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Category Archives: Astronomy

Articles, thoughts, and events in our outside the Earth.

Earth at Night

For those of us who cannot get enough Google Maps, check out Nighttime. Nighttime is a 128 megapixel image from NASA of the earth at night that you can navigate using the Google Maps inverface. It really is gorgeous and makes one wonder if this is what astronauts see. (via MAKE)

Lunar EclipseYou might have noticed the gorgeous moon these past few days as it continued to wane. Well, if you’re an early worker, make sure to take a look at it tomorrow (Monday) morning. The moon is setting just after 8am, but if you sneak a peak at it around 6:30am until then, you should catch the reddish darkening of the earth’s shadow.

Also, Mars has been absolutely brilliant this past week. At almost any time of night, you can see its bright sphere. It’s easy to spot. Just look for a red pinpoint of light. It’s much bigger than all the other stars and planets right now.

Char AznableIf you had twenty million dollars, what would you do? Save a rainforest? Help end world hunger?

Well, Japanese millionaire, Daisuke Enomoto, knows what he’s going to do. He’s going to orbit the earth in the International Space Station dressed like Gundam hero Char Aznable. As if robot dogs and indoor surfing were not enough, now Japan gives us millionaires role playing in space.

A few days ago, on October 3rd, Europe, Africa, and Southern Asia got to experience an annular solar eclipse. Not only is the moon blocking out the sun cool, a buncha peeps took some really cool photos of it. Here is the actual eclipse:

The coolest photos use either natural refraction or reflection to multiply the moon’s shadow. Here are a couple of ones I liked:

Eclipse Pattern on Hand
Credit: ‘L’

You can find more pictures on flickr.

KrikalevLast Tuesday, August 16th, Russian Commander Sergei Krikalev became the human with the most cumulative time in space. Since 1988, Krikalev has spent more than 752 days floating around the globe. Currently aboard the International Space Station, he will continue to rack up zero-g points for the Guinness Book of World Records.

It makes one wonder what would be missed most from a gravity-saturated environment. Drinking straight out of the carton? Water balloon fights? Not using a suction pump to do one’s royal duty? Having a side of the bed to wake up on? Being able to ask the question ‘What’s up?’

Apparently, California is more dangerous than I thought. Shortly after 5:00am on August 9th in Antelope Valley, CA, two different sheriffs offices received calls from dozens of people reporting a shooting. Apparently, they all awoke to a loud bang that they assumed was a gun.

In reality, they experienced the earth shaking double sonic boom caused by Discovery’s landing. One boom woke the townsfolk from sleep and the other frightened the hell out of them. Now, Californians have to worry about gang wars and shuttle landings.

Discovery Landed

Meteor ShowerGrab your blankets and caffeine! Tomorrow’s night sky is going to be ablaze with an impressive display of fiery meteors!

Thursday, August 11th, marks the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. At a rate of about 160 meteors per hour, the Perseids are annually one of the most spectacular night shows of the year. Entering our atmosphere at speeds around 60 km/sec, they quite often produce Bonides, which leave fiery streaks that cross the sky.

For best viewing, you will want to find a place far away from any city lights. I have found that the best places by Cincinnati are actually in Indiana. Just take I-74 to highway 52 and drive until it is dark. Then turn some random side road until you find a good farm with no trees. You will want to go after moonset which occurs at 11:40pm tomorrow night. Settle down facing northeast and enjoy the show!

If you have ever wanted a star to wish upon, tomorrow will be the night!

Update (08/09/05): Discovery rolled safely onto the runway at Edwards Airforce Base at 8:12 a.m! Here’s the video.

Due to poor weather conditions, Discovery will not be landing today at Kennedy Space Center as planned. For those of us who have stayed up with them until now, 5:07 a.m., this is a pretty big bummer. Low clouds hindering visibility and rain clouds creating atmospheric instability have convinced NASA specialists to wave off Discovery’s reentry. They are going to wait 24 hours before reattempting a decent.

Discovery Flipping

Since June 30th, 2004, NASA’s spacecraft, Cassini, has been orbiting Saturn, imaging everything it finds. Cassini has sent to us myriads of stunning images of its subject, the ‘Jewel of the Solar System.’ But perhaps its images have raised more questions than they have answered.

The most notable of these findings are the images of Mimas. Well, that is if it really is Mimas. Moon… or Death Star?

Original Death StarMimas Death Star

Is our government really telling us everything there is to know about these discoveries?
For example, are these really auroras on Saturn’s southern pole or is there something else occurring?

Saturn's Auroras

Don’t we have people floating around in space right now?

I know I haven’t posted anything yet about the Discovery mission. I am waiting to get lots of eye candy for you. As Rachel and Shannon know, I’ve been watching NASA TV 24/7 for the last week, so hopefully I’ll have some good video and stuff in a day or two.

Until then, this will have to do.

CNN Discovery 'Coverage'