Saturday, January 31, 2015

Color Adds Depth

This is using the same data as in my last post, but just colorized.  It adds a nice sense of depth.  I'll have to play with different colors as time goes on.  But for now, the default ones:

Friday, January 30, 2015

Jupiter Moon Orbit Ribbons February 2015

Here are the orbit ribbons for Jupiter's moons for February 2015:

Io - Europa

Io - Ganymede

Io - Callisto

Europa - Ganymede

Europa - Callisto

Ganymede - Callisto

Io - Europa - Ganymede - Callisto

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Connecting The Dots

The past few days I've been completely taken over by the artistry and beauty I'm seeing in the orbital structures I've been creating.  This project has exploded very much out of proportion and I see no end to it.

It started with asking the question: "what does the pattern look like if I find the positions of two solar system bodies (relative to the sun) and draw a line between them at the same moment in time?"  The result of that can be seen in my Jupiter-Earth "spirograph" I put in my previous post.

Now it's gotten much more complex and interesting....

First, the plots:

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

Figure 4

Figure 1 shows lines drawn at 15 minute intervals between Io and Ganymede over the course of 24 hours.  The blue lines indicate the paths of the orbits, and the black dot is the location of Jupiter.

Figure 2 is when it starts getting complex and interesting.  I've once again plotted the path of Io's orbit around Jupiter.  The other blue line represents the vector distance between Ganymede and Io.  I then connect these two lines to give the figure presented.

Figure 3 is simply the combination of the two.

I have yet to figure out how to interpret these images.  Sofar it's all I can say is that if you look at Figure 4, I've marked A1, B1, A2, and B2.  As you can see, the distance and angle between A1 and B1 is the same as those between A2 and B2.  This goes, I think, for the entire plot.  All of this makes perfect sense but I have no idea if there is any other information to be extracted from this kind of plot.

So on top of that, I'm also looking at incorporation this into the JT podcast, but in a different way.  All I want to do is show the relationships between the moons as they orbit Jupiter.  So I can do things like this:

Lines between Io and Europa, 28 January 2015

Lines between Io and Ganymede, 28 January 2015

Lines between Io and Callisto, 28 January 2015

Lines between Europa and Ganymede, 28 January 2015

Lines between Europa and Callisto, 28 January 2015

Lines between Ganymede and Callisto, 28 January 2015
I like how our brains assign surfaces to all of these plots.

All lines combined, orbit lines removed

All lines combined showing orbits

So these figures show all of the possible unique combinations between the four moons of Jupiter: Io:Europa, Io:Ganymede, Io:Callisto, Europa:Ganymede, Europa:Callisto, and Ganymede:Callisto.

What does all this mean?  No idea.  But the plots are very beautiful.

This kind of thing can be done for any number of bodies in the solar system over any kind of time interval.  The possibilities are virtually endless.

However, I'm most interested in what orbital information these plots can give me.  But I have some questions -- the first being: What's happening when these lines "pile up"?  I'll continue to look at all of this and see if I can come up with some answers and more questions.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spirograph Solar System Objects

I've been having fun making "spirograph" style images of solar system objects.

Yesterday I was working with 2D images like these of Jupiter and Earth:

So what I've done here is go over to the JPL Horizons website and get the X, Y, and Z vectors for the Earth and Jupiter.  Eleven years (about one Jupiter year) with lines connecting Jupiter and Earth every week.  The result is the images you see on a 2D plane.

Today I turned to 3D images and moved to the asteroid 357439 (2004 BL86), which will be passing by Earth tomorrow.  I still need to work with gnuplot a lot more to get the kinds of plots that I want, but here's what I've got sofar:

These are very beautiful and the variation is nearly endless.

Here are some others from yesterday:

Earth and 1 Ceres 11 years, 1 line per week

Earth and Mars 11 years, 1 line per week, z=0, x=0

Earth and Mars 11 years, 1 line per week, z=140, x=50

Earth and Mars 11 years, 1 line per week, z=140, x=120
I'm a bit obsessed.....

Here are 10 years (2015-2025) of orbits of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and 357439 (2004 BL86) -- the asteroid possing Earth tomorrow.  Lines drawn between them once every seven days.  'x' and 'z' are the viewing angles in degrees.

x=0, z=0


x=90, z=0

x=90, z=120

x=150, z=150
Ok, one more.  This is the Jovian moons.  I've connected Io and Callisto, (red) and Europa and Ganymede (blue) using a radius of 1.1 million km.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Rare Jupiter Transit Events

Fairly rare triple shadows and triple moons are transiting the face of Jupiter on 24 January 2015.  Here are the timings and I'd appreciate it if someone would do the work to confirm these:

06:29 - 06:53 UTC    Io, Europa, and Callisto shadows all transiting (a 24 minute event)

07:09 - 07:13 UTC    Io, Europa, and Callisto moons all transiting (a 4 minute event)

This is a western hemisphere event.  If you're anywhere in North or South America, you will be able to observe these events.  Visibility maps for the two triple transits are shown below.

Here are some other events:

04:56 - 07:13 UTC    Io transit
07:09 - 10:03 UTC    Europa transit
06:20 - 11:03 UTC    Callisto transit

04:36 - 06:53 UTC    Io shadow transit
06:29 - 09:23 UTC    Europa shadow transit
03:12 - 08:01 UTC    Callisto shadow transit

06:29 - 06:53 UTC    Io & Europa shadows transit
04:36 - 06:53 UTC    Io & Callisto shadows transit
06:29 - 08:01 UTC    Europa & Callisto shadows transit

07:09 - 07:13 UTC    Io & Europa transit
06:20 - 07:13 UTC    Io & Callisto transit
07:09 - 10:03 UTC    Europa and Callisto transit

Watch Jupiter Today every day for information on events happening at Jupiter.

Visibility of Triple Shadow Transit Event 06:29 - 06:53 UTC

Visibility of Triple Transit Event 07:09 - 07:13 UTC

Monday, January 12, 2015

Crazy Fun

Apogee Podcast

I have a new Apogee Podcast out on the 365DaysOfAstronomy network.  You can check that out here, or just go to the main webpage and listen to the other great astronomy podcasts put out every single day.

Jupiter Today

I finally figured out the directions to the Earth and Sun in the new graphic that I've been trying to re-introduce into my daily podcast.  I'm glad to have this different perspective so the motions of the Galilean moons can be seen.

Here it is for my next podcast for 13 January 2015:

Figure 1: New JT graphic showing the motions of the four Galilean moons over the next 24 hours
First, the x and y axes are in units of kilometers.  The furthest away any moon gets (Callisto) is about 1.8 million km.  You can see the lines and dots representing the positions of the moons.  The dots indicate its position at 0h, 6h, 12h, 18h, and 0h UTC.  The blue line is the line of site from Jupiter to Earth.  The gray line is the line of site from Jupiter to the Sun.  So you can see in the graphic above that both Io and Europa are going to transit Jupiter (moving between Jupiter and the Earth), but slightly before that they cast their shadows onto Jupiter (moving between Jupiter and the Sun).  The quadrant system I've developed is, as far as I know, my own invention.  It just allows me to easily know where the moon are and how they're moving.  In quadrants 1 and 4, the moons are always moving eastward from Earth's point of view, and in quadrants 2 and 3 the moons are moving westward.

All of these plots are created with data taken from the JPL Horizons website. 

You can see and hear my latest podcast by going here, or click on the link on the right.