Saturday, February 9, 2008

Antarctic mountaineers saw annularity - and real data from the South Pole

Finally a post-eclipse report has arrived from Antarctica! "Managed to see annularity through a thin layer of clouds," writes Xavier Jubier, safely back from Mt. Vinson: "However it was quite windy up there and taking eclipse pictures was a real challenge, not to mention various camera/lens problems. Came back safely to high camp after an exhausting 21-hour journey and now preparing to descend the headwall before the next storm comes in. The return to the base camp will likely be after the storm. More when I get back home late February..."

We can hardly wait to see your pictures - but meanwhile a 2nd batch from the South Pole has been received, this time from Johan Booth who "didn't have much time to explore the optimal set-up for photography." More interesting anyway are several plots of measurements, one from "the (uncalibrated) output from our Normal Incidence Pyrheliometer (NIP), a tracking device that measures solar radiation by pointing directly at the sun; the second shows temperatures measured at a variety of elevations. It's interesting to note that the higher sensors saw essentially no impact, while the lower ones did."

In other news this blogger - and countless fellow amateur astronomers in Europe - had a great time with the ISS and space shuttle Atlantis when they flew over Germany in bright dusk today at 17:43 CET: Not only could the ISS be seen - like Venus at zenith :-) - easily with the naked eye, in binoculars it could be resolved and the shuttle was visible as a tiny bright dot right in front of it. Already pictures of the close pair - since joined firmly - are coming in, e.g. via an astronomy forum - or a mailing list (here's yet another posting; always click on the "URL" link for the pix)!

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