24 November 2014

Philae lander: Cartoon strips

Here are a few cartoon strips that I found on the net about the Philae lander.

Philae is a robotic European Space Agency lander that accompanied the Rosetta spacecraft until its designated landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P), more than ten years after departing Earth. On 12 November 2014, the lander achieved the first-ever controlled touchdown on a comet nucleus. Its instruments obtained the first images from a comet's surface. Philae is tracked and operated from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) at Darmstadt, Germany. Several of the instruments on Philae made the first in situ analysis of a comet sending back data that will be analysed to determine the composition of the surface.

The lander is named after the Philae obelisk bearing a bilingual inscription used along with the Rosetta Stone to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics (Source Wikipedia).

Please feel free to put in comments new Philae Lander cartoon strips if you find on the net. Would be nice!

Translation: Hei! You are not here to joke around! -But I m have such a good time!

Philae Lander WIKIPEDIA
ESA Philea Lander instruments

17 November 2014


This week's Carnival of Space is blown away in the most desert parts of the globe.
The Sahara desert in Morocco.
Among this week's extraordinary space stories, we will be featuring here at Links Through Space an article on our preparations for our Expedition into the world of Meteorites
and Astrophotography in the Moroccan Sahara desert.

Please have a read and enjoy the carnival of Space #380.

Here are this week's Carnival of Space #380 space stories.

It's time for a crew swap on the International Space Station, with astronauts Reid Wiseman, Alexander Gerst, and Max Suraev returning home on an almost-perfect landing. - Mika Mckinnon

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Gets Its Color From Sunlight, Study Suggests - Elizabeth Howell

Reprocessed view by Bjorn Jonsson of the Great Red Spot
taken by Voyager 1 in 1979 reveals an incredible wealth of detail.
NASA’s Next Exoplanet Hunter Moves Into Development

A Lighthouse at the Heart of the Milky Way: Hunting Cosmic Neutrinos - Andrea Peterson

The IceCube Lab in March, 2012. Credit: Sven Lidstrom. IceCube/NSF
NASA X-ray Telescopes Find Black Hole May Be a Neutrino Factory - Megan Watzke

Cosmic Castaways’ Orphaned Stars Lighting Up the Universe in New Numbers - tinyintern (but who is tinyintern?)

Artist’s conception of the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Image Credit: MIT
TESS exoplanet-hunting space telescope ready for development - Paul Scott Anderson

After a 10-year, 4-billion mile journey to Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (C-G for short), the Rosetta spacecraft (which is now orbiting the comet) will drop a probe about the size of a kitchen range from a height of 13 miles.

Astronomy Club Toutatis is preparing for an expedition in Moroccan Sahara desert.
The sequel of the astronomy trip of 2012 at Sahara Sky Observatory.
Links Through Space - Stefan Lamoureux

Sahara Sky Observatory and your host Fritz Gerd Koring.
credit: S. Lamoureux/KTY Toutatis.
This week's Carnival of Space #380 picture is a free wallpaper of a flying circus (used as blown out tent for carnival effect). Credit: S. Lamoureux/KTY Toutatis

So here you have it! All the thrills and excitements of the Astronomy/Space community.
The Carnival of Space #380

If you run a space/astronomy related blog, and would like to get more awareness, participate in the Carnival of Space. Every week, a different webmaster or blogger hosts the carnival, showcasing articles written on the topic of space. It’s a great way to get to know the community, and to help your writing reach a wider audience. If you’d like to be a host for the carnival, please send email to

Preparations for our Astronomy Club Toutatis Expedition in the Moroccan Sahara desert

This article is featured in Carnival of Space #380
Read more HERE for full carnival.

Kustavi, Finland

Getting ready for the ultimate astronomy adventure in the Moroccan Sahara desert. 10 days in the desert, extreme dark skies, astrophotography and meteorite expeditions. Here at the club I have been preparing for 2 months for this journey, I have learned a lot and it is all part of the outreach program of our Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi Finland.

At home or on the field, research is research.
Astronomy Club Toutatis study on Meteorites 2014.
credit: S. Lamoureux/KTY Toutatis.
In 2012 we visited this amazing hotel/Observatory in the middle of the desert called Sahara Sky Hotel. This Hotel/Observatory is a Moroccan fortress type hotel that has a roof top terrace filled with telescope piers and exceptional quality telescopes to observe with. The hotel in itself is remote and has a dining room, a bar and even a sauna to relax in. This year I decided to go back and expand my experience further.

Sahara Sky Observatory with your host Fritz Gerd Koring.
credit: S. Lamoureux/KTY Toutatis.
Our journey will start with stargazing while one of the most spectacular meteor shower is happening, the 2014 Geminids. This should get the show started. We have also many telescopes to choose from to photograph deep sky objects, observe our solar system planets or even have a look at the Sun. For my part I will be photographing some deep sky objects for sure.  

The other part of our journey will be to hunt for meteorites in the Saharan desert near the Algerian border. This part of the journey is new to me. In 2012 the first time we went to Sahara Sky Hotel, the owner challenged us to come back soon and this time go to those ”secret” valleys where no one has gone for decades to hunt for meteorites. I took him to his word, accepted his challenge and organized this expedition.  

But first I had to do my homework...

I started to read about meteorites on the net, everything to get me started. Magnet tests, meteorite composition, Strewn field map reading. It is pretty cool science when you dig it all out at its core (literally).

At the University of Turku, Finland, I had the opportunity to visit the Geology department to see a meteorite found in the archipelago of Finland in 1971 named Häverö meteorite. This was my first meteorite and it helped me to understand more about the appearance, weight and magnetism of meteorites.

Me holding Meteor Haverö and Senior Lecturer, Deputy Head of Department
Timo Kilpeläinen from the Geology department of Uni. of Turku, Finland.
credit: S.Lamoureux/KTY Toutatis.

I also read an article about a Finnish meteorite collector Jarkko Kettunen and his trip into the Sahara desert to search for meteorites. (Issue Tähdet ja Avaruus 6/2014 Saharan kutsu).
I loved his story so I decided to contact him to ask for advice and tips. He replied to my emails with great information about places and tips on meteorite hunting. He was also so kind to send me one of his meteorite pieces from his collection to help us in identifying and getting the feel of a meteorite. I appreciated his kindness very much.

Finnish Meteorite collector Jarkko Kettunen
and the Meteorite piece given to me by Jarkko.
credit: S. Lamoureux/KTY Toutatis.

Now that all our preparations are done, we just have to wait to fly over there and enjoy the trip. I am really looking forward to it. 
Please continue reading the next post of my Astronomy trip in the Sahara, Southern Morocco HERE
Follow the complete travel post series and enjoy the astronomy behind it.

This is all part of the public outreach of Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland.

Here are useful links you want to visit.

Continue to  read earlier Series of posts on Astronomy Trip: The Sahara 2012. HERE.

12 November 2014

Comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko is having visit for dinner. Philae is bringing pie and ice cream!

An artist's impression of the Rosetta orbiter deploying the Philae lander to comet 67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko
Credit: ESAC Carreau/ATG medialab

Follow the descent of the lander Philae onto comet  67P/Churyumov Gerasimenko LIVE from ESA's control room(s). 
Here is the link to LIVE BROADCAST of the event.

22 October 2014

Construct Pinhole Camera for viewing of 23.10.2014 Partial Solar Eclipse

Check this short video on how to build an easy Pinhole Camera Shoe box to look at the Partial Solar Eclipse of 23.10.2014.

This video is on It is so easy and you need only household items to build it.
Get your family and friends together and have a great viewing of an rare event like this Partial Solar Eclipse.


Here is a link to know when the Partial Solar Eclipse is in your region.
You just have to enter your city and you will have all the information needed to check this cool event.

Partial Solar Eclipse: Where and when in your city.Click HERE
Here is an example for Edmonton, Canada: Click HERE

07 October 2014

Total Lunar Eclipse (8.10.2014). Where and When?

Have a look at the Total Lunar Eclipse occurring on Wednesday 8.10.2014.
Follow these links to see how to see it and where to see it.

Total Lunar Eclipse 08.10.2014. Credit: Universe Today.

Picture Below an INFOGRAPH about LUNAR ECLIPSES from our friend Guy-André from It is simple to understand and gives many great info's about the Lunar Eclipses.

Check where and when? Lunar Eclipse 8.10.2014
How to Take Great Photos of the Lunar Eclipse. Article by Bob King on Universe
Total Lunar Eclipse: The Complete Starwatcher's Guide. Article  by Columnist Joe Rao on
- Your partner for Astronomy.

(Click on image to enlarge and read)
Infographic: understanding lunar eclipses

Picture of Total lunar Eclipse 08.10.2014. Credit: Universe Today.

27 September 2014

I love you MOM!

I wanted to put this post into my blog to remember when was this historic moment. So here it is. Please have a read.

I love you MOM! (Tipsa)

Link to MOM mission:

ISRO Indian Space Research Organisation.

22 September 2014

New NASA Spacecraft, MAVEN arrives at Mars.

An artist's concept of MAVEN in orbit around Mars
(Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center).
NASA’s MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives At Mars This Weekend
NASA’s latest Mars mission will arrive at the Red Planet this Sunday after travelling 442 million miles during its 10-month journey. The spacecraft will study Mars from orbit in the hopes of answering the question: If Mars once had an atmosphere capable of sustaining liquid water at its surface, what happened to it?

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft, or MAVEN for short, is NASA’s latest mission to study the Red Planet. It’s the first spacecraft sent specifically to study upper atmosphere of Mars. It’s job is to examine the composition, structure and escape of gases in the upper atmosphere of Mars, and to study how it interacts with the solar wind.

“So far, so good with the performance of the spacecraft and payloads on the cruise to Mars,” according to MAVEN project manager David Mitchell, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “The team, the flight system, and all ground assets are ready for Mars orbit insertion.”

The spacecraft is expected to begin orbital insertion at approximately 9:50 p.m. EDT Sunday, when it will fire its engines for 33 minutes to manoeuvre the spacecraft into a 35-hour elliptical orbit around Mars. The spacecraft will later be moved into a 4.5-hour science orbit.

Links: Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN 

Have a look at NASA television for Maven arrival HERE.
Please have a read on Universe Today for more information on The NASA new spacecraft to Mars, MAVEN!

08 September 2014

Meteorite in Nicaraguan capital Managua leaves a big crater.

The meteorite landed in a wooded area near
the international airport and an air force base
Credit: BBC News 
BBC News report that a Meteorite has falling in the Nicaraguan capital Managua that has left a crater of 12 meters by 5 meters.

They say it would have something to do with Asteroid 2014RC that was passing close to Earth at the time the meteorite fell.

Here is the link to the story on BBC News:

Link to picture of Asteroid 2014 RC by Marco Bruno on google +, check it out!

06 September 2014

Comet Jacques at our astronomy club in Kustavi, Finland

Gif Animation of Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2)
60 x 30 seconds shots (30 minutes)
Credit: Stefan Lamoureux / Astronomy Club Toutatis
Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2) is a long-period comet discovered by the Brazilian astronomers Cristóvão Jacques Lage de Faria, Eduardo Pimentel and João Ribeiro de Barros on the night of 13 March 2014.
This comet is the second comet discovered by the SONEAR Observatory. 
SONEAR Observatory stands for Southern Observatory for Near Earth Asteroids Research. This Observatory is located in Oliveira, Minas Gerais, Brazil. 

Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2)
Normal / Invert.
Credit: Stefan Lamoureux / Astronomy Club Toutatis

Comet Jacques is a popular target these days, so I decided to photograph it. At our Astronomy Club Toutatis last Thursday we decided to do 3 activities related to astronomy. First, one of my friends wanted to learn how to use a telescope, so I showed her the ropes and she began to use the telescope by her self. The Moon was a perfect target for her practice. Next activity was to look at different constellations with the naked eye
and familiarize ourselves with the night sky. Third activity was to shoot Comet Jacques in all it's glamour. So here we are, few pictures of Comet Jacques, a Gif Animation to see it move between the background Stars and an invert picture of the Comet to enhance some details of the Comet.

Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2)
04.09.2014 Kustavi, Finland
Credit: Stefan Lamoureux / Astronomy Club Toutatis

Here are some links on Comet Jacques (C/2014 E2) and the Observatory SONEAR.
WIKI: C/2014 E2 (Jacques).
Real Time information on Comet Jacuqes.  
SONEAR webpage.
SONEAR Facebook page.

31 August 2014

Solargraphy! The art of Pinhole camera and long exposure photography.

2 Pinhole camera set at the same time at 60 km a part.
Solargraphy is a technique in which a fixed pinhole camera is used to expose photographic paper for an extremely long amount of time (in this case half a year). It is most often used to show the path taken by the sun across the sky, I call these lines in this post arc lines.

The picture on the left is of two Pinhole cameras pictures with 6  months exposure each. From 21.12.2013-21.06.2014. I had installed 1 Pinhole camera facing South on my home balcony in Turku, Finland and the other was at our Astronomy club's 
balcony in Kustavi, Finland (also facing South). These two locations are 60 km from each other, but are almost on the same latitude (60"N).

What you see on the pictures are the "arc lines" of our Sun. These arc lines are the Sun moving in the sky on each day. The Low arc lines represent Winter time and the higher arc lines represents Summer. The arc line start ( Sun rising) at the left of the picture and finishes at the right of the picture (Sun setting) Everything in between are the other Seasons.
Every "arc line" is 1 day of the 6 months exposure. Sometimes the arc line is cut or scuffled, this means that it was a cloudy day and the Sky was covered.
Have you noticed the dark thick gap between the lower arc lines and the higher arc lines? That is Spring with all its turmoil and cloudy days up to Summer. 

This post is linked to my 2013 Solargraph pinhole camera project.
Have a look at the post: Astronomy club's 6 months Pinhole Solargraph revealed. Great experience!

Here are cool links on Pinhole Cameras/ Solargraphy that you can do at home by yourself or with family and friends.

EAAE (European Association for Astronomy Education) Sunrise Project.
Link to Simple explanation to do a soda can pinhole camera 
Justin Quinnell video on soda can pinhole camera. Check it out!

29 August 2014

The Godlee Observatory: Manchester Astronomy Society since 1903

Godlee Observatory
on the roof of the Sackville Building
Credit: Michael Oates
As part of a trip to Manchester to visit a friend, I decided to visit the Godlee Observatory on the roof of the Sackville Building at the University of Manchester, England. 

This time I came unannounced. I found on the Internet that The Manchester Astronomical Society weekly meeting was on a Thursday, I taught: "Well, I arrive on a Thursday so I'll be there!"

The Manchester Astronomical Society founded in 1903 aim to encourage the study of astronomy for both the newcomer and the seasoned observer alike. Every Thursdays they meet in the Godlee Observatory where they present lectures on astronomy. Weather permitting you may also observe using the telescopes until as late as people want to stay.

As soon as we step into the Observatory, This typical English lad named Anthony "Tony" Cross Astronomy Outreach spokesman extraordinaire, welcomed me and my travel companion. I have to say I visited many Observatories in the World, Tony is probably my favorite Astronomy Outreach spokesman of all time. His swag ways, his competent speech and the knowledge of his astronomy is unprecedented.

The Godlee Observatory speaking to Tony
Credit: Milla Mäkilä
 As for the Godlee Observatory it is a beauty in itself. Straight  on the roof of the Sackville Building in the center of the city  at the University of Manchester, the Dome sticks out as a  tower from an other era in the midst of a newer Manchester.

 This Observatory is peculiar in 3 ways:
 1. The Grubb Dublin double telescope.
 2. The Dome is made of Papier-mâché.
 3. The founder Francis Godlee. Generous in time and money  to the less fortunate ones.

Howard Grubb and the double telescope at Godlee Observatory.
Sir Howard Grubb (1844-1931) was an optical designer from Dublin, Ireland. He was head of a family firm that made large optical telescopes, telescope drive controls and other optical instruments.
The Godlee double telescopes (made by Grubb of Dublin), which have been in regular use since 1903 are formed by an 8" refractor and a 12" Newtonian reflector.
The refractor is used mostly to view the moon and brighter objects, including the Sun projected as a 15" disk onto a screen fastened to the tailpiece. A cable link to a webcam attached to the telescope in the observatory on the floor above allows members to view the moon and brighter planets, collectively, via the digital projector.

What comes to mind when you think about Manchester. Football? Oasis? No! The weather!
The Dome of the Godlee Observatory was constructed with an unusual material. Papier-Mâché!
Papier-mâché is a sturdy material for construction, It seems to be a good idea to build a "lite" dome in this material. But the only problem is the rainy weather of the UK. It seems also that it has lasted for half a century. Since the 1950's renovations have been made to include fiberglass on the exterior of the dome.

8" Refractor Grubb Dublin @ Godlee Observatory
Manchester, England
Credit: Milla Mäkilä
The Observatory in 1903 was presented to the city of Manchester by Francis Godlee. A wealthy and generous man who love to give his time and money for the less fortunate. The Manchester cotton trade at this time was thriving, and the firm of Simpson & Godlee, cotton manufacturers and calico printers, steadily expanded. Its offices and warehouses moved to the centre of Manchester, and further mills were acquired at Bolton and at Bury. By the turn of the century, there was a workforce of some 1500 people. The firm's prosperity owed much to Francis Godlee, not only to his good business sense, but also to the sympathetic consideration he showed for his employees. He became chairman of the firm in 1914 on the death of William Simpson and continued to run the business through the difficult war years and after the war until a few years before he died.

Before I leave you with links to the Manchester Astronomical Society,  Godlee Observatory, the Grubb Dublin Telescope, Howard Grubb and Francis Godlee, I want to thank President Anthony Jennings, Marion and the Manchester Astronomical Society for their hospitality.  A special Thank to Kevin Kilburn to include Me as a speaker for their Power point presentation on our Sun. Thank you also for featuring my Gif animation of the green flash of our setting Sun I filmed last March in Tenerife, Canaria Islands. A huge Thank you  to Tony Cross for the gran tour of the Godlee Observatory. I know now where the Sun rises and where the Sun sets. Cheers!

Manchester Astronomical Society
Facebook page of the Manchester Astronomical Society

About Astronomy Club Toutatis, Kustavi, Finland

12 August 2014

Star Talk Radio with Neil DeGrasse Tyson anyone?

A shout to you who often listen to talk radio and is into astronomy.
Star Talk with Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a 24/7 podcast based radio all related to Astronomy.

Have a listen to these coherent, modern  and funny shows with special guess.
Listen to Star Talk Radio HERE 

You can also find Star Talk Radio in TuneIn for your mobile phone or tablet IOS or Android.

27 March 2014

The mighty Optical Ground Station Telescope, Tenerife, Canary Islands

Jyri Kuusela, Physicist Optical Ground Station (OGS)
Tenerife, Canary Islands 2014
background: OGS observatory patners

The OGS (Optical Ground Station) telescope, installed in the Teide Observatory, Tenerife, Canary Islands has been built by Carl Zeiss, is owned by ESA (European Space Agency) and is operated by the IAC (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias). More precisely a small 3 men crew sub-contractor led by Mr. Jyri Kuusela, an Finnish astrophysicist that has attempted also our local University of Turku, Finland is now operating this instrument of precision to observe the solar system. His company is in charge of the operations.

I had the chance to interview Mr. Kuusela at the OGS (Optical Ground Station) telescope at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Canary Islands. This is what he told me:

Since its building in 1991, the OGS telescope has been directed by the institute of Astrophysics of Canary Islands (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias). They helped achieve the requested observation mandated by ESA, the European Space Agency, but had reservations on the way it should be executed. That is where Mr. Kuusela comes in and applied for a solution to start a company to be sub-contracted by the Inst. Astrophysics. Canary Isl. To run the ESA agenda. Now few years later, the 3 men crew led by Jyri Kuusela and two more graduate works together to control the Optical Ground Station Telescope.

There are specific tasks to be done, for example this camera has to be installed today, says Mr. Kuusela with a smile.

OGS telescope in Teide Observatory
1 m Ritchey-Chretien / Coudé telescope
supported by an English-built mount
inside a dome 12.5 m in diameter.
 Mr. Kuusela mentioned the 3 most important investigations led by the OGS telescope were to conduct optical laser communication between this Optical Ground Station and a Satellite above in space. Also another important work with the telescope is the observation consecrated to space debris created by satellites on Geo-stationary orbit around the planet. These satellites are satellites we have send and have malfunctioned, caught on fire or exploded and now are space debris in this specific location of Geo-stationary orbits.
Their last invetigation they conduct with the telescope is to identify Near Earth Objects (Neo’s). Many new Neo’s has been identified by Mr. Kuusela and he’s crew from the total of almost 100,000 Near Earth Objects identified as of today, around the astronomy community. The OGS telescope is one of the few ESA telescopes that chase’s the NEO objects as part of the European Space Agency programs.

The future of the OGS telescope lies with the accountability of its findings says Mr. Kuusela. “What I mean is that this OGS telescope has to have good results to keep on going and this depends always on the operating body that is controlling it.” Mr. Kuusela knows his business.

When visiting the telescope he showed me the “basement of the instrument" there you could find a optical bench “table” where you could conduct optical interferometry that could be really used with this 1 meter OGS telescope he mentioned. 

New CCD Camera attached to the 1 meter telescope at OGS, Teide Observatory.
 At the moment of this interview, Mr. Kuusela was changing the camera used to record data for his investigations. It last camera component suppliers didn’t supply anymore, so a new system had to be made, says Mr. Kuusela. This is part of our work here at the OGS.


Your looking for an astronomy adventure? The Maroccan Sahara desert!

Astronomy trip: Grand Evasion in the Sahara desert, Morocco 1.05-04.05.2014
Have a look instead at Astronomy Club Toutatis visit Morocco.
A series of photos/articles of the Moroccan Sahara night sky and astronomy in Morocco.

"Our partner Ali from the Astronomy club 3AM is organizing a Grand Evasion to the Sahara desert. On  May 1 to May 4 2014, he is traveling to the Moroccan Sahara to have a look at the superb night sky of that region.
They are incorporating regional sightseeing as the Kashbah of Ait Ben haddou which is a UNESCO heritage site. Camel excursions to a bivouac in the middle of the desert sounds fabulous. Also many activities concerning astronomy. Observation of the night skies with telescope and day observation of the Sun.

If you are in the neighborhood and interested to participate in this Astronomy trip. Please visit Astronomy Marrakesh 3AM and get in touch with Ali."

22 March 2014

On a quest to identifie, protect and preserve dark night skies, UNESCO STARLIGHT!

Me and Mr. Luis Martínez Sáez at the Starlight Initiative offices
in La laguna, Tenerfie, Canary Islands.
You have surely heard about the UNESCO’s World Heritage sites around the World?
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) encourage the identification, protection and preservation of cultural and natural heritage around the world considered to be of outstanding value to humanity.
This initiative is important right?

What about our night skies? What about our night skies over our cities? What about our night skies in our darkest spots on the planet? Should we protect it? Should we have a similar initiative for world heritage night sky sites?

Mr. Luis Martínez Sáez, Director and founder of the Starlight Foundation is asking the same questions and is eager to have the answers.
One year ago I visited Mr. Luis Martínez to interview him on the Starlight Initiative. You can read a past post on Links Through Space on the last year interview with Mr. Martinéz Sáez here:
This year I went back to meet with Mr. Martínez Sáez in La Laguna, Tenerife and get a follow up on the progress of the Initiative. Last year, the Starlight initiative had 1 destination that had received the Starlight Certificate for dark skies ( Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve, Portugal) and this year the total was 17 destinations, including tourism destinations and natural reserves. 9 more destinations are in progress of negotiation. El Montsec in Catalonia Spain and El Parque Nacional Fray Jorge en chile are one of the Starlight destinations.
Here is a link to these Starlight destinations:

The first Stralight destination Alqueva Dark Sky Reserve:

Some background. The Starlight Foundation is the body in charge of the operational management of the Starlight Initiative, providing human resources and means for the development of the Initiative.
The Starlight Initiative was launched in 2007 from a proposal of the IAC supported by UNESCO - MaB Programme, UNWTO, IAU, and other international conventions such as UNEP-CMS, SCBD, and Ramsar Convention, and is designed as an international action in defense of the values associated with the night sky and the general right to observe the stars.
The final aim of this Initiative is to promote the importance of clear skies for the humankind, emphasizing and introducing the value of this endangered heritage for science, education, culture, technological development, nature conservation, and tourism.

Many of us have never seen a true dark sky. People living in the cities see only the night sky as a peppered, here and there, dot of light. Only the brightest stars are visible, including the planets and the Moon. The light pollution of the street lamps and other source of light infringe our seeing of the night sky. Constellations are barely visible to the naked eye. You have to go further and further out of the cities to be able to see an exceptional night sky.

It's crucial to understand that Dark Sky status does not mean turning lights off. Rather it is about working with people and Councils to create better and less wasteful lighting and promoting the night sky as an asset for the region.

This problem of preserving good quality dark night skies is a real challenge. The expansion of cities with light accumulation, slow political involvement in concrete changes and bad lighting are all major problems against the preservation of dark skies.

I have included the Starlight Foundation LOGO on my blog header to be part of this Initiative and support this Initiative. :)
Please have a look at the Starlight Foundation website:

18 March 2014

Chasing the Green Flash on the coast of the island of Tenerife, Canary Islands.

Series of 162 images saved together in a Gif animation showing the Green Flash.
Shot in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/Astronomy club Toutatis.

I have been chasing the Green Flash for some time now. I tried my luck in Cambodia on the shores of the bay of Thailand, but some strange dust veil covered the setting Sun and I couldn’t see a proper Sunset. 
Read my other post on Green Flashs: What is a Green Flash?

This time while taking a vacation on the island of Tenerife in the Canary Islands with my family, the infamous Green Flash revealed itself to me.
An easy downhill walk from the hotel to the beach was enjoyable every night. I have to add also that the setting Sun was just to the left of the Island of La Gomera. A few degrees more and the Sun would have set behind the island.  So I was lucky.

Sun setting just at the left of the island of La Gomera, Canary Islands.
A few degree more and the Sunset would have set behind the island.
Images taken from Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ Astronomy club Toutatis.
I had a Canon 550D with an old 300mm teleview lens equipped with the Magic Lantern software. My plan was to take a couple of shots to focus and frame the Sun correctly and just take pictures like crazy. I used the intervalometer mode added by the Magic Lantern software and took shots every second or so. The software is loaded onto the SD card in the camera simple reboot installs the software into the camera. This type of shooting permits you to do individual picture (in this case a still picture composition of the green flash), Timelapse animations or videos and in other cases Startrail pictures as well.        

Here you can see that I used all my shots to produce two short animations of the setting Sun and a still picture composition. The animations give you a real sense of movement to it and shows well the green flash in action. On the other hand the still picture give you time to observe the phenomena in details (click on still picture to enlarge).

To do the animations I used Photoshop to crop the images, there are no colors or levels or nothing adjusted only crop to get an adequate size for the animations. Then I dropped all the images in Gimp and made a Gif animation out of it. Simple and effective!
The still composition is made from 3 images and put together in Photoshop. (No levels adjustments has been made either on the still picture). It was important to keep all the true data from the images and show the real thing. All images where recorded in RAW.

A still picture composite of 3 different images of the Green Flash.
Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/Astronomy club Toutatis.
As I was watching the Sun going down, I was looking through the camera eye to see the Green Flash in action. No knowing too much what to expect I saw the Sun setting and saw the greenish colors on top of the Sun on different occasions during the Sunset.
My first reaction was a loud laugh and a sense of achievement. I had the Green Flash in my back pocket! What a feeling! I guess the people around me felt it too.

Enjoy the animations and pictures. If you are like me and want to chase the Green Flash, just do it. It was very worth it and this is a phenomena that not much people have seen. Good luck and great Sunsets.  

18 February 2014

Cambodia 2014: Astronomy trip through photos

Angkor Wat in a pink sky with Moon
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click to enlarge)
  I travelled to Cambodia to see how much people knew about astronomy. I observed the quality of the night sky for stargazing and did some cool astronomy projects.

I explored 6 different astronomy topics in a 6 posts series here on Links Through Space. 

Thank you for Following us in our Astronomy trip through Cambodia. I hope you enjoyed the posts and pictures. You can see a list of the posts HERE

Here is our Astronomy trip through photos. You can see our pictures HERE

17 February 2014

Cambodia 2014: Chasing the Green Flash. Catch on film the last moments of the setting Sun.

Gif animation of the setting Sun into a veil of dust.  Kho Kong Cambodia 2014.
Credit: S. Lamoureux/ Astronomy Club Toutatis
Follow our Astronomy club Toutatis in our travels through Cambodia. A series of 6 posts on 6 different topics related to Astronomy.
One of the projects that I was really looking forward to was chasing the Green flash. This involved me being on a beach, sipping great cocktails, following the Sun while tanning, bathing in a waveless sea and be sure that the camera is ready for the Sunset when it arrived. This sounds fantastic doesn’t it? It was!

I observed the Sunset from 2 distinct places in Cambodia. First was for 2 days on the west coast of Cambodia, near the border town of Krong Koh Kong (Border with Thailand). The other place was the paradise island of Koh Rong on the coast of Sihanoukville in the southern parts of Cambodia. I stayed there for 4 days.

So, what is the Green flash? What are you looking for?
 Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that sometimes occur right after sunset or right before sunrise. When the conditions are right, a green spot is visible above the upper rim of the disk of the sun. The green appearance usually lasts for no more than a second or two. Watch for a flash, flicker, or brief glow of bright green light. It will appear on "top" of the sun just as the sun appears to slide below the horizon. It may also appear as a green glow on the horizon just as the sun has set.

Sun moment before setting into dust veil, Koh Rong, Cambodia
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
A minute later, the Sun sink into a dust veil above the sea.
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
How can I see it? Where can I see it?
 Choose your location wisely. As I did for the first Sunset, I walked almost 3 kilometers for what I though would have been a great place, but turned out to be to far and to “remote” for any contingencies. The second Sunset I saw from the island Koh Rong, was straight in front of the bungalow I rented. This gave me the opportunity to have all my gear at hand without carrying.  I could sit down on a chair and even have a small table where I could lay my things on. Location is everything!
The green flash can only be seen over a distant horizon that has a distinct edge to it. This makes the ocean the best place to view the green flash from.

What camera and lens did I use? What other gimmicks I used?
 I used a Canon 550D and an Iphone. For the lens I used Canon EFS18-55mm lens and an old 300mmTele-Universar lens. I also used Magic Lantern Software for timelapse shooting. A light tripod with level was very handy.

First Sunset in Krong Koh Kong
You can see Sunspots on the surface of the Sun
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S. Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
What did I photograph? What surprised me?
 I used Canon 18-55mm lens to take the Sunset in beautiful postcard landscape pictures.
The f=300 Tele-Universar was to shoot the Sun very tight on the edge of the see.
I also used the magic lantern software to shoot with interval timing, this gave me the opportunity to shoot every second when the crucial seconds of the setting Sun would come and reveal the green flash. This amounted to hundreds of pictures which I saved in small .gif animations. These animations are small time-lapses of the setting Sun.

The most surprising weather related phenomena that I encountered was a thick veil of dust just above the sea that impeded the view of the setting Sun. The Sun appeared to sink into the “fog” and therefore, we couldn’t see a proper Sunset setting on the sea. This dust veil was seen in both locations where I shot the Sunset. 6 days of shooting, 6 days of dust veil.

In conclusion this chase of the green flash on the coasts and islands of Cambodia was simply unbelievable. Even though the illusive green flash eluded me this time, this whole adventure gave me lots of experience on the Sun, brought me to white sandy beach islands and most of all started a new hobby for me: the chasing of the green flash.
Continue reading post no. 6 Cambodia 2014: Astronomy trip through PHOTOS

16 February 2014

Cambodia 2014: Southern night sky stars and Constellations. A delight for us living in Finland.

Southern Constellations with Star Canopus
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S.Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
  Follow our Astronomy club Toutatis in our travels through Cambodia. A series of 6 posts on 6 different topics related to Astronomy.

Cambodia lies at 11 degrees latitude above the Equator (Phnom Penh 11°33′N 104°55′E). This means that southern Constellations are seen from here. While staying on the island of Koh Rong near the coast of Sihanoukville, I took some pictures of the night sky that revealed some southern Constellations. Guided by the brightest star in the night sky Sirius, I knew that all lying below it would be southern stars and Constellations. A great opportunity for me to shoot southern Constellations.

The picture above shows us many southern Constellations. Namely the Constellations of Vela, Puppis, Carina, Pyxis, Columba and Pictor. I have to say it was the first time I saw all these Constellations and stars within. For a northern observer, this was a delight!

Also one star took over the others and shown brightly in the night sky. This star was Canopus (α Car), the second brightest star in the night sky after Sirius. Canopus's visual magnitude is −0.72. This F-type supergiant have been described as a pure white while seen with the naked eye, but some observers have perceived it as yellow-white owing to its being located low in the sky and hence subject to atmospheric effects. Canopus is known in the ancient Hindu astronomy and astrology as Agastya. Maybe some clues of this lies in the temples of Angkor Wat as the Hindu astronomy was incorporated into the building of the temples.

The same picture as above except for the Constellation lines
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S.Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
The Constellations of Carina, Vela, Puppis and Pyxis where part the same Constellation of Argo Navis before Nicolas-Louis La Caille in 1750 divided it into 4 respective Constellations. These Constellations, especially the Carina and Vela Constellations are in the middle of the Milky Way, which offers many beautiful Open Star Clusters and Nebulas. One of them is Eta Carinae Nebula (NGC 3372) in the Constellation of Carina.

The Constellation Pyxis lies in the plane of the Milky Way, although part of the eastern edge is dark, with material obscuring our galaxy arm you can still see some good objects.
You will find an almost edge-on spiral Galaxy (NGC 2613), a planetary nebula (NGC 2818) which lies within a dim open cluster of magnitude 8.2 and three stars with confirmed planetary systems (HD 73256, HD 73267 and Gliese 317).

Stargazing on paradise island Koh Rong
Credit: Astronomy club Toutatis/S.Lamoureux
(Click on picture to enlarge)
The Constellations of Columba and Pictor are small and faint constellations. They are not particularly of great interest, except for a couple of objects that distinguish them selves from the others. Kapteyn's Star in the Constellation of Pictor, a nearby red dwarf at the distance of 12.78 light years, has a magnitude of 8.8. It has the largest proper motion of any star in the sky after Barnard's Star. Moving around the Milky Way in the opposite direction to most other stars, it may have originated in a dwarf galaxy that was merged into our galaxy, with the main remnant being the Omega Centauri globular cluster.
Also the Constellation Pictor has attracted attention in recent years because of its second-brightest star Beta Pictoris, 63.4 light-years distant, which is surrounded by an unusual dust disk rich in carbon, as well as an extrasolar planet.
Columba is the constellation that is at the solar antapex - the Earth (and Sun) is moving away from its direction as the solar system moves through space.

In conclusion, the Southern Constellations mentioned above are full of beautiful celestial bodies and literally a treasure for us observers in Finland. I feel very privilege to have witness these stars and Constellations. Hope I will be able to see and photograph them in the near future.

Continue reading post no.5 Cambodia 2014: Chasing the Green Flash. Catch on film the lastmoments of the setting Sun.