...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)
Sungazer — discover the awesome beauty of the Sun. See images of Earth sized sunspots, towering prominences, and rivers of hot gas. Then, explore the cameras, telescopes, and accessories used in solar astro photography. (previously)
Solar activity normally follows an 11-year cycle. The new cycle was originally predicted to start in early 2008, but despite a few sunspots appearing last year, the Sun still features a remarkable lack of activity - the deepest minimum since 1913. However, NASA's STEREO mission has seen indications that activity is increasing again, in the form of a coronal mass ejection (video [.mov, 3.3 Mb]), with an accompanying radio burst.
Atlantis. Hubble. And a big, yellow friend. Astrophotographer Thierry Legault managed to get amazing shots of Space Shuttle Atlantis approaching the Hubble Space Telescope during a transit of the sun. [more inside]
Oracle to acquire Sun for $7.4 billion. This gives Oracle, among other things, Solaris, MySQL, Java and OpenOffice, and means that Oracle is now a hardware manufacturer rather than a reseller. [more inside]
Once every month, Jews bless the moon. Once every 28 years, they bless the sun! This custom dates back to the Talmud, but is also found in other sacred Jewish texts, such as The New York Times. Sometimes, there are misunderstandings. [pdf] Previously reserved to a pious handful of observant Jews, it's on the mainstream media radar this time around, possibly because of its environmental implications. Here's an interesting depiction of the ritual in modern American history, which explicitly deals with its connection to solar power.
Internet Archive - probably the single largest depository of Open Source content (and the Wayback Machine) - has transitioned its data center from racks of Linux machines to a Sun MD, basically a 3 petabyte data center housed in a liquid cooled shipping container, currently sitting in Sun's Santa Clara campus court yard. Sun and IA have put together an interesting interactive tour of how it works and what it looks like. [more inside]
A perfect space storm, which happens about every century, like the one that occurred in 1859, could cause "catastrophic social and economic disruptions", according to a new study by the National Academy of Sciences on behalf of NASA. "Potable water distribution affected within several hours; perishable foods and medications lost in 12-24 hours; immediate or eventual loss of heating/air conditioning, sewage disposal, phone service, transportation, fuel resupply and so on," the report states. Outages could take months to fix, the researchers say. Banks might close, and trade with other countries might halt. The next peak in solar activity is expected around 2012.
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."
I Know Where Summer Goes Photos by Ryan McGinley. Some nudity; fireworks; fun, longing.
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]
Brother from Another Planet (Pts. 2, 3, and 4) is a documentary about Sun Ra and his Arkestra(s) on YT. It features interviews with Archie Shepp, Amiri Baraka, John Sinclair, and several members of the Arkestra as well as several live clips and scenes from the 1974 movie Space is the Place. (previously) [more inside]
Here. This guy takes pictures of the sun. The actual big shiny one in the sky. Well not my sky right now but you probably know the one I'm talking about. They are stunning. And he did it with some simple gear. You could try it yourself. (How-to's temporarily off line).
Pink Floyd fans may not need no education but Gilmourish, an exhaustive review of the guitars and audio effects of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour (with help from an insider), will leave most comfortably numb.
Sunspot activity is closely linked to climate. Although it observes an 11 and 22 year cycle, the overall trend of activity shows much longer term variations. The so-called Maunder Minimum (1645-1715) coincided with the Little Ice Age, while the Medieval Maximum coincided with the Medieval Warm Period. Analysis of beryllium isotopes from ice cores in Greenland shows that sunspot activity is currently at a 1000 year high. Could this account, at least in part, for global warming? Recent data from Mars suggests this may be so, while others remain sceptical. Bonus pix, more here.
Have you ever wondered what a solar eclipse would look like from space? The STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) has just sent back its view (awe-inspiring video included). It has also sent back some gorgeous pictures of our sun (and the McNaught Comet). For more media, check out the other galleries (including some 3D images). For more about the project, see NASA's STEREO homepage. Be sure to also stop by the Johns Hopkins University STEREO Page, where you can download a mission guide (pdf), view animations, watch a video of the launch, or even make your own papercraft STEREO model (pdf). You can also learn more in six minute segments with their series of short educational videos.
The Thirteen Towers of Chankillo in Peru may be the Western Hemisphere's oldest known full-service solar observatory, showing evidence of early, sophisticated Sun cults, according to archaeoastronomy professor Clive Ruggles. The 2,300-year-old complex featured 13 towers running north to south along a ridge and spread across 980 feet to form a toothed horizon that spans the solar arc. Last year, another ancient observatory was discovered in Peru by Robert Benfer. The Temple of the Fox is 4,200 years old, making it 1,900 years older than the Chankillo site, but wasn't a complete calendar.
How to blow up the Earth (with a coffee can), and why we should, along with some discussion of how it is done in fiction. Blowing up the moon (and how the US nearly did in 1958, with the help of Carl Sagan), and lots of reasons why, including one in song [YouTube]. How to blow up a star. How we might accidentally blow up the universe in November. [prev. discussion of Earth destruction]
Instead of reducing emissions, maybe we can block out the sun. This is a proposal offered by the United States in response to a draft of a UN report on climate change, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. According to the linked article, the U.S. has resisted a treaty that would involve binding targets for emissions reductions, and is instead pushing for the exploration of techniques for blocking out the sun, including (according to the Sydney Morning Herald article) "putting a giant screen into orbit, thousands of tiny, shiny balloons, or microscopic sulfate droplets pumped into the high atmosphere to mimic the cooling effects of a volcanic eruption." This is via Yale Law professor Jack Balkin, who speculates that there is Biblical precedent for this proposal.
Last night there was a pretty cool coronal ejection that ought to be arriving shortly. When it does, expect Auroral activity as far south as Tennessee. (Or Northern Italy. Or New Zealand.) [Via MonkeyFilter]
Transit of Mercury again. here Transit of Mercury again. Today -- and not for another seven years or so -- Mercury passes between the Earth and the Sun, shwoing up a speck-like black circle. But don't look. Starting times, real-time visual, ways to see it and another caution are here. rotoman
The Solar Optical Telescope (SOT), an advanced telescope onboard the Hinode satellite, was launched into space by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency on September 22, 2006. On October 23, the SOT opened its protective doors and began taking pictures
The Space Shuttle Atlantis and The International Space Station...crossing the Sun.
At forty miles (64.4 km) from Pluto to Sun, the Maine Solar System Model is the largest complete three-dimensional scale model of the solar system in the world. What, you didn't know there was more than one? And yes, Pluto is staying put.
TRACE - The Transition Region and Coronal Explorer, a solar telescope satellite. Launched in 1998, it has since taken millions of pictures of the sun and its many spots, prominences, and filaments. There are thousands of amazing images for you to browse, some with extensive explanations. There are movies as well, strange and beautiful. And don't be ignant, get your sun facts straight!
Celebrate the most underappreciated holiday of the year! February 1st is St. Brigid's Day or Imbolc or Candlemas. St. Brigid of Ireland, the woman who some make a good case that she should be the Patron Saint of Ireland before Patrick. Others say she was the pre-Christian fertility or fire goddess of the Celts and that the Catholic Church co-opted her day as they did with many pagan pre-Christian holidays. Whether one celebrates Candlemas as a Catholic holy day or as a one of the Pagan cross-quarter days, it is also the Festival of Lights. Regardless, I have loved February 1st and 2nd since college as Groundhog Day is the most whimsical holiday of the year, thankfully it does not have a 2 month retail buying season building up to it. Tomorrow, I shall take a photo to Puxsutawney Phil to St. Brigid's Well in Kildare to celebrate properly.
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.
Going to the moon? Be careful. A new kind of solar storm can take you by surprise. Biggest proton storm since 1956 - before there were satellites monitoring the sun.
Sunlight is escaping many of our neighborhoods! The future home of Teardrop Park South, which will sit in building shadows almost year-round and seemed destined to be the darkest of ... no, wait ... Heliostats!
"...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!
As a sufferer of Seasonal Affective Disorder, I was interested to discover this village's proposed solution. Were they inspired by Gustav Graves, d'you think?
Because spaceflight, in and of itself, is just way to easy. On 08 August 2001, NASA launched Genesis. It was a spacecraft that would spend 1125 days in space, including 884 days collecting 0.4 milligrams of solar particles. At that point, it would launch a 500 lbs return vehicle that would travel 600 mph back to earth. When it enters the atmosphere, at approximately 11:55am EST on Wednesday of this week, it will be going close to twenty-five thousand mph. Oddly enough, this is the easy part of the mission.
Because then, two minutes later, NASA is going to catch it. In mid-air. With a helicopter. Really.
Because then, two minutes later, NASA is going to catch it. In mid-air. With a helicopter. Really.
Sun Microsystems gives each employee a blog. Will other companies follow?
Global Dimming?!? In the second half of the 20th century, the world became, quite literally, a darker place. Defying expectation and easy explanation, hundreds of instruments around the world recorded a drop in sunshine reaching the surface of Earth, as much as 10 percent from the late 1950's to the early 90's, or 2 percent to 3 percent a decade. Has anyone been following this? Heat I might do without for a while, but I've grown very fond of light.
Who Would Have Thought? Sun and Microsoft just announced an historic 10 year collaboration agreement (an announcement that ended with Scott McNealy and Steve Ballmer actually shaking hands). What do you think? Ultimately beneficial ... or not?
The largest solar flare of the current solar cycle shot off the sun earlier today. After the media latched on to what was predicted to be mostly a non-event last week (probably due to a NASA article released around the same time about a super spacestorm) , it's not making as much news this time. But you should pay attention this time. This could be the best and last chance for a lot of us farther south to see some auroras before the sun dives into solar minimum, assuming all the variables line up correctly this time. I recommend watching the Solar Terrestrial Dispatch, as it is a great all around resource for solar activity and auroras that includes live data and sightings reports by the general public. Unfortunately though, no doubt as word IS spreading, that site is being hammered again and may be quite slow.
Forecasters at the NOAA Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed two dynamic areas of the sun, one of which has produced a coronal mass ejection, or CME, Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. EDT that appears to be Earth-directed. The forecasters are predicting a strong geomagnetic storm, G-3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scales, that should reach Earth on Friday, October 24. Satellite and other spacecraft operations, power systems, high frequency communications, and navigation systems may experience disruptions over this two-week period. Auroras visible in the lower 48 states are possible tonight and tomorrow.
Friday Terror! Solar blast expected to hit Earth at 3PM EST!!! Cell-phones, satellites, pagers and electrical grids may be disrupted!!! Could last 12-18 hours!!! Space martians land!!! Bad Friday Traffic!!! ACK!!!! *zap*
A Doomed planet orbiting a distant star has been located. No, not Krypton. The planet is going to be consumed by the star soon, but astronomers are not going to wait up for it.
Microsoft akin to Tanya Harding. So says U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz. The crowbar wielding, knee popping company is also similar to baseball.
omg we're all going to die, which means the hurricanes, the war against terrorism, high school free speech... it's all a big nothing!