Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 26 June 2011

My entries for the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2011 competition ;-)

Shortened link for this post is:

Edit 11 May 2012 - there will be a real transit of Venus on 5/6 June although people in UK will only be able to see it very very early on the morning of 6 June (it starts at ~23h on the 5th which is no use at all!). More details here

I don't exactly expect to win the competition (here are the rules) - maybe I'll get an honourable mention for entering into the spirit of things - but my entries might at least be unique in that they involve an orange sweet and a white pixel.

Faux-lar transit
First, the orange sweet - my local newsagents used to sell these yummy fruit-flavoured sour chewy discs (apparently made by Chewits and no longer available). I had a couple in a bag and held an orange one up to the light noticing how nicely it glowed. I also noticed that it bore a fairly strong resemblance to the pictures I'd seen of the Sun when viewed through some sort of Extreme UV filter, as used on Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO (gorgeous UV-blue shot on the Wikipedia page and see this orange-yellow picture also from SOHO of a solar prominence). My thumb also bore a reasonable resemblance to the curve of a planet doing a solar transit, so I tweeted:
Recreating a solar transit as seen via Extreme UV Imaging, with an orange sweet, my thumb, and an actual sun ;-)
via TweetDeck
Fake solar transit :)

White pixel - the International Space Station or ISS
The iPhone 3GS is not famed for its camera prowess but nevertheless I was delighted to capture this shaky video of the ISS passing overhead... which I shared, along with the following tweet: - The white pixel doing all the work here against a black background is in fact the ISS whooshing overhead.

Sharing sightings of the ISS with other people has been one of the delights of the modern age - I've shown it to my dad, visitors and guests, family and friends and strangers. I've also joined in online via the #ISS or #ISSwave hashtags which has been a lovely shared experience with hundreds of people around the world. Attached to those hashtag people have shared their images of the ISS - and let's face it, some of them are really quite a bit better than mine (how eerie and wonderful is this shot, from an Earth telescope?).

Can't help but be a bit ":-o" though at the thought that my small hand-held device can look up into the sky and see a small white dot flying about 200 miles overhead and capture it. Also, the technology that allows me to instantly share this on Twitter is pretty :-o too.

I'm yet to find the website which will tell me nothing more than a) how fast the ISS is travelling b) how far away it is and c) how many people are on it (with this information being updated no more regularly than required) - I accept that information on when it can be seen depends more on my location and the ISS's path, but all the other three things are a bit less variable. I've found myself in Greenwich Park going 'ooh' of an evening and pointing up at the ISS and telling passersby what it is. Lots of people have no idea that there's a spaceship, with people on, in low earth orbit whizzing overhead several times a day.

Note on old tweets
You might be wondering how I got hold of these old tweets. The orange sweet one is from June 2010 and the ISS from March 2010. I found the first by using Google Realtime which allows you to access tweets from May 2010 onwards, and the second one I was able to access because I've always imported my tweets into FriendFeed for archiving purposes and sometimes the search plays ball. I knew the text to search for because it shows up on the TwitVid video.

I am a bit obsessed with people being able to access old tweets and have written fairly extensively on it, see A list of tools for finding or capturing tweets and How to find old tweets. Do let me know if you've found a good tool or strategy, thank you :)

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