Posts Tagged 'Astronomy'



Perseid Meteor Shower Coming Up!

From the NASA website:

July 31, 2009: Earth is entering a stream of dusty debris from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the source of the annual Perseid meteor shower. Although the shower won’t peak until August 11th and 12th, the show is already getting underway.

“Earth passes through the densest part of the debris stream sometime on August 12th. Then, you could see dozens of meteors per hour.”

For sky watchers in North America, the watch begins after nightfall on August 11th and continues until sunrise on the 12th. Veteran observers suggest the following strategy: Unfold a blanket on a flat patch of ground. (Note: The middle of your street is not a good choice.) Lie down and look up. Perseids can appear in any part of the sky, their tails all pointing back to the shower’s radiant in the constellation Perseus. Get away from city lights if you can.

I know I’ll be heading out of the city  for this!

Perseid Meteor Shower

Here’s a little background on the Perseids, which have been observed for over 2000 years:

The Perseids are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so called because the point they appear to come from, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. Meteor showers occur when Earth moves through a meteor stream. The stream in this case is called the Perseid cloud and it stretches along the orbit of the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The cloud consists of particles ejected by the comet as it passed by the Sun. Most of the dust in the cloud today is approximately a thousand years old. However, there is also a relatively young filament of dust in the stream that boiled off the comet in 1862. The rate of meteors originating from this filament is much higher than for the older part of the stream.

Forty Years Ago Man Was on the Moon

It’s been forty years since one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments: putting a human on another world. How freaking cool was that?! I wish I was around to see it live, and as you can tell by reading this list, I hope I’m around to see it happen again.

My eyes welled up when I read NASA’s take on the 40th anniversary, so I’m just going to quote them:

Forty years ago, Apollo astronauts set out on a daring adventure to explore the Moon. They ended up discovering their own planet.

It was Christmas Eve, 1968, the close of one of the most turbulent, fractured years in U.S. and world history. The picture offered a much needed new perspective on “home.”For the first time in history, humankind looked at Earth and saw not a jigsaw puzzle of states and countries on an uninspiring flat map – but rather a whole planet, a fragile sphere of dazzling beauty floating alone in a dangerous void. There was a home worthy of careful stewardship.

The late nature photographer Galen Rowell described this photo as “the most influential environmental photograph ever taken.”

In a fitting tribute to the 40th anniversary of the moon missions, the LRO has sent back some pictures of the moon landing site. Head over to this site to have a look, they’re really cool to see. You can see the LM and it’s shadow, and even the paths taken by the astronauts across the surface.

Things I Want to See Before I Die (Part 1)

For some reason I’ve been thinking about my mortality a lot lately, maybe because I recently celebrated a birthday. Since I abandoned my wishful thinking of an afterlife I’ve become more okay with death.  I don’t have irrational fears of hell, I can just shut my eyes and that will be the end.

But the thought that the end is truly the end is also a really sad thought, because we live a time of so much innovation, and I would like to be around to witness it.

I decided that I’m going to make a list of discoveries and advancements that I’d like to see in my lifetime. I hope I can check some of them off soon, and I’ll try to update the list as I think of things…which is why I’m calling this post Part 1.

Here’s the list so far:

  1. The discovery of the Higgs-Boson particle
  2. Humans back to the Moon
  3. Discovery of alien life, hopefully intelligent but bacteria would be cool too!
  4. Figuring out what the heck dark matter is
  5. Space tourism
  6. Nuclear power to replace coal
  7. AIDS vaccine

I’ll start off with 7, that’s a pretty ambitious list! Unfortunately I won’t be taking part in discovering or implementing any of these things, but I will idolize the scientists who do so. And I do hope to take part in some space tourism in my lifetime, how awesome would that be?!

What would be on your list?

One of the Many Reasons I Don’t Get the Appeal of Religion

I’m sitting on my balcony right now getting ready to watch some fireworks (Happy Canada Day!) and I’m in awe of the beautiful moon. It’s shining more brightly than any of the street lights down below.

If you just think about this for a minute. 150 million kilometres away there’s a giant ball of gas that is burning so hot and radiating so much light that during the day today it burned my skin, and now it’s illuminating our night because it’s being reflected off of an orbiting ball of rock.

Incredible.

As I stare at the moon I can’t help but think that believing a god blinked it into existence diminishes its magnificence. I think it’s way cooler and it makes me feel way luckier to be here when I consider that, as the evidence shows, our existence here is simply the result of random chance.

What do you think?

NMoon

Going to the Moon, 40 Years Later

Here’s something cool…

On July 20th, 1969, humans first set foot on the moon. Now you can follow what happened leading up to the mission via Twitter as if it were happening today.

Go to: https://twitter.com/ApolloPlus40

NeilArmstrong

[Follow me on Twitter @EnlightningLinZ]

What Would You Say to the Aliens?

The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute wants to know!

If SETI detects a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, what would you want to say to them? Or should we even reply?

EarthSpeaksClick here to let SETI know what you think we should say to the aliens!

Phantom Torso Returns to Earth

For the last 4 months, until May 27th, an armless, legless torso has been aboard the International Space Station, so that scientists could learn more about the space radiation that presents a challenge to having a human presence in space.Torso

The torso provided a real-world confirmation that the computer models previously used to look at space radiation  were accurate, so now they can be confident in using the models to plan future space missions.

What does it all mean?:

“Short lunar missions are fine,” [Francis] Cucinotta [of NASA's Johnson Space Centre] says, “but living in a lunar habitat for 6 months starts to be problematic. We’re going to have to do a really good job with radiation shielding and perhaps medical countermeasures to have 6-month missions.”

Mars will be even tougher, these models suggest. Some scenarios call for missions that would last 18 months or more. “Right now there’s no design solution to stay within safety limits for such a Mars mission,” Cucinotta says. “Putting enough radiation shielding around a spacecraft would make it far too heavy to launch, so we need to find better lightweight shielding materials, and we probably need to develop medical techniques to counteract damage to cells caused by cosmic rays.” He notes that one of the biggest obstacles to progress in this area is “uncertainty in the types of cell damage deep cosmic ray exposure can cause. We still have a lot to learn.”


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