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, February 16, 2019

Nightscape photography with clouds in Borrego Springs; Going south to Bergen; Two Photon Absorption; Is that a submarine?

Greetings from Palmia Observatory

Well our search for the northern lights continues southward along the Norwegian coast and the clouds have not been our friends.
But, I received a note from Science Nerd and Theatre Impresario, Scott, that the Borrego Springs nightscape photography class, for which I was going to attend, but which was postponed due to stormy weather, was completed last week, and I was off on travel and couldn’t make it.  The image below, which was part of Scott’s homework, showing some of the metallic sculptures, for which Borrego Speings is well known, shows up beautifully in the night sky, even with clouds.  Thanks for sharing that image, Scott!

Nightscape in Borrego Springs (Source: Science Nerd Scott)
Nightscape in Borrego Springs (Source: Science Nerd Scott)


But in our case the clouds have not allowed much viewing of the northern lights.  Our best viewing opportunities would have been above the Arctic circle but those times have now passed.  We are going southward through the inner waterway which offers scenic views of coastline and islands, but the seas are a bit rough and rolling and the skies are constantly cloudy.  Bergen is at number 7 on the map.

Resident Astronomers now make the southernly course back to Bergen
Resident Astronomers now make the southernly course back to Bergen



Here is an example of the rugged coastline.

At sea off the coast of Norway on the Viking Sky(Source: Palmia Observatory)
At sea off the coast of Norway on the Viking Sky (Source: Palmia Observatory)




Ok, since we can’t report on any photos of northern lights, we should do a little Physics.  I received the weekly Physics Colloquium meeting announcement and it said the topic would be Two Photon Absorption (TPA). Now I don’t always don’t follow topics that seem to deal with condensed matter physics, but this time the topic was intriguing because just recently in several posts we talked about the selection rules that governed just single photon absorption/emission and how conservation of angular momentum is a key principle in determining if a transition is allowed or forbidden. So the idea of TPA was quite foreign.  Unfortunately we will be on travel and cannot attend that Colloquium so we will just have to Wikipedia it!

Check out the following diagram from Wikipedia which shows one type of example where two photons can be simultaneously absorbed and then through some process, in this case, not exactly all of the received enrgy received is emitted, as some is retained in internal energy.  Anyway, the idea is that two photons can be simultaneously absorbed.  This idea is so foreign to me, having grown up with the idea of only one photon at a time, but wizen one considers the weird stuff that can occur in non-linear quantum optics, then this TPA is possible.

Two Photon Absorption (Source: Wikipedia)


I’m not able to go into further details about this process now except to say that apparently now in addition to conservation of angular momentum, a new selection rule comes in to play and that has to do with conservation of parity.  Whew, that is a topic that definitely has to be deferred!

Let’s get back to easy shipboard concepts like being at the ship’s bar and looking out the window.  Hey, what is that strange object out there?  It looks like a submarine, but could it really be a submarine?  It seems to have a wake and everything and I can see waves breaking over the low silhouetted object.


Is that a submarine off the Norwegian coast? (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Is that a submarine off the Norwegian coast? (Source: Palmia Observatory)


Let’s leave themartini at rhe bar and move into a little better observing position closer to the window and turn up the magnification on the IPhone and take a closer look.  Ok, here is what I was finally able to see.

Is that a submarine? — Not (Source: Palmia Observatory)
Is that a submarine? — Not (Source: Palmia Observatory)



Hmm, it looks like it is probably not a submarine but some linear rock structure with some little building placed on top, like a navigation marker.  Either that or some new camouflage that looks just like it is covered in rocks.

Wow, just a little bit later in the day, another strange bright object showed up in the sky.  Take a look at the following photo.  It was too bright to be the moon and we hadn’t seen the sun for days.  The sun is only up about four hours per day at this latitude and it has been hidden mostly by clouds all the time.  But, yes it was just that, the sun!

What is that bright object that finally came out of the clouds on our Viking Sky cruise (Source: Palmia Observatory)
What is that bright object that finally came out of the clouds (Source: Palmia Observatory)


So, now we are nearing the end of this crushing journey and our next and last stop will be Bergen, Norway.

Until next time,
Resident Astronomer George


www.palmiaobservatory.com

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