"Bruce Murray's Creaky Movie"
August 29, 2013This is sad news indeed, though on the other hand, we should celebrate his achievements and be glad to have benefited from his remarkable work. In the early 1960s I started learning about the solar system through books, and it was some years before pictures were coming back from space probes that were actually travelling to these distant worlds. I still recall the excitement of learning that we were actually planning to send spacecraft to Jupiter and Saturn, to be followed years later again by seeing the incredible images from Pioneers 10 and 11. One specific memory is due to a direct action of Bruce Murray. As Pioneer 10 approached Jupiter it was taking photographs en route, clearly showing the planet's rotation. Bruce had the idea of selecting images taken as Jupiter completed one rotation after another, and putting them together. This effectively created a long time-lapse zoom in on Jupiter, with the Great Red Spot in the same relative position. However, as we got closer, we could see the Spot itself rotating, and the belts and zones swirling around in more detail than we had ever seen before. As the frames weren't precisely matched - after all we didn't have the digital imaging technology of today; this was in the early 1970s - Jupiter wobbled around somewhat, and the film was referred to as "Bruce Murray's Creaky Movie"! Thank you, Bruce.
An asteroid or comet headed for Earth is the only large-scale natural disaster we can prevent. Working together to fund our Shoemaker NEO Grants for astronomers, we can help save the world.