Category Archives: space

The view from our spaceship

William Castleman figured out how to film the center of our own galaxy as it rose over the night horizon in Texas. In case you want directions, here’s how he did it:

“The time-lapse sequence was taken with the simplest equipment that I brought to the star party. I put the Canon EOS-5D (AA screen modified to record hydrogen alpha at 656 nm) with an EF 15mm f/2.8 lens on a weighted tripod. Exposures were 20 seconds at f/2.8 ISO 1600 followed by 40 second interval. Exposures were controlled by an interval timer shutter release (Canon TC80N3). Power was provided by a Hutech EOS203 12v power adapter run off a 12v deep cycle battery. Large jpg files shot in custom white balance were batch processed in Photoshop (levels, curves, contrast, Noise Ninja noise reduction, resize) and assembled in Quicktime Pro. Editing/assembly was with Sony Vegas Movie Studio 9.”

Via The Denver Egotist.

Microsoft blows a space launch

Yes, Microsoft deserves praise for unveiling a truly wonderful WorldWide Telescope on Tuesday. We hear the images are breathtaking. Trouble is, Microsoft built the free software download so that only PC users can enjoy swooping 3-D tours of outer space — and not people who use Macs.

This is a bit dense-headed of Microsoft, since Apple now accounts for 21% of the U.S. computer market. Whoops, did we say 21%? That’s right — if you only count consumer PCs. There’s a big myth out there that Apple only has 2.9% of the global computer market, which is technically true, but Fortune notes that Apple’s computer share among U.S. consumers is 21% if you exclude those boring business enterprise sales, a market in which Apple does not compete.

It gets worse for Microsoft. The incredible success of the iPod and iTunes has not only pushed Macs to 1 in 5 U.S. consumers at home; Apple computer sales grew 37% in 2007 vs. the remaining industry’s 15%. Steve Jobs is gaining, and gaining fast.

So now Microsoft finally unveils a sexy piece of software, which unlike Vista, works. It has a killer opportunity to show Mac users, who are graphics-heads, that Redmond can really deliver a spectacle from outer space. The reviewers say Google Earth just can’t compete. And yet … Microsoft shuts the Mac boys out.

We were so tempted to show our kids a cool Microsoft program, and soon our kids will need computers. But since the door is locked, we’ll probably buy them both Macs.

Space junk: Time for Earth to clear out the attic

We’re seeing promotions for the environment everywhere, as Al Gore’s missive and childhood asthma and melting ice seem to be sinking in. The real futurists have looked to space as an exit, in case we burn out our planet (like dusty Mars) and have to move somewhere else (hey, Venus is cooling down).

But now, the European Space Agency notes the Earth is getting ringed in junk — all those little rockets we’ve put up that burn and fragment and float around at millions of miles an hour. By 2112, ESA says the 6,000+ satellites we’ve launched in orbit since the 1950s should continue to collide with each other to create a haze of debri like the ring above. Anyone trying to get through may blow up as whizzing space metal punctures the rocket life support systems.

Whoops. Don’t you hate it when you paint yourself into a corner?

(Via Gizmodo.)