Arrived in today’s mail. Science doesn’t care. Reality is what is real, not what we want to be real.
December 8, 2014
December 1, 2014
Eta Carinae and the Expanding Homunculus Nebula, 7,500 to 8,000 light years from Earth. NASA
October 26, 2014
From Science is a verb‘s Facebook:
On October 26, 1977, NASA’s Space Shuttle Enterprise completed its fifth and final Approach and Landing Test free flight. Enterprise was released from the back of a modified NASA 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and had a two-minute glide back to the runway at Edwards Air Force Base.
The Approach and Landing Test program demonstrated the orbiter’s capability for safe approach and landing after an orbital flight from space. It also validated crucial onboard control systems necessary for the Shuttle Program’s next step: the launch of Shuttle Columbia into orbit on April 12, 1981.
To learn more about Space Shuttle Approach and Landing Tests , visit:
September 3, 2014
August 27, 2014
Since most people know more about astrology than astronomy (and, no, they’re not the same thing), this nonsense has been making the rounds on Facebook recently. Needless to say (at least to anyone who paid attention in junior high school science class), Mars will not appear to be as big as the Moon.
The absolute closest distance the Earth and Mars can theoretically ever come to each other is 33.9 million miles. We’ve never observed that, due to the elliptical nature of the orbits of planets. An approach that close requires a coincidental alignment of orbits that is exceedingly rare. So rare, that it’s not been observed in human history.
For comparison, the orbits of Venus and the Earth can come within 24 million miles of each other. The diameter of Venus is 3,032 miles, while Mars is 4,212 (not much difference in the grand scheme of planets). Earth’s diameter is 7,918 miles. (give or take. It’s a bit more at the equator, less at the poles, due to the spin of the planet on it’s axis.) Venus, even at it’s closest approach, 10 million miles closer than Mars ever gets, never appears as more than a bright star in the morning or evening sky, so the idea that Mars will look like our Moon is, simply, hooey. Never going to happen.
If you ever do see something in the sky as big as the Moon (that’s not the Moon), we’re in deep shit. That’s either the Death Star, or Gallifrey.
Either one of those, and we’re screwed.
August 24, 2014
July 14, 2014
I seldom remember my dreams. They fade as I wake, if I recall them at all. Today I awoke remembering the dream that just ended, and it starred my old CB radio.
I own a Cobra CAM 88 Citizen’s Band radio. It’s a 23 channel, tube type AM transceiver, and I have a Silver Eagle D-104 power mic connected to it. I bought the radio used in the mid-to-late 1970’s from my buddy Marc Cooper, who I believe got it from his uncle. It’s probably a mid-60’s radio.
In my dream, I was showing the radio to a friend, and hooked it up to try it out. Now, I haven’t even turned on a CB radio in probably ten years or more, let alone keyed one up and talked. But I did in this dream, and heard distant stations coming in by skip. (skip is when a radio signal bounces off the ionosphere and travels much farther than normal. When sunspot activity is high, you can hear stations from the east coast easier than you can hear locals. High power amplifiers add to the noise factor!)
The odd thing about this dream is More