In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it became possible to believe in the existence of life on other planets on scientific grounds. Once the Earth was no longer the center of the universe according to Copernicus, once Galileo had aimed his telescope at the Moon and found it a rough globe with mountains and seas, the assumption of life on other planets became much less far-fetched. In general there were no actual differences between Earth and Venus, since both planets orbited the Sun, were of similar size, and possessed mountains and an atmosphere. If there is life on Earth, one may ponder why it could not also exist on Venus. In the extraterrestrial life debate of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Moon, our closest celestial body, was the prime candidate for life on other worlds, although a number of scientists and scholars also speculated about life on Venus and on other planets, both within our solar system and beyond its frontiers. Venusians: the Planet Venus in the 18th-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate
(PDF), from The Journal of Astronomical Data
(JAD) Volume 19
, somewhat via NPR
and their mention of amateur astronomer Thomas Dick's estimations of the populations of the other planets in our solar system
(Archive.org online view of Celestial scenery, or, The Wonders of the planetary system displayed
I am a staunch believer in leading with the bad news, so let me get straight to the point. Earth, our anchor and our solitary haven in a hostile universe, is in a precarious situation. The solar system around us is rife with instability. [more inside]
The Sculpture on the Moon.
"Scandals and conflicts obscured one of the most extraordinary achievements
of the Space Age."
What would the night sky look like if the other planets were as close as the moon
Three days prior to its planned impact on a lunar mountain, mission controllers activated the camera aboard one of NASA's GRAIL twins to take some final photos from lunar orbit. The result is some of the best footage of the moon's surface captured so far
. [more inside]
Kelly Beatty of Sky & Telescope magazine has introduced the first entirely new Moon globe in 40 years
using high-resolution data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera
(LROC). You may know LROC as the satellite that showed us the remains of the Apollo missions
). One nice detail is that they got the Moon's asphalt-like color
""The moon is actually expanding or stretching and being pulled apart in some small areas and by a little bit," [CBC.ca]
New evidence suggests that the moon, once thought to be geologically cold and dead, is still stretching and contracting on its surface.
The descent of the Apollo 11, plotted with Google Moon
Pictures from the actual moon landing side-by-side with Google Earth, as the lander descends. [via]
Also, try the Google Earth KML file
for the Apollo 11 landing.
may just be the most peaceful, beautiful 5-1/2 minutes of your entire day: An audio slideshow look at some of the winning images, guided by one of the judges, of the Royal Observatory in Greenwich's 2010 Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. Interested in "giving it a go"? Here are some guides
to photographing different aspects of the night sky.
The Ice Fracture Explorer
is Joseph Shoer's
concept for an unmanned expedition into the oceans of Europa.
The Carnegie Institution for Science reports
"a much higher water content in the Moon’s interior than previous studies." For decades, the moon's water content was estimated at less than 1 part per billion; the new estimates range from 64 ppb to 5 parts per million. A scientist at Washington University said, "We can now finally begin to consider the implications—and the origin—of water in the interior of the Moon.”
There's more at NASA
and the BBC
, and the full paper is available at PNAS
is another project from Oxford astrophysicist Chris Lintott, the creator of Galaxy Zoo
). Moon Zoo calls for citizen scientists
to record the craters and boulders, among other things, on the Moon's surface. [more inside]
The lunar orbital spacecraft Selene
, better known by its Japanese name Kaguya
, has been sending back some incredible HD video, including some of Earth rising
and the Moon's surface
. [more inside]
A liquid mirror telescope
is made by spinning
a reflective fluid
, such as mercury, at a constant rate. This rotation produces a parabolic surface
, which is an ideal shape for a telescope mirror. (You can try this
yourself.) While these mirrors can be built
to be large
and orders of magnitude cheaper than solid mirrors, they have the disadvantage that they can only look straight up. Creating mirrors this way is not new; they have a history [.ps]
that dates back to Newton. However, they have recently regained attention as the technology behind proposals to build an enormous (20m+) telescope on the moon
. (A less technical treatment here
The Great Moon Hoax of 1835
. During the last week of August 1835, the New York Sun
published a six-part article about the discovery - purportedly by renowned astronomer Sir John Herschel - of fantastical life on the moon, including herds of bison, blue unicorns, "a primitive tribe of hut-dwelling, fire-wielding biped beavers, and a race of winged humans living in pastoral harmony around a mysterious, golden-roofed temple." The public's reaction was a mix of credulity and skepticism. Read the full text of the serialized articles: Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
, Part 6
Happy Blue Moon!
A dear friend IM'd me today, and told me it was blue moon... which was funny, because we had just been talking about it the day before — oblivious of tonight's occurance. Don't know what a blue moon is? Well, wikipedia has the answer
, of course... In the mood for a little music? Well, you can always download the The Marcels classic
or just sing the song yourself with a little help
... or throw caution to the wind, and listen to Pink Moon
What Did Arthur Know … and When Did He Know it?
To all you Vader haters out there . . . we'll blow your planet up! we got Death Star!
...amateur astronomers have seen puffs or flashes of light coming from the moon's surface. Although most professional observers have upheld the conclusion that the moon was inactive, such sightings have kept open a window of doubt. A gas release itself would not be visible for more than a second or so, but the dust it kicked up might stay suspended for up to 30 seconds. Nature article (subscription).
- Google Maps gets the Lunar treatment, in honor of the first manned moon landing
. No directions, though, so you won't be able to plot the best route from Tycho Crater to Mare Imbrium. (Fun Hint! - try the maximum zoom level)
For the sake of your sanity, for five minutes this week forget the memos, the autopsies, the celebrity verdicts, and the rest. Go outside and look at the full moon, which will hang in the sky at its lowest point in 18 years over the next three nights, says NASA, creating the "summer moon illusion."
If you're a US resident, calculate your local moonrise time here
Lunar Photo of the Day
started January 1st, 2004 to document human's never ending obsession with the moon. LPOD now joins APOD
, and ESPOD
as quality picture of the day websites.
Van Gogh's Moon Shines Again This Weekend If you go out this Sunday evening and look up at the Moon, you will see not only our closest celestial neighbor, but a piece of art history as well. The rising full moon will appear exactly the way it did 114 years ago, when Vincent Van Gogh captured the scene in his famous painting "Moonrise."
. Also learn how the moon helped date the painting.
Become a GLM (Galactic Lord and Master)
Your chance to invest
in an expanding market (or is it steady state now, I forget), the Universe is up for grabs!
Do you have a favourite astral body that you'd like to lay claim to?
From Newscientist - Feedback.
Pale Blue Dot:
The Earth and Moon as photographed from Mars. Just in case you needed a bit of perspective.
The Apollo Lunar Surface Journal.
Journals, records and some images from the Apollo lunar missions.
The moon does not exist!
This is no lie. Until recently, I, too, believed in the traditional, establishment view of the moon. But any thinking person, untainted by the biases imposed on us by the controlled media, will have no choice but to reach the conclusion I did once faced with the facts described in this account.
Earth has a third satellite?
Somehow I missed that a second one, Cruithne
, was discovered in 1986. Is there a size or distance limit to something being considered a satellite?
Go to the Moon Museum
, install the Moon Browser
, and go to the Moon
of the Space Shuttle and the ray of "shadow" from the moon is pretty cool. I even think I buy the explanation.
Get a piece of the Rock.
Moon that is. I say boy, you got to think of the future. Just remember all these worlds are yours except Europa.
This reminded me of one of the stupidest things I've ever seen.
Once on vacation in Eastern Oregon, there was a total eclipse of the moon, just like this one. And some people nearby were taking photographs of it.
photographs. The round-trip time to the moon at the speed of light is 3 seconds and I wouldn't even want to calculate the attenuation caused by 320,000 miles of range.
Sometimes it seems as if some people are completely and totally clueless about what they're doing.