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Cosmic pluralism: science, religion, and possible populations on Venus

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, 1845).
posted by filthy light thief on Aug 21, 2014 - 1 comment

Make your own solar system

The Kepler mission has changed the way we think about extrasolar planets and their abundance. It turns out that nature produces a bewildering variety of planetary systems, each in their own infinite majesty. But maybe, just maybe, you can do better? [more inside]
posted by RedOrGreen on Apr 7, 2014 - 24 comments

If you plan on taking a trip to Jupiter, this is not the map to use.

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel is a tediously accurate model of the Solar System that Josh Worth made to explain to his daughter just how difficult it is to go on holiday to Mars.
posted by Kattullus on Mar 5, 2014 - 69 comments

the time is venus square saturn

Van Cleef & Arpels, purveyors of super fine jewelry, have created the Midnight Planetarium, which holds part of the solar system on your wrist:
This new Poetic Complication timepiece provides a miniature representation of the movement of six planets around the sun and their position at any given time. Earth and Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are set in motion thanks to a self-winding mechanical movement of great complexity: equipped with an exclusive module developed in partnership with the Maison Christiaan van der Klaauw, it contains 396 separate parts. The movement of each planet is true to its genuine length of orbit: it will take Saturn over 29 years to make a complete circuit of the dial, while Jupiter will take almost 12 years, Mars 687 days, Earth 365 days, Venus 224 days and Mercury 88 days.
[more inside]
posted by divabat on Jan 26, 2014 - 29 comments

The Madness Of The Planets

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Dec 31, 2013 - 42 comments

Red Planet Blues

The trouble with terraforming Mars...
posted by Artw on Dec 20, 2013 - 73 comments

They get progressively less human the further they are from the Sun

"I’ve always loved space and the planets. I’ve seen a few 'human planets' sets done by other artists and most of them are pretty literal in the human department. I wanted to try making something more androgynous and godlike." [more inside]
posted by Narrative Priorities on Dec 5, 2013 - 25 comments

All the spheres revolve about the sun as their mid-point

Ken Condal built an orrery (a mechanical model of the solar system - wikipedia), milling the parts himself using CNC machining. Among the videos are those of the orrery in operation and a time lapse of the construction process.
posted by exogenous on Sep 4, 2013 - 48 comments

The Heliotail

Our Solar System Has a Tail Shaped Like a Four-Leaf Clover: New Findings from IBEX.
posted by homunculus on Jul 11, 2013 - 10 comments

Keep up your sensawunda

The entire history of the exploration of the Solar System in one handy picture, as created by Olaf Frohn. (Requires HTML5.)
posted by MartinWisse on Apr 30, 2013 - 14 comments

Central Station

The Smell of Orange Groves. This short story by Lavie Tidhar (author of Osama: A Novel) is part of his Central Station story cycle, taking place in or around Tel Aviv’s Central Station neighborhood sometime in the future. [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Mar 29, 2013 - 4 comments

Like a big pizza pie

Wired: The Most Badass Moons of our Solar System Mimas | Europa | Io | Enceladus | Hyperion | Iapetus | Charon | Triton | The Moon | Asteroid Moons | Titan | Phoebe
posted by slogger on Feb 28, 2013 - 19 comments

The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.

Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Nov 3, 2012 - 46 comments

Life on Pluto - Details on Page 97.

What lives where in the Solar System. Fantastic Adventure covers from 1939/40 depicting the kind of lifeforms they think each planet can support. [more inside]
posted by marienbad on Sep 20, 2012 - 63 comments

Nothin' but a post about space stuff

Meanwhile, around the solar system...
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 12, 2012 - 14 comments

Strange New Worlds

Let's take another look at Chris Wayan's PLANETOCOPIA (previously): A series of detailed conceptions and paintings of vastly different Earths based on differing climates and land mass position. A planet designed to speed up East-West cvilization development! A life-bearing super hot world! An Earth with most of the seas missing! Forever Ice Age Earth! [more inside]
posted by The Whelk on Sep 9, 2012 - 11 comments

Note: object sizes are not to scale.

Our solar system in one very long infographic. [more inside]
posted by quin on Jul 16, 2012 - 39 comments

Venus to transit sun in June

There's a little black spot on the sun today.... Venus transits the sun in June - it's a once-in-a-lifetime event for most of us. (Bonus song lyric links here and youtube here)
posted by Lynsey on May 2, 2012 - 45 comments

Interactive Solar System Simulation

Watch an Interactive Simulation of the Solar System (SLYT) It's like watching God at work, and he's a software developer.
posted by kmccorm on Apr 19, 2012 - 12 comments

full of ★☆★☆★

OMG SPACE aims to illustrate the scale and the grandeur of our solar system, as well as illustrate through the use of infographics our work in the exploration of our solar system with various spacecraft. [more inside]
posted by zamboni on Apr 3, 2012 - 19 comments

March Madness!

Take a tour of the solar system! Tonight, see the wonders of Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Mars and Saturn! There's only one catch: You'll need to actually step outside to do it. [more inside]
posted by bondcliff on Mar 5, 2012 - 48 comments

"A situation in many respects similar to ours"

For a time in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it was erroneously believed that there were canals on Mars.
Maps of the Martian canals. List of Martian Canals. Historical Globes of the Red Planet.
A modern perspective. The Planet Mars: A History of Observation and Discovery .
posted by timshel on Feb 12, 2012 - 26 comments

Black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... black... small pale dot... black... black... black...

Astronomical... the solar system in book form
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Jan 28, 2012 - 24 comments

Time to update your moon charts for the solar system.

Pluto may have been downsized in 2006, but it's still living large, moon wise: A fourth moon has been discovered orbiting the dwarf planet.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jul 20, 2011 - 82 comments

Turns out we ARE hosting an intergalactic kegger down here

The twin Voyager probes launched by NASA in 1977 have discovered something new in the heliosheath at the edge of the solar system: it's frothy out there. Video. Press Release. Via. Voyager: Previously.
posted by zarq on Jun 13, 2011 - 33 comments

Gordan Ugarković

Croatian software developer and amateur image processor Gordan Ugarković takes images from NASA's unmanned space probes released to the Planetary Data System, splices them together and tweaks the colors, sometimes combining higher resolution black and white images with color images, sometimes recreating what the object would look like in natural color (ie, in visible wavelengths, from images taken in multiple wavelengths), sometimes heightening the contrast to bring out detail. (via) [more inside]
posted by nangar on May 20, 2011 - 7 comments

Exploring the Solar System, on Earth and Beyond

From Earth to the Solar System (FETTSS) is a collection of images curated by NASA that portray an attempt to understand the origin and evolution of the solar system, by looking to the skies and investigating extreme situations on earth, like high-altitude lakes and an acidic river. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 17, 2011 - 4 comments

Tour The Solar System

Tour the solar system from a browser window. "Eyes on the Solar System", currently in beta, from JPL and Caltech. Yes, you have to allow a 3rd party plugin. Sorry about that. Zoom in to earth, and the sunrise line is accurate for the current time. Zoom to asteroids, satellites, or planets. Rewind time to watch Voyager go home.
posted by lothar on Mar 16, 2011 - 19 comments

with depravity / i break lots of gravity

Our solar system may have a ninth planet -- or a tenth, if you're a Pluto sentimentalist. Tyche, which astronomers suspect lurks in the Oort cloud, fifteen thousand times farther away from the sun than the Earth, is thought to be a gas giant four times the size of Jupiter. We may know for sure in April.
posted by eugenen on Feb 14, 2011 - 99 comments

The Sun is Still a Mass of Incandescent Gas

NASA has released the first STEREO images of the entire sun.
Previous. Previouser. Previousest.
posted by steambadger on Feb 9, 2011 - 17 comments

Whether they find a life there or not, I think Jupiter should be called an enemy planet.

What if other planets in the Solar System orbited Earth at the same distance as the Moon? (SLVimeo) Full screen highly recommended.
posted by grapesaresour on Jan 29, 2011 - 120 comments

Voyager I reaches edge of solar wind

The Voyager I spacecraft, 33 years into its mission, "has outrun the solar wind" and is exiting the solar system. This nice article explains what this means, and has a bunch of wonderful details and interviews with the original mission scientists. [more inside]
posted by LobsterMitten on Jan 19, 2011 - 70 comments

Far Out

"This page shows a scale model of the solar system, shrunken down to the point where the Sun, normally more than eight hundred thousand miles across, is the size you see it here. The planets are shown in corresponding scale." [more inside]
posted by bwg on Dec 21, 2010 - 63 comments

At least Michael Bay won't be directing...

In the year 2182 -- 172 years time -- there's a 1 in 1000 chance that we might be hit by a very large asteroid. With two centuries advance notice, will we be able to develop effective asteroid deflection techniques? [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 29, 2010 - 53 comments

8 Wonders of the Solar System

8 Wonders of the Solar System, Made Interactive. "What might future explorers of the solar system see? Find out by taking an interactive tour through the eyes of Hugo Award-winning artist Ron Miller. Text and narration by Ed Bell." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Apr 1, 2010 - 16 comments

Solar Beat

Our Solar System as Music Box. Speed it up to hurry pluto along, or slow it down to make it a sweet lullaby to contemplate the heavens with.
posted by snsranch on Mar 29, 2010 - 38 comments

Is that little green one ever going to come back on the screen?

Flash Physics Friday Fun: My Solar System is a fun little physics toy that will do 2-, 3-, and 4-body 2D gravity simulations. [more inside]
posted by BeerFilter on Feb 26, 2010 - 31 comments

Orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned...

Oh, so that's how that works. I never got the whole 'Mars in Retrograde' thing. This really helped. More than this description by Dr.Feynman of the elliptical orbit of the planets, and definitely more than this song-and-dance description of, well, the Universe.
posted by From Bklyn on Dec 3, 2009 - 18 comments

Objects in Space

Do gravity holes harbour planetary assassins?
posted by Artw on Feb 21, 2009 - 24 comments

The Whole Earth Photolog

From grainy stills to gorgeous high-resolution portraits, from intimate pairings to stark contrasts, and from old standbys to little-known surprises, The Planetary Society's Earth galleries offer a rich collection of stunning photography and video footage of our world as seen from both planetary spacecraft and geostationary satellites. It is a vista that has inspired many a deep thought in the lucky few that have seen it firsthand [previously]. Oh, and the rest of the Solar System is pretty neat, too.
posted by Rhaomi on Oct 3, 2008 - 9 comments

God-like powers, at last

Flash Friday Fun! Excellent, physics-based game wherein you control the sun, trying to grab planets and keep them in orbit. Any game that includes the admonition not to "go hyperbola" is OK by me.
posted by MrMoonPie on Aug 15, 2008 - 42 comments

Borealis Basin

Plate tectonics early in its history have been suggested as an explanation of Mars' unsymmetrical shape. Multiple impacts [pdf] have been proposed. Or possibly, it's the result of a single, highly energetic impact....
posted by Kronos_to_Earth on Jun 26, 2008 - 7 comments

Mission to Mercury

Mercury Messenger, a NASA probe, just performed a fly-by of Mercury at a height of 200 kilometers. It's the first spacecraft to visit Mercury since 1975.
posted by Artw on Jan 14, 2008 - 21 comments

Hot space bot uses stirling engine

NASA proposes using a Stirling cooler (essentially a Stirling engine in reverse) to keep a probe cool on the surface of Venus, which has had a tendency to melt or smash previous probes. The cooler would maintain a 25cm sphere within the probe at 200°C -- 100°C above the boiling point of water but sufficiently cool for a high-temperature microcontroller to operate. The waste heat radiators on the exterior of the sphere would reach the temperature of 500°C, 40°C above the the normal Venusian surface temperature.
posted by Artw on Nov 12, 2007 - 40 comments

Golden Ratios

Did the roof of the Pantheon influence Copernicus? Are the planets of the solar system aligned in accordance with a nearly-forgotten hypothesis known (unfairly) as Bode's Law? A fascinating wide-ranging discussion on BLDGBLOG with Walter Murch, the visionary editor and sound designer for such films as The Conversation, Apocalypse Now, The English Patient, THX1138, and many others. [Murch's film work has previously been discussed here and here.]
posted by digaman on Apr 7, 2007 - 20 comments

7 mph would be the equivalent of driving at the speed of light

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.
posted by jessamyn on Sep 4, 2006 - 29 comments

Years of basic science textbooks down the drain...

My very elegant mother just sat upon ninjas... the textbooks, mnemonic devices and more will have to be changed today. Pluto has been demoted from its status as planet to a dwarf planet. We now have 8 in our solar system. The debate is not at all new, and its apparent resolution may not matter to our everyday lives, but it's just a little weird to think of all of the things that will have to be retroactively edited or amended as a result.
posted by twiggy on Aug 24, 2006 - 96 comments

Enough speculation Pluto, time to see if you really are a planet.

The New Horizons spacecraft will be the first man-made object to visit our controversial sibling planet. An Atlas V will be used to launch the craft to the fastest speed that man has ever hurled an object to the heavens. Due to this and the small size of Pluto, the probe will only be capable of one flyby. Today is the first day in the launch window that the rocket is hoped to be launched.
posted by Phantomx on Jan 17, 2006 - 69 comments

road trip, anyone?

Explore our local chunk of space. Here is a scale view of the Solar System, and here one can take a quick trip around it. Use the guidebook to plan your trip (but beware the pop-up ads). Don't forget to bring a camera and snap some photos.
posted by dazed_one on Nov 12, 2005 - 12 comments

Cassini Flies by Tethys

Cassini Flies by Tethys and Hyperion, and the photos so far have been awesome and weird. I especially want to point out this fascinating view, which, if you look at it closely, reveals what appears to be a string of small impact craters, in a straight line over older terrain. What kind of meteor impact could have produced such an excellent formation of craters? Hyperion photos are coming. (Kokogiak's got backup in case the JRUNS strike.)
posted by brownpau on Sep 26, 2005 - 29 comments

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