Moon Hoax Not

Shout out to for prompting this ponder. As nobodysreadingme points out – you can’t do a cover-up on this scale. A casual observation beyond reproach, he’s right – you can’t do a cover-up on this scale.

July 21, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong’s momentous first step on the Moon. Fifty years increasingly over shadowed by conspiracy wing-nuts. News flash – you can’t do a cover-up on this scale! For those inclined to gobble tabloid sawdust, persons swayed by internet jibber-jabber, people parroting fake Moon landing nonsense – snap out of it! You can’t do a cover-up on this scale.

What will it take to convince fake Moon landing conspiracy theorists otherwise? This video? Point by patient point analysis at the link below? Who am I kidding?

How about this? You can’t do a cover-up on this scale!

Send Your Name To Mars

NASA invites the public to send their name to Mars. Names submitted by September 30, 2019 travel on the next Mars Rover Mission, expected to launch summer 2020. NASA will use a electron beam to etch submitted names onto silicone chips. With lines of text smaller than one thousandth the width of a human hair, each dime sized chip can contain over a million names. Engraved chips ride along with Rover under a glass cover. From EarthSky –

After submitting your name, NASA will send you a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. Miles/kilometers are awarded for each flight, with digital mission patches available to download. 

Image of rad planet Mars with a rectangular white ticket on top of it.

Follow the link above to send your name to Mars.


May 18, 2019 Blue Moon Ponder

Since the dawn of my existence “once in a blue moon” defined rarity of two full moons in a calendar month. More than that, it served as impetus for cosmic wonder. Tonight I discovered the Blue Moon of May 18, 2019 is “seasonal”, meaning the third of four full moons in a single season. How rare can that be?

Twelve months in a year, each month roughly based on a single lunar orbit of Earth. Twelve months, four seasons, three months per season. Fine, I get it – four full moons in a season is rare, but someone could have told me “once in a blue moon” had alternate meanings! There was one on November 21, 2010 another August 20, 2013 and May 21, 2016. After May 18, 2019 we won’t witness another seasonal blue moon until August 22, 2021.

An article published in the March 1946 issue of Sky and Telescope magazine titled Once In a Blue Moon by James Hugh Pruett, cemented blue moon in popular culture. Referring to the 1937 Maine Farmer’s Almanac,  Pruett wrote –

“Seven times in 19 years there were – and still are – 13 full moons in a year. This gives 11 months with one full moon each and one with two. This second in a month, so I interpret it, was called Blue Moon.”

Despite the fact Pruett goofed in reference to astronomical details of 1937 moons (there were 12 that year not 13 ), the term Blue Moon was born. Me – I’m still coming to terms with the fact I’ve lived 59 years and never considered blue moon anything other than 2 full moons in a calendar month. Lesson learned.

Blue Moon: All you need to know

Link to detailed list of Blue Moon dates and designation –

Chemically Enhanced Aurora

On April 5 NASA scientists launched sounding rocket mission AZURE (Auroral Zone Upwelling Rocket Experiment) from Norway’s Andoya Space Center. Twin rockets deployed chemical tracers capable of allowing researchers to track the flow of neutral and charged particles during an active geomagnetic storm. Emergency service switchboards were inundated with UFO sighting hysteria – seems no one bothered to alert residents of AZURE’s chemical meddling.

Lights over Lapland  webcam operator Chad Blakely captured the first chemical puffs. Video below from Adrien Mauduit documents the spectacle.


How To Name New Moons Of Jupiter

Trust me when I say the International Astronomical Union (IAU) rarely engages the public in astronomical matters. Truth is IAU arrogance rubs many a scientist the wrong way. IAU members have sole authority and discretion in naming astronomical objects and features, but for a stroke of IAU pen Pluto would still call itself planet. Cosmic nomenclature isn’t official until the IAU says so.

In summer 2018 science discovered twelve unknown moons of Jupiter, now the IAU wants help in naming five. Anyone can submit entries, but guidelines are strict. In keeping with Jovian propriety moons of Jupiter are named for characters in Greek or Roman mythology either descended from or lovers of Zeus. Ponder this before referencing ancient mythology – not all moons orbit Jupiter in the same direction. Those orbiting in the same direction (in this case 2 out of 5) require names ending in “a”, opposite rotation require names ending in “e”. Submissions can’t be similar to other cosmic bodies/features or be culturally offensive.

Diagram of Jupiter's moons including five recently-discovered

Anyone up for the challenge has until April 15, 2019 to submit nominations and explain why in a single tweet to @JupiterLunacy tagged #NameJupitersMoons

Space Weather Update

Its been a while since space weather graced this blog, far too long if you ask me. With that in mind, ponder a Sunday night space weather update.

As I write solar wind blows at 354.8 km/second, 1,967 potentially hazardous asteroids are identified within 100 LD (lunar distance) from our planet and 2 observable fireballs have been recorded in the past 24 hours. Despite a lull in solar activity courtesy cyclical expectations of solar minimum, a behemoth Earth facing hole in the Sun’s surface catapults solar wind in our direction. Contact with Earth’s magnetic field is anticipated on February 19 or 20th. Aurora watchers can expect geomagnetic storms.

On Monday February 18, Sirius, the brightest star in our night sky will be eclipsed by asteroid 4388 Jurgenstock (ürgenstock)

In sharp contrast to February 2018 which came and went without a full moon, February 19, 2018 delivers a supermoon designated the closest full moon of the year.

Few people know what space weather is, let alone grasp how it impacts life on Earth. If you were a passenger on NetJets flight 795 from White Plains to Burbank last week, you received a radiation dose of x 68.4 that of radiation exposure at sea level. Space weather is real and it matters. Happy Sunday.