Friday, April 24, 2015

Hubble Space Telescope at 25


This photograph, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, was recently released by NASA, for the 25th anniversary of the telescope's years in orbit of the Earth. The bright lights in the center of the photo is actually a cluster of about 3,000 stars that was discovered by Bengt Westerlund, a Swedish astronomer, in the 1960s. That cluster is now known as Wusterlund 2 and is located about 20,000 light years away from Earth and measures between six and 13 light years from end to end. The 2-million year old cluster is part of the constellation Carina and located in a section of space called Gum 29. Aside from the stars, which are relatively young in terms of space, the blue/green hues are oxygen and the red is hydrogen. (Image Sources: NASA, ecnmag.com )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Twenty-five years ago today (April 24), the Hubble Space Telescope was launched from Cape Canaveral, and since then has given us an unprecedented look into our universe.

Many telescopes and observatories have been constructed all over the Earth, over the last few centuries. However, they all had one and the same problem. Earth's atmosphere limited the distance into the cosmos, and the details of celestial objects, that could be seen by these telescopes, due to blurring of the images seen.

Scientists realized this as early as 1923, when it was first suggested that a telescope in outer space would not be so limited as those on the Earth. However, it was not until 1990 April 24 that the Hubble Space Telescope was launched to provide a new look on the universe, after several delays including the tragic loss of Space Shuttle Challenger.

But once in orbit, a new problem became obvious. The Hubble Space Telescope had, what some people termed, a telescope's verson of being near-sighted. Actually, the pictures taken by Hubble were not much better than those taken from Earth-bound telescopes, because there had been a minute error in how the telescope's mirror had been ground. The mirror's curvature had been off by only 2.2 microns (1/50th as thick as a piece of paper). However, this was enough to threaten the mission of this telescope.

Fortunately, the Hubble Space Telescope was designed to accommodate servicing missions by astronauts, particularly to install upgraded equipment. The first servicing mission by Space Shuttle Endeavour astronauts, in December of 1993, was used to install corrective optics (smaller mirrors to correct for the error in the large mirror) in the telescope.

This was one of the most complex Space Shuttle missions, requiring five days of astronaut space walks, to complete the work. On 1994 January 13, NASA declared the mission a complete success, displaying new stellar photographs which were much crisper and sharper. This was also a major success for astronomers, who could now do more in-depth research with an extremely capable telescope.

Four more servicing missions, to the Hubble Space Telescope, were conducted from the Space Shuttle. As technology improved over the years, new equipment was added to the telescope, to improve its capabilities. In fact, the Space Shuttle was kept flying just a little longer so an extra trip to the Hubble Space Telescope could be accommodated.

"Even the most optimistic person to whom you could have spoken back in 1990 couldn’t have predicted the degree to which Hubble would re-write our astrophysics and planetary science textbooks," said Charlie Bolden, NASA Administrator and pilot of the mission that brought Hubble into orbit. "A quarter century later, Hubble has fundamentally changed human understanding of the universe and our place in it."

More on the Hubble Space Telescope --
Link 1 >>> http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/nasa-s-hubble-space-telescope-celebrates-25-years-of-unveiling-the-universe
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubble_Space_Telescope

Photographic Slide Show of Hubble Space Telescope Images:
Link >>> http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/show/entire

Photographic Gallery of Hubble Space Telescope Images:
Link >>> http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Lyrid Meteor Shower, w/ Web-Cast, on Earth Day 45th Anniversary

splash
A new NASA Science News ScienceCast video previews the Lyrid meteor shower:
Link >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rNmmHXEdTc&feature=youtu.be
(Image Source: NASA Science News)

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

The 45th anniversary of Earth Day coincides with the annual Lyrid Meteor Shower, which peaks this evening (April 22) at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 23:00 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Of course, after nightfall, and particularly after local midnight, is the best time to view any meteor shower.

The Lyrids, which seem to stream from the bright star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp, occurs each year when Earth's orbit of the Sun passes through the dusty remnants of Comet Thatcher (C/1861 G1). Under ideal conditions, this modest meteor shower could yield 10-to-20 meteors per hour.

Clear skies are always a must for meteor viewing, something not always available during the early portion of “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” And, it is always best to get away from city lights, for the chance to see the dimmer meteors.

As always, the best viewing for a meteor shower is between local midnight and local dawn, when the Earth is rotating into the meteor shower. Unlike other years when the bright Moon may interfere with viewing some of the dimmer meteors, this year the Moon is a slender waxing crescent, setting shortly after sunset. So Moon light will not pose a problem seeing meteors this year.

Telescopes and binoculars are of little use for finding meteors. Such optical devices restrict the field-of-view, thus that you could easily miss a lot of meteors, and the chance that you could observe a meteor with a telescope or binoculars is not very good. The best way to look for meteors is to lie down on the ground, or lean-back in a lawn chair, in an area with an unobstructed view of most of the sky until you see a meteor.

Although Lyrid meteors appear to radiate from the part of the sky near the star Vega in the constellation Lyra the Harp, meteors can appear in any part of the sky at any time. In many cases (but not all), the trails from Lyrid meteors will seem to point-back to Lyra the Harp.

Although the Lyrids are considered a modest meteor shower, on occasion an outburst could boost the hourly meteor viewing rate closer to 90-to-100 during the peak viewing time. This occurred in 1982, with an even greater outburst seen in 1803. Such outbursts are rare and unpredictable. They occur when the Earth travels through an unusually dense clump of debris from Comet Thatcher.

So, if weather conditions permit, grab a warm jacket and look for the Lyrids late tonight (April 22) and early tomorrow morning (April 23).

If weather conditions are not cooperative, some Lyrid meteors can be seen on an Internet web-cast, sponsored by the Slooh Community Observatory (Internet link to web-cast near end of this blog post). However, do realize that the Slooh camera will be pointing in just one direction. Unlike a person, who is able to scan the entire sky for meteors, a camera looking in just one direction, in all likelihood, will not have as high a meteor-per-hour count.

Internet Web-Cast of Lyrid Meteor Shower by Slooh Community Observatory ---
Wednesday Evening, 2015 April 22, Beginning at 8:00 p.m. EDT / April 23 at 0:00 UTC:
Link >>> http://live.slooh.com/stadium/live/lyrid-meteor-shower-2015

More on the Lyrid Meteor Shower ---
Link 1 >>> http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2015/21apr_lyrids2015/
Link 2 >>> http://www.spaceweather.com/meteors/lyrids/lyrids.html
Link 3 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyrids

More on the constellation Lyra the Harp: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyra

More on meteor showers: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteor_shower

More on meteors: Link >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteoroid#Meteor

More on Earth Day ---
Link 1 >>> http://www.earthday.org/
Link 2 >>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earth_Day

Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

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Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

No Obvious Signs of Advanced ET Societies in 100,000 Galaxies: Penn State Study

A mid-infrared image of the Andromeda Galaxy
Orange whorls of star-warmed dust fill the Andromeda galaxy's spiral arms in this false-color mid-infrared image from NASA's WISE space telescope. Such images could also potentially reveal the waste heat from galaxy-spanning advanced civilizations.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/WISE Team


By Lee Billings

Astrobiology—the study of extraterrestrial life—has made great strides since its 1960s origins, when the evolutionary biologist George Gaylord Simpson derided it as “a science without a subject.” Today it is booming as never before, driven by perennially high public interest and steadily growing scientific respectability.

In a press conference last week two senior NASA officials—Ellen Stofan, the agency’s chief scientist, and John Grunsfeld, the former astronaut and associate administrator for NASA’s science programs—predicted that astrobiologists would at last find their elusive alien subjects within only a decade or two. Not long ago the prediction would have been bold but now it seems almost passé, as more evidence mounts that the warm, wet conditions for life as we know it prevail throughout the cosmos. Surely simple, single-celled life should be common out there, waiting to be found by a rover in subsurface brines on Mars or by a mission sent to probe the oceans of the icy moons Europa or even via space telescopes gazing at Earth-like planets orbiting faraway stars. NASA generously funds all these efforts.

The possible existence of intelligent aliens and extraterrestrial civilizations, on the other hand, remains much more controversial and is scarcely funded at all. Even so, for more than a half-century a small, scattered contingent of astronomers has gone against the grain, engaging in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). SETI chiefly looks for chatty cosmic cultures that might be beaming messages around our region of the galaxy using radio waves or laser pulses. But its interstellar eavesdropping has yet to detect any signals that withstand close scrutiny. Even if brimming with life, to us, the galaxy seems to be a very quiet, rather lonely place.

Now, new results suggest this loneliness may extend out into the universe far beyond our galaxy or, instead, that some of our preconceptions about the behaviors of alien civilizations are deeply flawed. After examining some 100,000 nearby large galaxies a team of researchers lead by The Pennsylvania State University astronomer Jason Wright has concluded that none of them contain any obvious signs of highly advanced technological civilizations. Published in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, it is by far the largest of study of its kind to date—earlier research had only cursorily investigated about a hundred galaxies.

More - Link >>> http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/alien-supercivilizations-absent-from-100-000-nearby-galaxies/?WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20150417

Source: Scientific American Magazine.

Director of Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and Observatory, Carnegie Science Center, part of Penn State University research team ---
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Link >>> http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8179452-74/energy-research-state
WESA-FM 90.5 Pittsburgh:
Link >>> http://wesa.fm/post/after-searching-100000-galaxies-pittsburgh-researcher-finds-no-evidence-alien-life

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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Dark Matter Mapped, Although Still Not Visible

Mass map with images of two galaxy clusters and a cosmic void.
Mass map with images of two galaxy clusters and a cosmic void.
(Image Source: Dark Energy Survey)

By Krishnadev Calamur, National Public Radio

Scientists have released the first of several dark matter maps of the cosmos.

Researchers from the Dark Energy Survey used data captured by the Dark Energy Camera, a 570-megapixel imaging device they say is one of the world's most powerful digital cameras, to put together the largest contiguous map of dark matter created. They presented their findings Monday at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Baltimore.

The scientists say the map covers only about 3 percent of the area of sky. They hope it will improve understanding of the role dark matter plays in the creation of galaxies — and to investigate dark energy.

More - Link >>> http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/04/14/399562522/scientists-release-largest-map-yet-of-dark-matter-in-the-cosmos

Source: National Public Radio.

PBS interview with Sean Carroll, cosmologist and theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, regarding new Dark Matter Map:
Link >>> http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mapping-dark-matter-may-help-solve-cosmic-mystery/

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
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gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

170th Anniversary: America's 1st Public Observatory

Image of original Cincinnati Observatory on Mt. Adams.
Image, circa 1845, of the original Cincinnati Observatory which was located atop
Mount Adams, just east of Downtown Cincinnati. On 1845 April 14, the Cincinnati
Observatory began operation as America's first public observatory. A year and a-half
earlier, former U.S. President John Quincy Adams delivered his last public address at the
laying of the cornerstone for the original observatory building.
(Image Source: Cincinnati Observatory Center)

By Aashi Mital, Cincinnati Observatory Historical Consultant, Researcher, and Archivist
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Tucked away at the end of a shy street in a quiet Cincinnati neighborhood, reside two buildings from a different time, telling a story quite their own. Entranced by their beauty, you make your way up the narrow drive, feeling the awesome power of history’s embrace.

Getting lost in the gracefulness of tall trees and the grandeur of great houses, your attention turns to the picturesque silver domes. And with this very sight, you know that you've come across something truly special - the Cincinnati Observatory.

Known as the Birthplace of American Astronomy, the Cincinnati Observatory was the first public observatory in the western hemisphere. It houses the oldest public telescope in the world. On April 14, 2015, the Cincinnati Observatory will be celebrating 170 years of astronomy, history and heritage.

More - Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/mitala/COC_170th_Article-_Aashi_Mital_.pdf

Source: Aashi Mital, Cincinnati Observatory Historical Consultant, Researcher, and Archivist:
More - Link >>> http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/mitala/index.html
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Related Blog Posts ---

Presidents' Day: The Astronomy President - John Quincy Adams (2014 Feb. 17):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/02/presidents-day-astronomy-president.html

 

America's 2nd Public Observatory: Allegheny Observatory, Pittsburgh (2012 Aug. 28):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/08/centennial-new-allegheny-observatory.html

 

America's 5th Public Observatory: Buhl Planetarium Observatory, Pittsburgh (2011 Nov. 19):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2011/11/70th-anniversary-buhl-planetarium.html


Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Update: Historic Brashear Time Capsule

http://buhlplanetarium3.tripod.com/CSC-Brashear4-inch.JPG
This 4-inch refractor telescope was the 37th telescope (serial number 37) built at
the John A. Brashear Company factory on Pittsburgh's North Side. It was built,
circa 1900, for Dr. David D. Kennedy. On 1972 October 16, Mr. J.K. Foster donated
this historic telescope to Pittsburgh's original Buhl Planetarium and Institute of
Popular Science. This telescope is now used at the Henry Buhl, Jr. Planetarium and
Observatory at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center. Due to a wall collapse on March 16,
the historic Brashear Telescope Factory had to be demolished, for public safety.
(Image Source: Friends of the Zeiss)
 
By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Following a court order, Pittsburgh's Senator John Heinz History Center has taken temporary custody of a time capsule, and contents, found during demolition of the historic Brashear Telescope Factory on Pittsburgh's North Side. On April 1, Michael A. Della Vecchia, judge on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, granted emergency injunctive relief to the City of Pittsburgh, thus requiring the Jadell Minniefield Construction Company, of the Hazelwood section of the city, to relinquish the time capsule, which holds artifacts and papers dating back to, at least, 1874, until the legal ownership of the time capsule can be determined.

The City and the construction contractor, which demolished the Brashear Telescope Factory under an emergency city contract, both claim ownership of the time capsule and its historic contents. The former historic building had been owned by the City since 2012. However, the contractor claims rights to all salvageable materials, as provided by the emergency city contract.

Demolition of the historic Brashear Telescope Factory, which had been vacant for about 20 years, was necessitated after a wall of the building collapsed onto a nearby two-floor apartment building on March 16. The apartment building had to be evacuated, until city inspectors declared the building safe for occupancy.

According to Andy Masich, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Senator John Heinz History Center, the artifacts and papers in the historic Brashear Time Capsule have all been photographed by conservators and are now being kept in their climate-controlled archives. The library and archives are located, along with a large history museum, in the Senator John Heinz History Center's building at Smallman and 13th Streets in the Strip District, at the edge of Downtown Pittsburgh.

Historian and Antique Telescope Society President Bart Fried met with Andy Masich, and inspected the time capsule and the historic contents, on Monday. Mr. Fried is writing a book on the life of John Brashear.

According to Mr. Fried, the time capsule includes approximately 60 items, including two sealed envelopes. Until the legal dispute is resolved, these two envelopes will remain unopened.

In addition to some of the major items previously reported to have been in the time capsule (see SpaceWatchtower blog post of March 25, “Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Time Capsule Found & Opened” - link to March 25 blog post at end of this blog post), Mr. Fried reports that the following items were also found in the time capsule:

  • 1874 letter from Allegheny Observatory Director Samuel Pierpont Langley (who become the third Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution in 1887) to John Brashear, which led to the first meeting of the two historic astronomers. Mr. Fried noted, "That Brashear saved it (the letter) for twenty years and then thought to put it in the capsule speaks to his sense of history as well as his gratitude towards his very good friend Langley";
  • Second photograph of John A. Brashear Company employees, which includes what may be the only photograph of John Brashear's son, Harry, who died a year after the photograph was taken, at age 23;
  • Information in a note accompanying one of the sealed envelopes says it contains several items including a rare photograph of Dr. Henry Draper, a pioneer in the fields of astrophotography and making large telescopes. Draper assisted Brashear, teaching him the art and science of making telescope mirrors. Draper died in 1882, just as Brashear was starting his telescope making business. The letter was written by Draper's wife, Anna Draper;
  • A letter from Charles S. Hastings, an optical physicist who had been a professor at both Johns Hopkins and Yale Universities, who had collaborated with John Brashear on several telescope projects.

Mr. Fried further reports that the Senator John Heinz History Center now has written permission, from both the City and the contractor, to take all steps to conserve, inventory, and photo-document the time capsule artifacts and papers. Nothing further can be done until the legal ownership issue is resolved.

The Brashear Telescope Factory, originally built as a frame structure in May of 1886 but rebuilt as a brick building beginning in August of 1894, was originally the home of the John A. Brashear Company which had manufactured hundreds of telescopes and precise scientific instruments for observatories and scientific institutions throughout the world, in the latter part of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century.

Philanthropist and Pennsylvania Railroad Vice President William Thaw, Sr. provided this building, and also a new home next-door, to John Brashear free-of-charge, as Mr. Thaw's personal donation to scientific research. Both buildings, which were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, were less than a block from the original Allegheny Observatory, where John Brashear assisted the astronomers.

With limited formal education, John Brashear had transformed his love of Astronomy into a business, due to his expert craftsmanship in producing exquisite optics for telescopes and other instruments. He was Acting Director of the Allegheny Observatory, and later Acting Chancellor of the Western University of Pennsylvania (today's University of Pittsburgh), refusing permanent appointment to both positions. He, along with two other civic leaders, assisted Andrew Carnegie in designing the Carnegie Technical Schools (known today as Carnegie Mellon University).

John Brashear and his family continued living in the house, and Mr. Brashear continued his telescope-making business in the factory building, all rent-free until Mr. Brashear's death in 1920. John Brashear's former North Side house is in good condition and is currently being used as a half-way house for men with chemical dependencies.

The ashes of John Brashear and his wife Phoebe, as well as those of another former Allegheny Observatory Director, James E. Keeler, and two members of his family, are interred in a special crypt in the basement of the new Allegheny Observatory (which John Brashear single-handedly raised the funds to build in 1912) in Riverview Park.

Special Thanks: Bart Fried, President, Antique Telescope Society.

Photographs of Brashear Telescope Factory Building Time Capsule Contents, from the Al Paslow Astronomy Collection:
Link >>> http://al-paslow.smugmug.com/Other/John-Brashear-Time-Capsule/48206094_Grz6HB#!i=3951044359&k=RCqKLfF

More on John A. Brashear: Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/

More on the Allegheny Observatory: Link >>> http://www.pitt.edu/~aobsvtry/

John Brashear - Links to Special Resources: Brashear Telescope Factory Building:
Link >>> http://johnbrashear.tripod.com/speciallinks/brashearfactory.html

More details from the Pittsburgh morning newspapers ---

Bauder, Bob. "History center to hold onto disputed Brashear time capsule for now."
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 2015 April 1.
Link >>> http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/8092960-74/history-center-pittsburgh

Zullo, Robert. "History Center holds time capsule while Pittsburgh, demolition contractor sort out ownership." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2015 April 1.
Link >>> http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/04/01/History-Center-holds-time-capsule-while-Pittsburgh-demolition-contractor-sort-out-ownership/stories/201504010209

"John Brashear's Time Capsule." Segment in Essential Pittsburgh Radio Program.
 WESA-FM 90.5 Pittsburgh 2015 April 15.
Link >>> http://wesa.fm/post/essential-pittsburgh-mayor-peduto-welcomes-educational-summit-and-bike-share-system

Related Blog Posts ---

Dispute: Ownership of Brashear Time Capsule  (2015 March 26):

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/dispute-ownership-of-brashear-time.html



Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Time Capsule Found & Opened  (2015 March 25): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/brashear-telescope-factory-time-capsule.html


 


Historic Brashear Telescope Factory Wall Collapses (2015 March 18): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2015/03/historic-brashear-telescope-factory.html


 


Brashear House & Factory: Nomination to National Register of Historic Places  (2012 Oct. 11): Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/10/nomination-to-national-register-of.html




Historic Nomination: John Brashear House & Factory, Pittsburgh (2012 Sept. 13):

 Link >>>  http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/09/historic-nomination-john-brashear-house.html



Centennial: New Allegheny Observatory Dedication (2012 August 28):


 Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/08/centennial-new-allegheny-observatory.html



Pittsburgh's Allegheny Observatory: New History Film (2012 April 19) :
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2012/04/pittsburghs-allegheny-observatory-new.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Early Sat. Morning Lunar Eclipse w/ Web-Casts


Predicted observing conditions in North America for direct viewing of Saturday morning's Total Eclipse of the Moon. (Source: AccuWeather.com )

By Glenn A. Walsh
Reporting for SpaceWatchtower

Early Saturday morning, the shortest Total Eclipse of the Moon / Total Lunar Eclipse in the 21st century will be visible, completely, in eastern Australia, eastern Siberia, the Pacific Islands, most of Japan, and most of Alaska.

Most of the Western Hemisphere will see portions of the eclipse before the Moon sets, while most of Asia and Australia will see portions of the eclipse after the Moon rises. This eclipse will not be visible in Europe, Africa, and the vast majority of the Middle East.

A Lunar Eclipse or Eclipse of the Moon is when the orbit of the Moon brings our natural satellite into the Earth's shadow, always near the time, and including the time, of a Full Moon.

An Eclipse of the Moon or Lunar Eclipse is the type of eclipse that is safe to watch, directly, with the naked-eye, binoculars, or a telescope. Of course, visibility is dependent on local weather conditions. For areas where sky conditions are poor, as well as in areas where the eclipse will not be visible at all, Internet web-casts of the event will be available (links to these web-casts are listed near the end of this blog post).

This will be the third Total Lunar Eclipse, in a Tetrad of four successive total eclipses of the Moon, within a span of two years, with no partial lunar eclipses occurring within those two years. The dates of the other three Total Lunar Eclipses of the current Tetrad are 2014 April 15, 2014 October 8, and 2015 September 28.

Lunar Eclipse Tetrads are sporadic and usually rare. There were no such Tetrads during the 300-year period of 1600 to 1900. However, this is the first of eight Tetrads in the 21st Century! The next Tetrad will begin in April of 2032.

Here are the major stages of the eclipse --- Saturday Morning, 2015 April 4 ---

Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Begins                                   5:01:27 a.m. EDT / 9:01:27 UTC
Partial Lunar Eclipse Begins                                           6:15:45 a.m. EDT / 10:15:45 UTC
Total Lunar Eclipse Begins                                              7:57:54 a.m. EDT / 11:57:54 UTC
Greatest Lunar Eclipse                                                    8:00:14.5 a.m. EDT / 12:00:14.5 UTC
Total Lunar Eclipse Ends                                                 8:02:37 a.m. EDT / 12:02:37 UTC
Moon Phase - Full Moon                                                  8:06 a.m. EDT / 12:06 UTC
Partial Lunar Eclipse Ends                                               9:44:46 a.m. EDT / 13:44:46 UTC
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse Ends                                      10:58:58 a.m. EDT / 14:58:58 UTC

Unlike the Tetrad we are now experiencing, not all Lunar Eclipses are Total. Partial and Penumbral Lunar Eclipses also occur from time-to-time. However, all Total Lunar Eclipses include Partial and Penumbral phases of the Eclipse.

Of course, "totality" or total phase of the eclipse is the most impressive part of the eclipse, what most people wait to see. The partial phase of the eclipse is when a piece of the Moon seems missing, as the Moon moves further into the Earth's main shadow known as the umbra, or as the eclipse is ending the Moon is further moving out of the Earth's umbra.

The total phase of the April 4 eclipse, some call it the “Blood Moon” portion, will be the shortest of the 21st century. For less than five minutes, from 7:57:54 a.m. EDT / 11:57:54 UTC to 8:02:37 a.m. EDT / 12:02:37 UTC the Moon will be completely within the Earth's shadow. During this eclipse the Moon skims just inside the edge of the Earth's shadow, rather than passing through the middle of the shadow, as occurs during other Total Lunar Eclipses. This is the reason for this eclipse's brevity in the total phase.

The penumbral phase of the eclipse is difficult to see, as the Moon moves into or out of the Earth's secondary shadow or penumbra. In this case, one would not see any chunks or bites taken out of the Moon's disk, as one would see when the Moon moves into the umbra shadow during the partial phase. Instead, if your eyes are very good, you may notice a slight dimming of the light coming from the Moon, as the Moon moves further into the penumbral shadow

Often, particularly during the middle of a Total Eclipse of the Moon, the Moon will not disappear from view but can be seen with a reddish tint, what some call "blood red." If the Earth had no atmosphere, likely no sunlight would reach the Moon during a Total Lunar Eclipse, and the Moon might seem to disappear.

Although no direct sunlight reaches the Moon during a Total Lunar Eclipse, the Earth's atmosphere refracts the sunlight around our planet allowing a portion of the sunlight to continue to be transmitted to the Moon. However, the refracted light reaching the Moon is primarily in the red portion of the light spectrum, as with red-tinted sunrises and sunsets (during such a Total Lunar Eclipse, a person standing on the side of the Moon facing Earth could see all Earth sunrises and sunsets simultaneously, as they viewed the Earth in a Total Solar Eclipse !). Hence, it is red light that is reflected from the Moon back into your eyes during a Total Lunar Eclipse.

During the Total Lunar Eclipse, the Full Moon for April occurs at 8:06 a.m. Eastern Daylight Saving Time (EDT) / 12:06 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). Native Americans knew the April Full Moon as the Pink Moon. This name came from the herb moss pink or wild ground phlox, one of the earliest wildflowers of Spring.

In Earth's Northern Hemisphere, the April Full Moon is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, Seed Moon, Goose-Egg Moon, and the Egg Moon. Coastal Indian tribes called it the Fish Moon, as this was the time of year shad swam upstream to spawn.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the April Full Moon is known as the Harvest Moon, Hunter's Moon, and Blood Moon.

Web-Casts of the April 4 Total Lunar Eclipse:

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles:
Link >>> http://new.livestream.com/GriffithObservatoryTV/LunarEclipseApril2015

PBS-TV Star Gazers from Reno: Link >>> http://www.ustream.tv/star-gazers-eclipse
Related Blog Posts ---


Colorful, Early Wed. Morning Lunar Eclipse w/ Web-Casts (2014 Oct. 8): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/10/colorful-early-wed-morning-lunar-eclipse.html


Total Lunar Eclipse Early Tue. Morning w/ Web-Cast (2014 April 14):
Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/04/total-lunar-eclipse-early-tue-morning.html

 

U.S. to See 4 Total Lunar Eclipses in Year & A-Half  (2014 March 29): 

Link >>> http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/2014/03/us-to-see-4-total-lunar-eclipses-in.html


Source: Glenn A. Walsh Reporting for SpaceWatchtower, a project of Friends of the Zeiss.

Want to receive SpaceWatchtower blog posts in your inbox ?
Send request to < spacewatchtower@planetarium.cc >..

gaw

Glenn A. Walsh, Project Director,
Friends of the Zeiss < http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/fotz/ >
Electronic Mail - < gawalsh@planetarium.cc >
SpaceWatchtower Blog: < http://spacewatchtower.blogspot.com/ >
Also see: South Hills Backyard Astronomers Blog: < http://shbastronomers.blogspot.com/ >
Barnestormin: Writing, Essays, Pgh. News, & More: < http://www.barnestormin.blogspot.com/ >
About the SpaceWatchtower Editor / Author: < http://buhlplanetarium2.tripod.com/weblog/spacewatchtower/gaw/ >
SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS, ASTRONOMICAL CALENDAR:
< http://buhlplanetarium.tripod.com/#news >
Twitter: < https://twitter.com/spacewatchtower >
Facebook: < http://www.facebook.com/pages/SpaceWatchtower/238017839577841?sk=wall >
Author of History Web Sites on the Internet --
* Buhl Planetarium, Pittsburgh:
  < http://www.planetarium.cc >
* Adler Planetarium, Chicago:
  < http://adlerplanetarium.tripod.com >
* Astronomer, Educator, Optician John A. Brashear:
  < http://johnbrashear.tripod.com >
* Andrew Carnegie & Carnegie Libraries:
  < http://www.andrewcarnegie.cc >
* Civil War Museum of Andrew Carnegie Free Library:
  < http://garespypost.tripod.com >
* Duquesne Incline cable-car railway, Pittsburgh:
  < http://inclinedplane.tripod.com >
* Public Transit:
  < http://andrewcarnegie2.tripod.com/transit >