Charles Keefer's Blog

Stumbled on …

with 2 comments

Like a lot of people, I spend an inordinate amount of time searching the internet but still I am constantly surprised by things I find right under my nose.

One of those things is Wikimedia with some 10 million sound and image files you can use for free. It has been there but I just never clicked on it.

When I did this morning, I found the above image from the Paranal Observatory in Chile. Astronomers are firing a laser into the upper atmosphere where, at 90 km, it excites sodium atoms to create an artificial star. This Laser Guide Star is used to correct the blurring effect of the atmosphere on images taken by the Very Large Telescope, which is an array of four 8.2 meter telescopes. The photo was taken in mid-August by Yuri Beletsky of the European Southern Observatory team. The ESO is a 15 nation organization that provides state of the art facilities for European astronomers to access the southern sky.

Another thing stumbled on but worth visiting – the blog of John Edwin Mason at Mason is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia who teaches African history and the history of photography. He also is a car buff.

The photo below, of a Boy Scout color guard on Memorial Day 1943 at Arlington Cemetery, was shot by Esther Bubley and is one of many historical photos to be found on Mason’s blog.

Mason is eclectic, however. On the same blog page is a video documentary about an indie film on CLAW – the Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers – along with an obit for Basil Moses, a South African jazz bassist, and a photo feature on Bug Out 69, a convention of VW bug owners in Manassas, VA, in May. Did you know they drag race VW Beetles? Yup – a quarter mile in seven seconds in a Beetle.


Written by Charles Keefer

June 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm

Posted in Blog

2 Responses

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  1. Your photo of the Paranal observatory reminded me of this video. It is a time-lapse video of the same observatory complex. If you haven’t seen it, I think you’d enjoy watching it. (About 8 minutes long)

    At about 2:44 the artificial-star laser is activated by one of the observatories. Another series is at 7:00-8:00. There are some shots made from within the observatories with the camera on a mobile platform so that the view through the observatory’s aperture keeps the same part of the sky in view.
    You can tell that a lot of time was invested in making the video. The same guy has done others that are outdoor time-lapse videos that really give the feeling of the earth turning underneath the static stars.

    Shay Walters

    July 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm

  2. Follow-up: The astronomer/photographer’s website:

    Link to the “earth moving – sky still” video:

    or just search in youtube for “stephane jose francisco”

    Shay Walters

    July 23, 2011 at 12:15 pm

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