Friday, June 26, 2009

Outside the sun is shinin'...

The first thing I do when I get to work each day is check out this website: Astronomy Picture of the Day. Two of my favorite classes at MCC were Physical Geography and Astronomy. I chose these classes because I heard they were good alternatives to Biology and Chemistry, two sciences I hated in high school. So it was ironic that science classes ended up being two of my favorites since I dreaded science in about every other form.

Every now and then, my astronomy teacher -- who had one of the raddest mustache's grown by man* -- would pull up this website if it had something to do with the day's lesson. I used to check it out occasionally to enjoy the pictures, but I've since become an addict and love reading the explanations and exploring their links as well.

I thought today's picture was particularly awesome:

(Click to enlarge for a better view.)

This is a solargraph taken with a pinhole camera, which is basically "an aluminum can lined with photographic paper," as the picture's explanation puts it. What's crazy about this picture is that it was exposed over a period of six months -- from December 21, 2008 to June 20, 2008 -- from winter solstice to summer solstice. The wire frame in the foreground is in fact a radio telescope, which, incidentally, bears no resemblance to an optical telescope. Through the frame you can see the path of the sun as it moves across the sky -- higher in the sky during the summer and lower during the winter. The breaks in the paths of light are where clouds had obscured the sun.

I enjoyed this picture a lot because, not only is it an excellent showcase of the sun's pattern as the seasons change, but it can also be admired for its artistic qualities (although the color is a result of digital editing, but still). I took a photo class in eighth grade in which we made pinhole cameras, although we didn't expose them for near that amount of time and they looked nowhere near this great. If fact, the explanation for this picture gives a link with instructions for making your very own solargraph -- I think I'm gonna try it!

*At the end of the semester, my astronomy teacher had us fill out teacher evaluation forms. Under the section labeled "Things the teacher did well," I wrote, "He grew a killer mustache!"


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  2. i loved that picture ten fold after you explained what it was. the sunning moving across the sky? so awesome.