Mars as big as the Moon, redux, redux.

According to an article on SpaceWeather today:

Just when you thought it was safe to read your email, a new Mars Hoax is spreading. The widely circulated message claims "the Red Planet is about to be spectacular. On August 27th, Mars will look as large as the full Moon." Fact: On August 27, 2006, Mars will be on the other side of the solar system, 385 million km from Earth and very dim.
Please, no, not again!

Although, that said, I do wish people would stop calling it a "hoax". It's not really a hoax, it's out-of-date, it over-hypes (and in some versions misrepresents) an event that did actually happen, it's stupid and it misinforms people — but I can't help but think that it doesn't make sense to call it a hoax.

Unless, that is, someone has evidence that whoever sent it out first this time actually intended to deceive people?

Thanks to Tim for the heads-up about the story on SpaceWeather.

File Under: Mars, SpaceWeather.


The Hedgehog

A little earlier this evening I headed out with the 905 to have a quick session observing Jupiter. Towards the end of the session I kept hearing something wandering about on the lawn. This isn't unusual, my cat often joins me and, when he's not rubbing up against the legs of the tripod, he's bouncing around the garden making all sorts of noises.

But this noise was different.

I had a look around and, finally, saw an odd shape that didn't look quite right — some sort of bump on the lawn. Finally, I turned on a light and this is what I found:

Apologies for the quality of the image but it was taken with my mobile phone.

Cute eh?

File Under: Hedgehog.


One for Stuart

If Stuart found We Like The Moon a little weird I wonder what he'll make of this:


File Under: Moon, Video, Weird, Bizarre.


Log timeline

Kaustav recently introduced me to Timeline — a facility that does for timelines what Google Maps does for geographical data.

At first I thought it was a neat curiosity but I soon realised that it could be used to give another view into my observing logs. After some playing around with the timeline API (some of the documentation is lacking so a bit of code-reading was required), and after writing an XSL file for use with Sablotron that took my log source files and produced a timeline XML data file, I finally had a working timeline view of my logs.

I probably still need to do some work — I think the look and layout could be improved a little — but so far I'm pleased with the result and I'm impressed with how simple it was to get up and running.

I'm also thinking about adding some extra bits to the page: having controls that let you easily jump to the first or last observation might be handy, also having some sort of "bookmark" system for significant observations might be useful too.

File Under: Timeline, Astronomy, Observing Logs, JavaScript, Sablotron.


Lunar mystery

Do you like a mystery? Do you like the Moon? If so, you might appreciate this thread on the SPA BB.

And how nice is that sketch?

File Under: Copernicus, Lunar Crater, Society for Popular Astronomy.