15 Days Of Darkness


According to conspiracy websites skies will go dark at 3 am November 15, 2017, Earth will languish in darkness until 4:45 pm on November 30, 2017. 15 ominous black days, supposedly confirmed by former NASA administrator Charles Bolden in a “1,000 page document” presented to Barack Obama’s White House. Conspiracy isn’t fazed by the fact no such document exists, or that 15 days of darkness is utter nonsense. Much as my intent is to assure trembling masses they have nothing to fear, it’s hard not to guffaw in the face of absolute ignorance – faced with a preposterous media hoax void of grade school scientific reason, a horse barn of manure served warm to countless millions of robotic nincompoops incapable of  connecting cosmic dots, an obligation exists to ponder conspiracy rationale behind 15 days of darkness..

In a nutshell – a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter results in proximity separated by one degree. Venus then moves slightly southwest of Jupiter, now Venus shines ten times brighter than Jupiter. Light from bright Venus heats gases of Jupiter releasing unfathomable levels of hydrogen. At 2:50 am November 15 rogue Jupiter hydrogen reaches the Sun causing a behemoth explosion, facilitating a heat generated eruption so powerful it will change the Sun’s colour to blue. Earth is plunged into total darkness. For the next 14 days the Sun cools enough to regain normal temperature and colour. Conspiracy urges calm and civil obedience, quick to point out 14 days of darkness is harmless, no different than winter at the North Pole.

As conspiracy goes this hoax is hardly remarkable. Most days I wouldn’t give vacant jibber-jabber the time of day – tonight it frosts me to ponder how ridiculous millions of supposedly educated people can be.

https://www.universetoday.com/131582/no-wont-15-days-darkness-november-another-stupid-hoax/

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Help NASA Name MU69


Launched January 19, 2006 NASA’s New Horizons probe began a mission to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. New Horizons made headlines in July 2015, fulfilling mission goals beyond our wildest dreams.Five billion kilometers from Earth, it took four and a half hours for messages to reach home, transmissions containing exquisite images of our solar system’s petticoat.

NASA issued fresh orders – cross 1.6 billion kilometers beyond Pluto to intercept asteroid 2014 MU69 on New Year’s Day 2019.

Artist’s concept of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft streaking past 2014 MU69 – which might be 2 objects orbiting each other – on January 1, 2019. Image via Carlos Hernandez/ NASA.

Mu69 is minuscule by cosmic standards. One, perhaps two oddly shaped binary objects no more than 20 kilometers across. Barely noticed until passing in front of a few stars last summer, now the focus of New Horizons and a NASA contest open to anyone interested in giving MU69 a nickname. The link below takes you to the contest home page – read existing entries, vote or nominate one of your own.

http://www.frontierworlds.org/

http://earthsky.org/space/help-nickname-new-horizons-next-target-2014-mu69?mc_cid=859e237850&mc_eid=a5b828713b

Earth Has An Asteroid Buddy


In 2016 planetary astronomers at the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory discovered a small ( 100 meter ) object moving with Earth around the Sun. Dubbed 2016 OR3, initial science speculation wondered if it might be a piece of space junk, perhaps a rogue rocket booster caught in wobbly orbit occasionally intersecting Earth orbit.

Last week at the annual Division For Planetary Sciences  meeting in Provo, Utah Vishnu Reddy from University of Arizona laid speculation to rest, identifying 2016 OR3 as an asteroid, stating in part –

“2016 HO3 is a small near-Earth object (NEO) measuring no more than 100 meters (330 feet) across that, while orbiting the sun, also appears to circle around the Earth as a quasi-satellite. Only five quasi-satellites have been discovered so far, but 2016 HO3 is the most stable of them. The provenance of this object is unknown. On timescales of a few centuries, 2016 HO3 remains within 38 to 100 lunar-distances from us.”

“One way to visualize HO3’s orbit is by picturing a hula hoop dancer — the sun in this analogy — twirling two hoops around the hips at the same time, ever so slightly out of sync. While it orbits the sun, the object makes yearly loops around the Earth.

As a result, the object appears to orbit the Earth, but it is not gravitationally bound to our planet.”

2016 HO3 is seen at the top left corner of this animation made of ten 2mn long exposures in I band using MODS1 on the left side of LBT – The telescope is tracking the moving asteroid, so background stars (and even a couple of galaxies) are trailed. Image via LBTO.

Asteroid 2016 OR3 is hardly a harbinger of doom – orbiting politely at 38 – 100 lunar distance from Earth, it is a cosmic companion which now bears official designation of quasi-satellite. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory said –

The asteroid’s orbit also undergoes a slow, back-and-forth twist over multiple decades. “The asteroid’s loops around Earth drift a little ahead or behind from year to year, but when they drift too far forward or backward, Earth’s gravity is just strong enough to reverse the drift and hold onto the asteroid so that it never wanders farther away than about 100 times the distance of the moon,” said Chodas. “The same effect also prevents the asteroid from approaching much closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon. In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth.”

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6537

“Caught in a little dance with Earth” makes me smile. Not for knowing Earth has an asteroid buddy, but for affirmation everything in our universe is caught in a little dance.

CosmoQuest’s Image Detectives


NASA had me at CosmoQuest, Image Detective sweetened the pot. A NASA funded citizen science project seeks public help identifying geographic features in photographs taken from the International Space Station. ISS astronauts take scores of photographs, science needs citizen help in creating a searchable image database of natural and man-made global locations. All you do is sign up, look at images and identify features.

Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) lead investigator Pamela L Gay said –

The astronauts’ photos of Earth are visually stunning, but more than that, they can be used to study our changing Earth. From erupting volcanoes, to seasonal flooding, these images document the gradual changes that happen to our landscape.

The trick is, we need to make these images searchable, and that means taking the time to sort through, analyze, and label (add metadata) the unidentified images within the database of 1.5 million plus photos.”

Jennifer Grier, Senior Education and Communication Specialist at PSI, CosmoQuest’s lead support scientist added –

This is a unique, powerful, and beautiful image data set that has already yielded excellent research science. But the data set needs the many eyes and minds of citizen scientists to reach its full potential as a publicly available, searchable catalog. With the additions that citizen scientists as detectives can make, professional research scientists will be able to conduct more research into our changing world, and do so much more effectively.”

Sign up at –

https://cosmoquest.org/x/beta/

Algerian desert from the ISS – http://hobbyspace.com/Blog/?p=14978

 

 

 

 

The Hardest Mandelbrot Zoom 2017


Opened YouTube tonight and found “The Hardest Mandelbrot Zoom 2017” under recommended viewing. Fractals leapt off the screen (thanks to https://geneticfractals.wordpress.com/) – admittedly, recognition and comprehension play in different leagues. Mesmerized by the elegance of fractal expansion, I vowed to grasp a foundation of understanding.

Mandelbrot zoom had to wait, instinct demanded clear definition of fractal. Nailing down fractal began with “In mathematics a fractal is an abstract object used to describe and simulate naturally occurring objects”. The key word being “abstract”, as in wrapping your head around a infinite curved line winding through space that appears one dimensional, but in truth harbors a surface defined in fractal dimensions. Further research insisted  “A regular line is conventionally understood to be 1-dimensional; if such a curve is divided into pieces each 1/3 the length of the original, there are always 3 equal pieces. In contrast, consider the Koch snowflake. It is also 1-dimensional for the same reason as the ordinary line, but it has, in addition, a fractal dimension greater than 1 because of how its detail can be measured. The fractal curve divided into parts 1/3 the length of the original line becomes 4 pieces rearranged to repeat the original detail, and this unusual relationship is the basis of its fractal dimension”.

Defining fractal called for a simple analogy, I found this – “imagine that you were to measure the trunk of a tree. We humans look at it at the largest scale let’s say that you wrapped a measuring tape around it. That tape would give you a decent estimate, let’s say 1 meter, but it wouldn’t be getting all the little bumps and crevices. If you were to have, say, a beetle crawling along the surface of the trunk, it would be going up and down those bumps, so it would measure a longer distance, maybe 3 meters. But even that beetle would just be walking over tiny little slits in the bark that are too small for it. If you had something even smaller (an extraordinarily tiny insect, for example), it would have to go up and down even more, and it could measure the distance around the tree at huge numbers, such as 100 meters. And this can continue for a long time, getting smaller and smaller, but seeing basically the same thing at each level, just a lot more of it. Of course, this breaks down when you get too small, since everything is composed of atoms, but for the scales where life occurs, tree trunks are actually fractal in nature.”

Back to YouTube’s recommended viewing of the Mandelbrot Zoom – according to Wikipedia the Mandelbrot set is a nod to mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot who coined the term fractal when he theorized mathematical definition of roughness and self-similarity in nature. Confused? Shake it off and immerse yourself in this clip. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense, all that matters is willingness to accept it exists. For those who need hard facts over abstract wonder, some links –

http://everything.explained.today/Fractal/

http://everything.explained.today/Mandelbrot_set/

Enough talk, sit back and watch the hardest Mandelbrot zoom …

Evangelical Hurricane


Common sense knows lesbians aren’t responsible for Hurricane Harvey. Radio preacher Rick Wiles begs to differ,suggesting Houston is underwater because it “boasted of its LGBT devotion”. Enter my favorite nincompoop Ann Coulter, who tweeted – I don’t believe Hurricane Harvey is God’s punishment for Houston electing a lesbian mayor,” “But that is more credible than ‘climate change.’ ”

Right Wing Watch reported Pastor Kevin Swanson’s caution on hurricane Irma –  the storm path would be altered by God if the Supreme Court quickly made abortion and gay marriage illegal.

Rush Limbaugh doesn’t blame hurricane season on God, however he fingers “liberal media hype” – “There is a desire to advance this climate change agenda, and hurricanes are one of the fastest and best ways to do it,” he argued, claiming that “hurricanes are always forecast to hit major population centers.”

Twenty years ago religious broadcaster Pat Robertson said Orlando should beware of hurricanes for allowing the Gay Days celebration. Robertson said the widespread practice of homosexuality “will bring about terrorist bombs, it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes and possibly a meteor.”

Jim Bakker deserves mention, his tenacious resolve to profit from God is staggering. Not for a post Harvey assertion “this flood is from God”, but for saying so while pitching “Tasty Pantry”, a line of dehydrated survival food sold to sustain the faithful during the coming apocalypse.

I shudder to think how many people take natural disaster as Gods wrath. How many buy nonsense of climate change conspiracy or fail to understand the significance of 79 degrees Fahrenheit – when surface water in the Atlantic reaches 79 degrees it evaporates at the rate of 180 tons an hour, water vapor rises forming massive clouds of low pressure. Caught in rotational force, clouds rotate pushing away high atmospheric pressure, feeding on energy of continuous evaporation a hurricane is born of warm ocean water, not God.

Stop this Biblical nonsense.

Stoic Cassini Dives Into Rings Of Saturn


Without apology to explain fondness for her remarkable existence, suffice to say Cassini’s eminent demise weighs on my mind. On September 15, 2017, just 30 days shy of her 20th launch anniversary, assisted suicide concludes the little mission that could. The magnitude of Cassini will percolate long after she’s gone.

Link to all things Cassini – https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/

Below – compilation of 21 images taken last week,captured by wide angle camera over 4 minutes as Cassini briefly plunged between Saturn’s innermost ring and planetary body. The rings move up as Cassini flies from sunlit to dark side. At the bottom, a gray band of Saturn’s “C Ring”. Middle, bright strip of the “B Ring”, beyond that a dimmer band of “A Ring”, and then a filament of “F Ring”. Rings appear scrunched due to Cassini’s extreme angle of view.

Link to Cassini’s timeline – https://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/the-journey/timeline/#launch-from-cape-canaveral

Oh Cassini, you served us well. The magnitude of your unassuming contributions will percolate in cosmic wonder long after you’re gone. Watch Cassini: The Wonder of Saturn, suspend belief and wish her well. –