Find us on Google+ Astronomy Box: December 2011

13 December 2011

Citizen Science - Moon Zoo

Is there such thing as an educational adiction? There is now!

I've just opened my account on the magnificent citizen science project, Zooniverse. I've never felt so good about procrastination before. I've started with the Moon Zoo project which consists of two main classification and identification activities. The first and most extensive one is the Crater Survey which is the screenshot below.

Apart from skimming through the less featured images, there are some incredibly detailed ones and it's just so interesting and addictive to classify the various craters, features and abnormalities. What really adds to the compulsion to pour through hundreds of Lunar surface images is the possibility of finding abandoned spacecraft hardware.

The second activity you can partake in is called Boulder Wars, in which you are given a choice of two Lunar surface images and indicate which one has the most boulders. Pretty simple, but fun! You can also tag something interesting or unusual in either image which you will do at some point. I did. Here is a screenshot of Boulder Wars in action.

There are a number of projects live on Zooniverse but I'll cover them when I get sucked into them.

Lunar 3 - Image Stacking

I must say the Moon really is becoming one of my favorite objects to photograph and I think this is my best one yet!

OTA: 120mm Achromatic Refractor
Camera: Nikon D3100 14.2mp
Mount: CG-4 mount
Exposures: 12
Exposure: 1/100sec
ISO: 100

This one however is different from my previous efforts because it's actually twelve separate images stacked together.

This magical process can be done in a delightful freeware image processing program called Registax. "Oh, that sounds interesting" you might say, but no. This is the single most frustrating program I've used since Adobe Illustrator! I'll spare the rant but you do need a liberal amount of patients to learn how to get good results from this program. However, like Illustrator, with countless hours and the help from online tutorials I finally managed to render out this image of our beautiful and full moon.

It just so happened that there was a Lunar eclipse that day, which I unfortunately missed due to weather. I was all ready to make an animation of the event and everything.

And now for something completely different

Being in a creative field of work myself, I get excited when I see an artist tackling the theme of astronomy. During a recent visit to France, we decided to go and visit a local museum. It was that of the French artist Robert Tatin, and I use the term, museum, very loosely. It's more like a park which he dedicated to his work and used to be his home. The museum and grounds are now open to the public and the website can be seen here.

The reason I'm blogging about Robert Tatin is because he had a very big interest in astronomy and incorporated it into his work frequently. Almost as much as the female form!

Here are some examples which I was allowed to photograph:

There were many other examples of his work, depicting astronomical objects. He seemed particularly fond of constellations, most of which seemed to be ones of his own design. Sadly, I forgot to write down any of the names of his paintings so you'll just have to visit the museum yourself.

They even had his refracting telescope on display accompanied with two eyepieces:

The below plaque, according to Google translate, reads; The telescope of Robert Tatin. Day viewing, Night viewing. Which to me means he used the telescope to view the sun as well as for night time viewing.

Now, the reason many people may not know about Robert Tatin is because a large portion of his work was in the form of sculpture and permanently placed on the grounds. One of these "sculptures" is what I can only describe as a full scale Inca or Mayan temple.

Finally, I'll end up with what I think is Robert Tatins most impressive and imposing piece of work. This enormous sculpture which is quite spooky. Just to give you a sense of scale, a grown man could crawl into the mouth, but for some reason there was a statue of the virgin Mary inside it. I do remember watching a film or reading something stating that Tatin was highly skeptical about religion.

It was a great experience and although I may have taken away some of the surprise which I felt when I went to visit, I hope it's at least sparked somebodies interest in going to see Robert Tatins museum.

As a plus, there were some amazingly clear and unpolluted skies in that are of France so it would make a great astro-holiday.