Imagine Seeing All The Planets And Stars
What it would be like to see everything happening around us?
Would it be a great thing or a curse if you could see through walls? I'm sure there would be times when it would be useful - when you want to know that the children are safe, for example, or when you can't remember where you left your car keys. But, at other times it might not be much fun - imagine seeing the neighbours arguing, a child sobbing or someone laying ill in their bed.
On the plus side, we might be more inclined to take action when we see a problem, such as a sick neighbour. Or, maybe, if we grew up knowing that others, as well as ourselves, could 'see all', we might actually learn to behave in a more open and supportive way.
Actually, I have an app on my iPhone that allows me to 'see' through walls, or even through the earth, in a harmless and fun way. The image taken with the skyview app show Jupiter, below the horizon, passing through Gemini. Just above the twins heads, you can see the body of a rocket launched in 1996 - more about that later.
The Hubble Space Telescope - Seen through my living room floor
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was carried into orbit in 1990 by a Space Shuttle. It was named after the famous astronomer Edwin Hubble. The Hubble is a space telescope with six instruments - cameras, spectrographs, and fine guidance sensors. These instruments work individually or together to produce stunning images of the universe. .
Because the Hubble orbits outside the distortion of Earth's atmosphere, it can take incredibly high-resolution images, and has recorded some of the most detailed images ever.
The image, taken through my own living room floor with the skyview app shows the Hubble passing between the Corona australis and the Indus constellation.
Maybe I'm easily amused, but I think this is very cool!
Space Junk and Orbital Debris
Being able to see everything in the environment could be a positive or a negative depending on your views, and whether you wish to act on them. If you could see everything in the sky, you would see beautiful plants, stars and galaxy. You would see interesting objects like the International Space Station and The Hubble Telescope. But, you would also see the appalling trail of garbage left by man's exploration of space. In this image, you can see abandoned rocket sections still floating above our heads following launches in 1984 and 1991. At the time I took the image, they were passing by Ursa major.
This "space waste" in orbit around the Earth includes sections of rockets, old satellites, and fragments of material from disintegration and collisions. It's a real collision hazard for new and functional spacecraft and satellites. There are hundreds of thousands of pieces debris ranging in size from dust up to rocket chunks. The strangest pieces include a camera Michael Collins lost near the spacecraft Gemini 10, a glove lost by astronaut Ed White on the first American space-walk, a tool bag, a wrench, pliers, a toothbrush, and 15 year's worth of garbage bags jettisoned by the Soviet Mir Space Station cosmonauts. For safety, spacecraft have to manoeuvre to avoid pieces of debris over 10 cm across.
Visualising Space Debris
The dots on this computer generated graphic show the objects that are being tracked in Earth orbit, 95% of which are space junk, not functioning satellites.
The image is in the public domain because it was created by NASA.
Want to learn more about Astronomy
NightWatch has sold more than 600,000 copies, in three editions. It has been acclaimed as the best general introduction to astronomy. This fourth edition has improvements, including an update on computerized telescopes, use of digital cameras for astronomical photography and tables of future astronomical events, such as solar and lunar eclipses and planetary conjunctions to 2025.
Mars and Jupiter
Mars and Jupiter were in conjunction in July 2013, so to us earthlings they looked close together. In fact they weren't close, they just had the same right ascension which is the celestial equivalent of terrestrial longitude. This image, taken in early September shows both planets, along with the constellation Canis minor. At the bottom, right hand corner, you can see the Cosmos 2278 satellite that has been in orbit since 1994. In front of the dog's body, you can see the remains of a rocket from a 2002 launch.
Virgo, the Sun, and aligned planets - Saturn, Venus, the Moon and Mercury
I loved this image when I saw it. Saturn, Venus, the Moon, Mercury and the Sun were lined up in front of Virgo. It was around 2pm.
Moon and Mercury Setting
Later the same day, I happened upon Virgo again. It was 8pm, and the sun had already dipped below the horizon. You can see the Moon and Mercury setting, soon to be followed by Saturn and Venus. The red line represents the horizon, and you can see a little W, for west, in Virgo's hair.
The Sky at Night - Sir Patrick Moore
Sir Patrick Moore (1923 – 2012) was a prominent English amateur astronomer renowned as a writer, researcher and television presenter. He was president of the British Astronomical Association, and the author of more than 70 books on astronomy. He holds the record for the world's longest run as the presenter of a television series He presented the BBC's "The Sky at Night" - his enthusiasm for his subject and his various idiosyncrasies, such as his monocle and his rapid speech and monocle made him instantly recognisable and very popular and on British television.
Pluto and Scorpius
Looking to the south-east, from the comfort of the sofa, if I had super sight, I would be able to see pluto travelling up towards the horizon and through Scorpius.
Telescopes for Star-gazers
If you are interested in star-gazing or planet hopping, a good quality telescope will really help!
The compact Orion StarBlast 4.5 EQ Reflector telescope is a superb choice for both beginners and experts alike. It combines Orion StarBlast 4.5-Inch wide-field parabolic reflector optics with the EQ-1 equatorial tracking mount and adjustable tripod.
Neptune and Aquarius
I loved this one as soon as I saw it! Neptune passing up through the constellation of Aquarius.
eBay have an excellent selection of refractor telescopes available now. Ranging in price from a cool telescope for a beginner, through to high quality telescopes for the dedicated sky watcher.
Are you a budding superhero?
Imagine super sight allowing you to see through walls... Super hearing so you can hear a mouse talking to its buddy down the street... Super smell allowing you to detect the faintest whiff of drugs, poisons...
Which super sense would you choose?
- Apple - iTunes - Download iTunes Now
The world's best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.
- SkyView - Explore the Universe for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and iPad
Download full version of SkyView - Explore the Universe and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
- SkyView Free - Explore the Universe for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad and iPad mini
Download SkyView Free - Explore the Universe and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
- Terminal Eleven - SkyView - Explore the Universe
SkyView - an augmented reality space exploration app that lets you explore the universe using your iPhone, iPod, and iPad.
- SkyView Virtual Observatory
A Virtual Telescope from NASA's High Energy Astrophysics Archive Research Center
- HubbleSite - Out of the ordinary...out of this world.
The Hubble site, with info about the telescope and a gallery of Hubble images.
If you had a super power, how would you use it? For good or for evil? For yourself or for the benefit of others? Maybe you already have a super power...
Tell us about it in the comment section below.