Saturday Scenes

Sat 31 August 2013

A Planet By Any Other Name…

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 08:37

On the 24th of August in 2006, the International Astronomical Union declared that Pluto was not a planet. We had previously not had a clear definition of what was and was not a planet, which was fine while we were only looking at a low amount of celestial bodies in our solar system. As our ability to explore further regions increased, it became clear that Pluto had less in common with the “classical” planets and more in common with large asteroids being discovered near it, such as Ceres and Xena. There are over 40 of what are now known as “dwarf planets” and we are likely to find hundreds more: either they all had to be classed as planets or Pluto had to lose its position as our ninth planet.

Pluto Not a Planet, Astronomers Rule

Pluto has been voted off the island.

The distant, ice-covered world is no longer a true planet, according to a new definition of the term voted on by scientists today.

“Whoa! Pluto’s dead,” said astronomer Mike Brown, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, as he watched a Webcast of the vote. “There are finally, officially, eight planets in the solar system.”

In a move that’s already generating controversy and will force textbooks to be rewritten, Pluto will now be dubbed a dwarf planet.

On the 24th of August in 2013, the following photographs taken from various vantage points in our solar system were taken:

And here are the superstars that took them:

Have you got a camera or a smart-phone?

Then be sure to take a photograph tomorrow! It’s so easy to join in.

All you have to do is send a tweet to @SatScenes with your photo and the location: all the rest happens automatically!

I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!

Fri 23 August 2013

Any Port in a Storm

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 10:00

The 17th of August was Portumnalia, the feast day of the god Portunes in the ancient Roman religion.

Portunes was the god of keys, doors and livestock. Over time, presumably because of his connection to doors and gates (porta), he was conflated with Palaemon and became the god of ports and harbours.

Portunes on Wikipedia

His festival, celebrated on August 17, the seventeenth day before the Kalends of September, was the Portumnalia, a minor occasion in the Roman year. On this day, keys were thrown into a fire for good luck in a very solemn and lugubrious manner. His attribute was a key and his main temple in the city of Rome, the Temple of Portunus, was to be found in the Forum Boarium.

The Latin adjective importunus comes from his name, referring to untimely waves and weathers and contrary winds. This is still reflected in English with opportune as in well timed. This means that Portunus is also the god of opportunities.

We celebrated the 17th of August by throwing our cameras and smart phones into the fire for good lu… no, no, that’s not right. We celebrated by creating beautiful photographs, taking advantages of opportunities to share our corner of the planet with the rest of the world:

And this list of Twitter names is the key to discovering who took them:

Why don’t you join in?

We’d love to see your photos! Just take a picture on a Saturday and send it to @SatScenes with a location.

See you next week!

Fri 16 August 2013

Resting on the Seabed

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 20:25

On the 10th of August in 1628, the Swedish warship Vasa departed Stockholm for her maiden voyage. It had taken two years to build the warship, her hull built of over a thousand oak trees and carrying 64 cannon. A hundred crewmen were on board, along with their family and guests who had been invited to celebrate her departure.

She made it twenty minutes before she sank, only 120 metres from the shore. It turned out the ship was top heavy and had insufficient ballast. The first gust of wind into her sails caused her to heel. Water then rushed in through the open gunports and dragged her underwater, killing between 30 to 150 of the crew and passengers on board while the shocked spectators on shore watched.

The Ship – The Vasa Museum

Whose fault was it?

Vice Admiral Klas Fleming, partly. He had been present before the ship sailed, when the captain demonstrated how crank the ship was by having 30 men run back and forth across the upper deck. On their third pass, the ship was ready to capsize at the quay. The admiral was heard to say that he wished the king were there.

King Gustav II Adolf, partly. He ordered a large ship with so many heavy-calibre cannon, and approved the ship’s dimensions.

Master shipwright Henrik Hybertsson, partly. He was a talented shipbuilder who had delivered several successful ships to the navy, but he had too little experience with building ships with two gundecks.

Captain Söfring Hansson, ultimately. Vasa’s sinking can also be blamed on the captain. It would have been safer to sail the ship with the lower gunports closed, since he knew the ship was unstable. It might have been possible to redistribute weight in the ship or even rebuild it. If the inquest were held today, the captain would probably be held responsible.

333 years later, the ship was salvaged from the deep and it has now been reconstructed and restored into a stunning museum, highlighting ship life in the 17th century.

Sadly, we don’t have any SatScenes from Sweden today but we do have these wonderful shots from all over the world:

And here are the brave souls that took them:

Would you like to add your photo? It’s simple to join in:

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the location

Please be sure to include your location! I know you know where you are and I know that many of you send photos from the same location ever week. But with a hundred different people who have submitted in 2013 alone, it is difficult for me to remember who is where. Add a location! (If you fill in your profile location or tag the photo with location information, I can use that for quick reference when you forget to add it in the tweet. :)

Wherever you are – take a photograph on Saturday! We’d all love to see even more SatScenes in the next edition!

Fri 9 August 2013

Letter from America

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 23:32

On the 3rd of August in 1527, the first known letter from North America was sent by John Rut. The Mary Guildford was usually kept busy transporting wine for the king from Bordeaux. However, Henry VIII was interested in finding a Northwest Passage and sent the Mary Guildford to find it. Rut commanded the expedition and departed the Thames on the 20th of May, but just two months later he was forced to turn back when the ship met heavy ice. They head south, exploring the Labrador coast. Rut entered St John’s harbour on the 3rd of August where he found Norman, Breton and Portugese fishing ships already there.

Rut wrote a letter to King Henry to report what he’d seen.

The First Letter from Newfoundland | Archival Moments

…the third day of August we entered into a good harbour called St. John and there we found Eleuen Saile of Normans and one Brittaine and two Portugal barks all a fishing and so we are ready to depart towards Cap de Bras that is 25 leagues as shortly as we have fished and so along the Coast until we may meete with our fellowe and so with all diligence that lyes in me toward parts to that Ilands that we are command at our departing and thus Jesu save and keepe you Honourable Grace and all your Honourable Reuer. In the Haven of St. John the third day of August written in hast 1527, by your servant John Rut to his uttermost of his power

This trip allowed the English to catch up with France and Spain on mapping the eastern coast of North America and by 1620, most of Newfoundland’s east coast was controlled by English fishermen.

On the 3rd of August 2013, Saturday Scene submitters reported what they’d seen with the modern digital equivalent:

And here are the brave explorers who reported:

You can find out what all of these great adventurers are up to simply by checking the current Saturday Scenes list which includes all participants from 2013.

Why don’t you join in this weekend? Just take a photograph on Saturday and send the link to @SatScenes with the location! It’s easy and fun and we love seeing new sights.

Fri 2 August 2013

The Quick and Dirty OS

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 18:33

On the 27th of July, 1981, Microsoft bought the rights for QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System) for $25,000.

IBM had approached Microsoft regarding an operating system for its upcoming personal computer. The IBM PC was due for release in August, so the QDOS purchase was just in time. This original version of DOS was designed by Tim Paterson.

DosMan Drivel – Tim Paterson’s Blog

I envisioned the power of the 8086 making it practical to have a multi-user OS, and I laid out a plan to the SCP board of directors to develop a single-user OS and a multi-user OS that would share the same Application Program Interface (API). This would be a big design job that would take time to get right – but we were already shipping our computer system and needed an OS now. So I proposed to start with a “quick and dirty” OS that would eventually be thrown away.

When I designed DOS I knew that fitting the cluster number in a single byte, limiting the number of clusters to 256, wouldn’t get the job done as disks got bigger. I increased the FAT entry to 12 bits, allowing over 4000 clusters. With a cluster size of as much as 16K bytes, this would allow for disks as large as 64MB. You could even push it to a 32K cluster and 128MB disk size, although that large cluster could waste a lot space. These disk sizes seemed enormous to me in 1980. Only recently had we seen the first 10MB hard disks come out for microcomputers, and that size seemed absurdly lavish (and expensive).

Thirty-two years later, SatScenes was put together on a machine running Windows 7 with two hard-drives of 931GB each. That’s X* times the 64MB disks that Tim Paterson designed for. These are the wonderful photographs that were submitted:

*I don’t think I can count that high

And here are the photographers who took them!

Have you got a camera or a smart-phone? Has it got as much memory as a microcomputer in 1981?

In that case, you have no excuse for not taking a photograph on Saturday. It’s easy to join us!

Simply send a tweet to @SatScenes with the url and the location and all the rest happens automatically!

I’m looking forward to seeing your Saturday Scene in the next edition!

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