Mars and Beyond
- 50 years ago, this animated episode of Tomorrowland aired on Disneyland a few months after the launch of Sputnik - an entertaining melange of astronomy, sci-fi, pop culture, science, speculation, and surreality. Walt himself and Wernher von Braun make guest appearances and clip 5 is particularly trippy. (Parts 2
posted by madamjujujive
on Jun 10, 2007 -
Scientists have discovered a planet composed of scorching hot ice
. Originally thought to be a gas giant due to its mass, its actually only four times the size of Earth and most likely composed of exotic forms of ice, such as Ice VII and Ice X
with s surface temperature of 300° C.
posted by Artw
on May 16, 2007 -
Prominent cosmologist Simon D.M. White has written a provocative paper
posted to the astrophysics arxiv complaining that too much time is being devoted to the quest to understand the nature of the elusive dark energy
: "Dark Energy is undeniably an interesting problem to attack through astronomical observation, but it is one of many and not necessarily the one where significant progress is most likely to follow a major investment of resources."
He worries generally that observational cosmology/astrophysics/astronomy may turn away from the construction of instruments of general utility (such as the Hubble Space Telescope
), to concentrate on a small number of massive experiments narrowly focused on solving particular problems (such as WMAP
and the Large Hadron Collider
), to the detriment of the "quirky small-science"
type of astronomy.
posted by snoktruix
on Apr 21, 2007 -
It's like Google Maps...for space.
Wikisky is a draggable, zoomable, web-based star map. And if you click on a star or other object, it brings up a page with all the information you could want on it, including recent articles and astrophotos that contain that object. And it does lots more. Go explore.
posted by Jimbob
on Mar 22, 2007 -
Titan Sea and Lake Superior
This movie, comprised of several detailed images taken by Cassini's radar instrument, shows bodies of liquid near Titan's north pole. These images show that many of the features commonly associated with lakes on Earth, such as islands, bays, inlets and channels, are also present on this cold Saturnian moon. They offer strong evidence that larger bodies seen in infrared images are, in fact, seas. These seas are most likely liquid methane and ethane. Radar Shows Evidence of Seas
posted by y2karl
on Mar 15, 2007 -
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.
posted by homunculus
on Mar 3, 2007 -
Hubble's ACS Has Died.
Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys
has apparently gone into safe mode, with little hope of return. The ACS was installed in 2002, and added amazing upgrades to Hubble's imaging capabilities. Though its lifespan was only projected at five years, scientists had hoped it would hold out longer. Though a final shuttle servicing mission is scheduled for 2008, the mission objectives plate
is already too full to consider its repair. Alas, more of those beautiful pictures (as well as extended research capabilities) will have to wait until the James Webb Space Telescope
is launched in 2013.
posted by Brak
on Jan 29, 2007 -
- an introduction to Solar System Astronomy. These are a set of lectures in progress now at Ohio State University. All materials are available on line - audio
resources (direct or podcast through iTunes), movies
and lecture notes
. If you are interested in where you live, these beautifully delivered lectures are excellent.
posted by grahamwell
on Nov 25, 2006 -
...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).
posted by 445supermag
on Nov 9, 2006 -
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
posted by rotoman
on Nov 7, 2006 -
The Worlds of David Darling.
British astronomer and science writer David Darling has written over 10,000 articles for three massive online efforts: the Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight
, the Encyclopedia of Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living
, and a related encyclopedia of concept vehicles
. Though the diversity of entries can be eccentric, and some are quite short, the science seems solid: learn about the illicit corned beef sandwich
of Gus Grissom, peruse a comprehensive set of advanced space propulsion concepts
, and see a terrific illustrated listing of strange land and air vehicles
(don't miss the Peel P50
microcar and the Volvo Gravity Car
posted by blahblahblah
on Oct 16, 2006 -
The annual Perseid meteor shower
will peak in intensity tonight. The product of Earth intersecting with the debris trail from Comet Swift-Tuttle, the shower should be most dramatic shortly before dawn. More information on the shower can be found in various places
Those living far away from cities will have the best view, but there are lots of good photos
from past showers online for those immersed in city light, or blanketed under cloud.
posted by sindark
on Aug 12, 2006 -
Life (Briefly) Near a Supernova
(pdf, Google cache
) by Steven Dutch (UW-Green Bay). What might it be like on a planet orbiting a star that went supernova? "It would take on the order of 100,000 seconds, or about a day, to receive enough energy to vaporize the Earth." Yes, Arthur C. Clarke and Larry Niven are name-checked. (And yes, the Sun is too small to actually go supernova, killjoy.) Via the nonist
posted by languagehat
on Jul 17, 2006 -
Today, astronomically speaking, is one of the four Cross-Quarter days
, exactly midway between the solstices and equinoxes. To some people, that makes today the start of summer
- after all, why would you begin the season that's supposed to be bright and hot on the day when the only direction to go is darker? (Yes, I know they say May 1 - the first site I linked to figures out the exact dates and times mathematically, so I'm more inclined to trust it).
posted by wanderingmind
on May 5, 2006 -