Observing with Street Lights

Observing with Street Lights
Dark sky sites not always necessary to see the Milky Way (This image was taken ouside of a B&B in Julian, CA)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Alert reader notices slipped digits; Surprising connection between LIGO and Fermi detection of merging black holes, Travelling through the Straights of Messina, on to Napoli and Amalfi

Greetings from Palmia Observatory (offsite in vicinity of Napoli, Italy)

Well we are still offsite and having fun seeing the Mediterranean sights.  Before getting to the fun stuff, we should look at the incoming mail.  I got an email from alert reader Science Squad Member and Gravity Guy, Ken, noticed an error in the previous post discussing
the distance to the moon and how for different distances due to the elliptical orbit, the moon can appear larger than normal, which leads to the "supermoon" apparent size increase.  Ken noticed that the posted moon distances were understated by a factor of 1000.  Wow, thanks for noticing that Ken. That error doesn't affect the conclusion about size because of the ratio of the two distances.  But, is Ken the only one to notice that?  Maybe it was a test to see if everyone is still alert?  Ok, ok, I just messed up and I can't blame it on too many martinis because I only had three during our whole cruise.

One email from Astronomy Magazine was especially interesting because of some follow up analysis by of possible gamma ray burst by Fermi Space Telescope detected by the same event associated with the LIGO detection of merging black holes.  This research suggested that the two black holes might have been formed during the collapse of one massive star and the rotational forces could have affected the collapse in such a way that two black holes formed out of the spinning collapsing star and then these two black holes collided within just a couple of minutes to produce the results detected by LIGO.  That is pretty amazing if it turns out to be verified.  If you are interested, check out the Astronomy Magazine article at:  http://www.astronomy.com/news/2016/02/gamma-ray-burst-hints-that-ligos-double-black-holes-started-as-one-massive-star

Our travel plans included travelling through the narrow Straights of Messina and I got an email from Retired Real Physicist, Dr. Ben, warning us to be careful during the passage to stay clear of Scylla and Charybdis, two monsters from Greek mythology, who inhabited the narrow straight.  No worries, they must have been asleep since we just passed easily through and the waters were very calm.  See the Iphone map screenshot, below, taken as we watched our passage through the straights.  Resident Astronomer Peggy reminded me of the story of how General Paton upset General Montgomery of getting to Messina before him and against orders.  Well, sometimes we just need leaders who don't obey orders, especially when history turns out on their side.

Iphone Map Screenshot just after passage through Straights of Messina towards Napoli

Having passed through the straights we passed a lighted island, which we assumed to be Stromboli, a volcanic island with just a few inhabitants, on our way to Napoli, and Mt. Vesuvio.

Vesuvio volcano looms in the distance as cruise ship arrives in Napoli

We didn't get any astronomical observing in but Resident Astronomer still used her small binoculars, not her large astronomical binoculars, for some sight seeing.  The Amalfi area is one of the most beautiful coasts, with houses perched almost vertically along the steep mountain side.

Palmia Observatory Resident Astronomer combines using small binoculars with coffee Americano

Palmia Observatory Resident Astronomers enjoying the sights in Amalfi, Italy

So, that is enough for now.  Until next time,


1 comment:

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