Tag: Stuart Robbins

OK, one more eclipse shot

By Phil Plait | May 23, 2012 1:28 pm

I’ve posted a lot of stuff about Sunday’s annular eclipse (see Related Links below), and I figured I was done… but then I got a pretty remarkable picture sent to me.

During the eclipse, in northern California, two men sent a small (6 cubic meter) helium-filled balloon up to 90,000 feet (roughly 27 km). Equipped with a camera and an ingenious system that used puffs of gas to orient the payload, they took this pretty amazing shot of the eclipse:

[Click to penumbrenate.]

That’s the Earth on the left (duh), and on the upper right you can see the eclipsed Sun! They used a solar filter to cover half the camera’s view so that they could get the correct exposure for both the Earth and the much brighter Sun.

I really enjoyed reading their story on how they set this up and executed it. I especially liked how they launched, sat around to watch the eclipse itself, then set off to find the balloon once it came back down (shredded after it popped at its lofty apex).

I love stuff like this! Basic equipment, clever people, and a can-do attitude results in something remarkable. Well done!

P.S. My friend and fellow Boulder astronomer Stuart Robbins posted a series of lovely timed sequences from the eclipse that he took in Albuquerque. It’s well worth a click!


Related Posts:

A fake and a real view of the solar eclipse… FROM SPACE!
Gallery: When the Moon ate (most of) the Sun
The May 20, 2012 annular solar eclipse in motion
Followup: Supereclipse

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

When a University helps promote nonsense

By Phil Plait | November 9, 2010 11:10 am

skepticalhippoHave you heard about these Power Bands, or Power Balance bracelets? The claims by the manufacturer and at countless demos are that these bands improve balance, flexibility, endurance, and strength by employing holograms which send frequencies that somehow interact with your body’s frequencies or electric field or glaven or some other undefinable manifestation.

Yeah. You can imagine what I think about that. And if you can’t, I’ll be clear: that claim is complete nonsense. Literally, it makes no sense. Holograms don’t emit anything, frequency or otherwise; there’s no such thing as your body’s frequency; and there’s no way inside the laws of physics that a rubber band with a cheap plastic hologram in it can affect your body, unless a) you’re allergic to rubber, or 2) it hits you at meteoric velocities.

We clear? OK.

So why on Earth would such a product be sold with a University logo on it? Yet, that’s what’s happening with the University of Colorado, among other institutions. Power Bands are being sold with the CU logo on them.

Now let me be careful here. These bands are being sold by the Power Force company online, as well as by the CU Athletic Department. The Athletic Department is separate from the University itself, and is the entity that licenses the logo used ("Ralphie" the buffalo).

Still, unsurprisingly, some local skeptics have taken exception to this, and have contacted the University about it. What did surprise me was how dismissively they were rebuffed. Read More

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