Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Planets

a few past emails i've sent out seemed appropriate for the start of the blog so here we go...

someone asked for info on the planets for their child, so i thought i'd spam the list with some of my older pictures.

since pluto was demoted in 2006, there are only 8 planets in our solar system. 
in august 2003, mars was closer to the earth than usual due to the aligment of the orbits of the two planets.  it will not be this close for another 60,000 years. 


this event was widely popularized in the press (astronomers love to popularize rare events--seems like they come up with a different one every month).  the original story included the following message: "At a modest 75-power magnification Mars will look as large as the full moon to the naked eye".  interestingly, this event spurred my interest in astronomy, causing me to purchase a telescope to show my 5 year old son. 

since then, every august a bogus email comes out stating that mars will be as large as the full moon in august (omitting the telescope part). 

just for fun, one august, i stayed up all night, taking pictures of all the visible planets at the same image scale.  so here are the planets as seen from earth except saturn and mercury which were behind the sun.  i used photoshop to place them all in a row on the right.  in order of appearance during that night, from top to bottom we have Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Mars, and Venus.  


the Moon of course is seen on the left, too big to fit entirely in the frame--clearly *much bigger than mars*.  sharp-eyed viewers may note two small specks to the left of jupiter--two of it's moons--pay no attention to photoshop artifacts. 

about the photo: this one made it to the finals of an amateur photo contest, spawning many copy cat compositions.  the president of my astronomy club implied i was too sarcastic in a reply to someone making the giant mars claim which included this photo...MOI?

whw
astro.whwiii.net
ocastronomers.org