Ponder 2017, A Year In Space

On the cusp of 2017s last gasp, ponder a year of cosmic discovery. September 2017 marked the end of Cassini’s stoic 20 year, one billion mile journey to unlock mysteries of Saturn and its moons. A quest defined by exquisite images, unprecedented collection of data and a fiery death plunge into the heart of Saturn. We lost Cassini in 2017, but data collected on her death march will keep science busy for years. Great link to NASA Cassini timeline –


In April 2017 Harvard astronomer David Charbonneau published a study detailing LHS 114Ob, a Earth-like planet orbiting a red dwarf star 40 light years away.  “This is the one we’ve been hunting for all these years!” said Charbonneau. A rocky, temperate exoplanet with our best to date potential for finding alien life.


Credit – M. Weiss/CfA

Speaking of exoplanets – In June 2017 NASA announced 10 of the most recent 219 planets catalogued by the Kepler space observatory, were Earth sized and potentially habitable.

Credit – NASA/JPL-Caltech

November 2017, science discovered the first documented interstellar object to enter our solar system. Object A/2017 U1 was noticed moving away from Earth at a staggering 15.8 miles per second. Now dubbed Oumuamuas, learn more at link below this image –


Gravitational waves took October 2017 by storm, awarding the Nobel Prize in Physics to LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory). First theorized by Albert Einstein, conclusive evidence of gravitational waves is possibly the greatest cosmic discovery of 2017. Gravitational waves occur when mass accelerates, such as when two black holes rotate around each other. Moving at the speed of light, they spread outward filling the universe. Einstein didn’t believe they could be measured, LIGO proved him wrong. Astrophysicists won’t forget 2017, the year gravitational waves validated determination to understand disruptions in spacetime.


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Cosmic water rippled across 2017. From Cassini’s suggestion Saturn’s moon Enceladus harbored water, to exhaustive unraveling of ancient flowing liquid erosion on Mars and Moon research indicating a wealth of hidden water.

Saturn's moon Enceladus, photographed here by the Cassini spacecraft, has a subsurface ocean that also contains a chemical energy source that could be used by life-forms.


Saturn’s moon Enceladus, photographed here by the Cassini spacecraft, has a subsurface ocean that also contains a chemical energy source that could be used by life-forms.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


This image of an inner slope of a crater on southern Mars has several seasonal dark streaks called “recurrent slope lineae,” or RSL.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/USGS

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Moon water theory stems from deposits of pyroclastic rock known as volcanic glass. Glass beads form when eruptions of magma crystallize as they cool on the surface trapping water inside. Until recently decades old samples of volcanic moon glass brought back by Apollo 15 & 17  were thought to be regional peculiarities. Closer modern scrutiny confirms wide total distribution of volcanic glass – a 2017 about face regarding hidden lunar moisture.
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 Perhaps the best way to embrace wonders of 2017 is with imagery. Start here – https://www.digitaltrends.com/photography/best-space-photos/ – move on to – https://www.popsci.com/best-images-outer-space#page-2 – spend a few minutes at NASA – https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/index.html
2017 catapulted cosmic foundations, science embraced unimaginable leaps toward unraveling the paradox of spacetime. Lack of understanding, dismissive frustration born of absent points of reference are no excuse to retreat from cosmic wonder. I won’t call it a resolution for the new year, but do hope more people open their minds to the cosmos. Start 2018 with links to http://earthsky.org/ or https://www.space.com/ in your news feed. Happy New Year.




The illions Of Carl Sagan

In 1980 Carl Sagan took humanity to the Cosmos. In honour of Sagan’s  dedication to bring wonder and thought provoking insight to the masses – a clip for those who share my regard for one of the greatest minds in history.  Ponder Millions, Billions and Trillions, all the illions of Cosmos taken in order.

Still beaming from Cosmos illions, I can’t resist offering – We Humans Are Capable of Greatness…

December 3, 2017 Supermoon

Over thirty years ago astrologer Richard Nolle coined the term Supermoon, he defined it as –

… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.

Once each month the Moon is full (opposite Earth from the Sun), once a month new (between Earth and the Sun). The closest point of orbit is called perigee, farthest point, apogee. By definition Supermoon occurs at perigee, this happens 4 – 6 times a year. All perigee moons are Supermoons, not all Supermoons are full moons. On December 3 the first and only full supermoon of 2017 happens worldwide at 15:47 UTC. (Translate to your time zone at – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/universal-time )

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December’s full moon is known as the long night or wolf moon in native American folklore. Ponder all things moon courtesy Eartsky astronomy essentials at – http://earthsky.org/astronomy-essentials/full-moon-names

Poor weather needn’t squelch inclination to howl at the super wolf moon. Linked below, the Virtual Telescope Project in Rome, access to remote robotic telescopes and live streaming of astronomical events.


Mad Mike Hughes Update

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“Mad” Mike Hughes – science denier, flat Earth poster boy, daredevil, adrenaline junkie, scrap yard tinkerer, unflappable inventor – had every intention of launching himself in a homemade rocket a mile across the Mojave Desert at 500 mph between 2 and 3 pm this afternoon. Ever the optimist, Mike persevered when his modified motorhome launchpad broke down in the driveway, sadly fate had other plans. Federal authorities delivered a launch cancelling blow – seems landowner permission to launch a homemade steam powered rocket isn’t enough to satisfy the Bureau of Land Management. Ever the optimist, Hughes isn’t bothered by minor set-backs, he plans to try again next week in a location meeting land management guidelines.

Take a video moment to ponder Mike Hughes, he’s growing on me, in no small part from watching this clip –

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.