Monday, November 21, 2011

Sun Dog captured in Singapore

Just saw CNN's Rosemary Church announcing the Video of Day a few hours ago. It is this video of Sun Dog captured right here in Singapore!

Absolutely amazing. This is the first time I am seeing this phenomena on video. Hope to catch one live soon!

This is Rosemary Church's narration of the phenomena shown in the video -- "A lightning discharge in a thundercloud can apparently change the electric field above the cloud where charged ice crystals reflect sunlight, and this could cause a sundog to jump."

According to this NASA article, sundogs are formed by "plate-shaped ice crystals drifting down from the sky like leaves fluttering from trees".

The following video involving sundog is equally if not more amazing. I have lost track how many times I hit the repeat video button. Enjoy! :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Telescopes featured in music videos

An astro buddy sent me a youtube link to this Korean music video. Being an amateur atronomer, I only paid attention to scenes in the video where telescope(s) are being shown. I have not come across any music video that featured telecopes with such frequency. It almost felt like watching a telescope advertisement (not that I mind watching one).

So watch this video carefully and see if you spot something weird and funny. It should be quite easy for amateur astronomers to spot it. 

The telescope featured in the video is from Bosma, a Chinese telescope manufacturer. Most people conveniently assume just because it is made-in-china, Bosma scopes must be very inferior to branded ones. But that is not necessarily so. Most of the telescopes from American-branded companies are manufactured in China and perhaps some of them even from the same factory from Bosma's. One of Bosma's latest maksutov-cassegrain telescope receive a good review from a major astronomical magazine.

Astrobargains which is based in Singapore do carry some Bosma telescopes. If you are keen to find out more, can drop them an email. Disclaimer: I do receive any commission or benefits from recommending any dealer in astronomy (local or overseas) and have not looked through any Bosma scope yet.

Ok. The above two paragraphs is also to make it less obvious for you to accidentally find out the weird and funny scene in the video before you watch it. The location is at 2:17 minutes into the video. You see the female actress  seems to be looking into the mirror/prism diagonal without any eyepiece!! Still she was very fascinated by what she "saw"! LOL.

Anyway, I know it is only a music video and at least they got the business end of the finder and telescope pointed at the right direction. :)

The classic refractor is the telescope design that most people can easily recognise as a telescope. It is of course the right type of telescope to use to create the romantic environment required in the video. Else, can you imagine the actor and actress taking turns to climb up a ladder and look through a 40 inch dobsonian telescope as shown in the following photo? Not that romantic eh? :)

Credits: Photo by Steve Swayze of Swayze Optical

Camcorder Astronomy

Another common question asked during sidewalk is "How do you know that is a Jupiter and not a star or man-made satellite?". I like to answer this question by saying "Look at it through a telescope." Afterall, Galileo didn't have a smart phone with planetarium apps to point at the sky to find out. Even if he did, he would still want to verify with his own eyes and optical instrument.

What if one does not have access to telescope and still want to find or proof that "star" is actual Jupiter? How about a high zoom camcorder? That is a really cool way to find out and as a bonus, you can record the proof and show it to your friends.

Check out these cool videos by youtubers with their Sony camcorders capable of 30x optical zoom and 42x extended zoom.

In the following video, the bright disc is Jupiter and the "stars" you see beside it are some of the moons of Jupiter.

Here's a zooming-in video of a nicer quarter moon.

And this one from a Panasonic camcorder. 70x optical zoom!

What an excellent way to view and record the upcoming Total Lunar Eclipse on 10th December 2011 which is fully visible in Singapore! Great device for doing sidewalk showing the Moon, e.g. projecting the live feed to a big screen.

Having said that, unless one is really into astronomy, I doubt one will buy camcorder just only for this purpose. So please read the online reviews on the non-zoom functionality of such camcorders before making a purchasing decision.

These camcorders seems to be quite affordable. They are priced at about USD $500. But for me, if I didn't have a telescope, I would rather spend the money on a decent used telescope. Sure, I may not be able to record these interesting videos of Jupiter and Moon directly. But I would visually see even more amazing stuff like star clusters, globular clusters, colourful double stars, better views of all the planets, Moon and Sun (with a solar filter), nebulae and galaxies!

If you already have a camcorder now, try zooming it on Jupiter and Moon soon!

Update 21/11/11:  This one is from youtuber giofrasa on the Sun. Warning: DO NOT look at the Sun directly. Only look at the Sun if you are wearing proper Solar filters or if the instrument you are looking through are properly fitted with such filters as shown in the video.

The spots you see on the Sun disc in the video are sunspots which can be many times the size of Earth.

LROC Explores Apollo 17 Landing Site

One of the common questions I get during sidewalks is "Do you think humans really landed on the Moon?". My answer as of now is still "Yes". "But I saw this video/documentary/internet article that says ... ...". For the non-believers or those still sitting on the fence about this debate, the following video may help.

Turn on your speakers for the best experience.

Did you like the music and find that it enhances the video dramatically? What a great selection of music by NASA right?


The original video is just pure video without any music. I just can't help finding it extremely underwhelming in the context of what it was showing. That's why I uploaded this to YouTube and try to find a suitable music from AudioSwap. The title of this classical music is Russian Dance which is ironic because I am sure the Russians were not super elated when the Americans beat them to the Moon. :)

For more info about the stunning videos and images captured by LROC (Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera), you may visit their official website and this Goddard Space Flight Center link.