March 31, 2017

Split the Universe


Just now, before you hit the button, two future universes are possible. After pressing the button, though, you will live in only one. A real-web version of the famous Schrödinger's cat experiment, clicking the red button in the featured astronaut image should transform that image into a picture of the same astronaut holding one of two cats -- one living, or one dead. The timing of your click, combined with the wiring of your brain and the millisecond timing of your device, will all conspire together to create a result dominated, potentially, by the randomness of quantum mechanics. Some believe that your personally-initiated quantum decision will split the universe in two, and that both the live-cat and dead-cat universes exist in separate parts of a larger multiverse. Others believe that the result of your click will collapse the two possible universes into one -- in a way that could not have been predicted beforehand. Yet others believe that the universe is classically deterministic, so that by pressing the button you did not really split the universe, but just carried out an action predestined since time began. We at APOD believe that however foolish you may feel clicking the red button, and regardless of the outcome, you should have a happy April Fool's Day. via NASA http://ift.tt/2oGyWqt

March 30, 2017

3D 67P


Get out your red/cyan glasses and gaze across the surface of Churyumov-Gerasimenko, aka Comet 67P. The stereo anaglyph was created by combining two images from the Rosetta spacecraft's narrow angle OSIRIS camera taken on September 22, 2014. Stark and jagged, the 3D landscape is found along the Seth region of the comet's double-lobed nucleus. It spans about 985 x 820 meters, pocked by circular ridges, depressions, and flattened areas strewn with boulders and debris. The large steep-walled circular pit in the foreground is 180 meters in diameter. Rosetta's mission to the comet ended in September 2016 when the spacecraft was commanded to a controlled impact with the comet's surface. via NASA http://ift.tt/2nnbvSz

Amateur Radio Backpacking Checklist

Amateur Radio and backpacking are made for each other.  What could be better than enjoying two great hobbies at the same time in the great outdoors?  Amateur radio also adds an element of safety to backcountry adventure by providing a method of communication in the event of an emergency.

Photo by Michael W. Maher
Golden Trout Wilderness


Here is a checklist to help you plan your next backpacking trip:

  • Pack weight - keep it light as possible.  40 lbs or less for adult males in good shape.  Weigh your pack before you depart and adjust accordingly.
  • 10 essentials - these are non-negotiable items every backpacker needs.  Check to make sure all 10 essentials are in your pack before you leave.
  • Extra water carrying capacity - Water is key to survival when backpacking.  There are times when extra water is helpful.  Pack a spare lightweight 1 or 2 liter collapsible water container.  Being able to fill up with extra water will come in handy when trekking over dry areas or when preparing a meal.
  • Program your radios - We enjoy backpacking with our amateur radio VHF/UHF FM handheld radios (Handie Talkies).  Before the trek always take the time to research the area to identify amateur repeaters and program your radios.  This enables maximum usage of the radios during the trek.
  • Charge your batteries - The night before a trek be sure to charge your radio batteries and any spares you intend to bring.
  • Zip Lock Baggies - Pack a couple of 1 gallon ZipLock Baggies.  These make lightweight and inexpensive dry-sacks for maps, radios, books or anything else you want to keep dry.  These can save your gear in the event of rain or when crossing a stream.
  • Large Garbage Bag - One or two large black garbage bags are lightweight and versatile. These can be used for a variety of purposes including a pack cover, rain poncho, food storage, sleeping bag cover, dry bag, or trail trash collection.
  • Improved Antennas - Consider packing a "rat-tail" or j-pole for use with your HT for improved antenna performance over the rubber-duck antenna.
Hope you find this checklist help on your next backcountry radio adventure.

Good DX and 73, 

NJ2X


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© Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Michael W. Maher and NJ2X.COM with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Young Stars and Dusty Nebulae in Taurus


This complex of dusty nebulae lingers along the edge of the Taurus molecular cloud, a mere 450 light-years distant. Stars are forming on the cosmic scene. Composed from almost 40 hours of image data, the 2 degree wide telescopic field of view includes some youthful T-Tauri class stars embedded in the remnants of their natal clouds at the right. Millions of years old and still going through stellar adolescence, the stars are variable in brightness and in the late phases of their gravitational collapse. Their core temperatures will rise to sustain nuclear fusion as they grow into stable, low mass, main sequence stars, a stage of stellar evolution achieved by our middle-aged Sun about 4.5 billion years ago. Another youthful variable star, V1023 Tauri, can be spotted on the left. Within its yellowish dust cloud, it lies next to the striking blue reflection nebula Cederblad 30, also known as LBN 782. Just above the bright bluish reflection nebula is dusty dark nebula Barnard 7. via NASA http://ift.tt/2o9e3rJ

March 28, 2017

King of Wings Hoodoo under the Milky Way


This rock structure is not only surreal -- it's real. The reason it's not more famous is that it is, perhaps, smaller than one might guess: the capstone rock overhangs only a few meters. Even so, the King of Wings outcrop, located in New Mexico, USA, is a fascinating example of an unusual type of rock structure called a hoodoo. Hoodoos may form when a layer of hard rock overlays a layer of eroding softer rock. Figuring out the details of incorporating this hoodoo into a night-sky photoshoot took over a year. Besides waiting for a suitably picturesque night behind a sky with few clouds, the foreground had to be artificially lit just right relative to the natural glow of the background. After much planning and waiting, the final shot, featured here, was taken in May 2016. Mimicking the horizontal bar, the background sky features the band of our Milky Way Galaxy stretching overhead. via NASA http://ift.tt/2mI4Fel

Black Hole Accreting with Jet


What happens when a black hole devours a star? Many details remain unknown, but recent observations are providing new clues. In 2014, a powerful explosion was recorded by the ground-based robotic telescopes of the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN) project, and followed up by instruments including NASA's Earth-orbiting Swift satellite. Computer modeling of these emissions fit a star being ripped apart by a distant supermassive black hole. The results of such a collision are portrayed in the featured artistic illustration. The black hole itself is a depicted as a tiny black dot in the center. As matter falls toward the hole, it collides with other matter and heats up. Surrounding the black hole is an accretion disk of hot matter that used to be the star, with a jet emanating from the black hole's spin axis. via NASA http://ift.tt/2opv6BN

March 19, 2017

JWST: Ghosts and Mirrors


Ghosts aren't actually hovering over the James Webb Space Telescope. But the lights are out as it stands with gold tinted mirror segments and support structures folded in Goddard Space Flight Center's Spacecraft Systems Development and Integration Facility clean room. Following vibration and acoustic testing, bright flashlights and ultraviolet lights are played over the stationary telescope looking for contamination, easier to spot in a darkened room. In the dimness the camera's long exposure creates the ghostly apparitions, blurring the moving lights and engineers. A scientific successor to Hubble, the James Webb Space Telescope is optimized for the infrared exploration of the early Universe. Its planned launch is in 2018 from French Guiana on a European Space Agency Ariane 5 rocket. via NASA http://ift.tt/2mGq8A0

March 15, 2017

The Cone Nebula from Hubble


Stars are forming in the gigantic dust pillar called the Cone Nebula. Cones, pillars, and majestic flowing shapes abound in stellar nurseries where natal clouds of gas and dust are buffeted by energetic winds from newborn stars. The Cone Nebula, a well-known example, lies within the bright galactic star-forming region NGC 2264. The Cone was captured in unprecedented detail in this close-up composite of several observations from the Earth-orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. While the Cone Nebula, about 2,500 light-years away in Monoceros, is around 7 light-years long, the region pictured here surrounding the cone's blunted head is a mere 2.5 light-years across. In our neck of the galaxy that distance is just over half way from our Sun to its nearest stellar neighbors in the Alpha Centauri star system. The massive star NGC 2264 IRS, seen by Hubble's infrared camera in 1997, is the likely source of the wind sculpting the Cone Nebula and lies off the top of the image. The Cone Nebula's reddish veil is produced by glowing hydrogen gas. via NASA http://ift.tt/2mqrwGk

March 8, 2017

Dust, Gas, and Stars in the Orion Nebula


The Great Nebula in Orion, an immense, nearby starbirth region, is probably the most famous of all astronomical nebulas. Here, filaments of dark dust and glowing gas surround hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1500 light-years away. In the featured deep image shown in assigned colors, part of the nebula's center is shown as taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye near the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. In addition to housing a bright open cluster of stars known as the Trapezium, the Orion Nebula contains many stellar nurseries. These nurseries contain much hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Also known as M42 and M43, the Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. via NASA http://ift.tt/2mBcTDL

March 2, 2017

Annular Eclipse After Sunrise


From northern Patagonia, morning skies were clear and blue on Sunday, February 26. This sweeping composite scene, overlooking Hermoso Valle, Facundo, Chubut, Argentina, follows the Sun after sunrise, capturing an annular solar eclipse. Created from a series of exposures at three minute intervals, it shows the year's first solar eclipse beginning well above the distant eastern horizon. An exposure close to mid-eclipse recorded the expected ring of fire, the silhouette of the New Moon only slightly too small to cover the bright Sun. At that location on planet Earth, the annular phase of the eclipse lasted a brief 45 seconds. via NASA http://ift.tt/2lwEkdM

March 1, 2017

A Solar Eclipse with a Beaded Ring of Fire


What kind of eclipse is this? On Sunday, visible in parts of Earth's southern hemisphere, the Moon blocked part of the Sun during a partial solar eclipse. In some locations, though, the effect was a rare type of partial eclipse called an annular eclipse. There, since the Moon is too far from the Earth to block the entire Sun, sunlight streamed around the edges of the Moon creating a "ring of fire". At some times, though, the effect was a rare type of annular eclipse. Then, an edge of the Moon nearly aligned with an edge of the Sun, allowing sunlight to stream through only low areas on the Moon. Called a "Baily's bead" or a "diamond ring", this doubly rare effect was captured Sunday in the feature photograph from Chubut, Argentina, in South America. This summer a total solar eclipse will swoop across North America. via NASA http://ift.tt/2m80EhH