Navigation By Lighthouse Stars


Often referred to as Cosmic Lighthouses, neutron stars (also known as pulsars) are incredibly dense stars that shoot out X-rays at a predictable rate, like a lighthouse.



A new NASA mission proposes to examine the nature of these neutron stars as well as how accurately we can use these beacons as celestial guiding points for deep space missions.


Pulsars spin at a dizzying rate of anywhere from seconds to milliseconds. As they whip around in their rotation, the hotspots flash periodically within sight of Earth. X-ray brightness from the pulsar increases when the hotspots comes within view, then dims as the hotspots turn away.


(There are a) millisecond class of pulsars that spin as rapidly as 700 times a second.These pulsars have such a consistent rotation rate that they are considered accurate celestial clocks. In space, they could be used in a similar way to global positioning satellites that provide navigation data to the military and civilians, particularly in vehicles.


On May 6, 2014 a new article on an ultra-precise pulsar was published by Janet Fang






Lighthouse Under the Stars

Sometime Facebook can be useful. I saw the photo below on Facebook under the title Beautiful Planet Earth’s photo, and did a Google Image Search for the photo for more information.

This is a Turkish lighthouse on the Mediterranean under a sky full of stars. This would have a great way to illustrate my story A Lighthouse at Night.

Enjoy the photo and the description underneath taken from the APOD astronomy website. This is a beautiful photo.

Turkish lighthouse at night

 Jupiter Over the Mediterranean 

Credit & CopyrightTunç Tezel (TWAN)

Explanation: This vacation included a sight to remember. Pictured above, a picturesque starscape capped a serene seascape as seen from Turkey this past August. In the above digitally stitched panorama, the Gelidonya Lighthouse shines in the foreground before a calm Mediterranean Sea. On the left, Jupiter is the brightest point in the image and since on the same side of the Sun as the Earth, was near its yearly brightest. Glowing just shy of magnitude -3, Jupiter was brighter than any star in the sky, and brighter even than Mars was during its famously bright opposition of 2003 August. On the right, the band of theMilky Way Galaxy fades into distant atmospheric haze above the horizonJupiter is nearing the closest part of its elliptical orbit to the Sun and so will appear even brighter during its next opposition in 2010 September.


Lighthouse at nightAnd last but hopefully not the least please admire the lighthouse photos under the stars from Michael Blanchette.

There are many more to view here in his gallery Night Sky.


A Lighthouse at Night


One of the nicest things about night shift on McInnes Island lighthouse was observing the sky on a clear night. It was always the same, and always different.

The same stars were always there, but the moon waxed and waned, comets streaked across at intervals, sometimes an airplane’s navigation lights blinked in the south, or sometimes the Northern Lights flashed in the north. Below are some more shots.

One of the problems with seeing such sights in the city is the city lights, often called light pollution. The graphic below ill show you what is seen and not seen as light pollution decreases.

I must confess, that is what the night sky looks like at night from a lighthouse, but not having a photo from my experiences on McInnes lighthouse as my camera was too amateurish for such detail, I added the lighthouse silhouette to the photos from the gallery below. Are the photos below fantastic or not?


But, when looking at the full-sized photo at the top, turn off your lights and imagine what it was like. Sometimes we would take a foam mat and lay down on the helicopter pad and just watch the night sky. It was fascinating. For meteor showers and comets it was unbeatable. Continue reading

I Love Night Shift!

You hear so many people complaining about having to work nights at a job. Myself, I found night shift to be the best! The rest of the station was asleep. I had the radio all to myself, a good book, cup of coffee and I was set.

Every hour or so, depending on the feel of the weather I would take a trip outside and check the engine room, and admire the sky! I was always amazed by the number of stars you could see from a lighthouse, as long as one stayed out of the loom of the main light.

Once my eyes became adapted to the dark, it was like the whole sky was lit up just for me. I used to pick out the constellations – one of my favourites was Orion, the Hunter which loomed large and clear in the sky from SE to SW depending on what time of night it was.

I used to leave the curtains open in my bedroom at night. If I woke before it was time to get up for shift, I would look outside and if Orion was visible, I could tell what time it was by the position in the sky. Continue reading