Every two years scientists, space agencies and civil protection organizations gather for five days of asteroid impact drills. This week marks the seventh Planetary Defense Conference, held virtually to comply with pandemic considerations. From April 26 – 30, 2021 fictitious asteroid PDC 2021 measures are live streamed by ESA (European Space Agency). Fascinating stuff, well worth consideration. Below. link to asteroid impact drill overview from NASA, followed by several links to watch in real time from ESA –
In 1998, March 2 was named Read Across America Day, ( Theodor Seuss Geisel – Dr. Seuss, was born March 2, 1904 ) Launched by the National Education Association to celebrate reading, it strives to motivate young readers. Some call it Dr. Seuss Day. His books spark imagination, teach millions to read and endure across generations of bedtime stories. Read Across America isn’t a celebration of Dr. Seuss, it’s an initiative to promote reading at a young age, All good? Not so fast. Publisher Dr. Seuss Enterprises cited racist and insensitive imagery as reason for ceasing sales of six Dr. Seuss titles.
These books haven’t been banned, the decision to cease publication and sales was made last year after an extensive review process. Who knew it would become a “cancel culture” poster for right wing America? Cancel culture refers to “cancelling” individuals, groups/organizations or public figures by ostracizing points of view deemed objectionable. The theme of last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference was “America Uncancelled”, Below, a snippet and link titled “Dr. Seuss Falls Victim to the Cancel Culture Nazis”, read it and weep…
“I warned the country about the cancel culture mob and their nefarious plan to ban books, paintings, films and music they found offensive. I warned that the radical leftists were waging a jihad on our culture, on our American traditions. Their plan is to build a socialist utopia on the rubble of our history and culture.” – Todd Starnes at Dr. Seuss Falls Victim to the Cancel Culture Nazis by Todd Starnes (townhall.com)
Over at Fox, misleading cancel culture propaganda raged. Check out No, Fox News, Dr. Seuss Was Not ‘Canceled’ By VA School District | Crooks and Liars at Crooks and Liars. Conservative media called out Joe Biden for not mentioning Dr. Seuss in his Read Across America statement. Whinny Donald Trump Jr. called “cancelling” Dr. Seuss books “insane”. So this is how it’s going to be? We can’t address questionable optics without threat of America Uncancelled retaliation? Is cancel culture a pseudonym for MAGA? Sigh.
Once a planet Pluto marks its 91st anniversary of discovery on February 18, 2021. Take a moment to ponder 91 years of Pluto from discovery to New Horizons mission majesty. Kudos Pluto, your presence is a source of infinite wonder. It’s remarkable to consider Pluto, a solar system constant, has only been known for 91 years. Arizona’s Lowell Observatory is recognized as the birthplace of Pluto. From – Celebrate the 91st anniversary of Pluto’s discovery | Human World | EarthSky –
“Lowell Observatory bills itself as the the “Home of Pluto.” Percival Lowell, a wealthy American businessman with a passion for astronomy, postulated the existence of a “trans-Neptunian object” and searched for it until his death in 1916. His estate, managed by Lowell’s brother, Harvard University president A. Lawrence Lovell, donated money for a new telescope that still stands at the current Lowell Observatory. Using this telescope, Clyde Tombaugh continued Lowell’s search. On February 18, 1930, he detected movements on photographic plates taken in late January. The discovery was announced on March 13, 1930, on what would have been Lowell’s 75th birthday.”
The I Heart Pluto Festival for 2021 runs virtually February 13-18, 2021. Image via IHeartPluto.Org.
Does Pluto love us back? It almost seems to, with this giant heart on the surface! This image was taken by the New Horizons mission on July 13, 2015. Here are 10 cool things about Pluto you might not know. Image via NASA/ APL/ SwRI.
Meet John Dillermand, claymation cartoon hero of Danish public television network DR. He’s an average man who enjoys BBQ, ice cream and going for walks, despite his anything but average protracted “diller” (Danish slang for penis). Aimed at 4-8 year old children, producers think kids will get a kick out of watching a man with the world’s longest schlong tackling adversity. Show creator Jacob Ley, father of two young children, believes John Dillermand eradicates body shame and embarrassment without sexualization. From Denmark airs kids cartoon about man with super long penis (nypost.com) –
“Family psychologist Erla Heinesen Højsted disagreed with the outcry: “John Dillermand talks to children and shares their way of thinking — and kids do find genitals funny,” she told the Guardian.
“The show depicts a man who is impulsive and not always in control, who makes mistakes — like kids do, but crucially, Dillermand always makes it right,” Højsted continued. “He takes responsibility for his actions. When a woman in the show tells him that he should keep his penis in his pants, for instance, he listens. Which is nice. He is accountable.”
He’s nice and accountable when a woman asks him to keep his penis in his pants? WTF?
It’s a fact, Northern Hemisphere stars appear brighter in winter than summer. Why? Our infinitesimally small solar system resides within the Milky Way galaxy, roughly 100,000 light years across with its centre 25-28 thousand light years away from plucky planet Earth. During December, January and February Northern Hemisphere night skies face away from the centre toward outskirts less muddied by cosmic dust. There are fewer stars between us and extragalactic space at this time of year. We’re gazing toward the Orion Arm, a minor spiraling tendril of the Milky Way housing our solar system. At this time of year large stars within the Orion Arm appear closer and brighter courtesy less galactic dust.
Bright winter stars have nothing to do with cold nights, everything to do with orbital alignment in relation to the heart of our galaxy. Don’t be shy, when night skies clear look up and wish upon a bright winter star.
SDO, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory marked its 10th anniversary in June 2020. Ten years and 425 high resolution images later, SDO gives us a decade of Sun. Ponder this remarkable video, every second represents one day –
Forget cute baby kittens, look beyond conventional fluffiness and embrace the Peacock Spider. Look at this guy, he’s delightful. Yes, that’s a spider! A jumping spider native to Australia. Jumpers have excellent vision and stalk rather than trap prey in webs.
Delightful knows no bounds. Watch his courtship dance –
Considerably less fluffy, but equally remarkable are Diving Bell Spiders. In ponds across Europe and Asia, these wily arachnids spend their entire life underwater. They breathe air trapped in bubbles that are held in place by webs. Divers leave their bubble to hunt prey, surfacing only to gather fresh oxygen for their bubble.
Flying spiders? Who knew threads of wind swept silk propelled spiders hundreds of miles? Known as parachuting or ballooning, countless small spiders raise their abdomen and cast silk to the wind. A phenonium which explains sudden appearance of spiders on ships at sea.
Small spider raising its abdomen to balloon away. Image via Sarefo.
One of humanity’s greatest challenges is ambivalence toward night skies. Technology and light pollution erode inclination to gaze upward after sunset. Astronomical observations are the fabric of humanity, defining ancient monoliths, pyramids, temples and settlements. The cosmos gave us navigation, seasons, moon phases, the calendar and inexplicable feats of ancient architecture. Today, GPS points North, few know that “star” is actually Mars and Betelgeuse might as well be Beetlejuice. Sigh.
Rudimentary sky basics needn’t be elusive – ponder Time and Date night sky map and planets. Linked below –
Enter your location, voila! An instant interactive sky map tracks anything you fancy. View live, adjusted for current weather conditions. Scroll left or right to adjust time of day. Click on the Sun, Moon or planets, follow their path in relation to location and time of day. Curious about meteor showers like the Leonids peaking in a few days? Click on https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/meteor-shower/leonids.html
Time and Date is a valuable, uncomplicated resource. Give their night sky map a try.
Calling all citizen scientists, Planet Patrol wants you. NASA, SETI, the Space Science Telescope Institute and Zooniverse collaborated to launch Planet Patrol, a website urging citizen scientists to help find exoplanets. Planet Patrol site explains –
“NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission will take pictures of more than a million stars to search for planets orbiting them, called ‘transiting exoplanets.’ We expect this mission will see thousands of these transiting exoplanets when they pass in front of nearby stars and periodically block some of the starlight.
But sometimes when a star dims like that, it’s not because of a planet. Variable stars, eclipsing binary stars, blended stars, glitches in the data, etc., can cause a similar effect. We need your help to spot these imposters!
At Planet Patrol, you’ll help us check the data from the TESS mission, one image at a time, to make sure that objects we suspect are planets REALLY are planets.”
In a nutshell – anyone with a little spare time, set of fresh eyes and impetus to participate in cosmic discovery can be a citizen scientist. How cool would it be to identify a exoplanet? Check out the link below –
Ah Polaris, commonly known as the North Star – humanities guide since the dawn of time. Located directly above the north celestial pole, northern hemisphere skies rotate around this near constant pole star. Knowing where to find Polaris means you’ll always know which direction to travel. Face Polaris, stretch your arms out sideways – the right hand points due east, the left due west. About face and you’re pointed south.
Ken Christison captured these glorious star trails around Polaris, the North Star. He wrote, “For the most common and often the most spectacular star trails, you want to locate Polaris and compose the image so it is centered horizontally and hopefully you can have a bit of foreground for reference.”
To find Polaris locate the Big Dipper, focus on Dubhe and Merak, two stars forming the outermost edge of Big Dipper’s bowl. In your mind’s eye draw a straight line to the tip of Little Dipper’s handle – voila, that’s Polaris the North Star.
Think of northern hemisphere skies as a clock with Polaris at the centre, the line from Dubhe and Merak to Polaris as the hour hand. The Big Dipper rotates once around Polaris every 23 hours, 56 minutes. A few minutes short of a day, equivalent to 361 degrees in 24 hours. As such the North Star moves ever so slightly with each passing day. What never falters is the hour hand from the outermost bowl of Big Dipper to Polaris. Find the Big Dipper, you’ll locate the North Star. Do that and you’ll never be lost in the woods.
If you’re in the northern U.S., Canada or at a similar latitude, the Big Dipper is circumpolar for you, always above the horizon. Image via burro.astr.cwru.edu.