JUNO, Reporting Live From Jupiter


This is it, in a few hours NASA’s JUNO mission to Jupiter will successfully decelerate into orbit, or drift aimlessly into deep space. Beginning at 7:30 pm pacific time, a live feed from NASA television documents this epic hit or miss, linked below –

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/#public

While we’re waiting, ponder an image of auroras on Jupiter. Captured by Hubble on May 19, NASA released the image on July 1 as JUNO approached outer reaches of Jupiter’s realm.

Image via NASA

View larger. | Aurora on Jupiter. Image via NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester)

Eagle Nebula


7000 light years from Earth, constellation Serpens harbors a gaseous cluster of stars known as the Eagle Nebula. In 1995, Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen used the Hubble telescope to capture iconic images of Eagle’s northeast quadrant. Unimaginably vast columns of dense hydrogen molecules and cosmic dust. Stalwart sentries, resolute as globules wider than our solar system evaporate from twisted crowns. “Pillars Of Creation” embodies cosmic wonder, but for the Hubble Space Telescope, wonder would be harder to find.

Hubble Turns 25


April 24, 2015 marks the 25th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. Instead of pondering the nuts and bolts of Hubble’s quarter century mission – I offer a symphony composed by Russell Steinberg – a musical expression inspired by, and set to images taken by Hubble.

http://www.space.com/29148-hubble-space-telescope-history-25-years.html

ISON – Bye, Bye Bye


Oh comet ISON, you tried so hard; you refused to go down without a fight and sadly all you have to show for it is a rather messy dust cloud. Cheer up – you did your best, and I for one wasn’t disappointed. Still smarting over the fact my sister laid eyes on you and I never had that chance hurts, but I’m optimistic your fading glory might still cross my path in December.

NASA scientists now describe what’s left of ISON as a “fading ghost”. R.I.P ISON.

Don’t take it personally ISON, you’re not the only kid in space. Instead of sulking over your demise I’m looking for a replacement before you’ve even left the stage. As of today, 1440 PHA’s (potentially hazardous asteroids) lurk within 100 LD (lunar distance) from earth. Some of them game changers, such as the almost 2 Km. wide asteroid passing within 18 LD (one LD equals the distance from earth to the moon) on Jan. 21 – massive, but harmless – much too far away. The closest any of these PHA’s will come is the 5 metre chunk that passed within .4 LD yesterday. Hardly worth giving you the hook dusty ISON.

Solar winds have risen sharply; now almost 500 Km/second, coupled with two active “earth facing” sunspots – AR 1908 and 1907 barely make a ripple on my radar. Sorry earth facing sunspots; you’ll have to do better than a 25% chance of M-class flares if you want to replace ISON. Our sun, flipping magnetic polarity is pretty cool – even if it happens every 11 years or so At the very least worthy of a nod for jaw dropping auroras.

I’m partial to the Tycho supernova; witnessed by astronomer Tycho Brahe in 1572. For almost a year it shone as brightly in the night sky as Venus. Take that dusty, disintegrating ISON. Tycho blasted elements outward at an impressive 11 million miles an hour. No big deal, that’s what white dwarf stars do when they go supernova. The cool thing is that science now understands when Tycho went ballistic a shock wave or “sonic boom” of sorts went outwards at Mach 300, the wave collided with interstellar gases and created a reverse shock wave – one that turned back on Tycho at Mach 1000, heating gases and making them visible to astronomers as a glowing ball. Very cool; Tycho helped us understand supernovas – you just confused us ISON.

ISON; you thought dazzling us with a 16 million Km. tail would suffice – remarkable yes, but you have stiff competition. Asteroid P/2013 P5, discovered by pan-STARRS  on Sept. 10,  2013 , rotates like a sprinkler head with six distinct comet like tails radiating from the centre. This is jaw dropping ISON – science has never encountered this anomaly. You’re up against gamma ray bursts, black holes and star nebulas, “A” for effort ISON.

The universe is too full of wonder to keep you around; take heart – you had a good run, and I’ll miss you.

Will ISON Boom or Bust?


Comet ISON was discovered in 2012 by Russian scientists Vital Nevski and Artyom Novichonak; named ISON for their International Scientific Optical Network, ISON juries still deliberate if it will be a boom or bust. On November 28, 2013 the comet dubbed “dirty snowball” will pass within a million kilometres of the sun’s surface. If it survives, ISON will rival any comet event witnessed by mankind. With a brightness magnitude greater than the moon, ISON would blaze across the night sky as one of the most bad ass comets we’ve laid eyes on.

For ISON to prove bad ass it has to survive solar tides and radiation. In 2011 comet Lovejoy survived a brush with the sun, though much smaller than ISON – Lovejoy’s tail lit up the night sky for weeks. At least twice the size of Lovejoy and passing the sun at a greater distance, fingers are crossed for the “comet of the century”.

(Credit: HubbleSite.org/Go/ISON).

A composite image of Comet ISON as seen from the Hubble Space Telescope on April 30th, 2013. (Credit: HubbleSite.org/Go/ISON).

Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/104818/comet-ison-a-viewing-guide-from-now-to-perihelion/#ixzz2fnkHss1R

As far as I’m concerned – we need a gob smacking, jaw dropping cosmic event to humble our over inflated egos. Nothing like a good dose of universal bad ass to put life in perspective.

How Could All Of You Be Right?


Recently I read a post on one of the blogs I follow. To make a long story short – the writers fundamentalist father- in- law declared there was no such thing as a “black hole” . FIL reasoned that God would not allow anything to be destroyed. It took a moment or two for the graveness of the situation to sink in. The writer, too dumbfounded to respond – walked away without uttering a word. Good for him. Any other response would have been futile.

This got me pondering. All of us know our world is divided by many religious views. Although I may not agree with them, I respect  individual beliefs or faith. The baffling thing is that they all think they’re right. Perhaps they should form a committee, a panel of religious leaders, coming together to make the world a better place. Rather than bicker about who had the “true God” they could redirect their efforts towards something that mattered.

What should a person of any faith care about who joins them at the pearly gates? Faith, spirituality, or the lack of either should be a choice not an obligation. If father- in- law believes a black hole is impossible who cares, at least he’s happy. The sooner we agree to disagree, the sooner we can move forward. You can’t all be right.

http://www.religionfacts.com/big_religion_chart.htm

world religions pie chart