Saturday, March 5, 2011

Caturday Round-Up

I haven't posted much astronomy news this past week, so I figured it would be good to give a round up. And then cat pictures, because its fricken Caturday, which is serious business.

Lets start with this story. NASA's Glory satellite failed to reach orbit on March 4th, 2011. The protective shell on top of the rocket that housed the satellite failed to separate as expected. The satellite's goal was to study interactions between the Sun and aerosol particles in the atmosphere. The rocket and satellite fell into the Pacific Ocean.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Laser Pointers!

Yay, my internet is working fine and everything thing today. I guess I am going to do a gizmo suggestion thingy since that has been my Friday thing. It's also kind of easy to do since I am feeling a bit under the weather. I promise to have some awesome astronomical science-y stuff to drop tomorrow.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Always One Day That The Internet Craps Out.

Stupid Blogger split my text up, but you all get the point.

Edit, deleted this other threads, here is what I said: (the | being where my text was separated on my phone)

Well, it has been one of those days. My internet has been going on and off all day, mostly off, so I won't be posting anything interesting today. That is | unless the internet starts working well late tonight. I have to say, it was a pretty good idea to hook blogger up to my blackberry. Anyways, hopefully t | his all gets sorted by tomorrow. Have a great evening everyone!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March 2011 Highlights

March is one of my favorite months, there is spring break, St. Patrick's day, the beginning of spring, and lots of birthdays (mine included). It also is when things start to warm up and more people can tolerate being outdoors at night, a when more people start coming outside to do observing. It isn't as nice as a warm summer's eve, but its getting there. Although if you are in the southern hemisphere the opposite is probably true. Anyways, I wanted to start a new monthly segment that covers some of the astronomical highlights of the coming month. This includes Saturn brightening every night as it nears opposition (closest to the Earth) in early April, and Venus bright in the dawn sky for the whole month.

So here's what else you can look forward to:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Last Tuesday I asked for questions from the readers. I only ended up getting 3 serious ones, that's a good amount to do this thread, but I'm not sure how its going to work out in the long run. I am still experimenting with this, but I still think a community interaction is a good idea. So I am going to do a poll this time, asking what celestial topic I should cover, and if you have suggestions for alternatives, make them in the comments here. But if you do have any questions, I will try to answer them in the comments. I think I have done a pretty good job so far, and even if I don't know, I can probably track a source down for you.

The Q&A:

Monday, February 28, 2011

Galactic Habitable Zone

This post is sort of an addendum to the two Kepler posts made last week, here and here. As you can probably tell, I am pretty much obsessed with Kepler information right now. The two things I wanted to add were (1) the concept of a galactic habitable zone and (2) a couple of Kepler Objects of Interest, or KOIs. You'll probably be hearing about a few KOIs in the future, as more and more data gets sifted through.

So first, the galactic habitable zones. When I did the calculations for the Kepler posts for the spacing out of possible civilizations, I assumed that any civilization would be roughly about as far from the galactic center as our own solar system. There is actually a good reason for this.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Active Sun

The Sun is alive and kicking! Or well, burning and throwing off spectacular flares. Not to long ago (the 17th I think), we got hit with a blast from the Sun. It provided some awesome auroras for those at latitude's high enough to enjoy it. Well, on the 25th the Sun let out another belch:
This was a large flare (M3-class) generated from sunspot 1163, and the video is as seen from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The Earth was spared the Sun's wrath this time, as the sunspot was behind the limb of the Sun (not facing towards us, in astronomy 'limb' means the outer edge of an object). No plasma clouds headed our way. According to, the only effect on the Earth was "ultraviolet radiation spilled over to create waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere. Low-frequency radio signals, which bounce off of ionized air, were strongly disturbed."

Sunspot 1163 is turning towards the Earth however, and if eruptions continue, we will be seeing some activity.