Tag Archives: astronomy

NASA Images and Video Library

This is bloody superb. NASA has opened an archive site that hosts 140,000 files of space-related awesomeness. It should keep you in screensaver images for a long time – possibly forever as they said they will continue to add to it.

There are great pictures here and as we launch ever cooler and more sophisticated satellites, this site should just keep on giving.

You can access all the pictures here.

The full address is: https://images.nasa.gov/#/

As always NASA – if you read this and need a writer/blogger/good-looking-journalist adventurer type to go into space, I fully volunteer. I am in perfect health and have never even had a filling.

Anyway, check it out their site. Here are some samples to whet your astronomical appetite. Enjoy:

 

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Our Solar System is a vortex

I'm not a scientist, but there are a few glaring errors in this picture.

I’m not a scientist, but there are a few glaring errors in this picture: orbits, scale, alignment, etc. But it looks pretty.

Apparently the standard animation showing the planets rotating around the sun doesn’t really show the whole picture. This video says the helical model is incorrect and we should embrace the vortex, but I think we can just say it is a different perspective and just get along.

What is true, for me at least, is that although I knew the solar system was flying around the super black hole at the middle of the galaxy (which is itself on the move), I never really envisage that movement. This clip shows that movement thanks to nifty graphics and it turns out to be really cool. Not only is the visual fascinating but it has allowed me to write phrases like ’embrace the vortex’ and ‘super black hole’. Which is always satisfying. Now watch, learn and by inspired by the awesome vortex of gravitational power!

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Brilliant explanation of the Big Bang – space stuff on Youtube

Youtube is normally just a repository for videos of adorable kittens falling over, or adorable humans falling over, or adorable blurry UFOs flying over, or adorable viral events that are soon to be over, or… Ok, I’ll stop as I am running out of ideas. Plus we all know there is a lot of other great stuff on there – trailers, clips of Felix Baumgartner falling from space, new fan made Star Trek movies, cool but stupid retro scifi movies like Space Probe Taurus, and so on.

There are also lots of youtube clips that teach you things. You can get totally educated and shit watching exciting animated clips and documentaries. I am currently watching a lot of astronomy related videos on youtube. This was partly inspired by a recent interest in physics (mostly particle physics but it is all related and bloody fascinating), and partly because I am a pretentious prick who likes to sound clever down the pub. There are some great clips out there like this one that explains the Big Bang for beginners:

The people who made this clip have a page called Kurzgesagt and they explain all sorts of things – astronomy, fracking, global warming etc. Click this for Kurzgesagt’s youtube channel. I am only mentioning all this as it is riveting and there are a surprising amount of people with time on their hands and internet connection. Why not learn stuff?

Here's a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

Here’s a picture of the big bang purely because it is interesting.

On a similar note. Watch Carl Sagan’s Cosmos on youtube while you are about it. I watched this as a kid on TV and it sparked a lifelong interest in in astronomy and science. Here is the first episode. Enjoy.

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Cosmos

When I was a kid, one of my favourite shows was ‘Cosmos’ by the legendary Carl Sagan. It was astronomy with huge inspiring dollops of philosophy. Basically, it made you think. You can watch entire episodes on youtube if you haven’t ever seen Cosmos or Carl Sagan. Unless you’re a creationist or lack any soul, curiosity, or sense of wonder, then you’re in for a treat.

When I heard they were bringing Cosmos back, I was a bit dubious. Apart from Professor Brian Cox’s amazing documentaries (all of which I have on Bluray and astound me with every viewing), a lot of space related shows tend to be dumbed down and chock full of graphics. Both Sagan and Cox bring a sense of wonder coupled with facts, that remain unparalleled (although Hawking’s show and Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole are great too). My concern was who they were going to get to replace Sagan. If they didn’t get the right person it would be crap.

Thankfully the new Cosmos is presented by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Of whom I am a big fan. Not as big as I am of Cox or Sagan, but he’s certainly up there and after this show he might be on a par with them. I hope so. Here’s the new trailer:

Just in case you haven’t ever seen Carl Sagan in action, here is a famous thing he did about Earth. At his suggestion Voyager took a photo of Earth as it travelled further away. It really creates a sense of perspective and gives you an idea of what I mean when I say that he ‘makes you think’. This is bloody genius.