jump to navigation

The first observational proof of General Relativity May 31, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, General Relativity.
Tags:
1 comment so far

Ninety years ago, on May 29 1919, Sir Arthur Eddington led a expedition to test the new theory of gravity, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.

Einstein first proposed his General Theory of Relativity in 1915. It describes how any massive object, such as the Sun, creates gravity by bending space and time around it. Everything in that space is also bent: even rays of light. Consequently, distant light sources, behind the massive object, can appear in a different position or look brighter than they would otherwise.

If you look at pictures of clusters of galaxies from the Hubble space telescope  you’ll see this effect as gravitational lensing. It’s the distortion of distant background galaxies as their light passes through the gravity of a cluster.

The warped images of distant galaxies appear as streaks of light

The warped images of distant galaxies appear as streaks of light

Back in 1919 they did not have the sensitive digital cameras that could see these faint streaks.  So in 1919, the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) launched an expedition to the West African island of Príncipe, to observe a total solar eclipse and prove or disprove Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. They were to measure the deflection of the position of stars very close to the sun, the object that has the biggest gravity in the solar system. In order to measure the dim stars so close to the sun they need a solar eclipse that would block out the sun’s glare to make the dim stars visible.

Eddington Eclipse

Eddington Eclipse

“This first observational proof of General Relativity sent shockwaves through the scientific establishment,” said Professor Ferreira. “It changed the goalposts for physics.”

It also made Einstein an instant worldwide celebrity, something that the special theory of relativity in 1905 did not. Thanks to X’s blog for pointing this out.

Advertisements

New Podcast sponsered by EIU May 24, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Cosmology, Podcast.
Tags: , , , ,
add a comment

http://365daysofastronomy.org/2009/05/24/may-24th-were-expanding-and-accelerating/

Description: There have been multiple theories of the ongoing evolution of the universe. Solid state, the big crunch – but hardly anyone expected the universe to not only expand, but to accelerate in it’s expansion. The Ordinary Guy talks to Dr Brian Schmidt, who explains the discovery, and what this means.

Bio: The Brains Matter podcast has been producing and communicating science stories and interviews since September 2006. The show is based out of Melbourne, Australia, and takes an everyday person’s perspective of science in easy-to-understand language.

Bob Holmes Newspaper article May 18, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Asteroid, Astronomy, Observatory.
Tags: , ,
add a comment

Bob Holmes, who is an adjunct faculty member in the EIU physics department, has a very nice newspaper article about his research with NASA searching for “killer asteroids”.  To read the  article online go to the http://jg-tc.com

Bob Holmes and his 32" telescope near Charleston

Bob Holmes and his 32" telescope near Charleston Photo by Stephen Haas

Planck & Herschel Space Observatories launched today May 14, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Observatory, satellites.
Tags: ,
1 comment so far
TAriane V on the launch pad with two satilites

Ariane V on the launch pad with two satilites

Two for the price of one! An Ariane V rocket launched both the Herschel and the Planck orbiting observatories today for the European Space Agency.

The Herschel mission will  cover the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband.  Its telescope, at 3.5 meters width, will have the largest mirror ever deployed in space. The light will be focused onto three instruments with detectors kept at temperatures below 2 K. The instruments will be cooled with liquid helium, boiling away in a near vacuum at a temperature of approximately 1.4 K. The 2,000 litres of helium on board the satellite will limit its operational lifetime. The satellite is expected to be operational for at least 3 years.

Herschel space observatory

Herschel space observatory

The Planck space observatory is designed to observe the anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) over the entire sky, using high sensitivity and angular resolution. Planck was built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center and created as the third Medium-Sized Mission (M3) of the European Space Agency (ESA)

Planck satellite

Planck satellite

New Podcast is up today at 365 Days of Astronomy May 12, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy, Cosmology, IYA 2009, Podcast.
Tags: ,
add a comment

Listen to the new podcast interview of Dr Michael Turner, who talks about the term he coined, DARK ENERGY.  It’s the May 12th episode of  365 days of astronomy sponsered by the EIU physics department. Permanent Link at:

http://365daysofastronomy.org/2009/05/12/may-12th-dark-energy/

Hubble Repair Mission Launch today May 11, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Astronomy.
add a comment

Watch the live NASA TV feed for the last Hubble repair mission at:

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

T minus 39 minutes and counting…..good luck

Chocolate and Raspberries go with Astronomy May 4, 2009

Posted by jcconwell in Art, Astronomy.
Tags:
add a comment

Well I ran across an article last week at universe today on chocolate,  this combined with a article sent to me about raspberries and astronomy by my friend BA was too good not to put in the blog.

Ethyl formate, which gives raspberries their flavour and smells of rum, has now been found in deep space. Photograph: Tim Graham/Getty

Ethyl formate, which gives raspberries their flavour and smells of rum, has now been found in deep space. Photograph: Tim Graham/Getty

So savor them in any order you choose! Either CHOCOLATE or RASPBERRY !

Chocolate astronomy sculpture. Credit: Museo de Chocolate. | Universe Today      * Subscribe     * Podcast      * Home     * Additional Resources     * Advertise     * Carnival of Space     * Contact Us     * Guide to Space     * Privacy Policy     * Forum  April 29th, 2009 Chocolate astronomy sculpture. Credit: Museo de Chocolate.

Chocolate astronomy sculpture. Credit: Museo de Chocolate.