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(Wired)   Amazing photo of the Pinwheel Galaxy, 600 million light-years away in the constellation Serpens   (wired.com ) divider line
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13069 clicks; posted to Main » on 15 Dec 2012 at 1:34 PM (3 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



Voting Results (Smartest)
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest

2012-12-15 06:26:27 PM  
2 votes:

whidbey: madgonad: With a decent telescope you can see tremendous depth and detail of lunar craters and mares when the moon is between a quarter and a crescent.

No kidding. I have a cheap yard sale telescope and the thumbnail crescent setting last night was breathtaking.


Always fun to remember that many of the el-cheapo scopes of today are still better than what Galileo, Huygens, Messier, and Mechain had when they made their discoveries.

You can do a lot with a 60mm Wal-Mart refractor if you have patience and decent skies (and a decent mount).
2012-12-15 04:38:45 PM  
2 votes:

madgonad: After that, you show them Saturn (the rings are always a crowd pleaser) and top it off with Jupiter - and with decent aperture and dark skies you can show off the Jovian moons too. After that you show off some of the brighter Messiers. That is how you get them hooked.

And no, that $200 department store or eBay refractor isn't going to do this


While a better telescope will offer greater resolution, it's simple not true that one must have a good 'scope to see either Saturn's ring or the Jovian moons. Both are readily viewable through inexpensive telescopes or even binoculars.

In fact, there is a long recorded history of persons with superior vision sighting the Jovian moons unaided under optimal conditions. Even the cheapest binoculars can pick them out for us mere mortals under good conditions (clear dark skies, no moon, right time of the year, etc.). Virtually any telescope can do the same.

Saturn's rings are a bit trickier, but still viewable without a major investment under the right conditions. While the rings are not really resolvable to the naked eye at sea level (the atmosphere is too unsteady), at certain phases of Saturn's and Earth's orbits the disk of the rings IS viewable through binoculars and low powered telescopes. For the next 4 1/2 years the rings' angle of inclination will be increasing to maximum, and at opposition (during the spring and early summer of each year) the viewing will be best, with June 2017 the high point for this Saturnian orbit. (Link)

Binoculars are fantastic tools with a thousand and one uses, including astronomy. Get yourself a decent pair to enjoy for a lifetime.
2012-12-15 03:42:06 PM  
2 votes:

SwiftFox: leevis: Since when can an entire galaxy be in a constellation?

Go out. Look up. See the second (middle) star in Orion's Sword? There's one.


Ummm...no.

That's actually a nebula, not a galaxy and it's well inside our galaxy, the Milky Way.

When astronomers refer to an object being "in" a constellation they actually mean in the direction of the constellation. When austin_millbarge: pointed out to subby that the actual "Pinwheel Galaxy" is located "in" Ursa Major (the big dipper) and is not the galaxy in the article, he meant that you could see it by looking in that direction, not that it was physically located in the constellation itself. The Pinwheel Galaxy is hundred of orders of magnitude further away than any of the stars in Ursa Major, 21 million light years distant from our galaxy and is the namesake of a class of galaxies known as "pinwheels" because it's such a perfect example of one.

Hell, some of the stars in the Big Dipper aren't really "in" the Big Dipper. We're viewing them as a 2D pattern from here on earth but the stars the make up the constellation itself aren't necessarily even in the same region of space. Some of them are much farther away from us than others and the constellation would look very different if viewed from a different angle than we get from our vantage point.

/the more you know
2012-12-15 02:56:22 PM  
2 votes:
Space is big,
2012-12-15 01:57:52 PM  
2 votes:

Mattyb710: Our existence is so farking trippy when you stop to think about it.


If only more people would. Maybe we wouldn't be so hung up on our stupid little inconsequential rat race thinking.

The fact we have pictures so clear and detailed of stuff like this gives me hope people might look and realize there's more to all this.
2012-12-15 06:19:41 PM  
1 vote:

madgonad: With a decent telescope you can see tremendous depth and detail of lunar craters and mares when the moon is between a quarter and a crescent.


No kidding. I have a cheap yard sale telescope and the thumbnail crescent setting last night was breathtaking.
2012-12-15 06:01:12 PM  
1 vote:
Oh, look--here's a discussion about the shifting identification of "The Pinwheel Galaxy."
2012-12-15 04:53:12 PM  
1 vote:

Stone Meadow: madgonad: After that, you show them Saturn (the rings are always a crowd pleaser) and top it off with Jupiter - and with decent aperture and dark skies you can show off the Jovian moons too. After that you show off some of the brighter Messiers. That is how you get them hooked.

And no, that $200 department store or eBay refractor isn't going to do this

While a better telescope will offer greater resolution, it's simple not true that one must have a good 'scope to see either Saturn's ring or the Jovian moons. Both are readily viewable through inexpensive telescopes or even binoculars.

In fact, there is a long recorded history of persons with superior vision sighting the Jovian moons unaided under optimal conditions. Even the cheapest binoculars can pick them out for us mere mortals under good conditions (clear dark skies, no moon, right time of the year, etc.). Virtually any telescope can do the same.

Saturn's rings are a bit trickier, but still viewable without a major investment under the right conditions. While the rings are not really resolvable to the naked eye at sea level (the atmosphere is too unsteady), at certain phases of Saturn's and Earth's orbits the disk of the rings IS viewable through binoculars and low powered telescopes. For the next 4 1/2 years the rings' angle of inclination will be increasing to maximum, and at opposition (during the spring and early summer of each year) the viewing will be best, with June 2017 the high point for this Saturnian orbit. (Link)

Binoculars are fantastic tools with a thousand and one uses, including astronomy. Get yourself a decent pair to enjoy for a lifetime.


THIS. I'd add that it's well worth paying a bit extra for a pair with image stabilization.
2012-12-15 04:49:33 PM  
1 vote:
Do they have Jesus?
2012-12-15 04:38:53 PM  
1 vote:

had98c: The big hurdle I found was getting people to appreciate what they're looking at despite the fact that it appears either too small or too gray. People think they're gonna be seeing full color Hubble images by looking through an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain. It's just not going to happen. Usually ends up being "That's all?" I gotta find a way to temper their expectations without totally turning them off.


That is exactly what I have had happen. The "that's it?" because they are expecting these blown up Hubble pictures to pop at them through my little earthbound telescope. I was so excited to show my MIL the jovian moons and Saturn's rings. After the disappointment of how small the moons were, she didn't stay for the rings. We didn't even get to the "that fuzzball over there is a galaxy, want to see it a bit more clearly?"

I've moved into a much darker neighborhood, less light polution. Still haven't set up the telescope, but need to. I miss staring at fuzzballs, a little more clearly.
2012-12-15 04:00:48 PM  
1 vote:
upload.wikimedia.org

This is the actual Pinwheel Galaxy.
2012-12-15 03:37:53 PM  
1 vote:
Am I the only one who gets depressed when I hear about the vast distances of space?

I can't explain it...perhaps it makes me feel unbelievably insignificant? Perhaps it depresses me to know that we'll never be able to reach any of those distances in my lifetime?

/I need a drink
2012-12-15 03:03:32 PM  
1 vote:
images3.wikia.nocookie.net
2012-12-15 02:52:18 PM  
1 vote:

leevis: Since when can an entire galaxy be in a constellation?


Go out. Look up. See the second (middle) star in Orion's Sword? There's one.
2012-12-15 02:33:39 PM  
1 vote:
It's full of stars!
2012-12-15 02:29:37 PM  
1 vote:

madgonad: had98c: whidbey: Mattyb710: Our existence is so farking trippy when you stop to think about it.

If only more people would. Maybe we wouldn't be so hung up on our stupid little inconsequential rat race thinking.

The fact we have pictures so clear and detailed of stuff like this gives me hope people might look and realize there's more to all this.

Most people seem to just not give a rat's ass about astronomy/cosmology/anything beyond their front yard. I consider myself to be a pretty avid stargazer and find cosmology fascinating, but any time I try to show someone something through a telescope or some picture from Hubble it's almost always followed by some version of "meh".

It is all in the presentation.

Lunar eclipses bring a lot of people out and the total solar eclipse in 2017 is going to be a huge event. I have gotten a lot of people in my neighborhood interested based upon little things like the ISS crossing the sky at sundown (which it will be doing around 5:30pm tonight if you are anywhere near Kansas City). They think that is cool based upon how bright it is and how fast it moves. Next, you show them the moon, but not when it is full. With a decent telescope you can see tremendous depth and detail of lunar craters and mares when the moon is between a quarter and a crescent. After that, you show them Saturn (the rings are always a crowd pleaser) and top it off with Jupiter - and with decent aperture and dark skies you can show off the Jovian moons too. After that you show off some of the brighter Messiers. That is how you get them hooked.

And no, that $200 department store or eBay refractor isn't going to do this


Trust me I'm familiar with all of that. I used to run public Astronomy Nights at my university. The big hurdle I found was getting people to appreciate what they're looking at despite the fact that it appears either too small or too gray. People think they're gonna be seeing full color Hubble images by looking through an 8" Schmidt-Cassegrain. It's just not going to happen. Usually ends up being "That's all?" I gotta find a way to temper their expectations without totally turning them off.
2012-12-15 02:07:55 PM  
1 vote:
What if the universe has already ended and we're just catching up on the highlight reel? Like, what if we already don't exist but our own consciousness is lagging behind by millions of light years?

/Can I buy some pot from you?
2012-12-15 02:01:20 PM  
1 vote:
FTA: The Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 took this image on July 9, 2001.

/not news
//not pinwheel
///...
2012-12-15 01:51:01 PM  
1 vote:

leevis: Since when can an entire galaxy be in a constellation?


The galaxy in question is indeed within the constellation of Serpens. It may not be one of the objects that forms the asterism, but there are more stars (and objects) within the boundaries of a constellation than the ones that form the primary asterism.

And to answer your question... since forever.
2012-12-15 01:43:05 PM  
1 vote:
Since when can an entire galaxy be in a constellation?
2012-12-15 01:40:38 PM  
1 vote:
The Pinwheel Galaxy is actually in the constellation of Ursa Major (off the handle of the big dipper). Its designation is M101 and it actually looks like a pinwheel unlike the one shown in the Wired pic.

Link
2012-12-15 01:38:31 PM  
1 vote:
Our existence is so farking trippy when you stop to think about it.
2012-12-15 10:58:01 AM  
1 vote:
Pinwheel, pinwheel, spinning around. Look at my Pinwheel and see what I've found...
 
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