The Final Evolution of our Sun – illustrated by Adolf Shaller

I wanted to share some images with you that had me transfixed when I was a young boy (and still do to this day). I recall first seeing them in a hardback book of my father’s called Cosmos (which presumably accompanied the TV series that was being broadcast at the time).

The images depict the fate of our planet as the Sun transitions into a red giant star, at the very end of its life, some 4-5 billion years from now.

As the temperature of the Sun slowly increases, the oceans recede and our precious atmosphere is stripped away. Eventually the whole horizon is overwhelmed by the Sun in a bloated distended form, with the final image showing the Earth completely barren and parched.

I remember wondering at the time – where would all the people and animals be? Would we perish or find some new star to call our home? I think it was the first moment I glimpsed the immensity of stellar time scales and how tiny human lives and endeavours appeared to be next to these vast physical processes.

This is still what fascinates me most about astronomy and cosmology, and it’s amazing how something as natural and simple as looking up at the stars is a gateway into these incredible realms of the imagination.

Anyway here are the images, including their original captions. I was also pleased to find out that Adolf Shaller is still producing amazing art. Try an image search on Google with his name and enjoy.

‘The last perfect day’
‘The waters recede and most life is extinguished as the sun starts to swell and its luminosity rises.’
‘The oceans have evaporated and the atmosphere has escaped into space’
‘The sun, now a red giant, fills the sky over a dead planet. As we see in the next section, the red giant will eventually throw off its outer layers and become a white dwarf.’

Binoculars for Astronomy

Here’s a look at some of the binoculars I use for stargazing and astronomy, both hand held and tripod mounted.  

I’d say 90% of my observing is done with binoculars over telescopes due to their versatility and speed of use. This is especially relevant if you live anywhere with changeable weather, when sometimes brief openings appear in the sky.

If you enjoyed this video and found it useful please let me known and if you feel like buying me a coffee I’d really appreciate that too (link below).

Look out for a future video on telescopes.

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/modulouniverse

Please note this video is not sponsored by Olympus, these just happen to be the binoculars I use. Any pair of 8×40 or 10×50 binoculars should serve you very well.

Binocular Moon

Here’s a short video I edited together celebrating binocular views of our Moon. All footage was shot using a simple tripod mounted binocular setup and captured via mobile phone (so pretty low resolution). I especially love observing the Moon emerging from layers of clouds – something we’re in no short supply of here in Scotland.I hope you enjoy it. Music kindly provided by Rising Galaxy at Cosmicleaf Records

Hebridean Dark Skies Festival Launch

Join me tomorrow evening for the launch event of the 2021 Hebridean Dark Skies Festival, where I’ll be offering some tips on what to see in February’s night skies. You can pick up your free tickets to the online stream from An Lanntair here.

I’ll also be featuring in a live discussion about the festival and Scotland’s dark skies this Sunday morning on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland Radio show. Tune in from about 9.30am.

“Hebridean Dark Skies Festival online launch event is tomorrow night at 7pm! If you’ve already booked a free ticket we’ll be sending you a weblink shortly. If you haven’t, reserve your place now for a guided virtual tour of our Lumen exhibition, Highland Astronomy on what to see in the night sky in February, musician Renzo Spiteri on his festival commission, and more.” – An Lanntair

February Star Stories Live

Abriachan Forest

I’ll once again be collaborating with Abriachan Forest (a dark sky discover site) to bring you another online Star Stories in February. This month we have two guest speakers fulfilling the astronomy and storytelling segments.

Eric Walker from the Highlands Astronomical Society joins us to speak about his passion for night sky and deep sky photography. He’ll be sharing some great tips to help you capture the wonders of the night sky yourself and many of the breathtaking pictures he’s captured over the years. (http://www.spacegazer.com)

Afterwards we’ll be joined by Daniel Allison – an acclaimed oral storyteller who performs everywhere from schools and prisons to global festivals. Daniel hosts the House of Legends Podcast and is the author of The Bone Flute, Silverborn, Scottish Myths & Legends and Finn & The Fianna. (https://www.houseoflegends.me)

Plus a What’s Up guide to the night sky from your truly. Due to current circumstances this event is free and open to everyone however we would kindly ask you to donate to the speakers directly via links which will go up during the sessions.Many thanks for your support in advance.

Join the event here: https://fb.me/e/4MxdmU9gt

Aurora Borealis display from Inverness

I got lucky the other night and snapped the northern lights from my house in Inverness looking over towards the Black Isle. I was out filming for a stargazing video and noticed the bright glow naked eye.

Many people living in the north of Scotland wonder why they’ve never seen the northern lights because they’re more common than you might think.

Three of the main problems:

1. We hardly ever go outside in the cold of winter and spend so much time indoors.
2. Too much light pollution.
3. Looking in the wrong direction.

And here’s some simple solutions:

1. Get outside more and go for night walks – something I’ve been doing even more during lockdown.
2. Walk somewhere local but away from street lights. Try to get elevated – a local wood or hill perhaps.
3. Look North.

The Inverness Courier shared the image with a short story here.

Einstein Goes To Hollywood

Join me at 7pm on Sunday the 31st January for a special live talk with Glasgow University’s Professor Martin Hendry – Professor of Gravitational Astrophysics and Cosmology.

Martin will be taking a light-hearted look at how ideas from Einstein’s theories have found their way into lots of the blockbuster movies we know and love. Plus a What’s Up guide to February skies from yours truly.

This event is brought to you by the Merkinch Nature Reserve Astronomy programme. It’s free and open to everyone but if you enjoy the session we would ask you to kindly donate using the provided links during the event stream.

The event will be broadcast live from my facebook page. Please use the following link to join the stream: https://fb.me/e/2hskXuAmx