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From Strings to Strings

Geminid Meteor Shower 2016

It’s time for the best meteor shower of the year! December brings the Geminid meteor shower in the night sky, one of the spectacular displays of dance of the meteors showers.

About Geminid

Dating back to more than 200 years Geminid meteor shower is growing stronger every years- a research suggests. Geminid definitely marks the best display meteor shower with a rate of about 120 shower per hour in the dark sky and about 40 shower per hour with the super-moon light that we are about to get this year during the shower. 40 shower per hour (That rhymed) is still a good odds in our favor.

The name Geminid comes from the Constellation Gemini (Also known as the twins) and as the name suggests, it radiates from a certain point in the constellation, the radiant point in this case is- Castor.  The parent body of the shower is a near-earth asteroid called 3200 Phaethon, an asteroid which is believed to have collided with some objects in the past. Usually, meteor showers take place when the earth passes through the Orbital path of a comet. When the debris from the comet enters the earth’s upper atmosphere, the vaporization of the particles create the spectacular showers in the sky.

When to watch?

The peak of meteor shower is on the night of Dec 13 and Dec 14. Usually the peak of the Geminid meteor shower intensifies after midnight.

How to see the shower?

The best way to see a meteor shower is to go away from the city with excessive light pollution to some rural areas. But if that’s not possible then, you can do it from you roof too! You’re not going to see a meteor shower if you just stare at the night sky, you have to adapt to the darkness in the night sky, i.e. you need to  gaze at the sky for a long time, gradually everything will start to appear dark, that’s when you see every single thing that moves in the sky.

Or you can take your camera and mount it on a tripod and set the following settings and try to catch few in the photos:

I usually use (The photo I have shared was on the following exif as well)

Shutter: 20”

F: 3.5

ISO: 3200

But it’s advised to use a lens with a wide aperture. In that case you might want to use ISO 1600. But it surely depends on the condition as well so just try few shots with different combination along that line

How to find the constellation Gemini?

The head of the Twins- Gemini consists of two bright stars- Castor and Pollux and in a place with an excessive photo-pollution only the head might be visible which forms a wedge that points straight at the Orion. The Orion or hunter is very easy to find!

castor

Photo Source : (www.earthsky.org)

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Gemini and Orion – Photo source : (www.stardate.org)

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DRACONIDS METEOR SHOWER AS SEEN FROM BUDHANILKANTHA, KATHMANDU. OCTOBER 9, 2015. PHOTO BY – ANUJ GHIMIRE

Stars and Constellations

On a clear night there are so many stars in the sky, more than we can probably count. Some stars look brighter than others. If we are really far from cities more stars we can see. These groups of stars are sometimes called constellation. A simple definition of constellation is a cluster of stars in the sky that grouped together in a particular pattern or shape and have been given a name. A more modern astronomical sense of the term is as recognizable pattern of stars whose appearance is associated with mythological characters or creatures or associated earthbound animals or objects. There are 88 official constellations which are recognized by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) which is most reasonable number to deals in billions. Some constellations are only visible in the northern hemisphere while others are only visible in the southern hemisphere. Constellation that are visible in both hemispheres may appear upside down in southern hemisphere. A few constellations can be viewed all year long but most are seasonal and can only be viewed at certain times of the year. The sun is the only known star in our galaxy which is not part of the constellation.

The most famous group of star that is easy to find is Big Dipper (Sapta Rhishi). Most people think of Big Dipper as a constellation itself, but it is an Asterism (Group of familiar stars within a constellation). It is made up of 7 bright stars. Big dipper is a part of constellation Ursa Major and visible all year in the northern hemisphere. Polaris is the brightest star in the constellation of Ursa Major. Orion is another constellation which is character from Greek mythology, a giant hunter who was placed in the stars by Zeus upon his death. The Big Dipper has a peculiar shape and is easy to find, and its more easy following the straight line from the North Star or Polaris, as the two stars on the outside of the bowl shape, point straight towards the Polaris, hence they are also known as the Pointer stars. Finding Polaris can help you find Ursa Minor as well, Polaris is the star at the end of the handle of Ursa minor. 

big

 Photo Source : Dan Mitchell (Gettyimages)

Orion, also known as the Hunteris visible in both hemispheres. The constellation mainly consists of bright blue super-giant stars. The most notable exception being the red super-giant Betelgeuse. Betelgeuse is the largest star in the constellation. It has 1000 times the radius of the sun. The 3 stars which forms a line through Middle of the constellation are as Orion’s Belt. The brightest stars in the constellation is Rigel which is 40,000 times brighter than sun. There is a lot more to Orion than just a few star that is why when astronomers talk about constellation they don’t just mean few stars that might look like something they also mean all others stuff that are part of night sky. Orion is the most easily recognizable constellation.The easiest way to find Orion in the night sky is to look for the belt of Orion, three stars resembling the shape of a bet on the hunter. 

orion Photo Source : Google images

Zodiac are group of constellations that forms a circular pattern in the night sky. Zodiac helps astronomers to figure out how other objects travels in the space. At the beginning of the January, the constellations of Sagittarius are highly visible to us on earth. The Greek called Sagittarius the Archer because it looks like a man shooting the arrow. Capricornus is also highly visible in January towards the end of the month. It is sometime called sea goat since it happens to have the head of a goat and the tail of a fish.

Next up in February is Aquarius or the water bearer, a group of ancient people called Babylonians thought that these group of star look like an old man pouring water from a picture.

Moving on to march we can see Pisces or the fishes. Pisces represents Venus, a roman goddess who is said to have turned into a fish, and jumped into a river to escape an evil monster.

Next up in April is Aries. In Greek mythology Aries was a ram with wings. The constellation of Taurus visible in may which look like a bull.

June’s prominent constellation, Gemini is sometime called the twins because it reminded the ancient Greeks of the twin’s son of Zeus.

Cancer which we can see pretty well in July is called the Crab because it reminds some folks.

August constellation is called Leo and looks like a ferocious lion. Seen in

September is Maidens (Virgo) since it looks like a lady holding grain which symbolize the harvest of the Greeks and the remains Libra appears in October when days and night are roughly equal and is considered as symbol of balance.

Scorpius, ‘The scorpion’ is visible in November.

Finishing off the year in late November is Ophiuchus which once called “Serpentarias” because it looks like a man holding serpent or snake. Out of 13 Zodiac constellation 12 of them are used as sign for the zodiac calendar and astrology. The zodiac constellation is located within a band that is about 20’ in the sky.

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Photo Source : Google images

This article is contributed by Barsha Singh. Barsa is a student of B.Sc. Biology at Tri-Chandra Multiple Campus, Ghantaghar, Kathmandu 

Perseid Meteor Shower 2016

One of the most spectacular cosmic display is about to light up the night sky this week “The Perseid Meteor shower”. Since July 17 Earth is passing through the path of comet Swift-Tuttle, but the Earth will reach to the densest part on August 12.

When to see the Perseid Meteor Shower?

The meteor shower will reach its peak on August 11 and 12. The meteor shower will radiate in the northern sky from the constellation Perseus. It is predicted that there will be an outburst of about 200 meteor showers per hour. The best time to view would be from midnight to dawn.

How to see the Perseid Meteor Shower?

The best way to view would be to lie down on you back on the roof and then look at the sky continuously, after a short time everything will kind of turn dark and then you will easily be able to see any light that moves in the sky. There’s a high chance that you might not be able to see one if you just look from time to time. Though the meteors can appear all over the sky it would be better to actually look to the North, around the constellation Perseus.

You can look for the Pleiades, Pleiades is a star cluster, usually called the seven sisters because of the 7 bright visible stars.  It is visible from anywhere on a clear night. It will be easier to find Pleiades if you know Orion. Just find the Orion and follow the line of the three best to find Aldebaran (The Brightest star in Taurus). And again see past the Aldebaran and there lies a small cluster with 7 bright stars, The Pleiades. Perseus lies to the upper left hand side of Pleiades. If that’s too much of trouble you can use app such as night sky or google sky to find the constellation.

How to find Perseus?

Perseus-Perseid-meteor-shower

Photo source : http://earthsky.org/

How to find Pleiades ?

peldias

Photo source: http://www.wikihow.com/

Can we see the Perseid Meteor Shower from Nepal?

If the night sky favors us, specially by the monsoon clouds, we will be able to see the meteor shower. The best thing to do to star gaze is to go somewhere with minimum light pollution. Since it mostly peaks during the night time there will be lesser light to disturb so it would be visible. The Draconids meteor shower of Oct 9,2015  was clearly visible from Kathmandu.

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Draconids Meteor shower as seen from Budhanilkantha, Kathmandu. October 9, 2015. Photo by – Anuj Ghimire

Hope you guys see one!

Citizen Science

What is Citizen Science?

Science is a means of our Understanding the truth of Nature and its marvelous creation and systems. For hundreds of years people of Science have ventured into the abyss of the unknown reality of the universe, whether it’s in Physics, Astronomy or Biology. The curiosity of human mind has drove the chain of knowledge over the extended horizon of evolution of human minds. From the inquisitive minds of early philosophers, great thinkers to primeval scientist and to modern day Scientist, Science has come so far from its early days. The metamorphosis of primitive science to present day and age with advanced Science was brought about by the curiosity of the people.

Over the generation, the scientific exploration was limited to the experts of the related field. But with the dawn of the last two decades or so the concept of Citizen Science has come to light. Citizen Science can be simply defined as the “Involvement of volunteers in Science” unlike the past methods of involving professionals related to scientific field for scientific research in a non-collaborative way. Citizen science deals in a broad arena of society. Citizen science refers to the involvement of non-Scientific community in scientific research. It is often referred to as “Amateur Science” or “Crowdsourced Science”.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary: Citizen Science can be defined as – “Scientific work undertaken by members of the general public, often in collaboration with or under the direction of professional scientists and scientific institutions”

Curiosity is not limited by the availability or core interest in the scientific field. A person can choose not to be a Scientist yet have curiosity about things in Science. Citizen science brings those people into the domain of scientific research. One doesn’t need an advanced degree in Ecology to study the diversity and distribution of a particular birds of an area. They can work as a citizen Scientist. Citizen science is all about collaboration of Scientist with the general public who are interested to work/volunteer on scientific works. Their involvement can be limited to collecting data to analysis or even at times getting published.

 

Within the framework of  relation to the Biological science and Environment, knowledge of local people is powerful, not just in mapping the biodiversity of the area but even to understand the habitat use and behavior of those animals. This collaboration of scientists and general public not only brings the local knowledge into the play but also helps to raise awareness among the general public. At times the local knowledge is even better than the knowledge of the Scientist because they have been using or observing any biological resources within area for many generations. The local knowledge of Ethno-biology can surpass the knowledge of an Ethno-biologist. It is for this reason, any research in Science, can be very useful with the involvement of the local community or any general form of public. As per the report of “UK Environmental Observational Framework” citizen science has been a very useful tool in the scientific study. The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is one of the famous citizen science project which has been very successful in the field of wildlife conservation. In the year of 2011  more than 600,000 people were involved in the survey, which could be the world’s biggest wildlife survey.

 

Bird Track is an online Citizen Science website operated by British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) which gives a platform for anyone anywhere in the world to records birds.

 

The Great Nature Project is another project by  National Geography to document the biodiversity of the Earth.

The concept of Citizen Science is not restricted just to natural science. There are numerous projects on Astronomy, Chemistry. The Zooniverse provides platform for Physics, Chemistry, Space science, History, Medicine etc.

 

Citizen-Science-Infographic

Source : http://www.citizensciencecenter.com

Why Citizen Science?

 

Citizen science is the best way to contribute back to the community. Not only it will help to enhance the conservational efforts of the local level, but it will broaden the understanding of scientific knowledge to the general public. It will help people understand the various changes and threats that one particular species or an ecosystem as a whole is facing. Conservation starts from the local level, the process of bringing science to the general public will improve the methods of conservation.  Citizen science brings people from different background into the domain of scientific research, hence giving rise to broad arrays of solutions for the environmental problems that a particular area is facing or is vulnerable to. The local people might be living in an ecosystem with vast importance and not realize it, or in a way over exploiting it. Their involvement in citizen science project will definitely help change their views about it.

All in all Citizen Science project generates new and in depth knowledge which could be limited otherwise. And moreover it will help to spread knowledge and awareness for the conservation of an ecosystem as a whole.

 

Back to the Beginning

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Have you ever thought about the origin of universe? How did everything happen? Why are we in the way we are? And the things, why are they in the way they are?

From the dawn of human history, these are the major things about which our ancestors as well as we have been thinking about. The steady model which used to be widely accepted suggests the existence of eternal universe without beginning. The aroma of curiosity has travelled from the evolution of human being to the present through gene. From the large number of models of universe, “Big Bang” has the highest number of evidences. Big bang is a theory that highlights the origin of universe from a single point, smaller than atom around 14 billion years ago. The cosmos before big bang exists outside our past light cone which is why it’s not a matter of our concern. As famous astrophysicist as well as author Carl Sagan says, “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”, universe that originated after the big bang, in which we are residing is desperate to get explored.

Continue reading “Back to the Beginning”

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