Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where your money goes

All sorts of people spend your money. We get some of them in here. An astronomer dropped by today. They spend a LOT.

This old Knight could have been an astronomer. Or a philosopher.  Monks used to be both and I still do my time in the cellar on my knees. Not that much was discovered back in my youthful days, in regard to stars and such: not like now. Even less was discovered turning over rocks in the head although there were quite a few illuminated manuscripts produced.

But today we have an enormous industry in Astronomy, with astronomical amounts of money -


- being spent on stuff that you rarely get to see.

Yes, we get to see photos of stars and such. Beautiful too. And our astronomers are a damned sight more productive than they were 1000 years ago when I was just a junior farm-boy, third grade.

Now I can get a good look at the Knight's Sky.

Such a lot was going on back then too.  Stars blowing up in the distant blackness of space are just being seen now.

MOST of what we can see now could not be seen at all in previous eras.

Even we ourselves are only just being seen.

We have come a long way, and that due to YOU paying up really big to provide the star-gazing chaps and chapesses with stuff to play with.

And offices. And quite fine salaries.

And really big telescopes.

Some off this planet and floating around at 25000 mph. Or there about.

And many are on the tops of mountains. Like the ESO's VLT in the Atacama Desert.

You have to be a geographer to know where that is.

We were shown around.

Now do you see where your money goes?

I don't begrudge a penny.

They don't just look at the stars of course. They Use them.

They can use the Stars, especially .....

(That's a technical term, by the way, used by astronomers) navigate by.

As we are told by Jason who dropped in from Universe Today.

Navigating the Cosmos by Quasar
by Jason Major

A quasar resides in the hub of the nearby galaxy NGC 4438.

The central portion of galaxy NGC 4438. Credit: NASA/ESA, Jeffrey Kenney (Yale University), Elizabeth Yale (Yale University)

50 million light-years away a quasar resides in the hub of galaxy NGC 4438, an incredibly bright source of light and radiation that’s the result of a supermassive black hole actively feeding on nearby gas and dust (and pretty much anything else that ventures too closely.)
Shining with the energy of 1,000 Milky Ways, this quasar — and others like it — are the brightest objects in the visible Universe… so bright, in fact, that they are  
used as beacons for interplanetary navigation by various exploration spacecraft. 
“I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.”
– John Masefield, “Sea Fever”
Deep-space missions require precise navigation, especially when approaching bodies such as Mars, Venus, or comets. It’s often necessary to pinpoint a spacecraft traveling 100 million km from Earth to within just 1 km.  
To achieve this level of accuracy, experts use quasars – the most luminous objects known in the Universe – as beacons in a technique known as Delta-Differential One-Way Ranging, or delta-DOR.

Delta-DOR uses two antennas in distant locations on Earth (such as Goldstone in California and Canberra in Australia) to simultaneously track a transmitting spacecraft in order to measure the time difference (delay) between signals arriving at the two stations. 
Unfortunately the delay can be affected by several sources of error, such as the radio waves traveling through the troposphere, ionosphere, and solar plasma, as well as clock instabilities at the ground stations. 
Delta-DOR corrects these errors by tracking a quasar that is located near the spacecraft for calibration — usually within ten degrees. The chosen quasar’s direction is already known extremely well through astronomical measurements, typically to closer than 50 billionths of a degree (one nanoradian, or 0.208533 milliarcsecond). The delay time of the quasar is subtracted from that of the spacecraft’s, providing the delta-DOR measurement and allowing for amazingly high-precision navigation across long distances.
“Quasar locations define a reference system. They enable engineers to improve the precision of the measurements taken by ground stations and improve the accuracy of the direction to the spacecraft to an order of a millionth of a degree.”
– Frank Budnik, ESA flight dynamics expert

So even though the quasar in NGC 4438 is located 50 million light-years from Earth, it can help engineers position a spacecraft located 100 million kilometers away to an accuracy of several hundred meters. Now that’s a star to steer her by!

Read more:

Another fine and exciting use of our monies.

Mind you, YOUR money goes to other people too. I mentioned this in another spot.

Go and have a look. I do begrudge that, and all the faux-'victims' who scam too.

You don't need a telescope to see them. They are right infront of your face and we take far too little notice of them. Or far too much. Just not with a clear enough viewpoint.

Andanotherthing.... the spacecraft MAVEN

due to be launched on my birthday,

to go to Mars, is in grave danger of delay and tens of millions in additional costs because President O'Barmy cannot run his country properly. His 'shut-down' has shut NASA down too.

It can drive a Knight to drink.


  1. And all that plastic up there makes it more interesting.

    1. haha. You got that in quick, sir.

      For those not so quick I refer them (as do you) to....

      NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has detected propylene, a key ingredient in plastics, on Saturn’s moon Titan.

      I raise a glass to the wonders of creation.

  2. One of my favorite subjects.

    Beautiful. ..drummer


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The Tavern gets rowdy visitors from time to time. Some are brain dead and some soul dead. They attack customers and the bar staff and piss on the carpets. Those people will not be allowed in anymore. So... Be Nice..