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Posts Tagged ‘Hubble Space Telescope

I said “pinHOLE,” not “pinhead”…

Today is Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day— a global celebration of lens-less photography.

As we relax because we don’t have to worry about focusing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1990 that the (current) “mother of all cameras,” the Hubble Space Telescope, went into orbit, deployed by the crew of the Space Shuttle Discovery (which had lifted off the day before).

The HST in orbit (as seen from Shuttle Atlantis)

It’s later than you think…


The earthquake that killed more than 700 people in Chile on Feb. 27 probably shifted the Earth’s axis and shortened the day, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist said.

Earthquakes can involve shifting hundreds of kilometers of rock by several meters, changing the distribution of mass on the planet. This affects the Earth’s rotation, said Richard Gross, a geophysicist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, who uses a computer model to calculate the effects.

“The length of the day should have gotten shorter by 1.26 microseconds (millionths of a second),” Gross, said today in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The axis about which the Earth’s mass is balanced should have moved by 2.7 milliarcseconds (about 8 centimeters or 3 inches).”

“It’s what we call the ice-skater effect,” David Kerridge, head of Earth hazards and systems at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, said today in a telephone interview. “As the ice skater puts when she’s going around in a circle, and she pulls her arms in, she gets faster and faster. It’s the same idea with the Earth going around if you change the distribution of mass, the rotation rate changes.”

Read the whole story in this Bloomberg filing reprinted on BusinessWeek.com.

As we re-synchronize our watches, we might recall that it was on this date in 1977 that the rings around Uranus were discovered.  In fact, in 1789 William Herschel had discussed possible rings around the seventh planet.  But it was only 23 years ago that, using the Kuiper Airbourne Observatory, the rings– 13 bands of extremely dark particles, varying in size from micrometers to a fraction of a meter– were definitively observed.

Hubble Space Telescope photo of Uranus, its rings, and its moons

Looking directly at the sun…

With thanks to photographer Thierry Legault, the only image ever taken of a transit of a space shuttle (Atlantis) and the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in front of the Sun– during the last repair mission of Hubble.  Legault took the photo in Florida (100 km south of the Kennedy Space Center) on May 13th (at 12:17 local time), several minutes before grapple of Hubble by Atlantis.

See the full image here…  and see other examples of Legault’s extraordinary “astrophotography” work here.

As we rub our eyes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1804 that Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France– at least in part an unintended consequence of Britain’s declaration of war against France (again), exactly one year before, in response to Napoleon’s “activities” in Italy and Switzerland… (Napoleon formally crowned himself “Emperor Napoleon I” on December 2, 1804 at Notre Dame de Paris.)

Jacques-Louis David’s portrait of Napoleon (1812)

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