What was found was the stars are not fixed. They are moving due to the matter around them and their relative speeds. So stars in one position a thousand years ago might have moved quite a distance.

That’s not all, the Galaxies that contain the stars are moving too. Some, like our galaxy, the Milky Way, and the Andromeda galaxy are due to collide in the next few billion years. We won’t be around to see it, but it has been modeled.

Then looking further out Galaxies seem to be flying away from each other at a rapid rate. You would think gravity would hold them together, but something in the Universe, (dark matter, dark energy) is pushing it apart.

This was measured by noticing the galaxies light from further away appears redder ( red shifted). In other words travelling away from us.

To explain, if you hear a fire engine siren it sounds different moving towards you than moving away. That is because the sound waves get squashed up as they move towards you, and stretch as they move away. Light does the same thing, as an object moves towards you it squashes up and changes to a bluer colour. As it moves away it stretches and we see a redder colour.

I’m not a scientist, so I can only hope what I’ve written makes sense. All I know is that something might be in an exact place now but because everything is in constant motion you just can’t say where the ‘left side of the universe’ actually is!

Trees

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The trees spread across the world, as man finally withered and died. Killed off in a last great mass extinction caused by  humankind’s continuous destruction of the animal population and most of the plant world. Pestilence, fire, flooding and starvation had done their jobs.

All that was left were trees, rivers, marshes, seas and oceans.

The trees kept pumping out oxygen, the world was now habitable for any incomers, but there were none. Aliens may have admired our world, but they exist in civilisations too far away. None of them had things like warp drive. A nice idea, but not really feasible.

Nothing grew, except a soup of bacteria. One day that might evolve into the next great family of animals, insects, worms, critters. If man returned millions of years later he would not recognise the planet or its contents. Maybe the trees would remember….

Grab the moon

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It wasn’t a cloud, but the dark shape was reaching out, obscuring the moon. Something that had eyes, that twinkled in the moonlight. Something that had hands or arms to grab, what? The moon is a quarter of a million miles away. The object must either be close to Earth and not that big, or if it was close enough to capture the Moon then it would be millions of miles across.

Suddenly the light was blotted out. The huge shape turned and fled, the moon was gone. Its gravitational power gone too. Earth, which had its North and South poles tipped away from the vertical by a celestial accident in the past, now started to twist and dip. The planet becoming unstable and dangerous. People could only try to survive, and make signs and march to the chant ‘bring back our moon’. But nothing happened…..

Jupiter 2009

FB_IMG_1572912413208Ten years ago, and before that, I was painting Jupiter. I love the planet, though its atmosphere is hellishly difficult to paint, swirls that meld into one another, colours that blend and merge.

I think I said it was like knitting the painting, because I built it up band by band.

Now I want to do more in the astronomical area. I’m thinking of painting on perspex if I can get the right effects. I woukd do something like the ‘pillars of creation’ dusty nebula. I am thinking of having different layers. How I would display it, and how accurate it would be? I don’t know-yet!

Observe

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Photo of Jodrell Bank Observatory I took in 2011.

See that star up there?

That’s a planet Galileo saw.

See the dots across its face?

Moons that circle it apace.

Moving further into space,

Stars and gas, nebulae like lace.

Gazing further, higher, far

Supernovae, neutron star.

Galaxies fly apart so fast

Hubbles constant, Doppler’s haste.

Black holes tug at other worlds,

Gravity wells where stars are hurled.

Big bang  was expanding

Dark matter we’re  not understanding..

Cosmic microwave background energy.

Look out from our earth observatory.

 

Green skies

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The Aurora borealis is something I’ve never seen but always wanted to. When I see photos of it I’m amazed that electrons from the suns solar wind can cause such beauty.

The electrons and other particles travel along the magnetic lines of force at the North Pole (and South – the Aurora Australis I think it’s called). As they interact with the magnetic field they glow. The different colours denote different elements. I think Green is Nitrogen and Pink is Oxygen.

The Aurora occur at the poles because they are where the magnetic field is at its weakest and drops down towards the pole. If you have seen iron filings round a bar magnet you can see how the field curves round and down.

So what is solar wind? It is the matter that pours out from the sun when there is a hole in the corona (upper atmosphere of the sun). There are coronal mass ejections where the sun spews out masses of ionised electrons which interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

There is a lot more about aurora’s but my knowledge is not good enough to explain more.

 

The Orionids

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Coming up on 22nd October 2019 is the Orionid meteor shower. There have already been a few fireballs from the shower and they are due to peak at dawn on the 22nd so it might be worth setting an alarm.

Where do they come from? They are dusty remnants of the comet Halley. They are the dust cloud that came off the comet as it travelled through the solar system. Halley returns on a regular basis. It was identified as a recurring comet by the astronomer Edmund Halley when he realised it was the same comet that had been seen in the sky around the time of the battle of Hastings and then approximately every 100 years or so afterwards.

The meteors (or meteorites if they land) appear to radiate from the area around the star Orion which is why they are called the Orionids. There are other showers of meteors throughout the year. These include the Persids and the Geminids. Some showers are brighter than others. It depends on the debris cloud that the Earth moves through. The dust and debris for showers are in patches of space that the Earth moves through, hence their yearly appearance.

The Orionids apparently move faster than a lot of other meteors so they can create more of a show. The speed increases the friction and they burn up in the atmosphere faster.

You can find out more at a website called Spaceweather.com