Pom-Pom Comets

Posted March 12th, 2009 by admin

I thought people might be interested in these pompom comets that I made with my scout group – the kids loved wirling them around there heads and occasionally letting go when on was ‘escaping the solar system’ or in other wards ending up hooked on on of the roof beans where it still sits quietly!

http://www.salaric.co.uk/2008/07/27/pom-pom-comet/

Blood Moon and Shooting Star

Posted March 10th, 2009 by admin

Tonight I went out at twilight with my husband and over the top of our village hung the most fantstic orange moon! It was being lensed by the atmosphere and so appeared absolutly huge!

I was very sad not to be able to get a photo of it from both an observation point of view and an artistic one. I assume there must be alot of sand or something in the atmosphere at the moment to make it that colour – though I havent been following the news lately so I don’t know. I know such things can come from sand storms in the Sahara, volcanic eruptions, large forest fires and unfortunatly the buring of oil as an act of war.

That was on the way out. On the way home at about 6:45 whilst travelling aproximatly south on the A46 just after the Cross Hands roundabout near Gloucester we say a meteor or shooting star. This was bright white with an apparently green tinged tail though Alaric pointed out it still wasn’t properlly dark and may have been an iteraction of light from the blueish twilight sky beyound.

This exelerated us and made me sad that I still haven’t actually done anything in this International Year of Astronomy.

The Solar System in Coloured Card

Posted March 5th, 2009 by admin

As part of my Scouts Astronomy and Astronuatics badges I came up with a project of makeing a solar system (not to scale) that they could lay out on the floor of the village hall and make more bits off ie the moons and comets etc…

http://www.salaric.co.uk/2008/07/13/the-solar-system-in-coloured-card/

Astronomy Cub disastor

Posted March 4th, 2009 by admin

Alaric took his cubs out onto the common for a second attempt at stargazing but yet again it was too cloudy. He walked them up to the top of the common and the cloud actually did start to clear but the kids were just being too restless by this point so the mission was aborted.

However once they were back at the village hall the moon was visiable so they all took turns to look at it through his binoculars.

The mistake he made here was that he didnt actually tell me what he had planed and therefore did not have any ‘incase’ indoor activities. Now last year I did the astronomy and astronuatics badges with my Scouts so I have alot of star globs and craft activities he could have done with them.

The children bizzarly still seemed to really enjoy it – especially the hot chocolate and marshmellows at the end :) So maybe it wasnt a complete disastor.

Making Head Way

Posted March 1st, 2009 by admin

I went for lunch round my friends house today – she is a writer and tends to hang around with interesting people.

The other lunch guest was just such a person and apparently belongs to a local astronomical society – he said he would email me the details and assured me its not expensive and not time consuming.

Apparently their next talk is on binary stars.

Jean Recognises Orion!

Posted February 28th, 2009 by admin

My Dad came back perplexed from the Pre-school with my little girl and announced that she had been going on about Orion flying in the sky. It was actaully patchy cloud and I realised that she was talking about the constellation and not another child from Pre-school and said (mistakenly as it turned out), ‘but you can’t see orion in this’.

‘Yes you can mummy!’ she said and pointed, ‘there’s his foot,’ and she was right – the cloud cleared momentarily and there was the rest of orion!

My Dad was really impressed – to be honest so was I :)

Got my Moon Rock

Posted February 26th, 2009 by admin

I arrived a bit earlier than I had anticipated but still not early enough to go to the APEX talk which was a shame. I met Hillary, Andy and an Undergraduate who is going to do another meteorite project.

We then went down to the planetary Suite to meet up with Katie who has the sample of moon rock I will be analysing. She unlocked her draw and handed me a little plastic see through box – inside on a glass(might be resin) circular mount was a thin sort of traingulish shaped sliver.

This is the piece of moon rock I get to prod and poke in detail and I was being silly thunder struck and over awed by it. I remebered when Katie got her samples and way back before I was sick – I was at the museum and was promptly turffed off of the microscope I was using so that she could have a look at her new samples!

Now she is letting me play with one of her samples (they actually belong to NASA). I then got the lecture about it not being allowed out of the department and about it needing to be locked up etc… which is what I had expected.

Katie then showed me the elemental maps she’d made of the whole slide – there are two clasts of interest and I’m going to have to decide which one to examine in depth.

It is from a meteorite find and so there is terrestrial contamination – it is also from a highly unusual part of the moon – this is where I found out somehting really interesting:

The Apollo samples where all returned from a relatively small area all of which happens to be either in this unusual province or borders it and so has clasts erroded down from it. This means that becuase the first lunar meteorites were found after the Apollo missions we as a scientific communitee had not realised this and have skewed all our musings on lunar geology to try and fit something that is unusual and not the typical lunar geology.

I am very excited about this and have come away with a huge wodge of reading :) Next time I go back will be to make X-ray maps of which ever of the two clasts I choose.

The sample needs a new carbon coat and a piece of resin is in the corner so I got to remove the carbon coat with metal polish – we will re-carbon coat it next time I’m in. This also ment that I got to have a gander at it under the reflective light microscope which was cool :)

Making a Planisphere

Posted February 26th, 2009 by admin

I thought I’d just bring to your attention the post I have on Salaric Craft which shows how I made planispheres with my scout group.

http://www.salaric.co.uk/2008/08/24/making-a-planisphere/

The Moon a Geologists Tale

Posted February 19th, 2009 by admin

This was my first lecture on my course last year – this write up origonally appeared on my personal blog with lots of excess geology ramblings in it!  It starts with me being almost late – ok well I was!

After double checking everything I was almost late as I was drinking tea and reading my book when Carina suddenly announced that it was quarter to six – eek! And I didn’t didn’t know my way out of her building! But as it happened I passed Ian Crawford (the lecture) going the wrong way. He hastily said he’d be back and scuttled off.

I found the room having picked up a scared undergraduate on rout who was looking for vertabrate paleo. I suddenly thought – woaw I’ve not done geology for about three and a half years – eek. I sat down everyone was silent. I managed to have to loudly rummage for my pen and paper. Then Ian arrived and we delved into the world of lunar geology.

To my suprise I guest correctly why the crater near the south pole on the farside is not nicely circular like the other mare (or seas – they are the dark patches you see). i probably didn’t use the right terms but I said it had been erroded by other impactors. Yay! I was right but a bit later I stared at the photos of thin section and could not recall the name of the minerals and lunar minerallogy is simple – really really simple. I was staring a Ca-rich plagioclase and pyroxenes and ilmentite. We even had them in cross polars – mew :( And as for the spherals of orange olivine glass at least I remembered that an amorphous glass would come out black under cross polars (cross polars are like a filter on light transmitting microscopes).

We did a bit on lunar stratigraphy where I actually interupted the class to ask a question – for those of you who know me well you’ll know I don’t do such things lightly as I get shy not to mention the class was over running from what he had origonally said. I asked if the graph was assuming a constant rate of impacts as the number of impact creators is used to date bits of the moons surface – this is obviously relative dating rather than absolute but I was sure that there would have been more impacts early on when there would have been more debris and therefore that would need to be accounted for.

I was pretty sure I had even seen somewhere in the distanct past something to do with a high early impact rate. I got a , ‘good question.’ Which I always consider a good thing to have said. He did however then point out that there where points on the graph showing the bore hole data brought back from the Apollo missions. In other words the graph was constrained by those data points which where radiometricaly dated (they had used isotopes and was therefore about as absolute as dating gets). This ment the graph was indeed showing that the impact rate had not been continious – I thought doh! I should have seen that!

However he did point out that the number of data points was pathetically small. This is also the data they use to date all the other bodies in the solar system but as far as I could tell its all guestamets and is very very relative. Like assume more impacts on mars per time unit becuase its bigger – I mean how do you actually scale something like that? Also I would have thought that proximaty to say an asteroid belt and/or large bodies such as a gas giant would affect the rate of impact on a planetary surface. I found myself hooked – I want to find out more. So much so that I spent the train journey home (which was itself very eventful) reading the papers I’d got about isotopic abundence in the moon.

Even once I got home which was gone 1 o’clock in the morning, I couldn’t stop and carried on reading.

Deep Stuff

Posted February 12th, 2009 by admin

Last year I went to the first of the departmental research seminars at UCL – a version of this origonally appeared on my personal blog it was by Lars Strixrude and was on an area I basically knew nothing about. It was called Minerals to Mantles: The Planetary Mosaic. There was alot of stuff in this I didn’t understand but it did manage to answer some of the more pressing questions I had come out of the Solar Physics lecture with – namely about what was actually being detected/repressented with all the Tomography stuff and so it was I feel a good job I went. As far as I could tell he was extrapolating say mineral physics to the mantle as a whole and using a similar principle to those you use in transmitted light microscopy in that the direction of the mineral and type affects the way the waves are propogated. This means you would be able to tell alot about say the actual structure of the mantle and the internal workings of the earth – I sort of felt a vagueness that eutectic and peritectic stuff should make an appearance but as I can’t really remember what that was all about the reality is probably very far away from my comprehension :/ I felt intreged by the topic and thought I understood what was going on at the time but now I come to write it up its all gone :( But it really reminded me of second year ingneos petrology (at least I think thats what he was teaching) with Stephan Matthai – sometimes I wish my brain worked properlly :/ I had the vague feeling that this fitted into my general thing of wanting to treat things as systems rather than confined subjects but am not really sure – hmmm – not the best blog ever and probably completely round my neck :/) – it was by Lars Strixrude and was on an area I basically knew nothing about. It was called Minerals to Mantles: The Planetary Mosaic.

There was alot of stuff in this I didn’t understand but it did manage to answer some of the more pressing questions I had come out of the Solar Physics lecture with – namely about what was actually being detected/repressented with all the Tomography stuff and so it was I feel a good job I went. As far as I could tell he was extrapolating say mineral physics to the mantle as a whole and using a similar principle to those you use in transmitted light microscopy in that the direction of the mineral and type affects the way the waves are propogated. This means you would be able to tell alot about say the actual structure of the mantle and the internal workings of the earth – I sort of felt a vagueness that eutectic and peritectic stuff should make an appearance but as I can’t really remember what that was all about the reality is probably very far away from my comprehension :/ I felt intreged by the topic and thought I understood what was going on at the time but now I come to write it up its all gone :( But it really reminded me of second year ingneos petrology (at least I think thats what he was teaching) with Stephan Matthai – sometimes I wish my brain worked properlly :/ I had the vague feeling that this fitted into my general thing of wanting to treat things as systems rather than confined subjects but am not really sure – hmmm – not the best blog ever and probably completely round my neck :/