We know space is big, but trying to understand how big is tricky. Say you stare up at the sky and identify stars and constellations in a virtual planetarium, you can't quite fathom how far away all those stars are (previously, twice). Even if you could change your point of view and zoom around in space to really see 100,000 nearby stars (autoplaying ambient music, and there are actually 119,617 stars mapped in 3D space), it's still difficult to get a sense of scale. There's this static image of various items mapped on a log scale from XKCD (previously), and an interactive horizontal journey down from the sun to the heliosphere with OMG Space (previously). You can get a bit more dynamic with this interactive Scale of the Universe webpage (also available in with some variants, if you want the sequel [ previously, twice], the swirly, gravity-optional version that takes some time to load, and the wrong version [previously]), but that's just for the scale of objects, not of space itself. If you want to get spaced out, imagine if If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel, and travel from there (previously). This past March, BBC Future put out a really big infographic, which also takes a moment to load, but then you can see all sorts of things, from the surface of Earth out to the edge of our solar system.
The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
A Star in a Bottle. "An audacious plan to create a new energy source could save the planet from catastrophe. But time is running out."
One of the most enduring mysteries in solar physics is why the Sun's outer atmosphere, or corona, is millions of degrees hotter than its surface. - Now scientists believe they have discovered a major source of hot gas that replenishes the corona
The most detailed photo of the surface of the sun looks like this. It was taken by the team at CA's Big Bear Solar Observatory. They have some other neat images of our nearest star at their website. [more inside]
Year On Earth breaks it down, explaining the complicated mechanics involved in trying to determine how long a year really is, why seasons and ice ages happen, and how not all years are created equal.
...the lyrics to that last song were basically taken from an encyclopedia written in the 50s, and since the 50s, some remarkable things have happened...In 1959, a number of songs about science were released on an album called Space Songs. One of these was later covered by the band They Might Be Giants: Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun Is A Mass of Incandescent Gas). Only one problem: it isn't--the song was based on an incorrect text from 1951. So they wrote an answer song to themselves: Why Does The Sun Really Shine? (The Sun Is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma). Bonus link: see for yourself! (previously)
Rethinking Earthrise. On the 40th anniversary of the NASA's Apollo 8 mission [caution: weird JFK animation], which answered Stewart Brand's epochal, LSD-inspired question "Why haven't we seen a photograph of the whole Earth yet?" with an unforgettable image of a seemingly fragile and isolated blue planet, Nature editor Oliver Morton -- author of a new book on photosynthesis called Eating the Sun -- disputes the notion that the Earth is fragile and isolated. "The fragility is an illusion," he writes. "The planet Earth is a remarkably robust thing, and this strength flows from its ancient and intimate connection to the cosmos beyond. To see the photo this way does not undermine its environmental relevance -- but it does recast it."
Magnetic Portals Connect Sun and Earth. "Like giant, cosmic chutes between the Earth and sun, magnetic portals open up every eight minutes or so to connect our planet with its host star. Once the portals open, loads of high-energy particles can travel the 93 million miles (150 million km) through the conduit during its brief opening, space scientists say." [Via]
The sun is solid (this has beautiful images, btw). The earth is fixed, or maybe growing; relativity is wrong, and so is most of current thinking... For the intriguing as well as the insane, visit the fringes of science.
Electrical lighting conspiracy theories can be paranoid, downright bizarre, or actually pretty reasonable.
"...but trust me on the sunscreen." That memorable, always-infallible commencement advice (not from Kurt Vonnegut) takes a hit as scientists now propose that we all need to get more direct sunlight, in order to... wait for it... fight cancer!
Sol: A Great Big Ball of Burning....Iron? Well that's what a UMRolla professor thinks anyway -- instead of being mostly hydrogen, that the sun is actually mostly iron. He's going against all popular belief, and indeed lots of evidence, but his theory states that our sun formed around the iron core of an old supernova.
Hey, Baby -- did you feel that? The sun, someday, will envelope the Earth and all life as we know it will die. Can we prevent this? Some wacky scientists think that the best thing to do would be to up and move the whole damn planet.
A Green Flash from the Sun - I always thought this was a myth, but if NASA says it's true... (and I believe everything I read).
The sky is falling, the sky is falling! Looks like this weekend will be the time to go outside and get that killer tan you always wanted.