Friday, December 27, 2013

An Atlas of the Universe


"This web page is designed to give everyone an idea of what our universe actually looks like. There are nine main maps on this web page, each one approximately ten times the scale of the previous one. The first map shows the nearest stars and then the other maps slowly expand out until we have reached the scale of the entire visible universe."
An Atlas of the Universe



Wonderful, warmly recommended!


Friday, December 20, 2013

A Prayer for Gaia Billion Star project

Launch of Gaia 19 December, 2013
Image ESA

Dear Lord of Hosts

We thank you for the successful launch of the ESA Gaia satellite

We pray that You do not take it as yet another proud Tower of Babel raised for the vain glory of humanity but rather as the joint effort of Nations to learn more about the wonderful Universe you have created.

We ask your blessing to all those involved in this project to better understand the Milky Way You have made and to let your holy angels watch over this lonely traveller to its orbit.

As Christians we pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Amen

____________
Update 
08 January 2014
ESA's billion-star surveyor Gaia is now in its operational orbit around a gravitationally stable virtual point in space called 'L2', 1.5 million km from Earth.

Praise the Lord!
Amen

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Redshift challenge in Seyfert's Sextet

Seyfert's Sextet
image NOAO
The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) site tells about the image: "This picture was taken at the Kitt Peak National Observatory's 2.1-meter telescope in July of 1998, as part of the KPNO Research Experiences for Undergraduates program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. North is up, east is to the left."

The accompanying image shows labeling and redshifts expressed in speeds km/s. While most redshifts in the sextet are in the range 4017 km/s - 4482 km/s there is one odd galaxy in the center with the speed of 19813 km/s. This is another story, altogether.

Image NOAO

Always ready for new adventures in Science, aren't we!

"Five of the members show very similar redshifts, from 4000 to 4500 km/s, while the fifth is measured at nearly 20000 km/s. Conventional wisdom argues that this is a chance projection of a distant background galaxy: some would have otherwise and require a complete rethink of modern cosmology and the introduction of completely new physics."

Well, such complete rethink of modern cosmology etc. has happened - an exception, anomaly in observed data that challenges generally accepted theories and at the end smashing them. So who will win in this case, classic redshift physics or human mind generating a new theory explaining the strange redshift reading for the sixth object in Seyfert's Sextet?

Well, let's take a closer look at the sextet taken by a camera located above Earth's distorting atmosphere.

Seyfert's Sextet NASA APOD

"The sextet actually contains only four interacting galaxies, though. Near the center of this Hubble Space Telescope picture,
  • the small face-on spiral galaxy lies in the distant background and appears only by chance aligned with the main group. 
  • Also, the prominent condensation on the upper left is likely not a separate galaxy at all, but a tidal tail of stars flung out by the galaxies' gravitational interactions." (APOD)
What you see is what you get - the sextet turns out to be a quartet!

As for classic redshift physics, common wisdom has survived this challenge and demonstrated once again the value of optical spectrometry to Astronomy!



Monday, November 25, 2013

Heavenly portrait of a humble galaxy

"Anemic galaxy" NGC4921
image NASA APOD Hubble Legacy Archive
Another Space Theology bookmark Spiral Galaxy NGC4921

What amazing pictures that little orbiting camera up there has been taking of the near and far Universe!

We are being spoiled by the good people at APOD.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Creation of heavy atoms in the Universe

Heavy Black Hole Jets in 4U1630-47
Image NASA APOD 
The depicted artist's view of the jet together with APOD experts explanation of what is going on is a prime example of the significance of visual data in the study of Universe.

The concepts are difficult, the math beyond the reach of ordinary mortals, but images like the one above created by M. Weiss make the description of a cosmic mechanism much more understandable.

It is not "just" an artists view based on assumptions and imagination. Rather, it is a careful and accurate visual composition of data combined from images taken using CSIRO’s Compact Array of radio telescopes in eastern Australia, and the European Space Agency's Earth-orbiting XMM-Newton satellite.

Another day of learning in the Universe

Thank you good folks at APOD!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Theology of Science

Plato (428-328 BC)
A Philosopher of Science
with enormous impact also on Theology
image wikimedia

The philosophy of science is concerned with all the assumptions, foundations, methods, implications of science, and with the use and merit of science.

This discipline sometimes overlaps metaphysics, ontology and epistemology, viz., when it explores whether scientific results comprise a study of truth.

In addition to these central problems of science as a whole, many philosophers of science consider problems that apply to particular sciences (e.g. philosophy of biology or philosophy of physics).

Some philosophers of science also use contemporary results in science to reach conclusions about philosophy.

Philosophy of science has historically been met with mixed response from the scientific community. Though scientists often contribute to the field, many prominent scientists have felt that the practical effect on their work is limited.
wikipedia

Well written!

Fair enough!

In this context what I have been doing in Space Theology and in other writings can indeed be called Theology of Science.

Not less than Philosophy of Science it deals with the issues of truth and Truth.

And one may well say that "many prominent scientists have felt that the practical effect on their work is limited". For deeper understanding of Philosophy and especially of Theology is not that common among highly specialized top scientists who are trained in their own specific fields of study and having little if any time to concentrate on subjects beyond their chosen field of research.


Friday, October 18, 2013

The Truth

Laser beam pointing as telescope focusing aid towards Milky Way
image wikimedia
בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃
bereshit bara Elohim et ha-shamaim ve-et ha-aretz
In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
Genesis 1:1 KJV

כי־הנני בורא שׁמים חדשׁים וארץ חדשׁה ולא תזכרנה הראשׁנות ולא תעלינה על־לב׃
ki hinneni boreh shamaim hadashim ve-aretz hadasha ve-lo hazkarnah ha-rishonot ve-lo tealenah al-lev
For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.
Isaiah 65:17 KJV
__________________________________

Comment to a blog text by Russell Bailiss:

"I understand Genesis 1:1 to refer to the creation by God of not just planet earth, but also the other planets when we are told that he created "earth", as from my study of the Hebrew word 'aretz' (translated 'earth') I have found that it means 'to be firm' and therefore could refer to any place of physical 'firmness' in the universe, not just this planet.

With this in mind, I am wondering if the use of the word 'aretz' in Isa 65:17 means that God will be re-creating the other planets as well as this one when Jesus comes back.

Do you have any thoughts on this interpretation of Isaiah 65:17 as English translations of the Bible use the phrase "a new earth" which suggests it is just this planet which is re'created."
__________________________________


Your question raises fundamentally important issues to all Bible believing Christians. I try to outline with a few words a truthful path towards an answer without any preposterous claim of supposedly owning the truth.

Unfortunately, what I write here about Biblical hermeneutics, our approach to reading and understanding the Holy Bible, is ignored or outright rejected by great many good Christians to the peril of Christianity in modern world. That is why I give such importance to your honest and good question. So read this reply with eyes wide open and with very critical mind!


The Truth
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
John 4:24
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
John 16:13:15 KJV
From these words of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of John we learn that the Spirit of God will "guide His own into all truth". This is not a static supernatural bestowing of heavenly knowledge but rather a heavy and lengthy process in which many, alas!, loose the interest in the truth.

For truth, all the truth and nothing but the truth hurts.

As sinners we are unable to stand in the light of the full power of truth about ourselves and need the protection of God's grace against the evil we see in us. We are unable to comprehend the ways of our Lord as He is something else! We need a Defender when we realize the limits of our intellectual ability and knowledge of His creation.

But most of all, we need the love of the truth that God gives as a free present. If we reject to accept this most wonderful and most challenging present it is possible that God Himself tries to fool us by false teachings and prophets so that we fall from grace and salvation. This is the nasty warning in the authentic letter of Apostle Paul in one of the oldest writings in the canonical collection of the New Testament
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2 Thess 2:7-10


Biblical truth?
Personally, I do not like the expression Biblical truth as it sounds like a qualification of truth. Instead, I respect the harsh words naked truth of penetrating laser power and clarity knowing that God of Israel wants nothing less
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Psalm 51:6
Naked truth is not at all a simple matter as truth is never trivial.

"In the beginning God created heaven and earth" (Gen 1:1).

Is this majestic opening sentence of the Bible true?

A truthful answer is that Jews, Christians and Muslims do believe that it is true and that God of the Bible has created the entire Universe and also us humans. It is a matter of faith, not true in the sense a scientific fact is (at least for now) true.

Atheists deny that there is any god and agnostics doubt whether there are any gods, personal or impersonal. They are free to do so as nothing forces people to believe in the God of Israel.

Isn't that true?


Truth about Creation
You refer to the Hebrew word aretz, earth, the firm one, as a planet.

There probably are very few humans left in today's world who have normal ability to learn and access to most basic education who doubt that Earth indeed is a round planet orbiting the Sun.

Today astronomers are using increasingly sophisticated tools of observation and mathematical formula to detect planets around other stars in Milky Way galaxy. And they are discovering hundreds of them.

Isn't this true?

So as a believing Christian living in modern days you logically ask does the Word of God given through prophet Isaiah in Is 65:17 (in the final so called Trito-Isaiah part of the famous book) possibly refer to all the planets or just to the planet we have been given to rule over as our home?


Truth about the Bible
Christians of today often ignore or reject the truth that the people who wrote the Bible understood those five visible bright and regularly moving objects on the sky we regularly call planets in a completely different way from us post-Copernicus humans.

The Bible represents a genuinely geocentric world view where the Earth is the firm center of the entire Cosmos under a firmament (Hebrew רקיע raqi`a) separating the waters under and above. Making the firmament took God the entire Second Day of Creation well before the Fourth Day when He set Sun, Moon and the stars above Earth to illuminate day and night and to show people times and religious calendars. (btw. the Sumerians called Nanna, Moon, also Su-en, "the one who knows the time").
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Genesis 1:6-8

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
Gen 1:14-19
The truth that the world view of those who wrote the Bible was geocentric is as much an anathema to many believing Christians today as the introduction of heliocentric world view was to the good Christians in 16th century Italy. Would the Spirit of God who inspired the writers of the Holy Bible not know that Earth is a planet?


Truth about the future of planet Earth
Astronomers and cosmologists can say much about the future of our Solar system and the planets orbiting the Sun when the hydrogen fuel reserves of the Sun start to get low. These scientific facts greatly interest humanity but have little relevance since as far as we know all life has been extinguished from planet Earth many thousand millions of years before the expected expansion of Sun into a red giant in about 7.5 billion years from now that finally engulfs Earth into its fiery flames.

Isn't this true?

God of Israel says through His holy prophet Isaiah that He has a future plan in which He will create new heavens and earth.

As Bible believing Christians we believe that this is true and wait for that amazing day heart full of joy - and sometimes a little doubt.

We do not want to twist the Word of Bible and claim that Genesis 1:1 and Isaiah 65:17 refer to the planets as we know them today. Rather, we say that the Bible expresses an extremely powerful message using the authentic vocabulary of people having fully geocentric view of the world with Earth as the fixed and immobile center of everything. 

As children of modern scientific era we ask the legitimate question on the basis of our knowledge today does the divine prophecy from the God of Israel talk only about the Earth as known to humanity before Copernicus or does it involve the entire Universe ... or even Multiverse?


Here I stop...
As I said, I do not claim to own the truth and sincerely warn about religious or irreligious people who make such a claim. 

Rather, I try to point the way towards truth - to accept the Bible as it is and to accept truthful knowledge of the Nature as it is without trying to force the Word of God into the molds of current knowledge that may soon be rather laughable in the light of tomorrow's science.

It is not a shame even to say that "I do not know" and to stand humbly at the shores of the enormous open sea of knowledge with one of the greatest scientists of all times, Sir Isaac Newton, grateful for that little pretty stone we have been allowed to find!

And it is a particularly good idea to trust the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ and pray that Holy Spirit would guide you and me and all those who respect the Word of God towards all truth and show us answers and new questions in our quest for the Truth.


Truth with capital T
For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Colossians 2:1-3 KJV
All treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ, yes.

But they are hidden, so let us all ora et labora!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First mathematics then optics!

NGC 891
Hubble image NASA APOD
Galaxies have been studied intensively ever since Edwin Hubble first realized that those "cosmic clouds" where in fact star islands in the Universe.

Astronomers, astrophysicists, cosmologists and other scientists used advanced mathematics with theories of gravity, time, matter and space to figure out more about different types of galaxies. Much of the work was and continues to be theoretical with assumptions made on the basis of known laws of Nature.

Hubble telescope has the optics and ideal environment to provide needle sharp images of galaxies. But also Earth bound telescopes can today achieve images like this edge on picture of NGC 891 which is a combination of several photos.

It must be very satisfying - or challenging - to see with own eyes something that has only been rather abstract results of complex mathematical formula.

Adam Block from Mt. Lemmon Sky Center of the University of Arizona has thus provided visual evidence about galaxies that has been summarized also for us lay people in the APOD site
The spiral galaxy spans about 100 thousand light-years and is seen almost exactly edge-on from our perspective. In fact, about 30 million light-years distant in the constellation Andromeda, NGC 891 looks a lot like our Milky Way. At first glance, it has a flat, thin, galactic disk and a central bulge cut along the middle by regions of dark obscuring dust. The combined image data also reveal the galaxy's young blue star clusters and telltale pinkish star forming regions. And remarkably apparent in NGC 891's edge-on presentation are filaments of dust that extend hundreds of light-years above and below the center line. The dust has likely been blown out of the disk by supernova explosions or intense star formation activity. Faint neighboring galaxies can also be seen near this galaxy's disk.

New ideas for how Earth core formed

Image BBC Science and Environment
Another Space Theology bookmark

BBC Science correspondent Simon Redfen reports on fresh research on liquid iron published by Stanford University. The clearly written article discusses developing theories on the structure and formation of planet Earth.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Whitevinyl's SolarBeat


"UK-based Luke Wyman's Whitevinyl recently released Solar Beat a music box looped using the orbital frequencies of our own solar system. It's one of those simple concepts where astrophysics is translated into a pleasing ambient loop soundtrack that's more profound than your average web diversion."

Kind of a planetary Glockenspiel!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Death of a star - M2-9

Spectacular photo of a regular event in space
Hubble photo  APOD 

Another Space Theology bookmark Butterfly Nebula

At least I do not remember having seen before anything like this Hubble telescope masterpiece catching the dying moments of a regular star.

Scientists do not fully understand what is going on. It does not matter, in such images they have a wondrous resource for studying the matter in a way unimaginable just a generation ago.

Hubble's follower, the James Webb space telescope, has truly high expectations...



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

ALMA strike: everyday life of astronomers

Image ESO/Picture of the week

August 23, 2013
"The union's president, Victor Gonzalez, said nearly 200 workers at the Alma observatory had gone on strike to demand a 15% pay rise after failing to reach agreement with Associated Universities Inc (AUI), their US employers.

The workers endure difficult living conditions and are exposed to strong winds, thin air and severe temperature drops.
...
The 194 striking workers are technicians and administrators and do not include scientists.

Alma's antennas are in a remote part of the Atacama desert 5,200 metres above sea level.

The dryness and low interference from other radio signals create some of the best conditions for observing the night sky.

The observatory is funded by the European Union, the United States, Canada, Taiwan and Japan."
Read the entire article from BBC News

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Gaia satellite getting ready for Milky Way mapping mission

Another Space Theology bookmark Jonathan Amos on Gaia

Fundamentally important preparations for future Astronomy.




Thursday, July 11, 2013

ALMA observes the birth of a massive star!

Image Manchester University

Another Space Theology bookmark Manchester University
Scientists have observed in unprecedented detail the birth of a massive star within a dark cloud core about 10,000 light years from Earth.

The team used the new ALMA (Atacama Large Millimetre/submillimetre Array) telescope in Chile -- the most powerful radio telescope in the world -- to view the stellar womb which, at 500 times the mass of the Sun and many times more luminous, is the largest ever seen in our galaxy.

"The remarkable observations from ALMA allowed us to get the first really in-depth look at what was going on within this cloud," said lead author Dr Nicolas Peretto, from Cardiff University. "We wanted to see how monster stars form and grow, and we certainly achieved our aim. One of the sources we have found is an absolute giant -- the largest protostellar core ever spotted in the Milky Way!

Co-author Professor Gary Fuller, from The University of Manchester, said: "Not only are these stars rare, but their births are extremely rapid and childhood short, so finding such a massive object so early in its evolution in our Galaxy is a spectacular result. “Our observations reveal in superb detail the filamentary network of dust and gas flowing into the central compact region of the cloud and strongly support the theory of global collapse for the formation of massive stars.”
Read the entire article from Manchester University
See also my blog on ALMA

Friday, July 5, 2013

Vatican Observatory

Pope Benedict XVI visiting the observatory
Image Vatican Observatory
The Vatican Observatory located behind St. Peter's Basilica in Rome has both a respectable history and a dignified location. Quoted from the web site:
In its historical roots and traditions the Vatican Observatory is one of the oldest astronomical institutes in the world. For the first foreshadowing of the Observatory can be traced to the constitution by Pope Gregory XIII (1502-1585) of a committee to study the scientific data and implications involved in the reform of the calendar which occurred in 1582. The committee included Father Christoph Clavius (1538-1612), a Jesuit mathematician from the Roman College, who expounded and explained the reform.

From that time and with some degree of continuity the Papacy has manifested an interest in and support for astronomical research. In fact, three early observatories were founded by the Papacy:
  • the Observatory of the Roman College (1774-1878),
  • the Observatory of the Capitol (1827-1870), and
  • the Specula Vaticana (1789-1821) in the Tower of the Winds within the Vatican.
These early traditions of the Observatory reached their climax in the mid-nineteenth century with the researches at the Roman College of the famous Jesuit, Father Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), the first to classify stars according to their spectra.

With these rich traditions as a basis and in order to counteract the longstanding accusations of a hostility of the Church towards science, Pope Leo XIII (1810-1903) in 1891 formally refounded the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory) and located it on a hillside behind the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.
Vatican Observatory History
quoted text is formatted and slightly modified by me

Vatican Observatory

Questions, please!
The site has a very nicely written section for the curious - and not always so friendly - general public around the world, starting, how else, with the Galileo affair.

Here are the questions, visit the FAQ page to read the answers:
  • The Galileo Affair
  • For FAQs about Galileo, please visit our history of astronomy page.
  • Why is the Vatican interested in astronomy?
  • What is the mission statement for the Vatican Observatory, at least in part?
  • Is the Church looking for something in space, for example, a sign from above, for lack of a better way to put it?
  • It seems to have been the Jesuit Priests who have been most involved with the sciences for the Church. Is this a valid statement?
  • Do you report your findings directly to the Holy See? What is the pope's involvement in the Vatican Observatory?
  • Is one of the roles that the Vatican Observatory plays in astronomy that of verifying what other astronomers are telling the public in order to make sure what they are reporting to the public is actually true?
  • Does the pope have a personal interest in astronomy?
  • How did you personally become interested in astronomy, and what led you to become a Jesuit astronomer?
  • What is the Vatican Observatory's position on the use of Mount Graham, a precious mountain resource, for an astronomical observatory?
visit the FAQ page to read the answers!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The 'Waters Above' in John Hartnett's Cosmological Model

A case study of what Astrotheology is not

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
Genesis 1:1-8 KJV



Hartnett's model guided by Genesis
University of Western Australia physicist and cosmologist, professor John Hartnett (1952-) actively develops cosmological model that fits to the seven days of creation in the beginning of the Bible. Within this model he gives an interpretation of the curious "waters above" and "waters below" that God separates on the second day of creation.
His interpretation of the waters was published in Creation Ministries International context first as an article The ‘waters above’, Journal of Creation 20(1):93–98, April 2006 and included in his book John Hartnett, Starlight, Time and the New Physics. Creation Book Publishers, 2007.

Hartnett's interpretation of the waters of creation simplified from Hartnett 2007, 93-94:
  • Earth was made first and the entire Universe on the Fourth Day of creation
  • Earth was made out of water
  • Waters were divided to those upon Earth and those orbiting beyond Neptune where they protect the future living inhabitants of Earth 
Here is the abstract of Hartnett's 2006 article
The disks of gas, dust and debris recently observed with modern infrared and millimetre wave instruments in nearby star systems are considered to act as locators to large colliding bodies. These observations are problematic for the evolutionary nebula theory of the formation of planetary systems, but can be easily interpreted from a creationist worldview. I propose that these cratering bodies are analogues for the ‘waters above’, which in part were used by God during the Curse and the Flood. In this view, the ‘waters above’ would represent all the bodies, large and small, that lay beyond Neptune in our solar system, including all the cometary material, mostly made of water ice. The total amount today only equals about 0.43 M⊕ (Earth masses), but before the Curse it may have been as much as 100 times more. Some of these large colliders left their mark on the earth’s surface as impact craters, as seen today from space. Some may even have triggered the Flood. Spectroscopic analysis of the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) Quaoar reveals that its surface comprises crystalline water ice and ammonia hydrate (NH3.H2O). Both of these should have been destroyed by energetic particle irradiation over timescales of 107 years, so their existence is evidence for a young solar system andagainst a 5-billion-year timescale. In addition, Quaoar’s spectrum, in the 1 to 2.5 μm band, is very similar to that of Charon, the moon of Pluto, which has long been suspected of being a captured KBO. Evidence is thus mounting that these objects may be the remains of a watery halo as in the ‘waters above’.
J.G. Hartnett 2006

Genesis and Science mixed
Hartnett represents a highly educated modern physicist whose scientific contribution to cosmology and astrophysics is internationally recognized. His creationist writings are famous among Christian creationists around the world and provide for many the ultimate proof that God indeed has created the Universe and that science is in harmony with Genesis.

Unfortunately, neither the cosmological explanation of the 'waters above' created after Earth and before the Universe nor the interpretation of what the writer(s) of Genesis 1 wrote is true.


Christology
The two persons, divine and human, are neither mixed nor changed in the Son of God. It is also impossible to divide or separate the two natures in Jesus, Son of Mary.

With this Chalcedonian hermeneutics we can also humbly approach the study of the Cosmos as believers in the Word of God.

  • Let us not mix Genesis and Science together.
  • Let us not change the true nature of Genesis or of Science.
  • As Christian believers we accept the claim that Genesis is both divine and human 
  • As Christian believers we accept that we cannot define (divide, separate) what in Genesis is divine and what human.


Astrotheology in practice
This criticism is an invitation from a Theologian to an eminent Cosmologist to repent!

Following the paradoxical model expressed in Chalcedonian Ecumenical Creed there is a path forward that allows professor Hartnett to continue working by all his ability and strength as a student of Cosmology and also allows him to study Bible and creation as a genuine believing Christian.

Hermeneutically correct approach would be to study the 'waters above' as a modern commentary to Genesis, splendid ideas what could be in question, without forcing such concepts into the text as the true meaning or as the divine revelation in the text. We cannot define the divine separate from the human as the bishops of Chalcedon noted in 451 AD.

Hermeneutically correct approach would be to study the 'waters above' using all the tools available for scholarly research of the Biblical text. Taking Genesis as it is in its own time, its own historical, geographical and prescientific context, as a genuinely Geocentric text with poetic beauty. Without denying its truly human and historically bound nature. We cannot define the human separate from divine as the bishops of Chalcedon noted in 451 AD.

So, being practical, how would this affect Hartnett's creationist publications?

Well, it would introduce the real Bible into his writings and teach his students around the world what this eminent scholar can learn from the World of God.

The presence of Ea in the Urwasser of Sumerian mythology might be a good starting point.

Maybe followed by the dividing of Tiamat in Babylon.


Sunday, June 30, 2013

Saturn's Sponge

Saturn's moon Hyperion.
Image Cassini APOD
Another Space Theology bookmark Spectacular Cassini image of Hyperion APOD.

Wildly rotating and only 250 kilometers in diameter Hyperion may be full of cavities, a true space sponge!
An image from the 2005 pass, shown above in false color, shows a remarkable world strewn with strange craters and a generally odd surface... and has a density so low that it might house a vast system of caverns inside.
from text in APOD


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

China's Shenzhou-10 mission successful

Image BBC News

BEIJING, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Three astronauts who completed China's longest manned space mission returned to Earth safely Wednesday morning, marking another step forward towards the country's goal of building a permanent manned space station by 2020.

Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, said the Shenzhou-10 mission was a "complete success".

The reentry module of Shenzhou-10 landed safely on a sun-lit prairie in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at about 8:07 a.m. Wednesday. All three astronauts were in good physical condition.

Nie Haisheng, commander of the Shenzhou-10 crew and a second-time space traveler, was the first to emerge out of the bowl-like module, followed by Wang Yaping, the only female astronaut of the mission, and Zhang Xiaoguang.

During a brief welcoming ceremony held at the landing area, the astronauts waved merrily to a crowd composed of military officers, the search and recovery team, and health personnel...
Read the entire article from Xinhua News 26.6. 2013

As they say in Chinese 祝賀您 !!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Farewell to Herschel


Another Space Theology bookmark - Jonathan Amos' fine farewell article to Herschel in BBC Science.

Herschel engines were shut down 12:25 GMT June 17, 2013.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy 18th Birthday, APOD!

I am so thankful that you exist!

Click here for the APOD birthday page

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Heavenly Father

Image Credit & Copyright: Isaac Gutiérrez Pascual (Spain)
NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) often spoils with such spectacular photos of Earth's atmosphere and the many things happening there from auroras to amazing cloud formations, moon light and the dance of sun light in early mornings or evenings, rainbows and the like. The displayed images are not exactly Astronomy but they depict things up there above our heads. The outstanding images taken by dedicated photographers proclaim the glory of creation. For us believers - Jewish, Christian, and Muslim alike - these photos preach without words about the greatness of God.


Heavens
According to the Gospel of Matthew Jesus taught His own to address God in prayer saying "Our Father in heaven" . (Matthew 6:9).  The version of  Lord's prayer in Luke 11:2 starts simply with "Father".  In Aramaic father is abba.

The English translation of Matthew could also be "Our Father in heavens" as the original Hebrew word in Genesis 1:1 and elsewhere is in honorary plural  שׁמים shamayim. This type of Hebrew plural is also used in the word for God, Elohim. Since the verb with this subject remains in singular it signifies one God, not many.

In the Greek text of Matthew word heaven ouranos in in plural πατερ ημων ο εν τοις ουρανοις


God's abode
The Hebrew Bible was written when humanity had geocentric world view and the creation story of Genesis continues describing a bit how the heavens are made (despite of Galileo's protest!) They are a place for Sun, Moon and stars but also a structure called firmament that separates the waters below and above. When the windows of heaven open it rains.

But if you read carefully Genesis 1 there is no sense at all where God Himself would be located. The prophets of Israel glorify the works of God in atmosphere and so does the Book of Job, thunder is truly divine and an ancient Psalm describes God's cloudy chariot.
Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
Psalm 104:1 -3 KJV
The ancient texts of the Bible contain many different images of God up there. Highly significant for Judaism is the prayer of King Solomon while building the Temple of God who confesses that even the heavens of heavens are not large enough to hold God of Israel.
And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods. But who is able to build him an house, seeing the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain him? who am I then, that I should build him an house, save only to burn sacrifice before him?
2 Chronicles 2:5-6 KJV

Artists' depictions of heavens above us
View of Haarlem from the northwest, with the bleaching grounds in the foreground.
Jacob van Ruisdael (1682)
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Image Essential Vermeer.com

Creation of heavens is quietly celebrated by photography of the majestic wonders in the atmosphere of Earth - not to speak of proper space images by Hubble space telescope and others! Human admiration of heavens above us is also strongly present in those amazing 17th century Dutch landscape paintings in which heaven above the land or ocean takes such a huge segment of the canvas giving a wonderful greatness to the view.

For when God created Earth as a dwelling for us humans, His beloved children, He did not just put a plain nicely blue sky over our heads during day followed by a silky dark starry night. No! He demonstrated the art and imagination of a truly creative Being by making the nearby heaven such an endless play of light, colors, mighty storms and lightning, gentle breeze, pure white snow falling ...

Oh, you need to be a poet - or an established artist or photographer - even to start to make justice what God has created in heavens.


Spiritual heavens
What about the dwelling of the God of Israel, our Heavenly Father?

The Bible gives us only hints about the true spiritual abode of our Heavenly Father. Hints that gives us enough to ponder for entire life.

Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians
But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV
He apparently refers to the words of the King of the Prophets, Isaiah
For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.
Isaiah 64:4 KJV
Heavens above us are amazing and views of deep space breathtaking - but apparently what is there where our Lord is sitting on the right hand of God our Father is beyond our ability to even imagine!



Friday, May 24, 2013

Serenity - Messier 109

Classic beauty of Messier 109
Photo APOD NASA Copyright Bob Franke

Another Space Theology bookmark Messier 109  

At first it just looks like yet another picture of a galaxy.  But carefully read the text and patiently contemplate the bar galaxy, the Ursa Major galaxy group: soon this high definition image by Bob Franke becomes maybe also in your eyes a classic of Astrophotography bequeathing the grandeur and serenity of the Universe.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Blue Sun

Blue light from Sun NASA APOD
Image Credit & Copyright © Alan Friedman (Averted Imagination)
Click here to see the spectacular APOD image in full size.

The image of blue Sun is highly educational example of spectral analysis which is one of the principal tools for studying stars. Photos arriving from the stars and galaxies is the hard evidence that we Earthly observes have. One of the important aspects of information star light carries to us is the chemical composition of stellar objects so crucial in our attempts to understand the making of the Universe.

In order to create the amazing Blue Sun photo Alan Friedman first took an image of the Sun through a highly accurate narrow-band filter that removed all other colors from the light except extreme violet light CaK  (393.4 nm) emitted by ionized Calcium. After taking a picture of the Sun he false color-inverted the image to get this stunning result. The captured light is hard evidence about the presence of Calcium in the atmosphere of the Sun.

For a detailed explanation of how to take CaK filtered images and the camera equipment needed see, for eaxmple, the Elizabeth Observatory of Athens project.

Understandably the filtering and spectral analysis of light from more distant suns does not give such an extravaganza of identifiable band-widths. Nevertheless, the principle is similar when dealing even the faintest galaxies with significant Red Shift.

Spectral analysis has allowed stellar astronomers to achieve amazingly detailed information of stars. For example, light from Sirius A bears evidence of the significant traces of metals on its atmosphere. The fact has been explained, or so I have at least understood the explanation, that the heavier then helium metals have been captured from the dusty remnants of Sirius B.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Galaxy Collision - another APOD Wow!

Artist view of Milky Way and Andromeda colliding in 3.75 billion years from now
Image NASA


Space Theology bookmark May 14 2013 Galaxy collision

Rarely one can see such a spectacular demonstration of the educational power of computer modeling with real life photography!

Personally I had always - wrongly - assumed that the collision of two galaxies means widespread destruction of stars and planetary systems around them.

Instead "Since galaxies are mostly empty space, no internal stars are likely to themselves collide. Rather the gravitation of each galaxy will distort or destroy the other galaxy, and the galaxies may eventually merge to form a single larger galaxy... Our own Milky Way Galaxy has absorbed several smaller galaxies during its existence and is even projected to merge with the larger neighboring Andromeda galaxy in a few billion years."
APOD

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Puff the SN 1006!

X+rays from SN 1006 captured by Chandra APOD NASA

Another Space Theology bookmark

A remarkable image of X-rays from the remnants of the famous Supernova of 1006 AD. The explosion must have illuminated the sky even during the day as it took place only 7000 light years from the Sun.

Did the gamma ray radiation from the supernova have - or does it still have - effect on life on Earth?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Planck CMB

Planck Cosmic Microwave Background Map
Another Space Theology bookmark -  NASA APOD archives 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jonathan Amos on ESA Planck and CMBT

I must confess being a bit jealous to BBC Science correspondent Jonathan Amos. For not only is his English slightly better than mine but he is able to expand top news in Space Sciences by explaining their highly complex backgrounds in most interesting ways and with great clarity so that even laypersons like me can follow the logic.

Take, for example, the current news about the release of ESA Planck satellite images of old light.

After reading the article by Amos you feel that you actually understand something about the top-notch ESA space research project and about cosmic microwave background radiation and what it can tell us about the Universe. From there on it is much easier to continue and to go ahead in personal exploration and study of the ESA Planck mission that is about to give a press conference of the images of oldest light.

That is quite an achievement in such a compact article aimed at the general public, isn't it!

The Planck satellite - ESA

To see the stunning view itself and to read Amos report of its significance - click here

Spectacular image Orion Nebula - R. Wittich


Another Space Theology bookmark - Truly spectacular image of then internals of M42  NASA APOD by Astrophotographer Reinhold Wittich

"These nurseries contain much hydrogen gas, hot young stars, proplyds, and stellar jets spewing material at high speeds. Also known as M42, the Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tardigrade!

Tardigrade!
Image Eye of Science APOD 
"Is this an alien? Probably not, but of all the animals on Earth, the tardigrade might be the best candidate. That's because tardigrades are known to be able to go for decades without food or water, to survive temperatures from near absolute zero to well above the boiling point of water, to survive pressures from near zero to well above that on ocean floors, and to survive direct exposure to dangerous radiations...."
March 6, 2013 APOD 

Bookmarked here because IMHO this is the most striking and educational image so far in the glorious gallery of APOD 2013.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Whirlpool Galaxy - spectacular portrait!

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
the highest resolution version available.
Whirlpool Galaxy portrait NASA APOD
The breath-taking portrait of Whirlpool Galaxy M51 published February 24, 2013 in APOD is a digital combination of images taken from Hubble space telescope and from the 0.9 meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Arizona.
"For the amateur, M51 is easy and a showpiece if the sky is dark, but is quite sensitive for light pollution which easily makes it fade in the background. Under very good conditions, even suggestions of its spiral arms can be glanced with telescopes starting from 4-inch. Low magnification is best for viewing this pair."
Messier Object 51




Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Cosmic Art! Great Nebula in Orion

Infrared image of Great Nebula in Orion
Image NASA APOD

APOD images are regularly breath-taking. Sometimes they go beyond even this and can truly be called Cosmic Art!

Click here to see the original WISE photo APOD February 13 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Stars and Kumbh Mela

Visit the BBC photo gallery on Kumbh Mela
Space Theology of different kind - Astrology in action!

So far away from Western world - and so near - some 30 million people follow the guidance of stars in the biggest human gathering in Allahabad today.

Soutik Biswas reports for BBC News
This is the most auspicious of six bathing days at the event, billed as the biggest human gathering.

More than eight million took to the waters on the opening day, 14 January.

Hindus believe a festival dip at Sangam - where the rivers meet - will cleanse sins and help bring salvation.

In all, up to 100 million pilgrims are expected to bathe in the holy waters in January and February at the 55-day Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years.

This occasion is also a Maha Kumbh Mela, which comes round only once every 144 years.

View Larger Map
The Kumbh Mela has its origins in Hindu mythology.

Many believe that when gods and demons fought over a pitcher of nectar, a few drops fell in the cities of Allahabad, Nasik, Ujjain and Haridwar - the four places where the Kumbh festival has been held for centuries. The Kumbh Mela is a mass pilgrimage in which Hindus gather in locations along the holy rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the mythical river Saraswati.

There are three different kinds of kumbh: an ardh (or half) kumbh is held every six years at two set locations; a purna (full) kumbh is held every 12 years at four set locations.

The 2013 gathering is a Maha Kumbh and that only happens after 12 purna kumbhs, every 144 years, and always at Allahabad.

Astrology determines most aspects of the festival, including its exact date and length.
Soutik Biswas
Read the entire article in BBC News February 10 2013




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Christ the Redeemer of ET?

More and more exoplanets beyond the borders of Solar system including many within the habitable zone have been discovered as the methods of exploration have evolved and can accurately measure the tiny vibrations caused by gravitational forces.

As Professor Paul Davies has discussed in his book The Eerie Silence (2010) SETI is assuming that out there may be many intelligent creatures, some perhaps much smarter than us with quantum brains!

Accordingly, exoplanets are probably habited by many species created in the image of God. This fact indicates on the basis of the Bible that they are sexual and have male and female forms
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27
unlike angels, who according to Jesus are asexual
Jesus replied, “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.
Mark 12:24-25
We ask, do these inhabitants of exoplanets also need redemption by Jesus Christ?

Or is Christ only the Redeemer of this insignificant spot of dust in the vast Universe?

Or is Jesus Christ a Cosmic Redeemer, whose death on the hill of Golgotha two thousand years ago paid for the sins of the entire Cosmos and the good news of the events in Holy Land on planet Earth are proclaimed to the inhabitants of exoplanets in Andromeda and Magellan Clouds and everywhere in the deep space?


Freedom to sin
Holy Bible gives as an important point and allows us to see the creation from the point of view of the Creator Himself in the light of divine revelation

The word sin does not appear at all in the first creation story in the Bible. The entire creation is well done in the eyes of God. The Creator is satisfied with His own work!
And God saw that it was good.
1 Ms 1:10
Also the second creation story about the Garden of Eden does not use the word sin. However, it sets Adam created by God under a rule, the first law, and tells that God has ruled a severe punishment for the breaking of that prohibition.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Genesis 2:15-17
The Garden of Eden was full of wonderful good tasting fruits and there was only a single prohibition - "do not eat from this particular tree".

This is a most radical text that does not only tell about the character of man - of course he must eat from that particular tree - and relation between man and woman - "she told me to eat" - and thus the pettiness of Adam created by God. No, the story tells us about God Himself.

God sets to the man He has created a deadly testing stone, a trap, into which the wise snake easily led Adam.


Strange Garden of Eden  
Humanity living upon planet Earth is sinful because the will of God is that man has the freedom to break His holy will. Even most distant galaxies obey exactly the will of His Majesty. But man has the freedom to break it at will.

To point out the strangeness of the Garden of Eden let us consider this story.

A loving father builds for his little children a wonderful playroom. It is filled with things the children love and that are good for them, toy kitchen corner, toy fire station, dollies, cars, TV and iPad and little freezer full of ice cream and all kinds of sweets and fruits and favourite food of the kids.

In the midst of this wonderful room the father sets a small table in prominent place, covers it with white linen and sets a small beautiful glass of delicious looking drink on it. However, in that drink is deadly poison.

Dear father then tells his children: "I am leaving for a while, enjoy your games, eat and drink and have fun. However, do not drink from the glass on the table - if you do, you will die."

Father then leaves the room and stands behind the door watching through a glass window what the kids do.


Why, oh why?
With the story I try to describe the enormous and totally disgusting setting in the second creation story showing the responsibility of our Heavenly Father.

Why would a father do such a test with his beloved children and in criminal manner place a poison glass for their easy reach?

Why the Tree of Knowing Good and Bad in Paradise with the exciting prohibition?

In my opinion the only answer to this riddle is that God tests in this way whether or Adam obeys Him, is obedient to His will.

Is obedience to God's will this crucial, matter of life and death?

According to the letter to the Hebrews Jesus learned one thing from His awful suffering - obedience.
During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:7-10 NIV

All beings created in the entire Universe in the image of God and even the angels in heaven have been given freedom to sin, to break God's will revealed to them in expressis verbis in a language they can understand.

Otherwise it would not be possible to love God from free heart.



What about God's images living in exoplanets?
This is the situation upon Earth according to divine revelation. The solution is the only son begotten by God who was born in Bethlehem according to the Scriptures.
Glória in excélsis Deo
et in terra pax homínibus bonae voluntátis.
Luke 2:14
Divine revelation tells us nothing about the arrangements elsewhere in the Universe.

But still we ponder whether also other images of God living in distant planets have been given the dark history of fall and sin and salvation into eternal life through faith.

Yes, we wonder how it is!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paul Davies: the Eerie Silence


Professor Paul Daves The Eerie Silence Reviewing Our Search for Alien Intelligence (Bargain Books 2010) is a summary of current research trends at SETI. The book explores the possibilities of intelligent extraterrestrial life, and its potential consequences.

The broad introduction to human curiosity of ET and possible impacts of Encounters of Third Kind is very interesting.

I find it very refreshing and significant that Professor Paul Davies discusses Alien Intelligent life also in the context of the religions of Earth's most intelligent inhabitants. For Christianity one question of encountering other creatures with religion is,for example, whose saviour Jesus Christ is?


Professor Paul Davies
image wikimedia
Paul Charles William Davies, AM (born 22 April 1946) is an English physicist, writer and broadcaster, currently a professor at Arizona State University as well as the Director of BEYOND: Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science. He is also currently affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies at Chapman University in California. He has held previous academic appointments at the University of Cambridge, University of London, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, University of Adelaide and Macquarie University.

His research interests are in the fields of cosmology, quantum field theory, and astrobiology. He has proposed that a one-way trip to Mars could be a viable option. In 2005, he took up the chair of the SETI: Post-Detection Science and Technology Taskgroup of the International Academy of Astronautics. He is also an adviser to the Microbes Mind Forum.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Galactic year

All humanity uses the light signals our good Lord has set up in the heavenly firmament also for time keeping.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so.
Genesis 1:14-15 NIV
Today we know that these great time signals work on the principle of rotation:
  • Day is one rotation of Earth's axis
  • Month is one round of Moon on its orbit around Earth
  • Year is one round of Earth on its orbit around Sun
This works fine in all human cultures and days follow nights and vice versa. In modern times humanity has learned to calculate these rotations very accurately.

The problem with Solar system based time units is that they create enormous figures in Cosmology and Astronomy. Our earthly distance measurements are not all that practical in Astronomy and also our earthly time measurements are not so helpful in trying to figure out Cosmic time scale.

Astronomers have adopted a a variety of distance measurements from astronomic units to light years and parsecs as alternative to our daily kilometers and miles. However, no alternative unit exists to replace in the same manner our tiny days, months and years.

We can say that according to modern estimates the Universe known is about 13.77 billion years old. But what does that enormous amount of zeros really tell us - who can imagine billion years?

Galactic year
Well, what if we apply galactic time to express cosmic time spans?

Let us be consistent and use rotation of celestial bodies as the basis: astronomers estimate that it takes Sun about 225 million years to complete one round around the center of the Milky Way.

Let us call this a galactic year (gy)- 225 million human years.

The estimated age of the Universe is about 137.700.000.000 solar years
Galactic year is about 225.000.000 solar years
137.000/225 = 60.9

The age of the known Universe is thus 60.9 gy (galactic years).

The Sun and solar system was created about 4.500 million years ago
4.500/225 = 20

The age of the Sun is thus 20 gy (galactic years). 

Neat, eh!

(well, someone already noticed that before me... see wikipedia)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Huygens descent

Huygens probe on Titan NASA APOD

The time lap movie is out of this planet!
Another Space Theology bookmark Huygens: Titan descent movie

Friday, January 18, 2013

Asaph Hall and the Stickney Crater

Stickney Crater
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter March 2008. 6000 km
image: NASA APOD
Astronomy Picture of the Day combines in very effective educational manner absolutely stunning astronomic photos with compact expert explanations. Because these images appear daily and the library is huge I bookmark in this blog some of these exceptional images for future reference. The site itself has an online archive and photos can be searched by subject - but not by any Wow! count (FB "like") that could be given to them by us visitors.

Asaph Hall
Professor Asaph Hall (1829-1907)
image wikimedia
The story goes that American Astronomer Asaph Hall (1829-1907) had been looking for possible Mars moons for quite a while and was about to give up. His wife, mathematician Chloe Angeline Stickney Hall (1830-1892) strongly encouraged him to continue with the increasingly frustrating search.
(Angelo Hall. An Astronomer's Wife: The Biography of Angeline Hall. Baltimore: Nunn & Company, 1908.)
In 1875 Hall was given responsibility for the USNO 26-inch (66-cm) telescope, the largest refracting telescope in the world at the time. It was with this telescope that he discovered Phobos and Deimos in August 1877. Hall also noticed a white spot on Saturn which he used as a marker to ascertain the planet's rotational period. In 1884, Hall showed that the position of the elliptical orbit of Saturn's moon, Hyperion, was retrograding by about 20° per year. Hall also investigated stellar parallaxes and the positions of the stars in the Pleiades star cluster.
Hall found Deimos on August 12 and six days later on August 18, 1877 he discovered Phobos. The moons are named after the sons of Ares. In Greek mythology, Deimos was the son of Ares and the goddess of love, Aphrodite.  Phobos was the son of Ares and goddess Enyo who accompanied her husband to battlefields. Deimos personified terror and Phobos fear both so vividly present in war.

At some point in the history of the Solar system an enormous object smashed into Phobos. The impact almost destroyed the moon leaving a huge crater named Stickney Crater in honor of Angeline Stickney Hall.

But never before has humanity seen the curious surface features of Phobos in such glorious detail as in the images taken by the HiRES cameras of the Mars orbiter in 2008.

Open the APOD image and see - the Moon of Fear is like a beautiful jewel, isn't it!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Einstein Cross

Einstein Cross
Image cropped from an  APOD NASAimage
The rare image of an Einstein Cross taken by professor James Rhoads (Arizona State University) shows a galaxy in unusual light. According to current theory, the large black hole in the centre of the galaxy is hidden from our sight by bright light emitted from a quasar behind the galaxy and on the same axis of view as the black hole. Gravity field is so strong that it bends the tracks of photons creating this amazing cloverleaf of light.


Gravitational lensing
A gravitational lens refers to a distribution of matter (such as a cluster of galaxies) between a distant source (a background galaxy) and an observer, that is capable of bending (lensing) the light from the source, as it travels towards the observer. This effect is known as gravitational lensing and is one of the predictions of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity.
Although Orest Chwolson is credited as being the first to discuss the effect in print in 1924, the effect is more commonly associated with Einstein, who published a more famous article on the subject in 1936.
Fritz Zwicky posited in 1937 that the effect could allow galaxy clusters to act as gravitational lenses. It was not until 1979 that this effect was confirmed by observation of the so-called "Twin QSO" SBS 0957+561.

Gravitational lens
Image wikimedia
Spacetime around a massive object (such as a galaxy cluster or a black hole) is curved, and as a result light rays from a background source (such as a galaxy) propagating through spacetime are bent. The lensing effect can magnify and distort the image of the background source.
Read the entire article on gravitational lens wikipedia