Laniakea: Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way

Astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s Green Bank Telescope GBT—among other telescopes—have determined that our own Milky Way galaxy is part of a newly identified ginormous supercluster of galaxies, which they have dubbed “Laniakea,” which means “immense heaven” in Hawaiian.

via Laniakea: Newly identified galactic supercluster is home to the Milky Way.

So… Let’s Say There’s an Alternate Universe…

The Nerd Next Door

Ok, I have a hypothetical question this morning: Let’s say there are alternate universes (some people do, in fact, maintain that there are) meaning in this context that basically anything that can happen, would happen.

If anything that can happen does happen in another universe, that means that somewhere out there is the perfect you.  The you you’ve always wanted to be.  The you that made all the right choices, had the right amount of willpower, hard work, support, and luck to turn out to basically be this universe’s fantasy version of you.

Ok now, here’s the question: Are you jealous of yourself, or are you happy that somewhere out there you’ve really made it?  Also, what does you fantasy self look like?

I don’t know how I’d feel knowing there’s a Loren Riley out there that has perfect skin, was never awkward, graduated top of her class in astrophysics, and is…

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The Sun.

I have just been out having a sneaky peak at what the sun is up to today (when I really should be doing coursework so that I can go and see Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s lecture on Pulsars tonight) but it struck me that, in actual fact, the Sun is a fascinating thing to look at.
Now CLEARLY it goes without saying, that observing the sun is EXTREMELY dangerous unless you are using the correct equipment (SO DO NOT DO IT UNPROTECTED). This said, the protective equipment isn’t expensive. My solar filter I use on my Skywatcher-102 literally cost me nothing to make. The Baader solar film was a gift (its only £16ish anyway) and the rest is a cereal box and brown packing tape.

When you look through the scope, and actually consider what you are seeing, its pretty spectacular even though the smallest scopes. My 102 is only 3″ but in some cases, with solar viewing in particular, I think smaller aperture is actually beneficial.
The below Image i took down the eyepiece using my iPhone (so excuse the low quality) but it gets the point across. Astronomy doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby to get good results.

Sun 04.06.13 Named

What we are looking at when we observe sunspots, are areas of the suns surface, that are ever so slightly cooler than the rest. Now, this is relative, as we are still talking about tens of thousands of Kelvin. It can also related to different magnetic activity on the surface, with magnetic field lines protruding from the surface. As the solar material is ionized it follows up along the magnetic field lines creating prominence. If magnetic re-connection occurs this can result in the material being ejected into space, in what is known as a CME or Coronal Mass Ejection. Which is bad news for satellites and the power grids here on Earth. So in fact, solar weather is a very important part of observational astronomy. A great website for more information and current updates on space weather is;

Happy observing!

Kickstarter Highlight: Glowing Plants

Interesting stuff!

Applied Press


Have you ever wanted glowing plants to illuminate your life? Well now you can have some if you support today’s featured Kickstarter campaign! Anthony Evans and his Kickstarter team have created some glowing plants through the use of synthetic biology and Genome Compiling Software. Evans and his team’s long term goal seems to be to create natural lighting that does not use electricity. This can become a very cheap and effective way of bringing lighting sources into many places in the world that do not have the necessary resources to have electricity everywhere. It’s also friendly towards the environment since it’s natural lighting which doesn’t requiring external power resources save for the sunlight to grow the plants perhaps which is available abundantly everywhere.

According to the Kickstarter page all backers from the U.S. that pledge $40 will get 50-100 seeds to grow their own glowing plants at home. The seeds…

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Taking the Plunge

Love it!


2013 looks set to be an interesting year for those of us residing in the Milky Way (page view stats indicate this applies to the majority of visitors to this blog). In the middle of this year, the supermassive black hole in the centre of our galaxy will be paid a visit by a cloud of gas with a mass three times that of the Earth. This could result in a bright flare of X-rays if some of this gas falls too near the black hole and is consumed, allowing us to probe the environment around it better than ever before. But how do we know there’s a black hole there in the first place, and why won’t this gas just get gobbled up without a trace?

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